Scanning Prints vs Negatives

Discussion in 'Scanning, Enlarging, and Printing' started by Mijo, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. Mijo

    Mijo FF Regular

    43
    Mar 25, 2015
    San Francisco
    Mario
    Wondering if anyone here is scanning prints rather than negatives and if so what has your experience been (i.e. do you prefer one over the other). Thus far I've only scanned in color negatives (as I don't have any prints) but I have a lot of traditional B&W prints to potentially scan. I participated in the film class last year that suggested if you have a traditional print already that you like it makes more sense and saves time to scan that in rather than the negative and then PP the scanned negative.

    Any input is greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
  2. It seems like your decision would be made mostly out of necessity. If you have a negative and no print, and you don't have a darkroom or a good printer, then scanning would be the answer. If you have a print but no negative, often the case with old pictures, then of course scanning is the choice. But then you start think about the quality of your scanner or printer or your darkroom skills, and all the possible combinations of them all, and your head starts to spin.
     
  3. Mijo

    Mijo FF Regular

    43
    Mar 25, 2015
    San Francisco
    Mario
    I should have clarified my position in regards to the B&W prints, I actually have the negatives and I made the prints myself in a darkroom. The question now is whether to scan in the negative or the print. Since some of these prints required a fair about of work (i.e. dodging, burning, masking, etc.), I'm assuming that if I scan the prints in I won't be required to do any additional PP with the file. If I instead scan in the negative, I'm assuming I'd have to do some PP with the file similar to what was done in the darkroom to get the print. Maybe I'll just scan in both to see which is the better starting point in terms of a digital file. I was hoping someone had already gone through this exercise before and would be willing to share their results.

    For the color negatives, I have no prints so I'm only left with scanning the negatives.
     
  4. RichardB

    RichardB Super Moderator

    65
    Mar 23, 2015
    Maryland, US
    I don't have experience scanning b&w, but I've tried scanning color prints and negatives. I was happier with the scans from prints because they had more contrast and the colors looked more vivid. Scanning color negatives required a lot of tweaking to look right, but I'm sure I could get better at it with more experience.

    If you put effort into making prints, I think you should start by scanning the prints.
     
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  5. Mijo

    Mijo FF Regular

    43
    Mar 25, 2015
    San Francisco
    Mario
    Richard, thanks for the input. I'm also having trouble getting the color right with scanned color negatives.
     
  6. RichardB

    RichardB Super Moderator

    65
    Mar 23, 2015
    Maryland, US
    When I get back to scanning color negatives, I'm going to try Color Perfect software. I use Vuescan to drive my film scanner and Color Perfect seems like it can help with the conversion.
     
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  7. Mijo

    Mijo FF Regular

    43
    Mar 25, 2015
    San Francisco
    Mario
    image. I scanned a couple of B&W prints from a recent vacation so that I could share them via social media with family. I found the whole process easier than scanning negatives. Even when using canned air and static repelling cloth, dust seems to end up on on my negatives. the only real issue I have is when the print isn't completely flat, you can see how the edges aren't straight and some of the light from the scanner causes a very visible light area.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  8. PaulJ

    PaulJ FF Rookie

    15
    Feb 22, 2016
    Just my 2d worth.....

    Unless it's an exceptionally good print and it's a good scanner used by someone who really knows what they're up to, scanning a print has real limitations as to what you can do with afterwards. I much prefer chemical prints to inkjet but I don't have time or space for a darkroom these days and scanning negatives is my only option. If scanned as TIFF or "RAW", and to a decent size, you can manipulate them quite extensively to get the end result you're after.

    The only time I've scanned prints in the past few years has been if I haven't got the negatives.
     
  9. Mijo

    Mijo FF Regular

    43
    Mar 25, 2015
    San Francisco
    Mario
    That's what I've come to realize in experimenting with scanning negatives and prints. Either way I end up needing to PP the scanned file. The scanned print might be a better starting point than a scanned negative but that's usually b/c I'm trying to pull a decent image from a less than ideal negative. I can either spent more time on the traditional print before scanning it or scan the negative and spend that time in LR. In each scenario I'll still end up in LR, if I want a recent digital image.
     
