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Thread: B&W scanning color negs

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    B&W scanning color negs

    I recently revisited scans of a series of old 6x7 Kodak Portra 120 color negs done on my Imacon flextight scanner. The colors were mucked up by the passage of time but I liked the images enough to try converting, adjusting and exporting them as 16-bit black and white tiff files and was VERY happy with the results.

    When I tried to repeat the same process with raw files from my canon 5d and emotion75 MFDB via Capture One the resulting black and white files where lifeless compared with the black and white scans of the color negs no matter how much twitching I did.

    So now I consider returning to shooting film for outputting as B&W images and am wondering what difference in tonal range, Dmax etc if any I am likely to see in my scans if I use COLOR negative film (eg Portra 400+C41 processing) and convert the raw scans to black and white compared to shooting and scanning B&W negative film (eg T-Max 400 processed in TMax developer) that I guess depends on the specific technical characteristics of each of these films and how they react to scanning that I don't know much about?

    Yes, I know this is a sacrilegious question that maybe does not make sense: who would want to butcher perfectly good color neg film if you can just shoot with less expensive and more robust black and white film (which is maybe why I have had no response to a similar thread posted on a different forum a week ago?) but as they say the "devil is in the detail" and the results I got from converting color neg scans to black and white were for me worth continuing to explore.

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    Re: B&W scanning color negs

    I heard that color neg has more latitude or DR than B&W neg, so maybe this alone can tell you why you liked that B&W converted from your color neg scans.

    Well, i do scan all, even i don't have a scanner like yours [wish i have one or similar] i can see what the film can give me over the digital, but i don't make that as a big advantage, because i still like the colors from the digital, B&W i can live with digital converted shots, but i do shoot B&W films so i don't have a problem in this case, more experimenting will give your answers, also i am happy with many digital shots i converted to B&W, not necessary i must have those shots to be equal or film like or surpass film, the best thing is that digital shots beats film in term of grain, and even the sharpness as long i don't have a drum scanner or same your scanner or at least film dedicated scanner.
    Tareq

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    Re: B&W scanning color negs

    Thanks Tareq, I would also like to know more about the latitude/DR of color versus B&W negs.

    BTW if you already have managed to raise enough money to pay for a camera and a computer then you are well on the way to affording a used flextight precision II scanner that is what I am using.

    However am not sure if buying one is such a good idea since this type of technology becomes redundant and loses value very quickly so unless it is used often can be a waste of money and maybe better to just store your negs, review them carefully then pay through the nose to get the ones you really want batch scanned even if you can only do this once a year.

    Of course this is not a viable solution if you are doing commerical work - but if you are then you can afford a used scanner, right.

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    Re: B&W scanning color negs

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    Thanks Tareq, I would also like to know more about the latitude/DR of color versus B&W negs.

    BTW if you already have managed to raise enough money to pay for a camera and a computer then you are well on the way to affording a used flextight precision II scanner that is what I am using.

    However am not sure if buying one is such a good idea since this type of technology becomes redundant and loses value very quickly so unless it is used often can be a waste of money and maybe better to just store your negs, review them carefully then pay through the nose to get the ones you really want batch scanned even if you can only do this once a year.

    Of course this is not a viable solution if you are doing commerical work - but if you are then you can afford a used scanner, right.
    In fact i see that there are some drum scanner cheaper than flex tight used or new, and i was thinking you have that new flex tight such as X1 or X5, and honestly i was thinking to get one of those but the price making me to dream only, i can afford something used but i can't be sure if it is in a good condition and the software compatible and such things.

    If i work commercially then i will be using my digital MF all the way, if i will do arts then i will use my LF even i am still new in this era, scanning LF even with my flatbed scanner is giving me something out of world, nothing can match that, so i think maybe better i shoot LF more than MF and see how the results, and yes, maybe one day i can afford a better scanner.
    Tareq

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    Re: B&W scanning color negs

    i decided on the imacon to scan my 4x5 negs since it is a lot easier to use and maintain than a drum scanner and am happy that I did - but if you are in to LF and film then maybe you prefer doing things the hard way?


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    Re: B&W scanning color negs

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    i decided on the imacon to scan my 4x5 negs since it is a lot easier to use and maintain than a drum scanner and am happy that I did - but if you are in to LF and film then maybe you prefer doing things the hard way?

    What do you mean by hard way?

    I wish to afford to get a scanner like Imacon or even a drum scanner, the shipping is a nightmare, before i decide on another scanner i have to check if i really need it very much!
    Tareq

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    Re: B&W scanning color negs

    I have shipped my old Imacon scanner from europe to south america then southeast asia and now africa without any problem so it can be done.

    With an Imacon scanner you just switch it on and it is ready to scan.

    I am no expert on drum scanning but believe that to get the best results you need to place a mounting fluid between the film and the drum etc etc etc. It may be also more difficult to transport.

    If you have not seen it before this essay may be useful.

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    Re: B&W scanning color negs

    "If you have not seen it before this essay may be useful."

    It may be useful if you don't print larger than 8x10, but this is much like saying that 8x10" images on a laptop made from 40+ megapixel digital back files don't look significantly superior to six megapixel digital slr captures.

    If you're printing to extreme sizes 30x40 and larger you'll see an enormous difference in scans from the three scanners mentioned in Michael's article. It's all about using the right tool for the job.

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    Re: B&W scanning color negs

    I totally agree it is about using the right tool for the right job - but is it not correct that using and maintaining a drum scanner is harder than an imacon scanner even if a drum scanner gives better results?

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