Scanning Color Negative Film -- Nikon Coolscan, Mac

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Richard Karash, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. Yes, I'm going back to some older images.

    Scanning color negative film, mostly Vericolor VPS from 80's with Nikon
    Super Coolscan V. Software is Nikon Scan 4 and VueScan (current ver).

    Nikon Scan seems to do a fine job of scanning slides. The images are
    "right" the first time. But, I cannot figure out how to control the
    options in Nikon Scan, other than the basic positive vs. negative. The
    scans of color negative film are awful.

    VueScan does better, but still involves multiple steps. Can anyone
    help me do it more simply than this:
    - Scan the negative in VueScan. After manipulating the sliders, the
    best I can get is a modest contrast image with a severe cyan color
    cast. But, it's a 14 bit image, so there's hope.
    - Save as TIFF. VueScan gives it a color profile of AppleRGB. I want
    to open this file in Adobe Camera Raw, but I cannot. I assume it's the
    color profile.
    - So, I open the TIFF in Photoshop, convert to profile sRGB and resave
    as TIFF.
    - Then, open same file in Camera Raw (Bridge... select photo... Open
    in Camera Raw).
    - Here I can correct the color (grey eyedropper if there's a neutral
    tone). This requires radical use of the sliders, but I get a good

    Temp +25
    Tint +50
    Recovery 50
    Blacks 20
    Brightness +20
    Contrast +50 to +100

    (The original VueScan TIFF is low contrast and cyan color-cast)

    - Now, with the file open in Photoshop and roughly on the right mark,
    I can work with it.

    In VueScan, I have
    - archive quality
    - Digital ICE, the middle setting, not heavy
    - Color Negative film... Vericolor...

    Anyone have suggestions for getting good, reasonable color scans of
    color negative film the first time??

    Otherwise, I'm tempted to go to the mini-lab and let them scan to CD
    with their Fuji Frontier.


    -=- Rick
    Richard Karash, Jul 30, 2008
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  2. Richard Karash

    Jufí Guest

    Haven't used it in a while, but aren't there a few sliders along the side of
    the main window that open to subsets of controls? I had good luck with the
    Coolscan I had, and I do remember that there were a ton of controls and I
    was usually able to get a nice scan, with a very few exceptions.
    Jufí, Jul 30, 2008
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  3. Thanks... I knew there were controls but couldn't find them.

    In Nikon Scan 4, one clicks the "Tools" button to get the palette of
    sliders. Yes, there are controls for the scanner.

    -=- Rick
    Richard Karash, Jul 30, 2008
  4. I use a Coolscan IV ED scanner but on a PC.

    Old negative film can be a mess. What you have to do, at least on
    the PC, is to set up a scan profile in the Nikon scan window
    for the exact type and age of film you have. THE critical part is
    to use the "Analog Gain" part of the Tools Palette to get the exposure and
    color balance near correct.

    Use the histogram under "Curves" to be sure nothing is overexposed
    (run off the right side of graph), or at least only specular highlights are

    In some bad cases (the oldest Vericolor being one) you will need to
    play with the Curves sliders themselves for the individual colors.
    You may need to expand or contract the range of one or two colors.
    In some cases you will need really violent changes here.

    Once you get it right for one negative it will be close for others
    with the same film type made at the same time. You can save these profiles
    with "settings".

    But the good news is that even the oldest color negs can be successfully scanned.

    Doug McDonald[/QUOTE]

    Thanks, Doug.

    -=- Rick
    Richard Karash, Jul 30, 2008
  5. Yes... In doing these scans from Nikon Scan and from VueScan, some of
    the tiff files can be opened in Adobe Camera Raw via Bridge and some
    cannot. I cannot see the pattern. I thought it was the Apple RGB
    profile embedded by the scan software, but I see counterexamples. A
    little messy, but with an extra step it works.
    With 8bit scanners, it's imperative to adjust the settings at scan time
    to get the best file. With 14bits, I feel I have a little more room,
    but it still makes a difference. I try to make sure the scan has a
    reasonable histogram and reasonable color balance, and do the rest in

    Thanks, saycheez, for your comments. I think my preferences match

    -=- Rick
    Richard Karash, Jul 31, 2008
  6. Well, I take back what I said above. I had the sliders screwed up for
    both pieces of software.

    With both Nikon Scan and VueScan it made a big difference to find the
    "Default Settings" option and start from there. Both software now give
    me reasonable scans with default settings from both slides and
    color-negative film. Whew!

    The sliders and curves adjustments in Nikon Scan are intuitive and
    similar to Photoshop. The sliders in VueScan are obscure to me.

    Just in case it helps someone else trying scan Kodachromes with a Nikon
    Coolscan, here's what I've now learned:

    - Digital ICE at "Normal" does a magnificent job of removing dust
    specs. In VueScan this is "Use Infrared for Cleaning and I used the
    Medium setting with similar good results. (There are varying comments
    about whether ICE works with Kodachrome. This is mid 80's film and it
    works great.)

    - If there are any deep shadows in your slide, using Digital DEE at
    30-50 in Nikon Scan will open up some shadow detail. I don't know how
    to activate this in VueScan.

    Here is a comparison example, Coolscan V ED, Nikon Scan 4 software...

    First, the scanning setup and the overall image... A summer street
    scene in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany in 1986:

    Now the "straight scan" without the additional features. Notice the
    dust and the dark interrior spaces.

    Finally, ICE dust removal at "Fine" zaps the dust specs and DEE at 30
    opens up the shadows significantly:

    Thanks to those who commented here.

    -=- Rick
    Richard Karash, Jul 31, 2008
  7. Bridge is the only way I know to open a jpg/tiff file in Camera Raw.
    I like that convenience... I like the sliders for Temp, Tint, Blacks,
    Recovery, Vibrance, Clarity, etc. I don't think these are available
    except in Camera Raw.

    I appreciate your comment David, but is there a reason not to want to
    use these in the workflow, taking the scanner output and getting it
    into Photoshop in good form?
    This is interesting... What would you do with the IR channel within
    Photoshop? I found the automatic cleaning in the scanner software
    (Digital ICE) just fabulous.

    -=- Rick
    Richard Karash, Jul 31, 2008
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