Post Processing Film Scans

Discussion in 'Scanning, Enlarging, and Printing' started by jai, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. jai

    jai FF Regular

    68
    Apr 8, 2015
    Keen to know what people think about post processing film scans? Often film scans can look flat, and it can be quite tricky to get them looking great.
    I think the most important thing is to get the white point and black point right.

    Previously, I would try and do that purely in lightroom, but I think that was wrong. There is a limit to how far lightroom allows you to push up the whites. I seem to be getting better results now by setting the white and black points in the scanning software. Vuescan allows you to do this with the histogram after a preview scan.

    After that, I do all my adjustments in lightroom.
    I try and get the midtones where I want them with the exposure slider and then compensate for this with the white and black sliders.
    Clarity and sharpening sliders will tend to bring out grain, but the grain I get using XTOL tends to be pretty fine so sometimes it looks good to bring it out a little.

    Heavy editing in lightroom or photoshop feels a bit like cheating, so I tend to be wary of overdoing it. But maybe that is silly, because after all there were a lot of equivalent tools (burning, dodging, contrast filters) in the darkroom days. What do people think?
     
  2. pdh

    pdh FF Regular

    31
    Mar 25, 2015
    UK
    You might want to have a look at my post here https://www.foreverfilm.org/threads/38/

    As for the "ethics" ... well, there aren't any rules are there? It's just taking pictures.

    The only peculiarity arises because with scanned film, we have a digitised version of something that was not intended to be digitised: film was and is designed to be printed in a darkroom.

    Accordingly, the idea that there is a "film look" has only arisen since the advent of digital cameras and digitisation of film, and the "look" of course is almost entirely attributable to how film looks when it is digitised. The only "real" (and I use the term loosely) version of a negative is the one you see with your own eyes on lightbox.

    Whether everything that can be done in PS or LR can be done in the darkroom (and vice versa) is a moot point and really only interesting to process obsessives.

    This is all more or less why I won't bother with comparing films or lenses or cameras based on what I see online, and why I see all the image here threads categorised by film stock as pointless: digital post-processing can make any film look however you want it to look.

    So, post-process away to your heart's content, but it might be foolish to persuade yourself that the results are anything to do with inherent qualities of film or camera.
     
  3. jai

    jai FF Regular

    68
    Apr 8, 2015
    I totally agree, I have noticed that if i get prints from a lab or even print myself on inkjet a lot of the grain I associate with a particular film is gone.

    I don't think there is really an ethical question, but i do think if I'm photoshopping a scan till it's unrecognisable perhaps I am wasting time and should have just shot on digital. I want to preserve... something? Something that as you say, probably doesn't really exist.

    I fell into the trap of trying to judge films based on flickr searches, or even on examples like the showcases in this forum. This doesn't tell you much really. The developer chemical, the time, the agitation, the skill of the developer, the exposure in camera.... there are just too many variables to be able to judge.

    All that said! I do think that I have improved the way I get from a flat looking scan to a final image. But I also think there is a lot to learn, especially now that I am starting to try and produce files that will print well. I bought an old Epson 2100 and trying to get great prints out of it isn't easy.
     
  4. Wongler

    Wongler FF Rookie

    23
    Apr 8, 2015
    Bethesda, MD
    I home scan on an Epson 5000 and I'm almost always having to go in and clone out some dust that the dust reduction in ICE didn't remove. I try to keep the colors true to the film but I may pull a highlight/lowlight curve here or there.
     
  5. pdh

    pdh FF Regular

    31
    Mar 25, 2015
    UK
    that's interesting, how are you doing that?
    if you are using transparency film are you comparing the colours you see on a lightbox with what you see on the screen?
    if you are using negative film, are you having them yet printed first and then comparing the prints to the screen?
    obviously you can't compare negative film on a lightbox because the colours are inverted plus of course the orange mask has to be allowed for.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Wongler

    Wongler FF Rookie

    23
    Apr 8, 2015
    Bethesda, MD
    Well by true color to the film I mean the rendered color from my scans. I try not to touch the hue/saturation/tint of the scans. Granted that color of my scans would probably very depending on the software/hardware and various light leaks I'm finding in my old cameras.
     
  7. jai

    jai FF Regular

    68
    Apr 8, 2015
    Unfortunately you can't really get away from adjusting the colour from the scans. You can trust your scanner software to do it for you? Scanning software (SilverFast, Vuescan) can even include built in profiles for various film stocks that you can apply to colour correct the scan.

    But as pdh is saying, there isn't really a "true colour rendered" from the film scans. Unless you mean orange.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. xxjorelxx

    xxjorelxx FF Rookie

    23
    Apr 8, 2015
    MD, USA
    JohnRae
    why not just take the film scans the way they are instead of messing with them. If you wanted to do a lot of PP, you could always go digital.
     
  9. jai

    jai FF Regular

    68
    Apr 8, 2015
    Yeah, I had considered that. Actually if you read the third post on this thread I pretty much say exactly that.

    But it's all getting a bit too philosophical! Let me start off with an example:

    Here is what my photo looks like straight out of the scanner:


    And this is how I edited it:

    18268569934_c717d83386_b.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015
  10. xxjorelxx

    xxjorelxx FF Rookie

    23
    Apr 8, 2015
    MD, USA
    JohnRae
    ah I see.. Apologies for my oversight. Yeah, I just read the original post and went straight to response... sometimes these threads go off topic so I try to just reply to the OP and skim the rest.
     
  11. MAubrey

    MAubrey FF Regular

    55
    May 19, 2015
    Mike Aubrey
    I scan my images using as flat a tone curve as possible and then deal with the rest in Lightroom. Of course, I only use black and white film, so that's a major part of it. I'd probably do something different for color.
     
  12. Aushiker

    Aushiker FF Rookie

    13
    May 25, 2015
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
  13. jai

    jai FF Regular

    68
    Apr 8, 2015
    Thanks! I didn't realise I had the album set to private, because it worked for me. Wasn't easy to figure out how to change that either.
     
  14. edwardconde

    edwardconde FF Regular

    56
    Mar 24, 2015
    Edward Conde
    lately i have been adjusting prior to scanning. I use to care about trying to keep it true to what it is suppose to look like, but that faded... No i just adjust to how i like it.. For me I think each film type i use gives me a base to go off. Sometimes it doesn't take much after the scan to get the colors and tones right, sometimes it needs a little help.. It is what it is... I sometimes do question if I should be shooting more digital if I am manipulating a scan more than others, but then I look at my inventory of vintage gear and just smile! I love the process and adventure of shooting analog... :)
     
    • Agree Agree x 1