Digitizing negatives with a digital camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Oct 31, 2005.

  1. Hi,
    I have a bunch of old 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negatives from family
    members. The negatives, many color, are in good shape,
    buy I have thousands to digitize. I could do the job fast with
    my Canon 1D Mark II and 180 mm f/3.5 L macro lens. This system
    gives more than enough resolution (it resolves film grain clumps),
    and with raw output has the intensity precision (12 bits).

    The problem I have is how do I convert the negative to a
    positive (I have Photoshop CS2)? I can batch convert the raw
    files using a linear or other custom transfer function
    (using other programs). But when I do a simple "invert"
    in photoshop I get a very blue image.
    When I scan the negative on my Epson 4990 scanner (1200 ppi
    is adequate to resolve all the detail in these hand-held pictures),
    the colors come out great. I estimate I could do the digitizing
    about 5 or more times faster with the camera compared to the
    flatbed scanner.

    Any ideas on how to get the colors right?

    Thanks
    Roger
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Oct 31, 2005
    #1
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  2. Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)

    bmoag Guest

    Le masque d'orange.
    If you do your research you will find several formulas for dialing in color
    correction to get rid of the orange masking of color negative film.
    If you are time obesessed then calculate whether having the flatbed scanner
    automatically remove the orange mask or manually removing it in PS is more
    efficient.
    Personally I cannot believe you would think doing this with your digital
    camera is in any way more efficient or will yield better quality images than
    using a decent flatbed scanner and software for 2.25 film materials.
    How do you rapidly frame, focus and photograph with even illumination across
    the field in any time that is more efficient than using a decent flat bed
    scanner?
    Sacre bleu!
    If you do not photograph the film grain clumps than what exactly are you
    photographing as grain clumps are what make up the film image. If you do not
    resolve the grain you are producing digital mush copies of your film
    originals.
    I would hypothesize that in the time to post this, read the responses from
    skeptics or true believers, you could have finished the entire project with
    your flat bed scanner.
    bmoag, Oct 31, 2005
    #2
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  3. Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)

    Ryan Guest

    Roger N. Clark wrote:

    >> I have a bunch of old 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negatives from family
    >> members. The negatives, many color, are in good shape,
    >> buy I have thousands to digitize.



    bmoag wrote:

    > I would hypothesize that in the time to post this, read the responses from
    > skeptics or true believers, you could have finished the entire project with
    > your flat bed scanner.



    Wow, if he can finish several THOUSAND scans in the same time it takes
    him to read through a couple of posts in a single topic, then I know a
    few places that would give him a freaking job.
    Ryan, Oct 31, 2005
    #3
  4. bmoag wrote:
    > Le masque d'orange.
    > If you do your research you will find several formulas for dialing in color
    > correction to get rid of the orange masking of color negative film.
    > If you are time obesessed then calculate whether having the flatbed scanner
    > automatically remove the orange mask or manually removing it in PS is more
    > efficient.
    > Personally I cannot believe you would think doing this with your digital
    > camera is in any way more efficient or will yield better quality images than
    > using a decent flatbed scanner and software for 2.25 film materials.
    > How do you rapidly frame, focus and photograph with even illumination across
    > the field in any time that is more efficient than using a decent flat bed
    > scanner?
    > Sacre bleu!
    > If you do not photograph the film grain clumps than what exactly are you
    > photographing as grain clumps are what make up the film image. If you do not
    > resolve the grain you are producing digital mush copies of your film
    > originals.
    > I would hypothesize that in the time to post this, read the responses from
    > skeptics or true believers, you could have finished the entire project with
    > your flat bed scanner.
    >
    >

    Well, let's see: 1200x1200 ppi on 2.25x2.25 negative = 7.3 megapixels.
    1D Mark II: 8.2 megapixels.

    Epson 4990 measured Dmax = 2.7
    ( http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/drum.vs.flatbed-scanners )
    1D Mark II Dmax at ISO 100: ~3.5
    ( http://clarkvision.com/imagedetail/digital.signal.to.noise )

    So I get a much better Dmax with the camera over the flatbed and similar
    resolution (both of which are more than adequate for the detail
    on these negatives).

    I can use a a 2.25x2.25 film mount on a color corrected light
    table, so a couple of seconds to place the film, and no preview
    scan is required. I simply click the shutter with mirror
    lockup and in a few seconds I'm ready to put the next negative
    in place.

    On the flatbed, one must open the top, place the negative,
    close the top, preview scan, frame, final scan (it takes
    a couple of minutes), repeat. The camera setup is about 10x
    faster ignoring preview scanning on the flatbed.

    I can write scripts to convert all the files, so there is
    no need to do every one manually.

    Roger
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Oct 31, 2005
    #4
  5. Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)

    Flavius Guest

    Hi !

    Yes, I do this all the time with fantastic results! Here is how I do it.

    1. First I have a small color corrected light table (5000K).

    2. I make a mask from heavy opaque construction paper with a channel in the
    middle for the negative or negatives to sit or slide through. Mask as
    needed.

    3. A darkroom is not absolutely required but it helps. Be aware of stray
    light sources that may reflect from the surface of the negative.

    4. Using a reversed tripod I very firmly mount my camera about 2" above the
    negative. My current cameras in use are my Olympus C8080 (2) or my Olympus
    E-300. I actually prefer the C8080.

    5. I set the camera to "super macro mode" which requires the use of MANUAL
    focus.

    6. I carefully measure the distance from the negative to the lens and focus
    accordingly, Once the camera is in focus I need not refocus even after
    (carefully) changing a negative.

