Exposure and focus settings when scanning via digital camera

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ymc226

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Might be overthinking this but since I am still waiting for my Negative Supply scanning kit, so here it goes . . .

Have watched numerous videos regarding capture of the negative by the camera on a stand. I don't remember anyone mentioning the actual camera settings, specifically exposure and focus. Some have mentioned setting aperture to f/8 or f/11.

Does this mean using automatic aperture priority exposure after coning down on the negative to occupy as much of the screen as possible? The negative would be backlit by the light source. Would matrix or similar be better than center weighted or spot? Would one need to bracket exposures? Has anyone blended the captures in Lightroom HDR or is this even beneficial? I don't have a darkroom anymore so will print digitally using ImagePrint to maximize my chances of transferring what I seen on screen to the print. My goal is to avoid the digital look and actually am using 35mm film to emphasize grain and film character. For color, I picked Portra 160 and plan to expose at 100 to get more pastel like effects. Hopefully, the less post processing in LR the better; this being a major reason for me using film again.

In focusing the negatives (uncut roll) does one use autofocus or manually focus once as the negative carrier should remain stable for the captures? I plan to tether with live view and capture capability in LR so won't have to touch the camera after the initial set up. The the imported files will initially be the reversed obviously so is it easy to tell on the screen if the focus is spot on? If not, I could use Negative Lab Pro as a LR plug in to quickly process the files to a positive and assess focus then.

Is there anything else I am missing?
 

madNbad

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You are way ahead of most that are new to scanning. You didn’t mention which camera and lens you’re using but if it’s an autofocus macro, use the autofocus. F8 or F11 will give you the best resolution and if you’re tethered to the computer, all the better. I don’t have either Lightroom or Negative Lab Pro but from all reports, it’s a good combination especially if you’re converting color negatives. If you’re getting a carrier and light source from Negative Supply, you won’t have to worry about negative flatness or illumination. I tend to adjust the EV to an image I like but there are many methods for determining correct exposure.


 
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ymc226

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Thanks Huss, I forgot ISO, so using the cameras base ISO would be optimal. Those colors look great. What film did you use and did you process it yourself with a home kit? I did read that if possible, have electronic shutter enabled to minimize shake.

Hello madNBad, am going to be using the Nikon Z7 and its 105mm macro along the new Negative Supply pro kit. Have tons of old B&W 35mm and medium format negatives from my initial foray into photography before digital. The Adobe support page shows the Z7, not Z7ii, is capable of live view tether, not just capture tether with Lightroom Classic so is the perfect camera for digital scanning. Can you share some ways to adjust exposure?
 

madNbad

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I only scan B&W negatives and a fairly low cost software bundle. I only use the tethering feature of the Sony Imaging Edge software and use Gentlemen Coders RAW Power plug in for Apple Photos for the conversion. Adjusting the exposure using the histogram is probably the best way. I’m kinda lazy and don’t like to fool around a lot so I dial up the EV until it looks good to me, do the capture and then it’s normally only a minor adjustment for exposure or contrast. Not the approved method but it’s just for my enjoyment and a few post on Flickr. Since you have Lightroom and if you add Negative Lab Pro, you’ll have a lot of tools to work with. Try to keep your ISO fairly low, between 80 and 200. You want it low enough to minimize noise but high enough to prevent camera shake. A sturdy desk is your best friend when camera scanning.
Some people really like the anti-static brush Negative Supply uses with the carrier, others find it a pain because it doesn’t line up with the slot in the carrier.
The 105 will allow you to fill the frame with the negative but may be a bit long if you want to include the rebate. I use a Sony FE90 2.8 G Macro and have it set so I can get just the border. I also have a Sigma ART 2.8 70 but haven’t used it very much. The Sony macro spoiled me. Good luck. There is plenty of both useful information and options on this site.
 
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Alan9940

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I scan mostly B&W with a Canon 5D II and a Sigma macro lens. I set the camera to daylight white balance and manual exposure. Lens is set to manual focus and F/8. Camera is tethered to a Macbook Pro and I use Capture One Pro for all the captures. I do a couple initial test shots to get the histogram exactly where I want it, then scan the entire roll without touching anything on the scanning rig. Following capture, the images are imported into LR and converted with Negative Lab Pro. Selects are made and flagged, and then on to downstream processing.
 

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Might be overthinking this but since I am still waiting for my Negative Supply scanning kit, so here it goes . . .

Have watched numerous videos regarding capture of the negative by the camera on a stand. I don't remember anyone mentioning the actual camera settings, specifically exposure and focus. Some have mentioned setting aperture to f/8 or f/11.

