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Geoff Tani
25 January 2006, 10:32 AM
Could I please hear from people who have scanned old family photographs from black and white negative film? What did you do to get good looking scans?

Long before digital cameras came on the scene, I photographed copies of relatives' old family pictures to 35mm film. The original pictures were black and white, so I shot them in black and white. Recently, I bought a flat bed scanner which also handles film scanning. (Canon CanoScan 9900F, which was top of their line in 2004.)

I have been scanning the black and white film with the following settings:
Film: monochrome
Scan: gray scale
Resolution: 350dpi
Print size: 8x10 inches
Resulting scan file size: 10MB each
Sharpening ON, all other features (like dust correction, etc) OFF
Scan 24 frames at a time via a thumbnail interface (as opposed to scanning each frame 1 by 1)

The results have been mixed. Some negative frames come out attractive, but many scans are grossly dark or contrasty.

Then I tried scanning some frames with one change to the above:
Scan: color
Resulting scan file size: 35MB each

The results have sometimes been better. The images look more attractive. There is much better tone in the scan. One big problem, though, is that the file sizes are huge. A bigger problem is having to redo all these scans. (About 1000 frames!)

I'm stuck. Is there a way to scan black and white film and consistently get descent results, while still being reasonably fast? (Did I mention 1000 frames?) Should I start all over and scan in color? Must I rescan every frame 1 by 1, setting lighting and contrast for each individual image?

Thank you for any advice.

theKiwi
25 January 2006, 01:41 PM
Could I please hear from people who have scanned old family photographs from black and white negative film? What did you do to get good looking scans?
We started out years ago with a SCSI scanner whose name I don't remember now that cost more than $1000. It had a transparency adapter with it. Results from that were only "middling".

Then about 5 years ago I bought what at that time was top of the line Minolta Scan Multi (had to get the scan multi to be able to deal with the hundreds of olde 6x6 negatives plus possibly thousands of 6 x 4.5 negs I had from a Pentax 645). This scanner cost $2000.

The results were several orders of magnitude better than the previous scanner, and we still have it today, and last time I tried it it worked with Mac OS X 10.4.something even.

You can't replace good dynamic range, and plenty of patience I reckon.

Roger

S. Kennedy
25 January 2006, 05:34 PM
Could I please hear from people who have scanned old family photographs from black and white negative film? What did you do to get good looking scans?

I'm stuck. Is there a way to scan black and white film and consistently get descent results, while still being reasonably fast? (Did I mention 1000 frames?) Should I start all over and scan in color? Must I rescan every frame 1 by 1, setting lighting and contrast for each individual image?

Thank you for any advice.

Geoff,
This is a complex question and I don't have enough time or expertise to give a complete answer. I have scanned a lot of old pictures and some film. Have never used a flatbed scanner for film so not sure about that. Based on your other info the 350 dpi must refer to the 8x10 prints.

Unless all of the pictures are nearly the same density, you should adjust each scan one at a time before scanning. I know you don't want to hear that.

General opinion is that a flat bed scanner is not the best choice for 35mm film. If you have good prints from the negatives you may find that scanning the prints will give better results. Generally color scanning will give you more bit depth which will improve your results. Some scanners give you a choice of bit depth.

Regardless, with old pictures, I have always found that editing the results in a graphic editing program is usually necessary to get acceptable results.

One bit of editing that I find useful is to print names below the picture in a margin created by enlarging the canvas. This helps to insure that the names won't be lost.

You might consider keeping the pictures you have as an index of sorts and then working on individual pictures you consider to be the most important.

S. Kennedy

Bob White
25 January 2006, 08:59 PM
............. Then I tried scanning some frames with one change to the above:
Scan: color
Resulting scan file size: 35MB each

The results have sometimes been better. The images look more attractive. There is much better tone in the scan. One big problem, though, is that the file sizes are huge. ...........

I scan with the color setting for b&w. I have done over the years with several different scanners and softwares and always got better results than grayscale.
Also, I'm not understanding your concern with the scan file size. (Unless you have RAM limitations.) The size to be concerned with is the "saved" size. That is much smaller and the actual size depends upon what format you save to.

John M. Leggett
25 January 2006, 09:23 PM
Could I please hear from people who have scanned old family photographs from black and white negative film? What did you do to get good looking scans?

Using my Epson Perfection 1200U with its Film Adapter I have successfully scanned hundreds of B&W negatives in the last few years. Most are from roll film cameras so the negatives are much larger than 35mm but many are from WWI and earlier. Believe it or not, I just let the scanner select the settings and that results in a scan the same size as the negative.

