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Thread: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

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    Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Up until now I've always shot slide for colour work, namely Fuji Astia. I've shot it because I've found slide films scan easier, with less apparent grain, and with better colour saturation, at least with my skills. I'm using a Nikon 8000 scanner primarily, and also outsource drum scanning on the rare occasion. Lately I've been wanting a bit more room for error / latitude as I've been working in variable light out on the street. The only Fuji 100ISO film I see available is Reala, and then only when ordered from Silverprint in London. B&H says it's discontinued. My question is, how does Reala compare to Astia in terms of colour and grain when scanned and is it feasible I could switch to Reala and edit new photographs in series relatively seamlessly with older photos taken on Astia? I've shot a lot of 160S in the past, and it's a lovely film, but the colours are too subtle.

    I'm shooting only 6x7cm and print no larger than 18x22.5" @360dpi.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    If Pro 160S is too subtle, try Portra 160VC. Pro 160S scans a bit better IMO, and it was my preferred film toward the end of my LF film shooting days, but Portra 160 VC definitely has more saturation. Given that you're scanning, it should be relatively easy to boost saturation and maintain/adjust color balance to the point you are happy with them.
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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Thanks Jack,
    yeah, 160S is a great film but I've had no end of trouble before trying to get it to scan and look "right" next to Astia scans. I could be imagining things, but I remember Astia being a bit punchier and with different skin tones. I've tried the Kodak films but don't like the peachy skin, especially. It's great film but not for my work, where i want to emphasize the harsh, blue light. If I were stating a project from scratch I'd just use 160S but...

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Tim,

    my standard film for color work was Fuji Pro 160S, and I'm still using it for high contrast scenes, like urban night photography. The latitude of this film is amazing. Recently I tried Astia 100F for portraits on 8x10".

    As you know, with slide film you have limited latitude but the captured contrast range is stored much more effectively over a larger density range than on negative film. The density range per captured f-stop is comparable to the bit depth of a digital image file. Color negs like Pro 160S store a larger dynamic range compressed into a much smaller density range. Thus the statistical grain fluctuations which can be seen as image noise are amplified when you boost the contrast and steepen the gradation to get an appealing image. That's why images based on color negatives usually have a grainier appearance than slide film where the steep gradation curve is already build into the film. The amount of graininess in an image based on color negative film depends a lot on how much of the film's density range you are using. In low contrast situations you'll get grainier images than in high contrast scenes.
    If you keep that in mind and chose your film according to the contrast range at hand you can minimize the grain in your color images.

    I haven't shot Reala and I've only scanned it only once for a client. So I can't really say how the color compares to Pro 160S. I find the color separation of Pro 160S to be excellent. Like Jack said, there are a few options to boost the saturation in PP.
    I scanned a few negs of Portra 160VC and agree that it seems to be balanced slightly warmer than neutral.

    Have you tried Kodak's Ektar 100 or Fuji's Pro 160C (more contrasty and saturated than 160S)?

    If you could show some examples where you had trouble to get the Astia look from 160S scans maybe I can help you find out what to do. Sometimes the files are already be messed up at the scanning stage.
    The images I posted on the More Fun with Large Format Film Images! thread a few weeks ago were based on Pro 160S.

    -Dominique

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    That was one of the best explanations I have heard for the difference of color negative and positive. Thank you Dominique! It's always easy to see the difference, but very hard to explain it to people. Cheers.

    Tim -- if you are really looking for it to be seamless, and you are going to be doing the scan yourself, I would say stick with the Astia and just be careful about your technique. It will probably be easier to get your exposures spot on than it will be to try to match the files perfectly after the fact with a scanner.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Man, that's some great information. Thanks! I had no idea grain becomes more apparent for the reasons you mentioned in neg film. It would also explain why I have had major problems scanning and editing scanned neg images that have been shot up close with direct flash - where the main subject is very flat, well exposed, but needs to be tweaked to match a corresponding shot taken on slide. The slide shot always looks comparatively grain free and has more feeling of depth off the bat.

