Scanning Kodachrome -- Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by stephen_york|3, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. Any suggestions for scanning Kodachrome?
    I have a Nikon 9000 scanner, using the Nikon software, and it has proved pretty much "idiot proof," until I got to the kodachrome. I only have about 250 slides and when I scan them, even with the scanner set on the kodachrome setting, they have a bluish tine and the colors are muted. I can mess with the colors in photoshop and get a decent picture, but I would really like to keep the original colors.
    I've looked around on the internet and the suggestions are wide ranging. Is there any consensus for scanning this film. Thanks.
  2. Try Viewscan, it often works better than the manufacturer software.
    I don't understand why even the Nikon software would react as yours does. One thing I do recommend is not using any automatic dust elimination procedures for Kodachrome. I've scanned in thousands of Kodachrome slides in everything from Kodachrome (10) to Kodachrome II to K64, and no problems in color balance. Check your color settings aside from those related to film type (I use Viewscan, so am not sure what your Nikon software does have).
  3. Make sure you get analog gain right to set overall exposure and color balance and use Kodachrome mode. There's no one Kodachrome film so you might need to play with settings. You should be able to use ICE with the 9000 as it's designed for Kodachrome, but I'd do some testing to make sure edges don't get eaten away as "defects."
  4. You might want to pick up a (first gen) Minolta Scan Elite 5400. I know: thanks for the advice, get another scanner. Anyways: using the 5400's Grain Dissolver ICE works just fine, no artifacts. FWIW, I had issues with color balance with 5400 also, not deal braking usually fixable.
    I used a hybrid workflow, running the 5400 with it's OEM software, to utilize ICE, and putting out a gamma 1.0 tiff without histogram adjustements. Essentailly a "raw" file. Then I worked this file with Vuescan.
  5. You should also look into the Silverfast scanning software at they have special functions/profiles for scanning Kodachrome. You can even download a demo to see how it works. I'd suggest the Silverfast AI software. I have the Silverfast SE using a Plustek scanner and get fairly good results with Kodachrome slides.
    That's Vuescan, not Viewscan. You can download the trial version and try it out. Less than 10mb. Aside from some more advanced profiling and scanning to a RAW format the regular license gives you much the same as the pro license. (pro license gets free upgrades for life, regular gets upgrades for a year or if Ed's feeling generous). Basically try it and see if you see a distinct difference. If not, then you may have to look at your scanner. If you do, then you can look at your workflow / settings / software.
    Does your software have multi-exposure available? You may try that, kind of like HDR for film to bring out what's there.
  7. You're right Dan. Thanks for the correction -- different platforms are supported.
  8. I have the same experience, muted colors and bluish tint. What's worse, the bluish tint doesn't seem to be an overall color cast; color correction requires seperate adjustment for shadows, highlights, and mid tones. I can only speculate, but I believe the problem is that for Kodachrome the Dmax is different for each primary color, and more so than other films. Also I am always surprised how grainy the scans appear to me in comparison with E-6 films. Adding insult to injury, I always have trouble pulling detail out of shadows without a lot of noise. Sorry I can't be helpful but all I can say is that my favorite transparency film proved to be a major headache for me in the digital age!
  9. There are some workarounds for dealing with dense slides before resorting to better hardware:
    The issue with Kodachrome scanning cyan has been around for a long time but I thought Coolscan Kodachrome mode dealt with it okay. Maybe not?
  10. I realize this thread is about scanning as the method to digitize Kodachrome slides. However, let me throw in a few comments on re-photographing slides with a macro lens (instead of scanning) that might be relevant.
    When I first began to digitize my slide collection, I also used scanning, and, like you, I also had problems with excessive grain and minor color casts (especially in the shadows) when digitizing Kodachrome. Unsatisfied with this, I then began to experiment with using a d700, a 55mm/2.8 macro, and an old-fashioned "slide copying" adapter to rephotograph the slides instead of scanning them.
    When I used a fairly well collimated light source (analogous to a condenser light head in an enlarger), I still had problems with excessive grain. However, when I switched to a very diffuse light source (analogous to a diffuser light head) the grain in the recorded image was drastically reduced with little or no loss of resolution.
    I think that many (most?) prosumer grade film scanners use a nearly collimated light source, and this is one of the causes of the exaggerated grain you are recording. In addition, if the color balance of the slide is good, I have absolutely no problems with color rendition when using the slide-copier method. The only special step I take w.r.t color balance is to get a good neutral color balance with no slide in the holder.
    To illustrate the decent grain and color obtainable from this method, below I posted a digitized copy of a Kodachrome snapshot taken in 1972, and then re-photographed just a month or two ago using the method described above. The only thing I did to prepare the slide was to clean it with a couple of puffs from a hand-held blower. Once digitized, I did absolutely nothing to the digital file except:
    a) Down-rez the full image to 698 px across for display on (with my usual final re-sharpening step) - (attached to this message);
    b) Take a 100% crop from the roughly the middle of the slide (attached to the next message); and,
    c) Take a 100% crop from the lower RH corner of the slide - (attached to the 3rd message in this seqeuence).
    As you can see the results are quite reasonable, and, as a bonus, quite a bit faster than any scanner I've ever used.
    I don't know what sort of film scanners (or reasonable price) are currently available, but you probably should be sure to try to obtain and test any that use a diffuse light source.
    Tom M
  11. Any suggestions for scanning Kodachrome?
    I've looked around on the internet and the suggestions are wide ranging. Is there any consensus for scanning this film. Thanks.​

    Hi Stephen,
    VueScan is the low-budget solution, SilverFast is more expensive, but more sophisticated. You can eliminate the bluish tint by color calibrating your scanner with a Kodachrome calibration target.

    Wikipedia: "Scanning Kodachrome transparencies can be problematic because of the film's tendency to scan with a blue color cast. […] However, an IT8 calibration with a special Kodachrome calibration target is necessary for accurate color reproduction."

    Shutterbug has tested this targets worth using.

    In contrast to some comments you can automatically remove dust from Kodachromes. First, your Nikon 9000 (as the only scanner) features ICE4, which is able to do that. Not perfectly, but it's working. Second, you can use the SilverFast dust and scratch removal iSRD. There's not just an on/off button, but some controls to adjust the correction regarding the actual image. You can work with masks and layers.

    Peter York
  12. Tom, Those are acutally pretty nice images from a slide, i had never seen the slide copying mechanism at work before. I also know from my limited experience with scanning that the diffused light source is so much better for scanning anything not just kodacrhome. Out of curiosity did you try to scan negatives using the DSLR method , if so could you post a result. Sorry the the thread creep , to the op perhaps try the silverfast demo to see if it will do anything for for you.
  13. Hi John - Thank you for the kind words. If you take care of the basics, i.e., a good lens, accurate focus, a moderate f-stop, a good light source, balance the color with no slide in the path, and be sure the body isn't set on an ultra-contrast / ultra-saturated preset, this method seems to do a very respectable job, assuming the slide to be digitized looks good. Problems arise when the slide has faded, the original lighting has a color cast, etc. Color balancing in such situations is definitely not a one-click operation. ;-)
    WRT color negatives, yes, for fun, I've tried digitizing them by the same method, but since I used to shoot trannies almost exclusively, and since there is no "absolute" color reference when starting with a color negative, I never really pursued this very far. OTOH, B&W negatives and conversion of color negs to BW come out great using this technique. Attached is a conversion from rephotographing the negative of a family snapshot (Fuji NPZ 800 or whatever they were calling it in those days) taken about 10 years ago.
    As they say, give it a try ... you might like it. ;-)
    Tom M

Share This Page