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Scanning Color Negatives


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I recently started scanning color negatives. I’m not new to scanning film, but most of my experience is with B+W negatives and color transparencies. When scanning transparencies, one becomes aware of the color palette from the brand/type of film scanned. Mostly I’m scanning Fuji Velvia, if you are not familiar with Velvia, it has very saturated primary colors and skies that frequently shift magenta. With these scans I’ve been mostly successful neutralizing the “Velvia” look into what I feel is a more natural look. This makes me happy!

Now, I’m scanning color negatives and again I become aware of the color palette from that film. But, Here lies my rub. I don’t seem to be able to escape the palette. This image is about the best I’ve been able to accomplish so far. I don’t think it looks bad, I just think it looks like color negative film. I was hoping to get a more natural “what I saw” color, similar to what I was able to accomplish with transparency film.

Any thoughts of getting away from these colors? Or, do you think I’m I barking up the wrong tree? I really do not mind the colors. I just though photoshop could escape the C-41 look without it looking disastrously unnatural.

Thanks, Deon

My process: Hasselblad 501 C/M 60mm CF lens - Kodak Ektar 100 shot @100 ISO out-lab run normal. To scan, I’m on Mac OS 12.6 / Mac calibrated monitor, Epson V-700 scanner with scan bed. I’m using Silverfast 9 software IT8 calibrated and Silverfast’s “Kodak/Ektar” profile, I tried other profiles just for the heck of it, the correct one seemed the best (I have found not always true with some films). I scan every image as big as quality allows (don’t let Epson interpolate size), ProPhoto RGB color space. I’m editing in Photoshop CC (24.0), after I straiten, crop the image to the rebate edge, spot away dust and flaws I add in layers. First Levels, then in Curves I open each color channel and adjust each color to get a global color I like. Then Hue/Saturation, going through each color (not global) I “WAY” over saturate each color so I can see what effect each color has on the image. I adjust the hue (baby steps) if need, then desaturate back to normal, repeat for every color. Last, I open Selective Color going through only the colors I feel need help and adjust. Save with layers. The 40x40 scan with four correction layers = 1.75 GB file.

Image: Great Basin National Park, Nevada. Alpine Lakes Loop trail. September 13th, 2017 early fall colors, not the colors I'm worried about.

081317#7.jpg

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I use "NegativeLabPro" plugin for Adobe Lightroom. It uses AI for the most natural color I've obtained when "scanning" negative color film with a camera. Rendering options included several models of commercial printers, with fine tuning options available. It does batch conversions, analyzing each frame individually.

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I think that the main reason to shoot color negative or transparency film today is to get images with that specific color palette.  If you're trying to avoid that then go digital. That said, your example looks good to me.  But if it were me, I wouldn't want to spend that much time and effort in Photoshop if I were interested in "neutral" color.  In my experience digital cameras come a lot closer to that than any of the many color films that I used to shoot for commercial clients with a lot less Photoshop work.

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10 hours ago, AJG said:

I think that the main reason to shoot color negative or transparency film today is to get images with that specific color palette.  If you're trying to avoid that then go digital. That said, your example looks good to me.  But if it were me, I wouldn't want to spend that much time and effort in Photoshop if I were interested in "neutral" color.  In my experience digital cameras come a lot closer to that than any of the many color films that I used to shoot for commercial clients with a lot less Photoshop work.

Yes, I whole hardly agree. For color work I now only shoot digital. However I have 40,000 color transparencies and I had started to shoot color negative film about five years ago and only have a few hundred frames I want to scan.

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I think subjectivity your images look fine and yes, barking up the wrong tree. The film has a color gamut and palette, if you will, and you can only work with what you have and can capture.

 

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Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)
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12 hours ago, Ed_Ingold said:

I use "NegativeLabPro" plugin for Adobe Lightroom. It uses AI for the most natural color I've obtained when "scanning" negative color film with a camera. Rendering options included several models of commercial printers, with fine tuning options available. It does batch conversions, analyzing each frame individually.

Thank you! I had not heard of this plug in I will check it out.

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I agree with you with your example the colors are not quite right.  My monitor is calibrated to dRGB for the internet assuming you use a calibrated monitor as well. 

I gave up on Ektar and continue to shoot Chromes like Velvia 50 although those are being discontinued in 4x5.  Easier to know just looking at chromes if they are right.  Plus they scan easier.  I've been told that Ektar 100 has to be exposed just right.  If not, you will play hell trying to get the colors right when scanning or editing. 

You might try Provia or Ektachrome which seem to open up the shadows more than Velvia if that's what you're looking for.  Ektachome 100 has redder reds and greens to Provia 100 orangey reds. 