    Here's a link to a photo on my web site that was taken with Kodak 400NC, which was drum scanned by a lab then edited in 16bit/pc by me to get as close as I could to the image following it.

    http://www.timjveling.com/index.php/premaritalbliss/153

    The image following it in the series was taken on Provia 400F, scanned on a Nikon 8000. These images are never going to truly match because they have totally different biases with colour. I know it's almost impossible to tell when looking at images this small, but I'm away from home and my computer at the moment and can't access the larger files. The grain in the neg image is what I consider as "large as golf balls," especially in the hair and shadows. When printed it looks, to a trained eye at least, like a digitally scanned image. The only grain in the second image is subtle colour grain you'd expect to see in any optical print. My experience of scanned neg shot without flash is a lot better, as should be expected after reading your technical info above. Still, it's never quite as good.

    I've just today sent 12 rolls of Astia off to process. I'll see how my exposures look before making any decision to order in bulk film. I'm nearly out of stock in my fridge! I REALLY want to buy Stuart's Imacon... Must... Hold... Back... Credit card...!

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Another thing that makes scanning color negs more difficult is that the grain structure is actually quite a bit larger than on a corresponding color transparency or black and white neg film, so if you are scanning at the maximum resolution of the scanner - often 4000 ppi or higher, you end up emphasizing the grain as go higher than what it takes to just resolve the grain. The grain structure of most color neg film is in the 13-19 micron range, which translates to about 1300-2000 ppi in scanning resolution.

    Flatbed and CCD film scanners are hampered in scanning color negs because if you need 4000 ppi worth of data, there is no control over how the grain is resolved or over-resolved. Drum scanners, on the other hand, use an aperture system behind the focusing lens to control the size of the "spot" that the scanner sees as the drum spirals in front of the lens. Normally the aperture size is set automatically and corresponds directly to the hardware optical resolution called for in the software. For instance, if I ask my Howtek 8000 to scan at 4000 ppi, it will automatically set the aperture to 6.35 microns.

    Multiply that 6.35 micron spot times 4000 and you magically arrive at 25.4 mm or one inch. 6.35 microns=4000 ppi. Aaahhh!

    Where drum scanners get interesting is that you can decouple the automatic aperture setting from the resolution call and set the aperture manually. So, for instance, if I'm scanning a ISO160 color neg film and need 4000 ppi, I'll set the software for 4000 but I'll manually set the aperture to 16 microns, which is a very close match to the grain size of the film. The effect is that instead of scanning past the grain and emphasizing it, you are matching the aperture to the grain size, recording all the inherent detail in the film but smoothing the grain compared to using a smaller aperture.

    Depending on the film and image I'm scanning, I can end up with a scan that will print with almost identical grain and detail as a projected analog print, or by moving one aperture stop smaller, I can get a hair more detail with a bit more apparent grain, or I can go the other way, using a slightly larger aperture and get even less apparent grain but losing a bit of fine detail as well.

    The more apertures a drum scanner has in the 10-25 micron range, the better chance it has of being able to match the aperture size to the film grain, but the operator has to know how and when to ignore the automatic settings.

    Of course, if you're scanning at a resolution low enough that the auto aperture is already larger than the film grain, then no custom action is needed.

    Grain structures of color transparency and black and white negs are such that you rarely have to do a manual aperture for those. Velvia is in the 4-5 micron range. T-Max100 more like 3-4 micron while Ektachromes are slightly coarser at perhaps 6 microns.

    I've scanned thousands of negs, color and black and white over the last dozen years and these are some of the things I've learned from first hand experience making high end hi-res scans for myself and a variety of demanding clients.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Wow, again brilliant info that I've never heard or read before. It's amazing how much knowledge and experience hides in the corners of the internet in relatively small forums like this!

    I really wish I had an Imacon / Hasselblad scanner so I could be more self reliant. I've always found that it's best to do as much of the processing and printing work myself as I can because it's the only way to really learn and know how to problem solve. This knowledge is especially important when dealing with labs and when having to outsource work. I just helps to speak the same language as the person operating the machine!

    I believe what you are describing, pfigen, is what I've been calling grain aliasing? I've always felt this was the reason I'm getting large grain in my neg scans. For want of a better term, the grain looks "clumpy."

    Attached is a crop from the file I linked to that shows what I'm talking about. Again, it was drum scanned and outputted for me at 18x22.5" @ 360dpi. When scanning myself with the Nikon, I aways used 4000dpi and four times multi-sampling to reduce shadow noise. The scans I've done of this neg with the Nikon are visibly worse than this. For some reason the attachment, when you click on it to look at it, looks quite a bit softer than what it should. Maybe it's due to compression? Anyway, you can clearly see what I'm talking about. This is the worst neg I've come across by far in terms of being hard to scan.

