After yesterday’s review of the Kodak Duaflex, I thought I’d try scanning the negatives I made in 1982 on Kodacolor II film with the optically and mechanically identical Kodak Duaflex II I owned as a kid. I meant to compare and contrast the image quality between the two cameras, which I expected to be identical. Instead, I went down a rabbit hole of scanning and digitizing.
I had a lot of trouble getting accurate color scanning the negatives with VueScan and my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II scanner. I tried several film profiles in VueScan, including Generic Color Negative. The Kodacolor II profile was least bad. I had to do considerable work in Photoshop to make them look not awful. Red wasn’t coming through at all.
I have an iPhone app called FilmLab that digitizes negatives. The downer about FilmLab is that the scans are relatively small at roughly 2 MP. I can’t find a setting to change that. It helps that I own a cheap light tablet — I stuck the negatives on it and digitized them with FilmLab one by one. I held the phone in my hands so there is some skew from not being perfectly parallel to the film, but it’s good enough for this comparison. I did some processing in Photoshop to remove dullness.
Then just for the sake of completeness, I scanned the prints with VueScan and the CanoScan 9000F Mark II — the ones I still have, anyway, as I gave some away to neighborhood children whom I photographed. I did some processing in Photoshop to remove dullness.
Here are some results. First, here are a pair of bicycles. The CanoScan negative scan left the red and maroon bicycle frames dull and gray. (Click any image to see it larger, all through this post.)
Next, here is my brother reading a comic book in my room. The curtains lack any red, and I couldn’t get my brother’s skin tone right.
Next, here’s our dog Missy on the back porch. I was really attached to Missy. Notice the house in the background — gray in the CanoScan negative scan, red otherwise. On the CanoScan negative scan, I couldn’t make Missy be not purple. In the print scan, CanoScan picked up some of the texture of the matte paper.
Finally, here’s a 1968 Ford Mustang I found parked down the street, some neighborhood kids messing around in the background. This was the hardest image to make look not terrible in Photoshop after scanning the negative on the CanoScan. In the original scan, the Mustang was purple.
My negatives were in the paper sleeve they came in after the drug store (Osco, my notes on the sleeve say) developed them. I’ve seldom touched them since 1982, when I had them developed. There was some deterioration of the negatives that scanning made apparent. Here’s my old friend Brian standing in my front yard. We’re still friends today. Brian’s fairly well known in the open-source software community — hey other open sourcers, here’s Brian with hair. Notice the discoloration on the image, which is on the negative. This is an iPhone/FilmLab image.
I was very happy to recover this image of a kid down the street, Phil. My brother and I spent a lot of time with him. I must have given him this print because I no longer have it. I haven’t seen Phil since probably 1985 and wonder whatever became of him. The CanoScan utterly failed to recover an image from this negative, but my iPhone and FilmLab did an okay job. I have a few other photos of Phil, but none that show his face so clearly. It’s good to see him again.
What I learned about scanning Kodacolor II negatives is that the best bet is to find the prints and just scan those. But when you no longer have the print, my iPhone and FilmLab is quick, easy, and reasonably effective — when you have a good light source, that is, like my cheap light tablet. I can’t recommend using a scanner, at least not my CanoScan, to scan old Kodacolor II negatives.
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