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48 minutes ago, AlanKlein said:

My monitor is calibrated to dRGB for the internet assuming you use a calibrated monitor as well. 

dRGB? The s in sRGB is often referred to as 'Satanic', 'Stupid' or a four letter word that end with 'hit', is the d for 'dumb'?  😜

The 'idea' if I can be so kind (and again' I've attempted to explain the colorimetric facts when you say this), is there is no calibration for the Internet! IF you are trying to tell us you calibrate to sRGB, that's unlikely unless you happen to have a CRT, circa 1994 with a specific phosphor set. You may have an sRGB color gamut display (too bad). The internet has no color space! In a color managed browser which everyone can and should use, one can post any tagged RGB Working Space on 'the web' and it will preview correctly on their machine. Anyone else's, all bets are off. 

So, no need to further assume sir. 

The "dRGB for the internet" or sRGB for the internet is as false a concept as "all prints are 300DPI!"** 

**If you lie long enough about having a horse eventually somebody will buy you a saddle.

Edited by digitaldog
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6 hours ago, AlanKlein said:

I agree with you with your example the colors are not quite right.  My monitor is calibrated to dRGB for the internet assuming you use a calibrated monitor as well. 

I gave up on Ektar and continue to shoot Chromes like Velvia 50 although those are being discontinued in 4x5.  Easier to know just looking at chromes if they are right.  Plus they scan easier.  I've been told that Ektar 100 has to be exposed just right.  If not, you will play hell trying to get the colors right when scanning or editing. 

You might try Provia or Ektachrome which seem to open up the shadows more than Velvia if that's what you're looking for.  Ektachome 100 has redder reds and greens to Provia 100 orangey reds. 

dRGB is misspelled and should read sRGB. 

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Thank you! Everybody’s input has been very helpful. I can steer from here…

I come from old school color management (I think that’s why separate all the colors/channels into layers in photoshop the way I do), so this is helpful to me. While in college I worked at a camera store, I was hired by my (now) wife. We most likely were flirting too much, so the boss took me over to his other business and put me to work making color separations for his small print shop. I was tasked with making separations using a 40x40 LogE camera. I didn’t make too many full color separations, as his biggest client was the USGS and my job was making negatives for each of the color plates for quadrangle maps, that was 40 years ago and I didn’t work there more than a couple of years, everything’s so different, but not really…

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Add my agreement. There is no point in trying to make color negative film look like modern digital output. People are still shooting film precisely because they like the look of these emulsions. The shot you posted looks good. Although different to C41, I want my Kodachromes to look like Kodachromes when scanned.

Robin Smith
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14 minutes ago, marc epstein said:

Actually posting images in sRBG on the internet can render a better display and color tones, IMHO. 

Doesn't matter a lick with color managed browsers. Few are not color managed these days. Then they work just like Photoshop and all other color managed applications. You can use any tagged RGB Working Space and the previews will match (on your machine) to all other color managed previews of the same data. 

sRGB viewed with color management on a wide gamut display will not provide better color and tones when viewing images who's gamut originally exceed sRGB. Those colors will clip compared to having the same image previewing with a wider gamut Working Space. Which is why today, there are millions upon millions of wide gamut displays, all color managed to view content on the web. 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)
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On 12/7/2022 at 4:49 PM, Robin Smith said:

I want my Kodachromes to look like Kodachromes when scanned.

I'm not sure that's even possible. Both Ektachrome and Kodachrome are capable of some saturated colours outside of any real-world RGB space. Notably dark greens. 

And because the degree of saturation (= absorption of unwanted colours) is proportional to CMY dye densities in film, and pretty much the opposite in self-luminous RGB devices, there's nearly always an irreconcilable (slight) mismatch.... Until we get display devices with the imaginary primaries of the Prophoto space. 

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4 hours ago, rodeo_joe1 said:

Until we get display devices with the imaginary primaries of the Prophoto space. 

It was meant ironically! 

However, I see that some displays are now using 4 or more 'primaries' which surely has the potential to distort an RGB triangle into more of an inverted-horseshoe shape. 

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7 minutes ago, rodeo_joe1 said:

It was meant ironically! 

I meant it factually (for others who may not get the “irony).

Additional primaries is a straw man; the primaries ARE visible! Two of those in ProPhoto RGB are not.

Edited by digitaldog
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)
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6 hours ago, rodeo_joe1 said:

I'm not sure that's even possible. Both Ektachrome and Kodachrome are capable of some saturated colours outside of any real-world RGB space. Notably dark greens. 