    Pfigen, I know it's a very subjective question, but what film do you use when knowing you'll end up scanning? Do you have better luck with some film, be it tranny or neg, when scanning?

    Thanks again. Really great information folks!
    Last edited by tjv; 7th January 2012 at 01:23.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    The problem is that what I've just described is not exactly common knowledge, even among experienced users. I sort of came to by trial and error, mostly error, and then it just sort of came in to focus one day and started to make sense. I can't tell from looking at your file if you are seeing the results of an aperture smaller than the film grain or not. I'd like to see three scans at three apertures and make a choice then. When I'm in the process of actually making a scan and need to experiment with aperture, the software allows me to make what they call a Detail scan, where it scans a small area at full res and puts that to the screen at 100 percent. I can then hold that open and make another Detail Scan at a different aperture and compare the two to see which is better. After having done so many, I pretty much know I'm going to be at 12.7, 16 or 19 microns, and because so many have been best at 16, if I'm in a hurry, I'll just use that and run with it.

    There are also some scanners that are better at negs than others. Howteks are particularly good while Colorgetters are less so - in terms of grain. Also, different models of scanners from the same maker have different hardware specs. Some have more aperture options than others.

    The software and its ability to invert and eliminate the orange mask are also factors to be considered. I did not know all of this when I bought my first Howtek thirteen years ago or so. I was very happy to find that the Howtek with Trident was and still is (even though it's an OS9 only app) one of the very best ever developed.

    In terms of scanning film I suppose I have my favorites. For black and white I don't much care what it is. It all scans great, but I do have a fondness for T-Max100 and Tri-X. For color neg, I really do prefer the standard Portra 160 NC and not the VC, and I like Kodak over Fuji. You really can't go wrong with Portra 160. For color transparencies, I like them all - Velvia, Ektachrome, Provia, and of course, Kodachrome, which reminds me that I've got to get out and shoot what I have left before the end of the year.

    Peter

    The only thing I might suggest with your scan is Fedexing me a frame and I'll make a scan for you so we can both see if there's anything more to be gotten there. I'll be more than happy to do one for free as long as you pick up the transportation.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Thanks again for your time and help, Peter. I'd certainly love to send you a negative but I live half a world away from you in New Zealand.

    I'm quite nervous about the film I'm about to get back, actually. I have a horrible feeling I've underexposed from being too cautious about not blowing out overcast skies. That's the main reason for me starting this thread. I want to feel more confident post shoot. Transparency film is just so unforgiving.

    Also, on a different note, I got news today that the new Nikon 9000 scanner I ordered for work half a year ago is due to arrive in two weeks. Our 8000 is on the way out and has a couple of sensor type faults that make it a nightmare getting clean scans. An Imacon / X5 / Howtek the Nikon 'aint, but beggars can't be choosers! I've spent all my money, literally, on film and processing lately and I'm almost at the point where I'll be forced to use my D700 for personal projects I'd usually insist on shooting medium format film for.

    Photography keeps me poor but it keeps my mind active!

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    You often can't tell where a forum member is from, so I understand that it would probably be prohibitive to send film that far. However, if you ever find yourself in Los Angeles, feel free to look me up and drop by the studio. I can give you a quick demo, which is often far quicker than reading about it. I'm about fifteen minutes from LAX.

    It sounds like you shot transparency film on your latest images. Overcast should work in your favor in that case, well in either case. Color neg can easily stand up to three stops over and still be fine in the highlights. And even though you can always scan it flat to record the entire density range, that will sometimes compromise the local contrast, where making two scans of the same neg while optimizing contrast for different parts of the tonal range can make it easier to obtain a full range with optimum contrast. This is not the same as some who advocate scanning twice to try and expand the tonal range of the scanner. That's something that really doesn't work unless you've set your software to give less than the scanner is capable of.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Got film back.
    Man, my exposures sucked! It's one of those things, I shoot the same film for years without a real problem then I start to over think things and make a hash of it! Some of the shots may be passible as they convey some kind of dark "ambience" but it's not ideal. I suppose this is the thing about photography and particularly film, you're always learning how to best satisfy your vision. My reason for being cautious with this batch was I've been finding, when taking incandescent light readings on grim days, that I lose too much detail in the skies and the foreground looks too luminous and lacking that mid-winter feel. The positive side to all of this is I now have a better idea how hard I can push the exposures and still maintain detail where I want it. Live and learn, onwards and upwards, as they say...

