PortraitPro 23 Sale: 50% Off Downloads + Save 20% With Code: EZJS

Inverting Negative Images

Dabber 21 258 England
6 Dec 2021 2:00PM
As a photographer of a certain age I have loads and loads of negatives, mainly 35mm but a fair amount of 120/220 sizes.
In order to bring them into the 21st century for display and sharing they need to be converted from the analogue film stock into a digital format i.e. jpg, tiff, RAW and a few others. Most High Street and online film processors will offer this service, however with the amount I have I need to do them myself.
For the 35mm conversions I bought a dead simple standalone unit from Veho, basically a film strip holder that you feed through and press the button to get a positive image saved to an SD card. The card is then loaded into the PC and transferred as a jpg. Ideal for getting the images in a place where the contents can be easily and quickly viewed for content, much easier than holding a strip of negs up to a light bulb! I struggled with the larger format as standalone scanners are extremely expensive, so in order to get images on the PC I photographed the negs laid onto a light box, not ideal but it worked.
Anyway, as need to digitise more and more old negs I decided to create a method of photographing both types of negs by making a rig to hold them, and a little fixture to firmly hold my camera in the correct position. So far so good, but now I have to streamline my conversion from negative to positive. Iím pretty good (for an oldie!) at Photoshop and can manually use the inversion technique in curves to do that. At the moment I am stuck doing each one individually, which is ok, but Ideally I would like to have an App or action to do the conversion automatically.
I have done a bit of Googleing and YouTubing and found a few contenders:-
Negative Lab Pro, which most reviewers (and users) seem to like. But as far as I can understand it has to be used in conjunction with Lightroom? Even then I see it mentioned that itís not compatible with the latest CC versions, Lightroom 6 is preferred? Another problem, for me, is that Iím not familiar or happy with Lightroom, much prefer, and happy with Photoshop.
I have just come across a standalone App called FilmLab which seems to get good reviews, although it is a subscription based pricing.
The other alternative is Grain2Pixel which I took a look at and it seemed a good idea, so I downloaded what was offered, but for me it looked so complicated to Ďset upí. It appears as though it needs to be set up as an action(?) I tried to follow the step by step instructions but lost the plot! Has anyone got to grips with this, if so is it possible to save it as something that can be transferred to my PC?
Just to finish off I have taken the plunge and bought an Essential Film Holder, a product designed and manufactured in the UK specifically for holding 355mm and 120/220 film for Ďscanningí with a DSLR. This will be better than my heath robinson set up. Canít wait to get this (any day now) a Christmas pressy to myself.
Iíd love to hear about your experiences with neg conversions, especially if you have settled a good repeatable quick workflow.
LenShepherd 14 4.6k United Kingdom
7 Dec 2021 2:48PM
I cannot help much.

If like me you did not get contact sheets when having colour negs processed - the challenge is deciding which colour negs are worth working on before scanning and converting.

I now use a Plastek Optics 8200i - cost about £460 including Silverfast software - primarily for 35mm slides.

I have just tried it for 35mm colour negs - and found some long forgotten family images!

When you do a Negative Prescan at 7200 ppi the image shows on the monitor in about a minute - with the colour as in a colour print - and you decide whether or not it is worth more work.
A full scan as a TIFF or PSD then takes about 5 minutes - an image Sad
300 ppi does not work - as chunks of grain are massively enlarged in the Prescan.

Until recently I used the Nikon ES2 system with a Nikon 60mm macro.
As my slides are glass mounted and some are 55 years old I have a significant dust issue with some images.
Silverfast does an extremely good job usually removing about 97% of dust and the occasional scratch.

The Plustek slide holder I rate 10 out of 10 - the negative holder much lower.
Silverfast is "clunky" but works OK - provided you have decent post processing skill.
The Plustek 7200 ppi provides more potential resolution than even a 60 MP camera.

From a good slide or neg scan quality is good enough for a good quality A3 print viewed at 15 inches - and often but not always up to A2 with Lightroom/PhotoShop Super Enhance.

The route I use is time consuming and relatively expensive - with the trade off of extremely good results.

Looking to the near future Lightroom now includes Beta software to change the lighting on a face (often default with a smartphone), change to a smile or in a Landscape changing a summer scene to a winter frost scene - with decent results.
Times are changing - whether those of your age and probably mine agree with where photography might be going is another topic.
Dave_Canon 16 2.2k United Kingdom
8 Dec 2021 10:47AM
I cannot help much either. Prior to using a DSLR in 2005, I did scan negatives and slides for processing and printing. I used a Nikon film scanner. Realising that this would not be a long term process as I was moving to digital, I made and effort to scan by "best" negative and slides and still have these digital files available. I used to process my own film but for the last year or so before the DSLR and had the films processed and scanned. I believe it was a standard Kodak service at that time. The negatives were returned with a CD containing the scanned files and a print out like a small contact sheet. Even when scanning myself, the standard software with the Nikon Scanner sorted out negative or positive and automatically removed the orange base on colour negatives.


Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.