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The Illustrated Guide to Film Scanning: A best-practice guide to scanning negatives and transparencies Paperback – April 17, 2013
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About the Author
Gerard Kingma is an award-winning photographer from the Netherlands, where he lives in a small village with his wife and two sons. His work has met with critical acclaim, including the 2005 Travel Photographer of the Year – Single Image Award and merit awards from PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, Photography Masters Cup, International Loupe Awards, International Color Awards and International Photography Awards. On assignment, Kingma is always fast and furious with digital equipment, but for his personal work, he likes to slow down and enjoy the craftsmanship of his analogue systems, such as the trusty Hasselblad 501CM or the gorgeous Chamonix 045N-2, a 4x5" large format view camera. He develops his films at home with a Jobo processor. Then comes the tricky part: scanning the films to obtain high-quality digital images, which can be post-processed and perfected in order to make large fine-art prints. His prints are on sale at www.kingma.nu and also available at regular exhibitions in the Netherlands.
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The workflow outlined consists of the a priori color management process of scanner (and display monitor) ICC profile generation and preference for working in the ProPhoto RGB standardized color space (due to it's wide gamut of color representations), and defining exactly how to do this (most valuable steps to avoid Color Management confusion) throughout the three step process of:
1. Acquiring a "RAW" scan of the negative or transparency (as a transparency) using SilverFast Ai Studio 6 or VueScan 9
2. Negative/Transparency film color conversion, fine tuning highlights and shadow range using ColorPerfect plugin for Photoshop
3. Fine tuning the RGB color balance and subjective "artistic interpretation" of each image with Levels Adjustments layers in Photoshop
Since I am rather new and inexperienced to film scanning, I find value in this quick "best-practice" guide to quickly get up and running with a good baseline in using the de facto standard software tools of the trade for advanced film scanning. While many forum posts debate which film mounting technique (wet/fluid mount vs. anti-newton ring (ANR) glass holders vs. straight film vs. OEM or 3rd party betterscanning.com holders), scanning software, and software settings, etc is best - I think much of that does ultimately come up to personal preference and experience, the scanner and film. Even after I try out this process, I will probably test and tweak it a bit to find my own preferences, and pros and cons within my own capabilities to "trust but verify" that I am getting the best scan results I can from my film.
I only give the book 4/5 stars because I expected a little more for the $15 print-on-demand book price - compared to other books - though I would gladly pay a trusted friend this amount for sharing their experience in a quick guide. I think a PDF download for $5-10 would be better direct support to the author, and I think there is room for added-value improvement to the book in its content, presentation, feedback from readers, and updates for newer software versions (or even best options tailored to SilverFast SE, SE Plus, Ai Studio) - even though there are specific SilverFast and VueScan manuals and books as well. A definitive "how to best scan film" book may be as impractical and elusive as a "how to best make photos" one, though let education and experience be your guide - and this book does add to that.
The shortcomings or explanations I was looking for but did not find in the book include:
- Missing explanations for why some settings are used and not others (e.g. Gamma value 2.2 for transparency and 1.8 for negative in ColorPerfect)
- No discussion on why to use 48-bit HDR scan mode in SilverFast but not the Multiple-Exposure option for higher tonality range
- SilverFast version/edition feature trade offs, e.g. 8 vs 16-bit scans, HDR mode, Multi-Exposure, dust removal, etc
- Film cleaning and dust avoidance techniques, adjusting infrared dust removal values via preview
- Why 3200 dpi for Epson v700/750 scanner when filmscanner.info review determined the actual max is 2400 dpi
- Process for achieving maximum sharp focus on fixed-focus flatbed scanners (e.g. Epson v700/750/800/850 but not 11000XL)
- Comparison whether SilverFast or VueScan produces the "better" RAW scan, though the author does suggest to just use VueScan if your scanner did not already come with SilverFast Ai!
While the general procedures are useful, the software discussed, both Silverfast and Vuescan have been updated and altered several times so that the steps and settings used in the guide are almost completely non-applicable. It is necessary to interpolate guidance into the current versions of the scanning software to get any sort of results.