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Are these the types of images where you can bracket your exposures?

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Unfortunately no. I'm doing a street documentary project and the light has been so variable lately, ducking and diving behind and out from clouds. I'm probably better off just shooting neg and erring on the side of caution by exposing for important mid tones.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Quote Originally Posted by pfigen View Post
    Another thing that makes scanning color negs more difficult is that the grain structure is actually quite a bit larger than on a corresponding color transparency or black and white neg film, so if you are scanning at the maximum resolution of the scanner - often 4000 ppi or higher, you end up emphasizing the grain as go higher than what it takes to just resolve the grain. The grain structure of most color neg film is in the 13-19 micron range, which translates to about 1300-2000 ppi in scanning resolution.
    This is what I've read from Lenny Eiger multiple times. He uses an Aztek Premier. But my own experience with my ICG scanner is somehow different as I'll explain later on.
    Quote Originally Posted by pfigen View Post
    Flatbed and CCD film scanners are hampered in scanning color negs because if you need 4000 ppi worth of data, there is no control over how the grain is resolved or over-resolved. Drum scanners, on the other hand, use an aperture system behind the focusing lens to control the size of the "spot" that the scanner sees as the drum spirals in front of the lens. Normally the aperture size is set automatically and corresponds directly to the hardware optical resolution called for in the software. For instance, if I ask my Howtek 8000 to scan at 4000 ppi, it will automatically set the aperture to 6.35 microns.
    I'm not sure if this is a problem for all CCD scanners. Just for comparison I had a 35mm Pro 160S color neg scanned on a Flextight X5 at 8000 ppi. I have to say that the results were actually quite good. The optical resolution of the X5 is definitely in the same league with the best drum scanners for 35mm frames. I couldn't detect any grain aliasing in the scan. But on pixel level there was a scan line pattern visible in the highlights of the blue channel and to a lesser degree in the green channel too.
    Quote Originally Posted by pfigen View Post
    Multiply that 6.35 micron spot times 4000 and you magically arrive at 25.4 mm or one inch. 6.35 microns=4000 ppi. Aaahhh!
    I do understand the math behind it. But it raises one question that I already placed in the large format photography forum where I couldn't get a satisfactory answer. What does the micron value of an aperture relate to the physical hole on the aperture wheel? Is it the diameter, the radius or something else that describes the smallest resolvable spot size of the optical system of the scanner?

    If the micron value is the diameter of the aperture than the optical resolution of the scanner could be better than the micron value suggests because with finer steps these larger analysis spots would overlap. This would reduce contrast but still get you some more resolvable detail as long as you've got enough contrast on film. It's the same effect how diffraction reduces contrast when the central diffraction pattern is larger than the sample size.

    On my ICG scanner there are 9 numbered apertures, 1 being the largest and 9 the smallest. There are no micron values. ICG does not want to put any details about their aperture sizes into the public because the whole optical system including lens design need to be taken into account. In the scanning software I can chose to use larger apertures than the automatic choice but this only softens the scans. So I never make any use of this option, and I haven't experienced the sort of grain aliasing that I've seen demonstrated by Howtek and Aztek scanners. Maybe ICG is taking a different approach. I don't know.
    Quote Originally Posted by pfigen View Post
    Where drum scanners get interesting is that you can decouple the automatic aperture setting from the resolution call and set the aperture manually. So, for instance, if I'm scanning a ISO160 color neg film and need 4000 ppi, I'll set the software for 4000 but I'll manually set the aperture to 16 microns, which is a very close match to the grain size of the film. The effect is that instead of scanning past the grain and emphasizing it, you are matching the aperture to the grain size, recording all the inherent detail in the film but smoothing the grain compared to using a smaller aperture.
    If the physical aperture limits your resolution to the spot size then your effective resolution of the scan wouldn't be better than from a 2000 ppi scan, except for maybe some slightly smoother transitions. But have you compared a 4000 ppi color neg scan to a blown up 2000 ppi scan where you used the same aperture?
    Quote Originally Posted by pfigen View Post
    Depending on the film and image I'm scanning, I can end up with a scan that will print with almost identical grain and detail as a projected analog print, or by moving one aperture stop smaller, I can get a hair more detail with a bit more apparent grain, or I can go the other way, using a slightly larger aperture and get even less apparent grain but losing a bit of fine detail as well.

