ISO 400 film scanning problem

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by ron_west|1, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. Hi All,
    I've been trying to find a b&w 400 speed film which will scan without being so
    dense and flat. My negatives are very dark so I have reduced the development
    time (in XTOL 1+1) about 10% from the recommended development times and reduced
    my agitation to two inversions per minute but still I am getting very dark
    negatives which result in dark scans although better. I have to tweak quit a bit
    in PS Elements to produce a usable print. I don't have the same problem with
    100-200 ISO films. I have a Canon FS4000 and before that a Minolta Dual Scan and
    use Vuescan for the scanning software (scanning in 16 bit grayscale and
    outputting the same). Both scanners produce dark scans. I've never done any
    print developing and am a newbie as far as film developing goes. Ilford's FP2
    developed film seems to be a lot thinner than any of the b&w films I have tried
    (ie, TriX, Neopan400, Fomapan400, Delta400 and HP5+), is that normal, is the
    base just darker? Any suggestions that I could try would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Hello Ron!

    I've made very good scanning experiences with the ISO 400 ROLLEI R3 film! But, the film needs before a special processing treatment, and a pre-soaking, because of its 3-layer technology. Give it a try, and let me know about your results. The ROLLEI development chart can be downloaded from, for all ROLLEI films.

  3. Hi Ron.

    Dense negatives indicate overexposure. Try exposing at ISO speed.

  4. Hi Ron,<br>
    I think you're over-developing, provided you expose at box speed. I'd try to cut the dev times a bit again.<br>
    It's quite normal, and desirable, to get a rather flat result out of the box in vuescan, playing with levels and curves in PS is almost always mandatory to mimic a b&w print.<bR>
    I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "dark scans" though ? Have you tried to play with the white point in vuescan to get closer to the result you want ?<br>
    In my experience Neopan 400 has a thin base, it's very scanning-friendly if you don't overdevelop or agitate too much. Xtol 1:1 works well with 400 films too, I think it's only a matter of finding the right development times and agitation pattern.
  5. You say you are getting dark scans from dark negatives. This is not usual with properly functioning hardware and software. A dark negative will give a light or normal scan depending on setting. This is just like dark negatives giving you normal to light prints when you print them uness you overcompensate.

    Now that is the key. If you overcompensate, you tend to make the result of the scan to dark.

    Ron Mowrey
  6. The best ISO 400 B&W film for scanning is going to be XP2 Super, which is C41 process. Give that a go, and at least you will then be able to tell if the problem is the development or the scanner/software.
  7. "Dark scans" could be in your software. What settings are you using for Vuescan? Are you scanning as "Image" or as "B&W Negative"? (I use the former, with no levels adjustments, and then do the inversion and contrast control in PS.)

    If by "Ilford FP2" you mean XP2 Super, it's normal that it should look "thinner" than conventional B&W, because the image is formed from dye clouds rather than silver. For conventional B&W, try exposing and/or developing less. Negatives scan more cleanly when they are a little on the thin side.
  8. Thanks all for your suggestions. I think I will reduce development another 10% (total of -20%) together with less agitation and see if I can't get a thinner negative. I don't want to switch to XP2 until I can figure out what's going on. I should be able to get a decent scan from a couple of those films I've tried. Very frustrating. Apparently, others don't seem to be having a similar problem....Other than the comments here, I've only run across one comment which was made in passing about the necessity of reducing manufactures development times 20% when the intended use of the negatives is for film scanning but I can't find that posting again. Maybe that is apparent to everyone but not to this b&w newbie. I contacted Kodak about my difficulty but they acted surprised that anyone would or has had a problem with scanning their film (but after prodding suggested reduction in development times). Also contacted a major mail order film supplier regarding the problem and they could only suggest the standard development times as supplied by the manufacturer. In my Googling, someone commented that the most difficult film to scan is the old silver based b&w films. Wow! I'll have to agree with that as I have had few problems scanning color negatives or chromes but b&w is something else..... I guess I'll just keep puttering around trying to get that illusive "thin, flat negative"...whatever that is.
    Thanks again, Ron
  9. Well, just in case someone else in the future has a similar problem and is searching for a turned out that when developing film using XTOL 1:1 I got my best results for scanning by reducing the recommended development times by 15%. Scans are much better going into Photoshop. Now to work some more on watermarks.....Ron

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