Negative > positive with digicam only?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by mike_morgan|5, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. I understand the process of taking a photo of a negative, with a digital camera, and then converting it to a positive image with third party software (VueScan, Photoshop etc), but is there any digital camera that can take a pic of the negative as a jpeg and then present it as a positive with in-camera processing only?
  2. No but you can do it with PS or LR.
  3. I don't know of any stand-alone cameras that can, but iPhones, etc.. can. There's a free version of PS for phones that has "negative" or "reverse" as a filter. As well as several other photo editing apps.
  4. Inverting from a Jpeg is a bad idea. The tone curve will be all wrong (upside down) and if you try to correct it you'll get posterisation from the crappy 8 bit depth of the Jpeg. It's far better to start with a RAW file from the camera, then invert and adjust the tone curve to taste. <p><br>
    AFAIK, there's no inbuilt camera filter to allow this. However my experience of digital cameras is limited mainly to Nikon DSLRs and the original Canon 5D. There may be a "negative effect" available in some cameras, but it'll be a gimmicky toy facility, and not a serious tool to get a decent positive from an existing negative.<p>
    My advice: Shoot RAW and invert and adjust using a proper image editor capable of dealing with 16 bit/channel files.<p>
    If you want a cheaper image editor than Photoshop, look at the open-source (free) GIMP.
  5. It might not be so bad for black and white, but the corrections needed for color negatives are more complicated. Between the low gamma and orange mask, you want it done right.

    I would recommend using a DSLR for slides, but not color negatives, unless you have the appropriate post-processing.
  6. All the digital cameras I have have an option of shooting b&w in the camera.

    Usually, if you start with a negative, either you can scan to a positive, or scan as a negative, and then "invert" the image and touch up in most image-processing software.

    with Vuescan and other scanner driver software, I've never had any problem scanning in color negatives. Usually the software can be set for color negative in the preferences/parameters.
  7. JDM, the in-camera B&W option always results in a Jpeg, which is a poor choice for inversion and further tonal adjustment.
    <p>Unless specially designed, no digital camera actually shoots in B&W. The raw colour image is simply desaturated, then reduced in bit depth and given the sRGB gamma to fit in the Jpeg file format.<p>In short the image is pretty much ruined for any further adjustment before it's even out of the camera!<p><br>
    Glen, I'm not sure that any affordable scanner hardware does a better job of reproducing colour negatives than a decent DSLR. Maybe you'll get 16 bit A/D conversion as opposed to 14, but that's of little consequence with the low contrast of a colour neg.<p> It's all in the software, and there's nothing that scanner software can do that any full-blown image processor can't.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  8. I have had mixed success converting color negatives with a digital camera. Slides are easy, both handling and color accuracy. Negatives are a PITA in both respects.

    <br><br>My negatives are in strips of 4 or 6, and bare film is easily damaged and hard to hold flat. I have a thin strip holder made for a Nikon film scanner, which has the thickness and width of a cardboard mount. This fits into a slide copy attachment with some modifications. Rather than carve up my slide holder, I bought a copy attachment for my Novoflex focusing rail, which can handle any size and thickness up to 6x6 medium format. Inexpensive film strip holders ($12) are easy to find on the internet. The Nikon device goes for about $200 on the used market. Mine came with the scanner (which I still have). A copy stand with a light table would probably be the best solution.

    <br><br>Converting color negatives to positive images is a major challenge. First of all, there is the orange mask. I remove that from the negative image in Photoshop, using the Levels tool. Basically, you maximize the R, G and B channels. After that is done, Invert the image (CTL-I or CMD-I), which gets you an 80% solution. Then tweak the colors to get the balance you want. Easier said than done. The conversion process is strongly affected by exposure of the negative.

    <br><br>Why go through this when I have a Nikon scanner? Time! I can scan 5 rolls an hour with a digital camera, or less than 1 roll an hour with an LS-4000, and still have color balance problems. I have hundreds of rolls of family pictures which I would like to share. The job is plausibly possible using a digital camera, and not in my lifetime with the scanner. A 24 MP camera has the same resolution as the scanner, 4000 ppi, which is significantly better than film resolution and delivers grain-sharp results. For someone just getting into film scanning, the choice of scanners is grim. The best ones are either super-expensive or discontinued. Flatbed scanner resolution is well below that of the film, slow and generally produces disappointing results (if you have seen better).
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  9. Here's a sample of colour neg, Kodak pro100, shot with a Nikon FE some time ago. Digitised today using a Nikon D7200 DSLR + micro-Nikkor 55mm lens and film copier attachment. <BR><BR>

    I set the camera WB to tungsten, but exposed by daylight to partially cancel the orange mask.<BR><BR>

    Irritatingly I had to go through Nikon's NX-D to process the NEF file, before importing to GIMP as a 16 bit TIFF. All inversion, curves and saturation adjustment was done in GIMP. I'd normally use PS, but wanted to see what could be done for free.<BR><BR>

    If I'd spent more time I could probably have improved on the result. As it is it's not too dissimilar from what I get from a dedicated scanner. The light wasn't too good when the picture was taken as I recall.<BR><BR>.

  10. Copying a color negative in B&W then inverting doesn't work very well. The orange mask results in low contrast and distorted color response compared to B&W film. The results look much the same as in the old days, printing color negatives on B&W paper. (Normal paper is sensitive to blue only. Expensive, polychromatic paper was needed to get a good B&W print.) I recommend doing your best to create a color positive, then converting to B&W. That usually works even if the color balance is off. I do this even with slides (or digital) taken under mixed lighting, which can't be corrected in post.

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