    The more apertures a drum scanner has in the 10-25 micron range, the better chance it has of being able to match the aperture size to the film grain, but the operator has to know how and when to ignore the automatic settings.

    Of course, if you're scanning at a resolution low enough that the auto aperture is already larger than the film grain, then no custom action is needed.

    Grain structures of color transparency and black and white negs are such that you rarely have to do a manual aperture for those. Velvia is in the 4-5 micron range. T-Max100 more like 3-4 micron while Ektachromes are slightly coarser at perhaps 6 microns.
    It's always interesting to learn how other operators work. Thanks for sharing, Peter.

    -Dominique

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Tim,

    I took a look at your sample. From the specs you gave the scan has to be about 3000 ppi from the original if the neg was 6x7cm. I don't know what kind of setup your lab uses for their drum scans but this looks much worse than it's supposed to from Portra 400NC. If I were you I'd try to find another lab that also offers drum scans or maybe you could be better off with Flextight scans and save some money.

    The image crop shows how I see the 400NC-3 in flat light, drum scanned at 3000 ppi. The image has been shot on 35mm film and it's a softer light than in your image but it might give you an idea that you could benefit from better scans. In the crop you can see the grain is obvious but I see it as rather fine image texture.



    3000 ppi crop:


    -Dominique

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    "I'm not sure if this is a problem for all CCD scanners. Just for comparison I had a 35mm Pro 160S color neg scanned on a Flextight X5 at 8000 ppi. I have to say that the results were actually quite good. The optical resolution of the X5 is definitely in the same league with the best drum scanners for 35mm frames. I couldn't detect any grain aliasing in the scan. But on pixel level there was a scan line pattern visible in the highlights of the blue channel and to a lesser degree in the green channel too."

    Unfortunately the Imacon is grossly overrated for 35mm resolution, which might actually account for the scans looking better than you expect. It's actually returning less detail that the pixel count would suggest. That has always been a big problem with Imacon, not to mention the blooming and lack of density range. That you're also seeing artifacts on a color neg scan is further evidence that it doesn't have the density range.

    "If the micron value is the diameter of the aperture than the optical resolution of the scanner could be better than the micron value suggests because with finer steps these larger analysis spots would overlap. This would reduce contrast but still get you some more resolvable detail as long as you've got enough contrast on film. It's the same effect how diffraction reduces contrast when the central diffraction pattern is larger than the sample size."

    From what I've been told, the micron size is indeed the diameter of the hole in a metal disk that rotates in position behind the lens and before the light is split to the three pmt's. There has to be an overlap in the spot in order to have a smooth transition as the drum moves in front of the lens. I do not know exactly how this is programmed when you ask for other than the automatically designated apertures, but I do know that if you manually set an aperture that is too small for the requested resolution, there will be gaps in the overlap.

    "On my ICG scanner there are 9 numbered apertures, 1 being the largest and 9 the smallest. There are no micron values. ICG does not want to put any details about their aperture sizes into the public because the whole optical system including lens design need to be taken into account. In the scanning software I can chose to use larger apertures than the automatic choice but this only softens the scans."

    I'm pretty sure that the highest end ICG uses the same 3.17 micron aperture that the Howtek/Aztek uses. Does your scanner do an optical 8000 ppi? If it does, it pretty much has to have that size for the smallest. I'm sure if you contact them they should be able to tell you. It shouldn't be a huge secret. If selecting a larger aperture only softens the scans, then something is awry, or you're already using an aperture (unknowingly) that is optimum for the res you are requesting. All drum scanner work on the same basic principle, but differ slightly in optics, physical specs, and of course, software.

    "So I never make any use of this option, and I haven't experienced the sort of grain aliasing that I've seen demonstrated by Howtek and Aztek scanners. Maybe ICG is taking a different approach."

    The software used for scanning makes a huge difference, particularly in color negs. Lenny Eiger uses Aztek's Digital Photo Lab, which in my experience, is anything but... It was the worst at scanning negs, black and white and color, than any of the software packages I tested. While it did allow manual setting of the apertures, it also had a nasty habit of plugging shadows and blocking highlights and had a non existent color management implementation. Moving the same scanner with film mounted on the drum between Trident and DPL, Aztek's software showed poor color (well you also had to guess as to what color profile to assign) but much harsher tonal transitions, particularly in out of focus, creamy bokeh type of areas, the type of areas where you want smooth transitions.