And because the degree of saturation (= absorption of unwanted colours) is proportional to CMY dye densities in film, and pretty much the opposite in self-luminous RGB devices, there's nearly always an irreconcilable (slight) mismatch.... Until we get display devices with the imaginary primaries of the Prophoto space. 

I shoot a lot of Velvia 50 whose gamut is probably more wild than Ektachrome and Kodachrome.  I don't try to match the colors of the original slide when editing in Lightroom.  I adjust to my liking which still generally represents the Velvia colors.  I set my montor calibrated for sRGB.  I figure, regardless of what the various web sites might do with my photo, at least I start with the sRGB color gamut.  

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23 minutes ago, AlanKlein said:

I shoot a lot of Velvia 50 whose gamut is probably more wild than Ektachrome and Kodachrome.  I don't try to match the colors of the original slide when editing in Lightroom.  I adjust to my liking which still generally represents the Velvia colors.  I set my montor calibrated for sRGB.  I figure, regardless of what the various web sites might do with my photo, at least I start with the sRGB color gamut.  

"probably more" indeed (assumptions). Ditto with "generally represents."

Only devices, or systems, that render color have a color gamut. Digital cameras do not have a color gamut (they have a color mixing function). Same with scanners. Dr. Roy S. Berns from RIT stated, in Billmeyer and Saltzman’s Principles of Color Technology: "Color gamut: Range of colors produced by a coloration system."

Color gamut applies to systems that produce color (Printers, TVs Displays, projector) and color spaces as well.

The human eye also does not have a gamut. The spectral locus on chromaticity diagram (which is also missing a dimension) simply shows the response of the eye to monochromatic light. The limit is in the light, not the eye. The camera can also respond to all that light."

And no, you do not calibrate your "monitor" for sRGB unless you're calibrating to these EXACT specifications:

https://www.color.org/chardata/rgb/srgb.xalter

So are you happy with your display at 80 cd/m2 Alan? 

And despite being corrected numerous times about what you figure (wrongly assume) about various web sites and how color is reproduced for the web, you keep posting this silliness! 

Edited by digitaldog
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)
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1 hour ago, digitaldog said:

"probably more" indeed (assumptions). Ditto with "generally represents."

Only devices, or systems, that render color have a color gamut. Digital cameras do not have a color gamut (they have a color mixing function). Same with scanners. Dr. Roy S. Berns from RIT stated, in Billmeyer and Saltzman’s Principles of Color Technology: "Color gamut: Range of colors produced by a coloration system."

Color gamut applies to systems that produce color (Printers, TVs Displays, projector) and color spaces as well.

The human eye also does not have a gamut. The spectral locus on chromaticity diagram (which is also missing a dimension) simply shows the response of the eye to monochromatic light. The limit is in the light, not the eye. The camera can also respond to all that light."

And no, you do not calibrate your "monitor" for sRGB unless you're calibrating to these EXACT specifications:

https://www.color.org/chardata/rgb/srgb.xalter

So are you happy with your display at 80 cd/m2 Alan? 

And despite being corrected numerous times about what you figure (wrongly assume) about various web sites and how color is reproduced for the web, you keep posting this silliness! 

Before editing my scans, I set the NEC Spectraview II calibration software to calibrate my NEC monitor with the puck to sRGB.   I assume NEC program calibrates to appropriate standards for sRGB color gamut.  I'm happy with the colors and others can check my FLICKR site to see if they look OK with them.  

Here are my Velvia scans and edits both in medium format 6x7 and large format 4x5. 

Flickr Search

 

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58 minutes ago, AlanKlein said:

Before editing my scans, I set the NEC Spectraview II calibration software to calibrate my NEC monitor with the puck to sRGB.   I assume NEC program calibrates to appropriate standards for sRGB color gamut. 

Don't assume (please!): Check! Here are the defaults for that target and no, it isn't sRGB standard, (its sRGB color gamut😞

sRGBTarget.jpg

RTFM as well page 38 of the manual: 

When using the sRGB Emulation target

This is a special target that is only available when using a supported wide color gamut display. This target will switch the display into the sRGB Emulation mode which reduces the color gamut to approximate that of sRGB.

Edited by digitaldog
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)
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As far as scanners (which have no color gamut), the color gamut of a resulting scanner profile (which does) for a scanner is based upon the target. IF indeed, as suggested but I await colorimetric data, "Both Ektachrome and Kodachrome are capable of some saturated colours outside of any real-world RGB space", it begs the question, was a profile for that scanner made with either a Ektachrome or Kodachrome IT8 or similar target (which does exist)? Then, let's see the scanner profile plotted 3D over a 'real world' RGB space (Working Space). 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)
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