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Negative scans with a new method

 


For years I used a Nikon Coolscan to scan my slides and negs. Those scanners use a less-common Firewire connection (Apple sucks!) Now at the school lab I run, we use Epson V700 scanners. The quality of scans for 35mm especially leaves a lot to be desired! 

Here's what I did......

  • Put my Sony A7rII with a macro (a real macro that can do 1:1) on a copystand
  • Put a flat panel LED light box on the stand
  • Put my negative in a negative carrier (I tried a few carriers, in this case the neg carrier is for a Besler 45)
  • Put a couple of boxes (in this case 100' rolls of Kodak Plus X from the 1980's) to space out above the light box (prevents dust showing from on the lightbox)

For comparison, I also scanned a set of negatives on the Epson V700. The results showed me that I shouldn't be scanning 35's on the Epson!

Epson vs Camera Scan, overview

Right off the bat, some of the exposures from the Epson in default mode looked pretty crappy. But I chose this Epson scan (on the left) because I thought it looked close to what I was looking for. I scanned in 16 bit gray scale at 4800dpi on the Epson. The "scan" on the right was with the Sony A7rII and an adapted Canon 100mm macro taken at f8.

Epson vs Camera Scan, details

The camera "scans" are RAW files. As such there's a lot of room to go up or down with exposure or pull detail from the highlights and shadows. The shadows on the Epson scan are blocked up, even though this negative is a really easy properly exposed and developed sample.

Epson vs Camera Scan, shadow detail sample

The Camera Scan blows the Epson scan out of the water. You can see film grain throughout the image that is crisp and clear. The details present in the camera scan are comparable to a good drum scan. Scanning takes just a few seconds for each image (repositioning, and setup). 

I don't think I'll bother ever using the Epson for 35's again.


(as always images and words ©Michael Halberstadt)







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