    I've spent a dozen years scanning all types of film with Trident and just haven't seen what some people call "grain aliasing". What I have seen, for instance, when requesting a 4000 ppi scan from Portra160, is a gradual softening of the grain as the aperture is opened from the "auto" setting of 6.35 microns to 9.4 to 12.7 to 16 and then finally to 19 microns. At somewhere between 13 and 16 microns, the softening of the grain gives over to softening of detail but up until (usually) about 16 microns, I don't see any loss of detail. Specific emulsions will yield optimum results between 13 and 19 with grainier high speed emulsions maybe going up to 22 microns.

    "If the physical aperture limits your resolution to the spot size then your effective resolution of the scan wouldn't be better than from a 2000 ppi scan, except for maybe some slightly smoother transitions. But have you compared a 4000 ppi color neg scan to a blown up 2000 ppi scan where you used the same aperture?"

    Funny you should ask, because in the earlier days of Trident, and perhaps still in there, there was a setting where you could limit the optical resolution when the software was set to scan negs. You could limit it to whatever you wanted but the default was 2000 ppi, which was probably perfect for the prepress scanning done in the early to mid 1990's. I did quite a few comparisons and came to the conclusion that scanning at the requested res and setting the aperture manually yielded superior results to simply rezzing up a lower res scan in Ps. And for one, if you did select 2000 ppi, your auto aperture setting would be 12.7, not bad, but for most low speed color negs, just a tad on the small side. By using the "wrong" aperture, you're still getting the higher number of "steps" in the long direction, giving slightly better rendering of both detail and grain. The difference isn't great but it's there.

    Okay, now off to bed. Got a big studio shoot tomorrow. Who like to light polished, hammered stainless??? Yeah, just what I thought.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Here is another example drum scan I've had done. This time a 400ISO Fuji Pro 400H 35mm neg, scanned to 18x27" @ 360dpi. It was under the worst of mixed light so another kind of horror case. The grain looks better than my other example, even though it's a way smaller format original. It beats me thinking why I seem to get better results using a smaller format when shooting neg! I put it down to this grain aliasing phenomenon...

    More great info in this thread! I shot a roll of Reala to test today but only got crap frontier scans. I need to make large scans of the keepers myself. I'll post examples when I've got time.
    Last edited by tjv; 7th January 2012 at 01:23.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    TJV - You've got a color neg scan scanned at somewhere around 7000 ppi. If your scanner operator is not compensating with the aperture, then that explains what you're seeing here. In any event, that's higher than almost any 35mm film can resolve, let alone color negs. Is there any reason you need such a high res scan? If it's for an large inkjet, you're going to be fine at half that for that size.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Pfigen - Yes, I had it scanned at this resolution because I do large inkjet prints at this size. Or, at least, that is the maximum size I ever print at using and Epson 7800. Would you suggest keeping the scanning resolution at 4000dpi? I'm now sitting at the scanner scanning my Reala shots so I'll post the results soon.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    You can easily get away with 180 dpi at final size on an Epson 7800. While 360 dpi is the "native" resolution of the printer, you don't really need all that to have great prints. I have both a 9800 and a 9900 and have made many large prints at 180-200 dpi and have never been dissatisfied, even at close examination. The problem here is, of course, is that your film doesn't hold more than 1600-2000 dpi worth of information, so scanning it higher just accentuates the grain. Did you say what kind of scanner you're using that can actually give you 7000 dpi or is that an interpolated number? If it's any sort of CCD scanner, where you don't have aperture control, you may indeed have better results scanning at the aforementioned 1600-2000 and then rezzing up as needed. The other thing we haven't discussed is using something like Noise Ninja on film, which actually works pretty well and was the reason I first bought that product six or seven years ago.

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Here is a scan and crop.
    Details:
    Nikon 8000ED scanner, Fuji Reala, Vuescan, using glass film carrier, 4000dpi, no sharpening or grain reduction, digital ICE set to 'light', 2x sampling, downsized using bicubic sharper to 18x22.5" @ 360dpi.
    I like the results here a lot more than what I've been getting when outsourcing!
    Last edited by tjv; 7th January 2012 at 01:23.

