No Outlet

No Outlet
Agfa Clack
Ilford FP4 Plus
LegacyPro L110, Dilution B
2021

Now that my new (used) dedicated 35mm scanner has solved my problem getting good scans of my 35mm negatives, I’m less satisfied with the medium-format scans my flatbed delivers. These scans are miles better than what my flatbed can deliver with 35mm negatives, but they’re still not great.

With this roll, I played around with VueScan’s built-in film profiles. VueScan has a paltry selection of them, far fewer than what rival SilverFast offers. There was no Ilford FP4 Plus profile, for example. But I tried the Kodak T-Max 100 profile, and it immediately balanced the contrast in these negatives.

The Clack is capable of better sharpness than this. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get good sharpness from my flatbed. Could it be the device itself? Or is it the software; should I try SilverFast? Meh, bleh, what a pain. It’s just easier to send my film to the lab and let them deal with it.

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Film Photography

single frame: No Outlet

A sign I photograph a lot because it’s right by my home.

Image

17 thoughts on “single frame: No Outlet

  1. Hi Jim, there is probably an issue with either the negatives not being flat or the holder height being off. I don’t know what scanner you are using, but with the Epson Medium Format holder it is hard to get the film flat if 3 connected frames are loaded. It is impossible to get the left and right edges to seat under the holder grooves. If you cut the frames individually, it is easier to get both edges seated. If I scan 3 connected images, sometimes I trim a sliver off of one edge to get the negative to sit better in the holder. Scan the same negative at different holder heights to locate the best settings for your scanner. I have tried fancy third party holders with ANR glass in them but it is a hassle and the glass is another surface that introduces dust and smudges.

    • The negs fit fine into the holder. I’ve wondered for a while if there’s a problem with the holder height, or the scanner’s ability to focus on the negs where they are above the glass. I should look into that.

  2. Joshua Fast says:

    I hated Vuescan, I bought silverfast and never looked back. Silverfast has a better sharpening algorithm right out of the box and a multiple pass scan option that increases the dynamic range of your negative. The film profiles are a pretty handy starting point too.

  3. Andy Umbo says:

    Is there a way to set the actual focus height? I know some of the people I know that do scanning have machines that they can set the focus depth depending on what’s in there, but I couldn’t tell you what brand those machines are?

    I predict that 5 years from now, you’ll own a third hand Heidelberg drum scanner!

    • sigh. Wouldn’t that be amazing.

      I don’t have space to build a darkroom here, but if I did, I have wondered if it would lead to better scans to make prints and scan the prints. What are your thoughts on that?

      • Andy Umbo says:

        I remember years ago (since I’m an old guy), reading about how the LPM of lenses is wildly reduced by making prints. Lenses used to be judged by how they resolved LPM (line pairs per millimeter), and inherent contrast. I still remember those charts in Modern Photography (especially their great end of year issue that all the top camera reviews), and I still think they’re far more valuable than the type of tests people went to in the 90’s, the MTF chart, which seems to encompass contrast into the “sharp” as well, so a lens can “seem” sharp, because it’s contrasty, when it really isn’t all that sharp. I remember in the old system, someone saying that the CZ 50mm for Contax was one of the sharpest lenses, bar none, that they ever tested!

        Anyway, one of the articles from back then, was saying “…look, by the time you print an image, photographically through an enlarger, on conventional printing paper, you’re knocking your lenses resolving power of maybe 40 LPM, down to about 5-7 by the time it’s on the paper.” So the fast answer would be: scanning from the neg, in a high quality scanner, should be way sharper than scanning a print. BUT, if you have a not-so-good film scanner that does great flat scans from reflective art, like a print, and use RC paper, which is sharper than old fiber paper, and are scanning a larger that needed print and knocking it down to a smaller size, you just might be able to get a better result!

        • That’s a great perspective. On my flatbed, scanning a print would probably be better than scanning the neg, but only because my neg scans suck so bad.

  4. My current process for medium format negs is to scan on my Epson V550 at 2400dpi (using Epson Scan, and setting whit and black points as I want them etc.) and then use the Output Sharpener tool in Nik FX to sharpen the negative before I do any additional processing in Lightroom. I don’t apply any sharpening during the scan (although I used to). I’m quite happy with the results I’m getting (although there is a hint of pixelisation creeping in if I pixel peep at the largest resolution). I expect this current process will evolve as all my previous systems have.

    Sometimes I tell myself to just be happy with what I have as it’s pretty good. Sadly I don’t always listen. :)

  5. Roger james Meade says:

    It seems to me that something is being lost in all this pretty arcane tech babble, no offense meant to anyone. My question is- does the photo tell a story? Is it a story that “hooks”the viewer? If so, then it’s a good photo- period. Doesn’t matter how sharp, contrasty, or grainy, etc. The viewer most likely doesn’t care, because all they see is a photo that they like.

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