From: Barry Watzman on 7 Jan 2010 10:27
One practical point that this mentions ("recall here is that the above
are for *modern* film only!"), but which makes most of it irrelevant:
The primary use of scanners is for scanning OLD images. Not images
newly shot on old film, but images that were shot and processed into
slides or negatives decades ago.
I'm not saying that no one uses scanners to scan newer images on newer
film. But the primary use of scanners is to scan images that were taken
more than 15 years ago, and very often 30 to 60 years ago.
> Charlie Hoffpauir wrote,on my timestamp of 7/01/2010 2:06 AM:
>> Now THAT really interest me..... What has changed with film technology
>> in the last 15 years? (other than that there is much less use of
>> film). Or is it that scanning technology has improved? Please expand
>> on that, I'm sure a lot of us are interested in just what you're
>> referring to.
> I'll try and be brief, but of course the subject is not simple:
> 1- most remaining makers have "silently" changed film to become a lot
> more "scanner friendly". This entailed mostly getting rid of the "hazy"
> emulsion side which caused horrible artifacts during scanning with the
> harsh light of LED light sources. These were responsible for 90% of the
> common claims of "film grain". It wasn't grain at all. Even some of the
> b&w films now benefit from this. For example: the latest Acros, latest
> Neopan and most of the chromogenic b&w. Even Adox does it now, for CMS20.
> 2- true grain - or in the case of colour the replacement dye clouds -
> has become a lot thinner and much more regular, allowing some of the Ice
> implementations to reduce grain effects even more. While t-grain for
> example is much more regular, once again allowing post-processing to
> kick-in more effectively. Another thing was the complete elimination of
> the "bubbles" referred to in the LL reference: they simply don't happen
> anymore. Case in point: scan modern Astia 100 with Nikonscan on a 9000
> or VED with Ice turned on at "fine" setting and you will notice a marked
> reduction of aliased scanned grain in the result, with no appreciable
> loss of detail. Once again: don't do this with old "freezer" film on a
> 8000 or IV or an old Minolta clunker! There is a significant and marked
> difference with those older models, which only shows up when scanning
> the latest film.
> 3- in general, most low speed emulsions will exceed what a 4000dpi
> scanner can resolve, with some of the b&w exotics like Adox CMS20
> greatly doing so, to the point where for example it is impossible to see
> any grain at 4k with CMS20 developed in Technidol. Even with a
> microscope, it's hard to see any significant grain with mags of up to
> 30X. Some of the Rollei exotics will do the same.
> 4- most modern amateur level scanners have the ability to keep constant
> lighting and focusing characteristics. Older scanners simply did not,
> with the result that scanning was at best inconsistent with wildly
> varying results. Modern commercial scanners of course do a great job
> with some of the Frontiers way out in front of anything else possible
> even 10 years ago.
> 5- post-processing software nowadays does a tremendous job of reducing
> any remaining alias scanned grain effects. Commercial scanners get rid
> of most of the remaining grain while things like Neat Image and Noise
> Ninja - latest releases - can virtually eliminate any traces of scanned
> noise. Combined with 16-bit scanning and tools like Focus Magic, one
> can easily achieve results at nearly 20MP effective resolution from
> normal 100ISO 35mm film.
> Of course, to get such results one has to concentrate on optimizing all
> the other aspects of the workflow: no way you'll get the top with a low
> quality or long unserviced shutter on an old clunker, with an uncoated
> and poorly focused lens, without a tripod and with a severely
> underexposed image! Similar applies to dslrs with 35mm-sized sensors, btw!
> An once again, I'll repeat: grain is NOT pixels! Take quality images
> with any modern t-grain film, put it under a microscope and examine the
> resulting image edges: they do not match any grain edges at all, clearly
> resolved inside each individual flat grain. Do the same with any slide
> film and you get the same result. Ditto for modern colour negative.