  23. #23
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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Quote Originally Posted by pfigen View Post
    You can easily get away with 180 dpi at final size on an Epson 7800. While 360 dpi is the "native" resolution of the printer, you don't really need all that to have great prints. I have both a 9800 and a 9900 and have made many large prints at 180-200 dpi and have never been dissatisfied, even at close examination. The problem here is, of course, is that your film doesn't hold more than 1600-2000 dpi worth of information, so scanning it higher just accentuates the grain. Did you say what kind of scanner you're using that can actually give you 7000 dpi or is that an interpolated number? If it's any sort of CCD scanner, where you don't have aperture control, you may indeed have better results scanning at the aforementioned 1600-2000 and then rezzing up as needed. The other thing we haven't discussed is using something like Noise Ninja on film, which actually works pretty well and was the reason I first bought that product six or seven years ago.
    I forgot to mention that the scanner used for my drum scans is supposedly a Howtek 7500 and / or a 4500. I've had Imacon 848 scans done before and they were comparable but it seemed that some kind of sharpening had been applied at the scanning stage as they seemed to display halo kind of effects in places. They were raw scans, so were very flat out of scanner, but once edited they looked marginally better than what I would have gotten had I scanned myself using the Nikon at work.

    Although I quite like the Reala results from the one lot I've shot, I still prefer the way slide scans with regard to the look of shadow area grain. It seems to hold more detail with less blotchyness in the blacks. Would that be right?

    With regard to Noise Ninja - I also bought it a while back to deal with film scans to help make them easier to apply creative and output sharpening to. I should give it another try. At some stage I gave up on it because I was feeling it took something away from the organic grain structure that, when it's scanned correctly, makes film scans look something special. I'm a walking contradiction!!!

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    There are three different software packages for the Howtek - Silverfast, Trident and DPL. Trident is by far the best for scanning negs, but operator skill is paramount in getting the most out of the scanner. I remember a few years ago when a photographer flew out to L.A. from Memphis so I could give him an hour long demo of neg scanning. Seven hours later.... The most exhausting Mother's Day I've ever had. Both the 7500 and 4500 are more limited in their choice of apertures. I know the 4500 has a 16 micron but I can't remember off the top of my head about the 7500, and I have one in the studio as well.

    The last Nikon scan you posted looked pretty good for a Nikon, but the math doesn't work out for your stated resolution. Assuming that your 18 x 22.5 is the full height of the horizontal neg, 360 ppi at that size translates to about 6500 ppi, not 4000, so I'm not sure how you're getting DOWN to that size from the original scan. Also, I'd stay away from Bicubic Sharper and instead use standard Bicubic with a dose of USM applied selectively as needed. I find those results are much better than what "sharper" has to offer.

    I love Noise Ninja, but the default settings have always been way too aggressive for me, turning everything into mush. I use the standalone program, which is better than the plugin and run a custom profile on every image, then I usually back off both the Luminance and Color noise reduction anywhere from minus 5 to minus ten or more depending on the image. I save it out as a tiff and then layer back on top of my original and look carefully to see if there are any areas that I want to reduce or eliminate the NR with a layer mask. This is a bit more work than a lot of people like to do, but it's very very effective and I find results in the best images overall.

    I wish you weren't half a world away. It'd cool to have you over for a demo.

    Peter

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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    Quote Originally Posted by pfigen View Post

    The last Nikon scan you posted looked pretty good for a Nikon, but the math doesn't work out for your stated resolution. Assuming that your 18 x 22.5 is the full height of the horizontal neg, 360 ppi at that size translates to about 6500 ppi, not 4000, so I'm not sure how you're getting DOWN to that size from the original scan. Also, I'd stay away from Bicubic Sharper and instead use standard Bicubic with a dose of USM applied selectively as needed. I find those results are much better than what "sharper" has to offer.

    I wish you weren't half a world away. It'd cool to have you over for a demo.

    Peter
    It's scanned from a 6x7cm neg, so 4000dpi gives a massive file that I then downsize. I hear what you're saying about bicubic sharper. It can really emphasize the grain when downsizing huge files.

    Yes, it would be great to have a hands on demo. Thanks again for all your comments and help. I have no idea how I'll get the most out my negs without expert help from someone like yourself - someone who actually cares about the finer points of the scanning process.

  26. #26
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    Re: Reala VS. Astia. Scanning etc

    That makes more sense. I'm not sure where I got 35mm from, maybe from the previous example of the girl.

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