You'll need to figure out the best aperture yourself, based on how good your setup is - ability to keep your negative perfectly parallel to your sensor and your lens uniformity (light and sharpness fall-off). Basically, all lenses will have peak centre sharpness way before f8/f11, but you might need to sacrifice some sharpness by stopping down to eliminate corner softness (because of lens corner performance or to cover problems with non parallel film to sensor planes) and light fall-off (light fall-off can be compensated digitally to achieve uniformity across the entire frame, though).

Does this mean using automatic aperture priority exposure after coning down on the negative to occupy as much of the screen as possible? The negative would be backlit by the light source. Would matrix or similar be better than center weighted or spot? Would one need to bracket exposures? Has anyone blended the captures in Lightroom HDR or is this even beneficial? I don't have a darkroom anymore so will print digitally using ImagePrint to maximize my chances of transferring what I seen on screen to the print. My goal is to avoid the digital look and actually am using 35mm film to emphasize grain and film character. For color, I picked Portra 160 and plan to expose at 100 to get more pastel like effects. Hopefully, the less post processing in LR the better; this being a major reason for me using film again.

If you have a sensor with high enough DRange set the exposure based on your light source. Turn on your light source and set the camera exposure (without the negative in the light path) just bellow your clipping point. Drum scanners and most other hi-end scanners figured that out a long time ago. Setting exposure based on the content of the negative is a BAD idea in 99% of the cases.

In focusing the negatives (uncut roll) does one use autofocus or manually focus once as the negative carrier should remain stable for the captures? I plan to tether with live view and capture capability in LR so won't have to touch the camera after the initial set up. The the imported files will initially be the reversed obviously so is it easy to tell on the screen if the focus is spot on? If not, I could use Negative Lab Pro as a LR plug in to quickly process the files to a positive and assess focus then.

Is there anything else I am missing?

Focus once per roll. Unless your lens tends to creep out of focused position, or course.
 

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Thanks Huss, I forgot ISO, so using the cameras base ISO would be optimal. Those colors look great. What film did you use and did you process it yourself with a home kit? I did read that if possible, have electronic shutter enabled to minimize shake.

Hello madNBad, am going to be using the Nikon Z7 and its 105mm macro along the new Negative Supply pro kit. Have tons of old B&W 35mm and medium format negatives from my initial foray into photography before digital. The Adobe support page shows the Z7, not Z7ii, is capable of live view tether, not just capture tether with Lightroom Classic so is the perfect camera for digital scanning. Can you share some ways to adjust exposure?

No prob. Yes turn auto iso off, and use base ISO. I use the Nikon 60 G macro lens and it auto focuses perfectly on the grain. I focus on every image because why not, it takes a millisecond to do w af.
I don’t use e shutter, what I do is use the 3 sec shutter delay if i am using a stand. If I use the Nikon ES-2 copier which just screws onto the lens, I do not use any delay as no need. The pics above were taken w that.
Film used is Fuji C200, processed at my local shop Pauls Photo.
 

madNbad

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If you go to the Negative Supply website, they have a guide to camera scanning that answers a lot of your questions. As has been pointed out, autofocus lenses make life easier, manual camera setting, set an ISO, keep the aperture between 8 and 11. Once the gear is set up and you actually start scanning, the capture is fairly quick with the goal being a streamlined conversion process. Remember, this supposed to be fun. Keep us posted.
 

sfphoto

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Would think one should use a macro lens or enlarger lens on a bellows as they are designed for close up work.
Once you determine the exposure if your negs are all correctly exposed and your light source remains constant you should not have to change your settings.

OR you can simply get an Epson 4990 scanner for less $ than a macro lens and get great results from your Portra film if such is 120 or larger.
 

Adrian Bacon

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Might be overthinking this but since I am still waiting for my Negative Supply scanning kit, so here it goes . . .

Have watched numerous videos regarding capture of the negative by the camera on a stand. I don't remember anyone mentioning the actual camera settings, specifically exposure and focus. Some have mentioned setting aperture to f/8 or f/11.

Does this mean using automatic aperture priority exposure after coning down on the negative to occupy as much of the screen as possible? The negative would be backlit by the light source. Would matrix or similar be better than center weighted or spot? Would one need to bracket exposures? Has anyone blended the captures in Lightroom HDR or is this even beneficial? I don't have a darkroom anymore so will print digitally using ImagePrint to maximize my chances of transferring what I seen on screen to the print. My goal is to avoid the digital look and actually am using 35mm film to emphasize grain and film character. For color, I picked Portra 160 and plan to expose at 100 to get more pastel like effects. Hopefully, the less post processing in LR the better; this being a major reason for me using film again.

In focusing the negatives (uncut roll) does one use autofocus or manually focus once as the negative carrier should remain stable for the captures? I plan to tether with live view and capture capability in LR so won't have to touch the camera after the initial set up. The the imported files will initially be the reversed obviously so is it easy to tell on the screen if the focus is spot on? If not, I could use Negative Lab Pro as a LR plug in to quickly process the files to a positive and assess focus then.