Perhaps trying to get 8x10 from 35mm could be difficult if the photographs are not good and sharp. A lot of 35mm cameras sold right after WWII (I know, I had one) did not do well with anything beyond 4x6 or possibly 5x7 because the lenses were not all that great.

My suggestion would be to select a negative, do the best scan you can and then have a good quality 8x10 print made from the same negative. You might discover that neither of them is very good. Or it may turn out that the scanner you are using leaves a lot to be desired.

John M. Leggett

STEVE
26 January 2006, 10:56 AM
...I'm stuck. Is there a way to scan black and white film and consistently get descent results, while still being reasonably fast? (Did I mention 1000 frames?) Should I start all over and scan in color? Must I rescan every frame 1 by 1, setting lighting and contrast for each individual image?...Hi Geoff,

Magazines like MacWorld and MacAddict have online databases of past articles. I'm sure you could find some great ideas and suggestions there. There are any number of good books on the subject. There are newsgroups that talk about little else. I'm not good enough, or knowledgeable enough about scanning to directly help you, but I hope these resources may prove useful to you.

STEVE

WELL465d
26 January 2006, 06:46 PM
In any attempt to scan a 35mm negative no matter if it is Blank and White or Color can be a challenge to get quality results. There may be flat bed scanners out there that do a fair job but the only true way is with a negative or slide scanner. There is fortunately a great solution.

Wal-Mart . . . with all their warts will scan 35mm negatives and burn them to a CD for around $3. I believe each CD must hold no more than 30 negatives . . . due to their limitation . . . they will do it but each additional scan will cost about .26 cents. A normal CD will certainly hold many many more than 30. The scans are made by lazer and are very good. If you wish they will provide a index of images for .99 cents more.

So if you wish to have great scans . . . go to Wal-Mart. I have a slide and negative scanner and still go to Wal-mart . . . I've got an old scanner and it takes forever to scan.

J. Morrow
27 January 2006, 07:45 PM
Wal-Mart . . . with all their warts will scan 35mm negatives and burn them to a CD for around $3. I believe each CD must hold no more than 30 negatives . . . due to their limitation . . . they will do it but each additional scan will cost about .26 cents. A normal CD will certainly hold many many more than 30. The scans are made by lazer and are very good. If you wish they will provide a index of images for .99 cents more.Last summer I had over 5,000 35mm slides and negatives scanned to CDs at Wal-Mart, and they did an excellent job as far as I'm concerned. The cost was $2.82 per 40 images. When I was over half way through the project I found that they would put over 200 images to a CD and the price was still $2.82 per 40 images. About 2 months ago I went back with four more groups of 40 slides and was alerted that the pricing had changed and the charge was $0.28 per image. Needless to say, I'm doing them on my scanner, 4 at a time. Check your local Wal-Mart and verify current pricing.

dcosten
27 January 2006, 08:40 PM
As others have said, your best bet is to scan in color. I highly recommend VueScan to help speed things up.

I really do think it is worth your time to scan them all again, because scanning them in color will pay off in the long term - once you have a really good raw scan, there's no reason to have to do it over in the future. I would recommend against sharpening while scanning, because you can always do that later in your editing software, and it could speed your scanning up quite a bit (depending on your machine).


On a semi-related note, for those that have Epson scanners, I would recommend this device:
http://home.earthlink.net/~dougfisher/holder/mainintro.html
If you have one of the supported scanners, and you are scanning Medium Format, it can really help with batch scanning, and most importantly, it helps keep the film flat, so that everything is properly focused.

If you have severely curled film, you can purchase this add-on: http://home.earthlink.net/~dougfisher/holder/insert.html which is an anti-Newton Ring piece of glass.

Both of these, plus VueScan pay for themselves manytimes over if you are scanning large numbers of Medium Format film.

Don Bell
28 January 2006, 02:25 PM
One bit of editing that I find useful is to print names below the picture in a margin created by enlarging the canvas. This helps to insure that the names won't be lost.Thanks! What a great tip.

Geoff Tani
29 January 2006, 03:05 AM
A lot of excellent advice -- thank you very much! If only I had started this thread 1000 frames ago.

"Based on your other info the 350 dpi must refer to the 8x10 prints."

"Also, I'm not understanding your concern with the scan file size. (Unless you have RAM limitations.) The size to be concerned with is the "saved" size. That is much smaller and the actual size depends upon what format you save to."
Sorry, I could have described my settings more clearly. I set the scan output to 350dpi at print size 8x10. The reason for that is to enable relatives to print out images they like up to 8x10 and expect a decent print. I saved the scans as PSD files. As PSDs, the black and white scans were usually 10 MB, and color scans 35 MB.

