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Author Topic: Negative vs. Print scanning  (Read 1006 times)

rmazzi

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Negative vs. Print scanning
« on: March 22, 2017, 05:18:04 PM »

I am in the process of digitizing family photos.  I wanted to know which of the following would produce a better scan.  I can 1) scan the prints on a Canon 9950F flatbed using Vuescan software or 2) scan the negatives on a Plustek 7600i with Silverfast 8/HDR 8.  I have assumed that for most of the snapshots, a print scan is adequate, but there are a few that i would like to get the best possible scan.  The output size would be mostly 4x6 and smaller for albums, but some would be up to an 8x10.  I don't foresee doing anything larger as these are not works of art.  Any insight or comments on what to consider would be appreciated so I can optimize the time i spend on this vs. the quality of the reprints.
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TonyW

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2017, 07:14:12 PM »

In theory using a dedicated film scanner should be able to resolve better detail (assuming it exist in the first place) than a scan from most prints. 

That theory being that the negative is the best unmanipulated medium/data that you have available.  A print is an interpretation of the data contained in the negative and has been produced by passing image through a lens (potential IQ loss) and onto a paper (another potential IQ loss).

There are going to be some losses from negative through film scanner of course but I would suspect potentially less. 

Having said that I have no experience of the Plustek, for all I know it may be a dog, but by the sound of it you have access to both flatbed and film scanner so why not do a few test to see whi ch is worthwhile?

I assume the family collection of great importance and of huge sentimental value, that being the case if it was me I would be aiming to get the best out of the initial scan so I only have to do it once and then I should be able to make prints at virtually any reasonable size.  For me this would be preferable to scanning just good enough for 6x4 

Storage is relatively inexpensive so that IMO should not enter into the equation
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hogloff

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2017, 08:56:50 PM »

If you have the negatives scan them as they will produce the best results. Prints fade over time and scanning them will produce inferior results. A couple years ago I went through scanning thousands of photos and negatives and the negatives always produced better results.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2017, 10:21:19 PM »

Scan the negatives.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

CeeVee

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2017, 05:55:32 AM »

Clean the surfaces, prints, negs, scanner glass, carefully first of course. Then if you must scan prints try to get a scan that is (slightly) flat and dark. You'll retain as much of the dark details as possible and can always pump up contrast. If time is available you could try a light scan (for shadows) and a dark one (for highlights) then blend them in Photoshop.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2017, 07:28:04 AM »

Clean the surfaces, prints, negs, scanner glass, carefully first of course. Then if you must scan prints try to get a scan that is (slightly) flat and dark. You'll retain as much of the dark details as possible and can always pump up contrast. If time is available you could try a light scan (for shadows) and a dark one (for highlights) then blend them in Photoshop.

Whereas if you start by scanning the negative you capture the full dynamic range the scanner and the media can deliver (which is very large) without the need to waste time doing multiple scans and blending them. If the OP is interested in a detailed look at the capabilities of the Plustek 7600i scanner as well as a considerable body of advice on scanning negatives, and if he has a membership to the website, he can read my review of the 7600i and my essays on scanning negatives. That will give him a good idea of what to do and what to expect. There are also other resources available on the internet. All that said, if all the OP wants is a comparatively low resolution lower quality digital record of the photos, he could use a flatbed scanner and scan the prints. It's faster and less learning required, but he's starting from compromised media, has less process control and the outcome will reflect the input. What's practical depends on his ultimate objectives for these photos - all we can do here is advise about the nature of the trade-offs going one way or the other.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

TonyW

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2017, 10:08:44 AM »

.... If the OP is interested in a detailed look at the capabilities of the Plustek 7600i scanner as well as a considerable body of advice on scanning negatives, and if he has a membership to the website, he can read my review of the 7600i and my essays on scanning negatives. That will give him a good idea of what to do and what to expect. ..
Mark, my apologies I had not realised that you had done a review of the Plustek on this site, I should have searched first (Doh!!)   :-[

rmazzi, if you are a member look up the review,  if not a member and you are serious about your photography consider joining it is well worth it IMHO  :D
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2017, 10:41:39 AM »

Mark, my apologies I had not realised that you had done a review of the Plustek on this site, I should have searched first (Doh!!)   :-[
.....................

No problem - You are entitled not to know about it - it was some years ago! :-)
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

rmazzi

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2017, 04:47:03 PM »

thanks for all the comments.  Clearly scanning the negatives is the way to go, assuming i can find them in my mess.  I am a member of Luminous Landscape website and will scout out the information.  I didn't think about searching the archives.  I also have a copy of Mark's excellent scanning manual (link provided in his replies).  Highly recommended for those using, or planning to use, Silverfast 8. 

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Mark D Segal

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2017, 07:11:07 PM »

Thanks for the kind words rmazzi.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

nemophoto

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Re: Negative vs. Print scanning
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2017, 10:05:48 AM »

With scanning, the conventional wisdom has been, "how many steps removed from the original scene is your image?". In dealing with color separations years ago, this was one of the debates with the original digital SLRs like my old Canon 1D. The feeling was, because we were going from an already digitalized image, the 1D produced better results at times than negatives (one used to have to create a print from negs, then scan that). So, the order of preference from pre-press houses was digital->transparency->neg/print.

The same holds true now. Scan your neg, if you have a suitable scanner. Scan the print if you have no neg available.

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