Scanning Color Negative Film

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by robert_martin|5, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. I have tried several different medium format color negative films for
    scannig with a Nikon 9000 scanner and Nikonscan 4.0.2. I get the
    best results relative to color balance with Fuji NPC and Kodak Portra
    160VC. Fuji NPS and Kodak Portra 160NC are close, but not quite as
    good as NPC and Portra 160VC relative to color balance. I have the
    most problems with Fuji Reala and Kodak 400UC. I can't get a correct
    color balance with Reala and 400UC without using Hue adjustments -
    images have too much red. Anyone have any suggestions on how to
    resolve this problem?
  2. jtk


    You may get better results from Vuescan than Nikonscan...many Nikon V and 5000 have reported that seems to do less grain exaggeration with some color films, is far better for B&W (doesn't require complicated workarounds).
  3. I scan 400UC with my Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III and and color comes out great with no adjustments needed almost every time.
  4. Silverfast AI has specific profiles for many color negative films, including Fuji NPS, NPC, Superia, Reala, and Reala 120. These profiles make adjustments much simpler. It is easier to achieve balance with positive film because the differences between films is not so great, and you have the original for comparison. Still, the dynamic range of negative film is a lot wider than for positive film, which makes for better scans and prints.

    Another tool that works with all kinds of film is the Photoshop plugin, InCamera, by Pictocolor. Using a shot of a Gretag-Macbeth Color Checker chart, you can create a profile that will correct all colors with great accuracy when "assigned" to images taken under similar conditions.
  5. The folks who print these films have to do with the same issues. The exact offsets of the curves for the three layers of emulsions is not standardized. Expect to have to fiddle with the R, G, and B brightness sliders in Nikon Scan. Nikon just puts in a generic offset (maybe correct for Gold 100) in Nikon Scan for color negative film.

    Once you get the right offsets for a given film type in Nikon Scan, you can save them by name.

    Or, get SilverFast, which has an ever growing database of all the emulsion characteristics for modern films. (But isn't that helpful on obsolete films.)
  6. John;

    The exact offset of the curves of Kodak films has been nearly constant for over 40 years. I have pictures taken with Kodacolor film from the 50s and modern films with 400UC and they print on Endura paper with the same color balance.

    This is not an accident. It is done to prevent the problems described above. I cannot say why the scanner is having problems, but my Epson scanner gives excellent results from both transparency and negative films with no correction needed.

    Ron Mowrey
  7. Strange. I get the easiest and best results with Fuji Reala and Kodak 400UC on my Nikon LS-4000. With Vuescan that is. I dislike NikonScan with a passion. Its handling of color management is awful.
  8. My experience with LS-4000 is like Richard's: Nikon Scan gives really poor results on these scanners with negative film. I used LS-4000 with Nikon Scan for chromes and Vuescan for negative film and got much better results.

    However, Nikon Scan with LS-5000 gives IMHO better results with all films than either software on the LS-4000. I have not used Vuescan on the LS-5000 since my license code is somewhere in Finland :)

    As to the color management with Nikon Scan, what you do is you turn Nikon CMS off! And use a custom profile, that way things are much easier, whichever software you use.
  9. Rowland, that's very interesting, and I certainly don't like to spread mis-information.

    Do you have any idea what's in the "film terms" that get loaded into machines like the Fuji Frontiers? Is this calibration for how those scanners "see" the particular dye sets used in the films? (I do know that the whole Portra family uses the same dye sets to avoid that problem.)

    For instance, when Kodak High Definition 400 first came out, I got odd color balances on the prints everywhere. Even from Kodalux, which was my last try to get good results! (I got fine results scanning the same negatives.) Then when I used the last roll that had been lying around, some six months later, the prints were nice. My presumption was that there had finally been a software upgrade to the Frontier to have the right data on HD400.
  10. I agree with above posters that NikonScan tends not to be a good choice for color
    negatives. For me, NS always clipped highlights and shadows of color and BW negs,
    regardless of settings. Vuescan gives me scans that include everything. These often look
    quite flat, as a full range scan should, if the next step is color and tonal adjustment in
    Photoshop. I also use mostly Reala, NPH, and 400UC. I struggled initially with the fact that
    the film profiles available in Vuescan are not really for these films, and may produce
    inaccurate colors. However, color negs always need some adjustment, because of variation
    in film stock, development, mask color, light source, scanner, etc., so everything goes
    through Photoshop anyway. This quick fix in Photoshop---
    Image>Adjustments>Levels>Options>Snap Neutral Midtones (plus Enhance Per Channel
    Contrast or Find Dark and Light Colors) gets me right on for 95% of my scans. I was
    surprised how effective this "automatic" correction is in the current Photoshop versions. It
    stopped my fretting over the accuracy of the color profiles in the scan software, since it's
    so trivial to click in. The resulting colors may not be spectrophotometer-accurate, but I
    think most would find them to be very close to what they want for prints, and you can
    tweak further if you wish. Try it--you may be surprised at a simple fix.
  11. Thanks for all the inputs. I had not tried analog gain, and find that I can get most of the required color correction using it. I have printed from color negatives for over 30 years in my color darkroom and find analog gain is much like the color filters on my enlarger color head. I need to photograph the MacBeth color checker so I can better determine the correct setting for analog gain in different lighting conditions for each film type. A very small adjustment (less than -.15) in the Red and Green solves the problem I was having with Reala.

    I also found that Image > Adjustments > Levels > Options > Snap Neutral Midtones followed by Image > Adjustments > Match Colors and check the box to remove color cast and then ICorrect Professional to set black and white points does a very good job with the initial scans.

    I find that NikonScan for the 9000 does a very good job scanning color negatives and does not clip highlights like it does with the previous Nikon scanners (8000, 4000). I tried VueScan and find it does not give all the capability I need from the scanner. I do a lot of batch scanning for both 35mm and medium format.

    I also plan to create ICC profiles when I get images with IT8 target and will try the scanner with color management off.

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