Is there anything else I am missing?

There is no need for multiple exposures, even so called "low dynamic range" Canon cameras have more than enough DR to capture negatives with lots of discrete tone values. Put the camera in manual mode, set the ISO to the lowest standard setting for your camera, and the aperture to at least f/5.6, though a smaller aperture will give you more DoF to deal with any lingering negative unevenness, then set your shutter speed to whatever exposure gives you the brightest exposure of blank film base plus fog you can get without clipping anything. Focusing close will change your exposure, so do this after framing up and focusing. If you're scanning uncut rolls, and you're using negative supply film carrier you only need to focus once at the start. If your shutter speed is too long to get a clean picture with no movement, you can open your your aperture up a little, or raise your ISO a little, but the best thing you can do is add more light. With continuous lights, it's nearly impossible to have too much light.

RE Focus: Use autofocus. I set my camera to only focus when I push the back AF button so it doesn't try to focus on every frame, then I set my focus point to single point in the center of the frame and put one of the films frame edges right there so you have a nice vertical line to focus on and focus for that roll. Then after you set your exposure to give you maximum unclipped brightness for blank film base plus fog, run though and digitize the roll. Post processing to get a positive image is another thing that could easily eat a whole other thread
 

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@ymc226 you are in San Mon, which is close to me. If you want I can show you how simple this process is. Especially with 35mm film!
 

Les Sarile

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Might be overthinking this but since I am still waiting for my Negative Supply scanning kit, so here it goes . . .

Have watched numerous videos regarding capture of the negative by the camera on a stand. I don't remember anyone mentioning the actual camera settings, specifically exposure and focus. Some have mentioned setting aperture to f/8 or f/11.

Does this mean using automatic aperture priority exposure after coning down on the negative to occupy as much of the screen as possible? The negative would be backlit by the light source. Would matrix or similar be better than center weighted or spot? Would one need to bracket exposures? Has anyone blended the captures in Lightroom HDR or is this even beneficial? I don't have a darkroom anymore so will print digitally using ImagePrint to maximize my chances of transferring what I seen on screen to the print. My goal is to avoid the digital look and actually am using 35mm film to emphasize grain and film character. For color, I picked Portra 160 and plan to expose at 100 to get more pastel like effects. Hopefully, the less post processing in LR the better; this being a major reason for me using film again.

In focusing the negatives (uncut roll) does one use autofocus or manually focus once as the negative carrier should remain stable for the captures? I plan to tether with live view and capture capability in LR so won't have to touch the camera after the initial set up. The the imported files will initially be the reversed obviously so is it easy to tell on the screen if the focus is spot on? If not, I could use Negative Lab Pro as a LR plug in to quickly process the files to a positive and assess focus then.

Is there anything else I am missing?

Color negatives have an extremely wide overexposure range so depending on the scene, it may be required to bracket if you want to capture the full extent. This is typical of dslr photography "shoot to the left" as in checking the histogram to not blowout highlights as those would be unrecoverable in post.
 
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ymc226

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Thank you for all of your responses. I am so grateful for all of the readily offered advice.

Negative Supply just emailed me back; my order should ship this week. I can't wait and will note all the recommendations down as follows:

1. focus: first set focus to single point, with film on negative carrier at the correct camera height to get the final desired framing. I will use the full frame NS 35mm cartridge to show the rebate for the camera to focus on. Set camera to use back button AF to focus once per each roll scanned.

2. camera exposure: settings @ daylight white balance, manual metering, camera base ISO (64), f/8, back light on -> clear film in holder, determine highest exposure prior to clipping per roll.

3. camera tethered with live view directly into Lightroom Classic to large size monitor to view more easily. Capture via keyboard to minimize shake (light stand can be on another desk to further reduce artifact). Then using Negative Lab Pro plug in, convert to positive image and hopefully have minimal further processing in LR.
 

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1. A larger aperture has MORE resolution that a small aperture because it has the LEAST amount of diffraction effect.
2. A somewhat smaller aperture is
  • more forgiving of the fact that the focal plane is not perfectly parallel to the flat object being photographed, and
  • is also more forgiving of any bow in the film surface of the neg/transparency being photographed
So you need to strke a balance in choice of aperture, weighing the counterdirection of the two issues listed.
At macro distances, most macro photographers make use of camera position to achieve focus more than relying upon AF...copying films, once focus is set there is no focus change if the film holder holds the film flat!
 

Huss

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Thank you for all of your responses. I am so grateful for all of the readily offered advice.

Negative Supply just emailed me back; my order should ship this week. I can't wait and will note all the recommendations down as follows:

1. focus: first set focus to single point, with film on negative carrier at the correct camera height to get the final desired framing. I will use the full frame NS 35mm cartridge to show the rebate for the camera to focus on. Set camera to use back button AF to focus once per each roll scanned.