    7. I leave the camera (usually) in program mode and auto white balance, I
    only rarely need to tweak these settings.

    8. I trigger the shutter by aiming the infrared remote at the negative. The
    signal bounces to the camera and the picture is taken. Change negative and
    repeat. I can work VERY fast (you can too with practice)!

    9. After the XD and CF cards in the C8080 are full I move them to my OTHER
    C8080 and start the upload to my computer. While it is uploading I recycle
    the OTHER XD and CF to the first camera and continue photographing
    negatives.

    10. Once in the computer I invert the image using Micrographics Picture
    Publisher, adjust levels if needed and burn to CD for printing at my local
    lab ( $0.16 for a 4x6).

    11. I have many times printed as large as 11x14 this way with excellent
    results. I suspect I could get all the way to 20x30 but have not yet had a
    customer ask for one that size.

    12. Adjusting white balance as needed to correct for orange cast either in
    camera or on the computer seems to work about as well either way. Simple
    color corrections are a breeze in Picture Publisher. While I like and often
    use Photoshop, the older software still does a fine job and is, for me, much
    easier to use.

    YMMY

    L8r
    JDR

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.
    Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.

    "Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)" <> wrote in
    message news:...
    > Hi,
    > I have a bunch of old 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negatives
    Flavius, Oct 31, 2005
    #5
  6. "Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)" <>
    wrote in message news:...
    SNIP
    > The problem I have is how do I convert the negative to a
    > positive (I have Photoshop CS2)? I can batch convert the raw
    > files using a linear or other custom transfer function
    > (using other programs). But when I do a simple "invert"
    > in photoshop I get a very blue image.


    In order to get the colors right, and reduce posterization/noise,
    you'll need to use blue filtered light. The trick is to start with a
    neutral white rendition of the film base (mask). You either change the
    color of the lightsource, or filter the light that enters the camera
    with a filter

    Equal Digital Numbers for R/G/B of the film base will optimize S/N if
    they approach saturation, and produce color accurate blacks after
    inversion. Subsequent white balancing will get the highlights right
    and all intermediate luminosities should more or less follow. A final
    saturation tweak should allow you to get close to reasonable
    rendition, except for potential dye fade. Restoring faded dyes is a
    different subject altogether, because their fade rate is different per
    color.

    Bart
    Bart van der Wolf, Nov 1, 2005
    #6
  7. "Bart van der Wolf" <> wrote:
    >
    > In order to get the colors right, and reduce posterization/noise, you'll
    > need to use blue filtered light. The trick is to start with a neutral
    > white rendition of the film base (mask). You either change the color of
    > the lightsource, or filter the light that enters the camera with a filter


    Sheesh. You're flipping brilliant. Really. I've been ranting for ages how
    after-the-fact white balancing is bogus and digital requires color
    correction filters just as much as film, and completely missed that that's
    exactly what's required here.

    Ain't it amazing how "brilliance" consists of seeing the obvious???

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Nov 1, 2005
    #7
  8. David J. Littleboy wrote:

    > "Bart van der Wolf" <> wrote:
    >
    >>In order to get the colors right, and reduce posterization/noise, you'll
    >>need to use blue filtered light. The trick is to start with a neutral
    >>white rendition of the film base (mask). You either change the color of
    >>the lightsource, or filter the light that enters the camera with a filter

    >
    >
    > Sheesh. You're flipping brilliant. Really. I've been ranting for ages how
    > after-the-fact white balancing is bogus and digital requires color
    > correction filters just as much as film, and completely missed that that's
    > exactly what's required here.
    >
    > Ain't it amazing how "brilliance" consists of seeing the obvious???
    >
    > David J. Littleboy
    > Tokyo, Japan


    Bart,
    Great info! I'll try it. I do have a number of blue
    filters around.

    David, I agree.

    Roger
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Nov 1, 2005
    #8
  9. "David J. Littleboy" <> wrote in message
    news:dk6dnr$742$...
    SNIP
    > Ain't it amazing how "brilliance" consists of seeing the obvious???


    It probably stems from our prior 'education' in photographic film /
    wet chemistry. Even before digital photography became popular,
    Garbage-In-Garbage-Out (GIGO) ruled.
    Just because we can manipulate the result with more ease, it still
    pays to get it right from the start.

    Bart
    Bart van der Wolf, Nov 1, 2005
    #9
  10. "Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)" <>
    wrote in message news:...
    SNIP
    > Bart,
    > Great info! I'll try it. I do have a number of blue
    > filters around.


    Those would at least improve the green and blue S/N. Alternatively,
    you could try 3 exposures (rough first approximation is an R:G:B
    channel exposure ratio like 1:2:3 or G and B a bit closer to the Red
    exposure if blue sky background is used). Potential drawback is an
    increased chance on blooming of the Red channel as exposures increase.

    Because you use ImagesPlus, there might even be a possibility to
    combine the R, G, and B pixels from 3 Raws and Demosaic a composite of
    the three files. It may be difficult to get accurate color though,
    because I don't know how the Canon libraries will react to such a
    fabricated neutral exposure (the AA-filter and secondary band
    transmission may/will cause unexpected results). The whole exercise
    may become too involved for more than a few negatives or an
    experiment.

    It is almost certainly much easier to filter the light before it
    reaches the sensor, with the backlight color (blue sky would already
    help some) and a lens filter.

    Bart
    Bart van der Wolf, Nov 1, 2005
    #10
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