Soviet film salvaging

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by donald_miller|5, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. A professor here gave me some slides that I said I would try to salvage, These were taken decades ago Kazakhstan, probably with a Kiev 14 camera. The film is Russian ( German film preferred but hard to obtain.) which was not considered very. I find it very strange to adjust with PS Elements as compared to all the films I have played with before. i am not that proficient with advanced PS features. I was wondering if someone else might want to see if they can get some better results. These are the scans at 300 dpi and 6" on longest side and a couple examples of my progress. Thanx for any input.I am doing this as a favor for him as a friend so there is no financial incentive for me. It is just the uniquness of Soviet film.







  2. a few more





  3. Donald, this is possibly a little better. All I currently have time for.

    1476757_29b742bd90b5f518e1d89e4728fd1b3d Pnet.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
  4. Thanx, that is a little better than my result. The behavior of that film is really unique. I had a couple of people over for dinner from the USSR and they all said they shot mostly BW because Soviet color film was c—p and German film was hard to get.
  5. It seems to me that each color layer should fade proportionally to the amount of dye that it started with.

    In that case, you would adjust each color layer by an appropriate amount.
    If I understand it right, that means adjusting the gamma for each layer.

    If one layer is completely gone, though, then it is gone.
  6. "The behaviour of that film is really unique. I had a couple of people over for dinner from the USSR and they all said they shot mostly BW because Soviet colour film was c—p and German film was hard to get." ,- it is not the film that was a problem, I have seen quite a few World Press Photo winners shot on Soviet film. It was processing, there was no labs outside of Moscow, one have to process colour slide film at home, chemicals were hard to get, often they well behind best before date. Trying to control temperature and hardness of tap water was making all process really exciting with unpredictable results. That was reason why most people in Soviet Union were shooting B&W, it was easier to process at home. Just think about, how many Pnet folks could process Ektachrome at home.
    Colour you see on those slides , it was probably Swema 32 colour slide film, is nothing unique with it, it is simple wrong/bad processing, best you can do with it, probably to convert them in black and white.

  7. But that does not explain that they had good results and were quite satisfied with the German film. The bottom line is that these were technologically savvy photographers who used these films every day and knew what worked and did not work. I am talking about post docs in chemistry and molecular biology. I have to accept their evaluation that Soviet was different from German film and essentially "crap", They were quite capable of processing their film up to standards and so were the local labs.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
  8. There were two Germanys that time and German film they referring to and was accessible in Soviet Union was made in Eastern Germany using the same Soviet technology anyway. And generally yes, German made film was a bit better quality, but you also couldn't process it at home, which explains more stable results.
  9. They were referring to to the film from East Germany and that was very hard to obtain even in Moscow and it was quite different from film Soviet formulas.
  10. Lots of things was hard to obtain in Soviet Union, except free medicare and education. Anyway, what you see on those slides is simple wrong/bad processing and camera shake.
  11. Well, and some fading of the same sort that happens with most color-negative film of American or NATO-origins.

    You'll be amazed at how far toward a normal look you get with the "automatic" color and exposure "buttons." Another path is to use the white dropper (for the brightest) and black dropper for the darkest area of the image.
  12. Yes the automatic functions work fine and I did use them before posting
    I got pretty far with the automatic settings as you can see on one of the examples of what I managed to do. But I think more could be done with the more advanced features. My biggest problem is there are 2 with a heavy purple tint that I can not eliminate unless I convert to B&W. Maybe the other colors are just too faded?

    I posted the original scans as they were when I received them

  13. "I posted the original scans as they were when I received them"

    Ah! So you haven't done the scans yourself.

    In that case I hope you've been sent high bit-depth TIFFs or similar. If you only have crumny 8 bit JPEGs, then you're wasting your time trying to do severe colour correction on them.

    The best tool to use is curves. Unfortunately I believe the curves tool in Elements is crippled and doesn't allow the curve to be manually dragged. Try downloading the free GIMP program that has a proper full-featured curves tool.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
  14. Thanx . I was not clear . I did the scans myself with the Epsom V550. What I meant was that I posted the image as they were before I worked on them with one or two samples of what I achieved. I believe I set it at 32 bit RGB and manually locked exposure and color base in JPEG. I will try TIFF and raw. Thanx again I should have thought of that but I was in the mind set of jpeg for posting. I did play with the color curve but like you said it does not appear to allow dragging. I also have RAWtherapy. I use vuescan which might have some more tweaks on it and Silverfast but Silverfast is dedicated to my canon scanner which is not working very well.
  15. RAWTherapee's color processing is more powerful than anything Adobe offers, but it requires a good bit of practice to achieve the best results. You shouldn't see much difference between the RAW and TIFF versions, unless the RAW converter you use goes nuts attempting to correct those colors. I can't recall whether RAWTherapee offers an LAB mode, or not, but if it does, that might be your best best for working with these files. The A and B channels are awesome for color adjustments.

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