  10. kennethcooke

    kennethcooke FF Veteran

    276
    May 30, 2017
    Leeds, WestRiding, UK
    I am considering buying one of these, however, I am a digital neanderthal and a lifetime member of the Luddites, anyone have any experience to the worth of this approach please? OpticFilm 8100 | OpticFilm 8100 | Plustek
     
  11. Jim

    Jim FF Regular

    39
    Apr 2, 2017
    Newark, DE
    Having scanned b&w negatives as well as printed them in a darkroom, I much prefer scanning negatives to scanning prints - if the negative is available and in good condition. If the negative is damaged, then as print might be a better option.

    As noted above, producing a print involves making a series of choices about dodging, burning, exposure, etc. that are already "baked in" to a print. Scanning a negative lets you go back to the "source", as it were, to revisit those choices and perhaps modify them if you desire.

    Also, scanning a negative allows you to use various manipulations that aren't easily available in a darkroom and the results are immediately apparent.

    Actually, because of these options, I'm not sure scanning negatives is much faster than making prints in the traditional way, but I do think you have the opportunity to evaluate more choices.

    The dust problem mentioned earlier is a real issue since apparently Digital ICE doesn't work on silver negatives - but then dust on negatives in a darkroom is just as much of a pain, so........
     
  12. José

    José FF Regular

    163
    Mar 25, 2015
    Hi,

    I have a PLUSTEK Scanner OpticFilm 8200i SE Led. You can check some of my samples here: Search: plustek | Flickr

    It works fine: high resolution (check original sizes on my Flickr), plenty of film profiles, but demands a lot of time. I'm actually considering selling mine due to not having time for this.

    19595469208_7c0f2f77e5_b.
    Eggs
    by José Saraiva, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  13. kennethcooke

    kennethcooke FF Veteran

    276
    May 30, 2017
    Leeds, WestRiding, UK
    Am I to assume that this scanner will scanner B&W too? as, apart from colour reversal, I don't work with colour?
     
  14. José

    José FF Regular

    163
    Mar 25, 2015
    It scans B&W but I'm not an expert to understand if this is a pure B&W scan. But it looks good, IMHO.
     
  15. kennethcooke

    kennethcooke FF Veteran

    276
    May 30, 2017
    Leeds, WestRiding, UK
    I am not sure that there is such a thing as a pure B&W scan Jose? Everything I have seen looks monochrome and lacks that pure B&W, like film look. There again, all processors and printers are trying their best to introduce colour?
     
  16. kennethcooke

    kennethcooke FF Veteran

    276
    May 30, 2017
    Leeds, WestRiding, UK
    Before I jump in and buy something, Plustek type or Flatbed?
     
  17. kennethcooke

    kennethcooke FF Veteran

    276
    May 30, 2017
    Leeds, WestRiding, UK
    They look very good and it should fill my need, apart from only being able to digitise 35mm. I also have a Rollie 3.5f and the film for that is 6X6, I guess I need to decide whether I need to digitise m/f film or I would be happy this just 35mm. I like your images, by the way, I very want to visit Manhattan before I am too old and decrepit.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Arutemu

    Arutemu FF Rookie

    23
    Jul 1, 2017
    Columbus
    Well, gentlemen,

    You opened a can of worms and I will try to respond. Just recently I have read this very influential Russian photographer on this very topic. Here is his website: Photographer Pavel Kosenko

    I read his article here:

    Цхалтубо. Пару сканов с отпечатков

    It is in Russian, but this interests me enough that I took the liberty of translating it into English. I apologize if you find grammar bugs in it; I think I conveyed the meaning well enough. I am very much interested in opinions and reactions.

