Photographing color negatives w/digital camera

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by eric_ellis|2, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. Forgive me if this question has been asked over and over. I did scroll through
    many of the questions and couldn't find a good answer.

    Can someone point me to the answer of taking pictures of color negative film
    with a digital camera?

    I have access to many, many color film negatives and have tried photographing
    them with a digital camera, light box and copy stand, but I can't get the color
    to come out just right.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you
  2. You are going to have to use some pretty heavy blueish filtration to get rid of the orange masking, then make it a negative of the negative. I've never tried it though.
  3. You can "invert" the colors in Photoshop, then pick away at the color adjustments.

    Alternately, you could create a "profile" using a film shot of a Color Checker or IT8 chart and appropriate software. Some monitor calibration systems, like Eye-One Photo, can create such a profile. You could also use the "InCamera" plugin or stand-alone program from Pictocolor.
  4. If you're not finding many answers it's likely because most others have chosen a different method. While it is possible to capture an image of film with a digital camera, I think you'll get much better results by switching to a proper 35mm film scanner.

    The Coolscan V would be my first suggestion, followed by the Coolscan 5000. The latter is faster, can capture a slightly wider tonal range, and can accept some accessories for batch scan of slides and complete film strips. It's also quite a bit more expensive. Still, the V would do fine.

    I've scanned a lot of black and white negative film, and a lot of slides, but I've yet to scan my colour negatives. I'm currently using a Minolta Scan Elite 5400, but it's out of production, and has limited or no support.

    I've experimented with scanning colour negatives, trying different approaches. I've attempted to neutralize the strong orange caste at time of scan. I was able to do this, by adjusting exposure while scanning a 'clear' leader, but the needed exposure adjustment increased time-per-scan unacceptably, and I found there was little or no benefit: I was able to achieve the same caste removal via Photoshop, starting with a straight scan.

    Here's a generic description of my current plans:

    1. Do a straight scan of the film, ie: scan as a "slide" or "image". Make no attempt to remove caste, or invert the image. Use the scanner's auto exposure to ensure the 3 primary colour channels (red, green and blue) are full captured (nothing being lost at either the dark or light end), but don't worry if they are not centred. The red channel will tend to have the best 'spread' of tone values, the green and then blue channels will be increasingly compressed towards the left (dark) side. To check: do a test scan, and save as a 16 bit per channel tiff file.

    Open in Photoshop, activate the histogram display, and in the composite (all 3 channels) move the mouse around the areas at dark and light ends. The pixel count should get down to zero at both ends. If there's a very few pixels at the extremes, say 5~10, that's as good as done. Try to get things balanced at both dark and light ends, and adjust your scanning exposure as required.

    2. Open the file in Photoshop. Crop, clone out dust and scratches, save and close.

    3. Re-open the file, save as a copy, then:

    a) Invert

    b) Apply levels, using the 'per channel' auto-adjustment with 'snap neutral mid-tones' ticked, with .02 clipping of both the dark and light ends. Adjust the mid-tone slider to approximately 0.7 (aim for a value which leaves the image looking slightly too bright).

    c) Apply a curve with the objects of slight additional darkening of the overall image and improved highlight contrast. A 2 point s-curve per the following, for starters:



    d) Try an increase in saturation, say +10.

    e) Reapply levels, this time using the 'find dark and light...' auto-adjustment, with zero clipping. Try with and without 'snap neutral mid-tones', it's a judgement call. Leave mid-tone slider as-is.

    f) Convert to 8bit per channel, and maybe save as a jpeg.

    (Most of the above can be done in adjustment layers, which supposedly are less destructive)
  5. I have done this using a Minolta A1 and an inverted Omega C760 color head. You need to set the white balance based on your light source. You may also have to adjust individual colors in levels. This should get you an image which can than be post processed as usual. The results were very good even when copying several different types of color negatives.

    Good luck,

  6. Thank you all so much for your help and suggestions.
  7. I was able to get very good results using a 5D MKII, macro lens and a LPL enlarger set at 105 CYAN (for an old Superia 400 negative).
    Processed in LR2 to get a TIFF with sharpening and WB.
    Inverted in Photoshop, Autocontrast, converted to 8bit, saved Jpeg.

Share This Page