Scanning negatives

April 25, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Well, I've started scanning negatives myself from some of my older trips. I'm using a Nikon Coolscan V ED film scanner and VueScan software.  I'm scanning at 4000 dpi and 14bit color depth.  The results are pretty good considering these are negatives.  I used to process all my own prints in a color darkroom that I had setup and I knew all about the graininess of negatives, but it's really apparent when you scan it at high resolution and see it enlarged on a big monitor.  Most of my film was developed by Kodak (thankfully) and the negatives are in strips of 4 frames.  With the Vuescan software I can feed a whole strip into the scanner and it will scan all 4 frames and write the files to disk using a filename template such as Roll 01 Frame 01+.  It will auto-increment the 01 part as it writes each file.  At this resolution and color depth as a .dng file (digital negative format) the file size is about 120MB each! and it takes about 12 minutes to scan each strip.  Then it automatically ejects the film strip and beeps a couple of times to let me know it's complete.  Needless to say it's a slow process but with a stack of negatives at my side I can work on other things while it's running.

I just completed scanning over 450 photos that I took on a trip to China in 2003.  I visited an incredibly picturesque little canal town named Lijiang over in the Yunnan province and hiked the length of the 11,000 foot deep Tiger Leaping Gorge.  There's going to be some pretty good pictures come out of that trip.  But I still have to post-process each of the raw scans first.  But rather than jump right in and start processing the Lijiang photos I've decided to keep scanning while I'm on a roll.  I'm now scanning film from a trip to the south of New Zealand that I did with my mother.  This trip includes hiking the Milford Trek and the Routeburn Trek.  They had just finished filming parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy when we were there.  There are about 30 rolls of film for this one.  Not sure how soon I'll have either of these trips posted on this site so check back now and then.  Hopefully within a couple of weeks or so.


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