"I would recommend against sharpening while scanning, because you can always do that later in your editing software, and it could speed your scanning up quite a bit (depending on your machine)."
Regarding the sharpening feature, does it irreversibly alter your image if you do the sharpening during the scan, as opposed to after the scan? I am aware of the sharpening feature in Photoshop. However, to the extent that I have tried using it, it does not appear to make the image look as good as when I sharpen the image during the scan.

dcosten
30 January 2006, 12:29 PM
Regarding the sharpening feature, does it irreversibly alter your image if you do the sharpening during the scan, as opposed to after the scan? I am aware of the sharpening feature in Photoshop. However, to the extent that I have tried using it, it does not appear to make the image look as good as when I sharpen the image during the scan.
Yes, it alters it permanently if you sharpen during the scan, as the final output is sharpened. Some people prefer a non-sharpened scan, so that they can go back later and tweak it quite a bit.

There are many ways to sharpen within Photoshop (various filters, etc.).

I would recommend this forum:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/forum.asp?forum=1006

It's the retouching forum at DPReview.com, and one of the best around (they also have a great Mac forum as well). I will warn you that once you start reading that forum, you'll be forever obsessing over how you should edit your images :-)

Bob White
01 February 2006, 12:44 AM
In any attempt to scan a 35mm negative no matter if it is Blank and White or Color can be a challenge to get quality results. There may be flat bed scanners out there that do a fair job but the only true way is with a negative or slide scanner.........Mostly true. However, after lots of looking around, a few months ago I purchased an Epson Perfection 4990 Photo scanner. It is a higher end flatbed that comes with several different "film holders" that take the guesswork out of scanning various film items. There are holders for 35 mm film strips, 35 mm slides, 120/220 photos and 4x5 photos. I have been doing hundreds of slides with great accuracy and good results. Of course, a dedicated file scanner would be much faster but also much more expensive. (Note: This puppy is FireWire and the scan mechanism is pretty peppy, so I can get quite a bit done in short order.)

dchadduck
06 February 2006, 12:36 AM
Thanks! What a great tip.

Don't just stop with names. I put every bit of info I have about the photo on there. Sometimes it is just the name but other times there can be much more info. I have one photo of almost 30 people. I recently, after many many months, finally identified everyone, and then found out it was taken the day of my grandmother's funeral. I also found out where the gathering was. So I know within a couple days how old everyone was.
While scanning I give every photo a unique letter/number identifier. This also is placed in the upper left corner. I put at least a miniimum extended canvas on virtually every picture.

S. Kennedy
06 February 2006, 05:00 PM
Don't just stop with names. I put every bit of info I have about the photo on there. Sometimes it is just the name but other times there can be much more info. I have one photo of almost 30 people. I recently, after many many months, finally identified everyone, and then found out it was taken the day of my grandmother's funeral. I also found out where the gathering was. So I know within a couple days how old everyone was.
While scanning I give every photo a unique letter/number identifier. This also is placed in the upper left corner. I put at least a miniimum extended canvas on virtually every picture.

To expand on this just a bit more, when the group is very large (I have family reunion pictures of 100 or more that are quite jumbled) I will make a low resolution grayscale copy and number each individual, calling that an index print of the same file name. That can them be pasted on the top of a page and all individuals identified by number below. When using double sided photo paper this index can be printed on the back side.
S. Kennedy

dchadduck
09 February 2006, 10:48 PM
To expand on this just a bit more, when the group is very large (I have family reunion pictures of 100 or more that are quite jumbled) I will make a low resolution grayscale copy and number each individual, calling that an index print of the same file name. That can them be pasted on the top of a page and all individuals identified by number below. When using double sided photo paper this index can be printed on the back side.
S. Kennedy


Exactely what I did. Duped the pic and Photoshopped a bright red number 1 thru 30 onto each person with a "Help" note in the caption. Mine are all on a web site, and backed up on CDs, with the original prints archived away. Love Photoshop. Love the web. Love archive boxes and on and on we go. Whee

S. Kennedy
27 April 2006, 09:26 PM
To expand on this just a bit more, when the group is very large (I have family reunion pictures of 100 or more that are quite jumbled) I will make a low resolution grayscale copy and number each individual, calling that an index print of the same file name. That can them be pasted on the top of a page and all individuals identified by number below. When using double sided photo paper this index can be printed on the back side.
S. Kennedy

Just in case anyone is still interested in solutions, a different approach was posted on another forum today with a link to a web site to illustrate. For very large groups this is probably a very good solution. Click on Panoramas at the bottom of the page. You have to download the pdf to see the results. The web site is:
<http://home.clara.net/rowil/dalriada/>
S. Kennedy