    TRANSLATION:

    No matter what, I like showing scans made from prints more than those from negatives. First of all, when I show a print, it has to do with a physically existing photograph. One that you can see, touch, frame, sell, show in a gallery, hang on a wall, etc. Moreover, that is the only way in which the photograph exists (and none other). For when we are showing scans from negatives, it is no more than a bunch of pixels. Of course, this bunch of pixels can well be visualized, but after printing their interpretation will be different anyway. And as to the manual prints made from negatives, no two photographs will ever be the same. They may look very similar, but will always be different. Therefore, it is a bit strange to declare to the world that you have taken a shot and show the unfinished master (scan from the negative). Though many are quite happy with a demonstration of something that later theoretically could turn into a photograph (but almost never does).

    Second, a scan from a negative always has a high processing reserve, which is not good. That’s because digital post-processing is the imitation of printing. You could not avoid doing it, for otherwise the shot will turn out too weak. While doing it, on the other hand, always means estimating how the shot will be printed. Great if you have a good scanner/software and you have a wealth of experience with manual printing. If not, then the likelihood of recreating the image you see in the monitor is decreased considerably when/if it comes to its manual printing in the darkroom. Of course, it is possible to print it in the digital minilab or on an inkjet printer, but in that case we get into a hybrid process of film/digital, where it is easy to get lost, and which is not true (I think it is not a secret to anyone that many galleries treat analog photos with a particular piety, while some do not even accept digital or hybrid photographs.)

    Third, a print costs money (and a manual print costs a lot of money). That means that the author will think twice before printing a photo. Thus, printing is one more level of selection, one more stage of weeding out unnecessary shots. It is one more level for increasing the quality of a photo – not only of technical quality (though that as well), but primarily of esthetical and meaning quality. The very fact of shooting film forces the author to treat what he is doing differently on principle. It has great influence on the primary selection in the course of shooting. The second level of selection – shooting in medium format, which greatly increases responsibility (while shooting in large format means boundless creative responsibility to oneself). The third level is manual printing proper. If the photo survived as far as this stage (in fact, as far as realization), that signifies that it really means something to the author.

    However, naturally slides from negatives also make sense. They represent preview, archive, just snapshots, and the process of thinking over the materials shot. I also show scans from negatives, but they have a more intermediate, applied, and sometimes, even everyday function (which, of course, is not bad).
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  19. kennethcooke

    kennethcooke FF Veteran

    276
    May 30, 2017
    Leeds, WestRiding, UK
    I have many slides, and very many negs. I guess it would be quite nice to be able to make a print or post a JPEG from any of those, and I guess that I would like to arrive at a situation where, for a moderate outlay I could do just that. My question is, flatbed or Plustek type where the scanned media is fed in, which, also seems the cheaper and simple option?

    OpticFilm 8100 | OpticFilm 8100 | Plustek

    Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner | Photo Scanners | Scanners | For Home | Epson US

    Pavel, I think your photographic work is fabulous by the way?

    Hope you don't mind me adding this Pavel? Fabulous work, stunning colour

    #17 PAVEL KOSENKO, Moscow (Russia) Street Photographer
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  20. MoonMind

    MoonMind FF Veteran Subscribing Member

    278
    Mar 24, 2015
    Switzerland
    Matt
    I just looked at the prices for the Plustek scanners. Since I'd actually need the OpticFilm 120, initial costs would be very high - but of course, if you only do 35mm stuff, the 8*** series is a lot less pricey.

    EDIT: I'd opt for one of the 8200 devices (more precisely, I'd go for the Ai): IR built-in, and in the case of the AI, IT8 auto-calibration ... Very useful (dust-removal, accurate printing).

    At the moment, I for one will stick to what I have: the CanoScan 9000F MkII, a flatbed quite like the Epson V600 (a scanner with a very good name, btw.). There are serious limitations, however: Resolution is a lot less than advertised (about 1600dpi), and it's not always easy to get good results. So, if you're not sure scanning will be your final or only solution, it might be better to invest in the general purpose device - which is the Epson.

    Nevertheless, the results from the OpticFilm scanners look really impressive, and it comes with a good piece of software ... I might change my mind; but first, I'll do some more scanning with the rig in place.

    M.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
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