> The important point to recall here is that the above are for *modern*
> film only! The expired and long forgotten film rolls stashed away in
> the freezer that most so-called film users claim are not like that, are
> *not* included in the above and will show all the problems of the past!
> The interesting thing of course is that most of the traditional
> "scanning technique" sites still around used old film, with older
> scanners, and pretend that this is the case forever and ever. Hence the
> claims of "film cannot do more than 2700" and "increasing scan
> resolution is worse" that we hear around the place.
> Simply not true with latest scanning and film technology, using
> appropriate post-processing. I have plenty of examples in my public
> gallery of film-based images that easily match and exceed 20MP dslr
> Of course: not at 12800ISO, which many seem to think is essential for
> modern photography. Film to me cuts off at 800ISO with Fuji's 800Z as
> far as I'm willing to go. Some very honorable exceptions in b&w at
> around 3200, but those require extensive post-processing to get usable
> But I'm the first to say it very clearly: you simply cannot get that
> kind of result without a total commitment across the *entire* workflow,
> from the lens to the post-processing, starting with modern scanners and
> with new emulsions.
> Simply scanning 25 year old P&S Kodak Gold 400 at higher rez is not the
> solution and achieves nothing, as previously well pointed out by Barry!
> All I'm disagreeing with is blanket statements claiming it is the case
> with all film and all scanners. It's not.
From: Noons on 8 Jan 2010 07:12
Barry Watzman wrote,on my timestamp of 8/01/2010 2:27 AM:
> One practical point that this mentions ("recall here is that the above
> are for *modern* film only!"), but which makes most of it irrelevant:
> The primary use of scanners is for scanning OLD images. Not images
> newly shot on old film, but images that were shot and processed into
> slides or negatives decades ago.
> I'm not saying that no one uses scanners to scan newer images on newer
> film. But the primary use of scanners is to scan images that were taken
> more than 15 years ago, and very often 30 to 60 years ago.
Very good point, Barry. And in that context, I agree 100% with the statements
so far. Then again, there are buggers like me and the APUG/hybridphoto forums
who do little else but film! ;)
I do disagree with some of the sites out there in the post-processing they do
when scanning old images. I've had tremendous success scanning old film, with a
modern post-process workflow. For example, this:
is a modern scan of an early 80s 35mm K25 slide duplicated to K64. Click to see
larger. I have blown this up to A3 print size at 500dpi and shown folks small
sections of it and it *still* looks as detailed as this one. In fact it beats
most medium format sample scan detail in the traditional scanning sites.
This one is from 87 and is Ekta 64:
which of course is "noisy" and "never with detail above 2700" according to
What can I say, it works for me!
From: Noons on 8 Jan 2010 07:25
Charlie Hoffpauir wrote,on my timestamp of 8/01/2010 2:05 AM:
> Thanks for a very informative post!
> I've shot 35mm B&W and color (negative and positive) since the 50's,
> so I have a lot of old stuff still around. Your post confirms what
> I've thought.... and greatly expanded on it. Unfortunately, I won't be
> able to utilize the new information I've learned (about the newer
> films) since I've not used film at all in the last 10 years. Still, I
> really appreciate the new information.
As you can see in the examples I gave in my reply to Barry, it is possible to do
a lot even with old film. But it's not just a question of "scan-and-it's-done"!
Which is what most scanning sites recommend and show.
There is a lot of excellent material out there that is being given only the
"2700dpi" treatment or simply thrown out, because of precisely a lack of
information of what is possible nowadays even with flatbed scanners.
Some of the stuff in Chris' blog I linked to previously far exceeds that sort of
detail extraction, with a relatively cheap flatbed scanner.
With a bit of additional Neat Image/Noise Ninja grain reduction and some care in
the sharpening department - I do recommend Focus Magic without hesitation, over
any USM - they can be made to look as good as anything anyone can make with a
modern 10MP digital.
If you ever feel inclined to squeeze a bit more out of some of your old images,
give either myself or Chris a ping and we'll be happy to provide you with our
workflow and the "why"s.