2. camera exposure: settings @ daylight white balance, manual metering, camera base ISO (64), f/8, back light on -> clear film in holder, determine highest exposure prior to clipping per roll.

3. camera tethered with live view directly into Lightroom Classic to large size monitor to view more easily. Capture via keyboard to minimize shake (light stand can be on another desk to further reduce artifact). Then using Negative Lab Pro plug in, convert to positive image and hopefully have minimal further processing in LR.

Don't focus on the rebate. Focus on whatever you deem most important in the pic. The camera will focus on the film grain. The Af does it's thing instantly so don't feel it is a once and done thing. You can do it as often as you like. I would stop down to f10 - at macro distances DOF is non existent basically, so any slight curl in film flatness would show unless u stop down.
 

madNbad

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Thank you for all of your responses. I am so grateful for all of the readily offered advice.

Negative Supply just emailed me back; my order should ship this week. I can't wait and will note all the recommendations down as follows:

1. focus: first set focus to single point, with film on negative carrier at the correct camera height to get the final desired framing. I will use the full frame NS 35mm cartridge to show the rebate for the camera to focus on. Set camera to use back button AF to focus once per each roll scanned.

2. camera exposure: settings @ daylight white balance, manual metering, camera base ISO (64), f/8, back light on -> clear film in holder, determine highest exposure prior to clipping per roll.

3. camera tethered with live view directly into Lightroom Classic to large size monitor to view more easily. Capture via keyboard to minimize shake (light stand can be on another desk to further reduce artifact). Then using Negative Lab Pro plug in, convert to positive image and hopefully have minimal further processing in LR.

I tried a lot of different scanning setups before finally moving to Negative Supply a few years ago. It's a big investment but worth it. The carriers hold the film flat and the transport never binds. I just recently upgraded from the Carrier Mk1 to the latest Pro Film Carrier 35. The new base attachment alone was worth it.
Huss is a good resource for Negative Lab Pro. He was an early adopter and has been using it for both color and B&W. While your at it, ask him about Cinestill Df96. Let us know if you have more questions.
 
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ymc226

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Don't focus on the rebate. Focus on whatever you deem most important in the pic. The camera will focus on the film grain. The Af does it's thing instantly so don't feel it is a once and done thing. You can do it as often as you like. I would stop down to f10 - at macro distances DOF is non existent basically, so any slight curl in film flatness would show unless u stop down.

Thanks again Huss, not having the set up in hand, it is great to have the advice of others.

More Fuji C200 with negativelabpro:



This is the film feel that I am after; I am in my mid 50s so am looking back at actual physical prints from the 1970s, 80s, 90s from the 1 hour photo labs. Much more nostalgic than the super sharpness from digital. For me this effectis more evident in 35mm than medium format.
 

albireo

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I pity da fool who doesn't use negativelabpro!

Bubblegum colours.

Colorperfect is leagues ahead.

Also, if you think these NLP colours are good, don't try a Nikon film scanner + Nikonscan. Its colours on C41 will make you reassess your life choices and your money spent on Finnish-made 3D printed DSLR scanning film holders. :wink:
 
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Bubblegum colours.

Colorperfect is leagues ahead.

Also, if you think these NLP colours are good, don't try a Nikon film scanner + Nikonscan. Its colours on C41 will make you reassess your life choices and your money spent on Finnish-made 3D printed DSLR scanning film holders. :wink:

I've noticed that with NLP in a lot of photos people have posted. The blue sky especially doesn't look right.

Do you have samples of Colorperfect results? I use Lightroom and Elements. The page linked below doesn't say anything about Lightroom. Do you know how to handle that? DO you adjust through COlorperfect and then make a full, resolution tiff before switching to another editing program?
 

albireo

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The page linked below doesn't say anything about Lightroom. Do you know how to handle that? DO you adjust through COlorperfect and then make a full, resolution tiff before switching to another editing program?

It's a Photoshop plugin. I don't think it supports Lightroom, sadly.

It works like this. You open Photoshop. Load the raw 16bit/channel LINEAR positive you got from Vuescan in Photoshop. Then, you load Colorperfect (while still in Photoshop) and invert. You can do some adjustments inside Colorperfect (eg making sure you have no clipping at either end of the histogram); once you're happy, you'd then commit your changes. Your inverted image appears in Photoshop. You can then use Photoshop as you'd usually do to prepare your final image (eg remove dust, resize, save to 8bit/channel jpeg).
 

Steven Lee

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Bubblegum colours.
Colorperfect is leagues ahead.
:wink:
That's a good way to describe Negative Lab Pro tendency to over-correct. To be fair to NLP this does not always happen, but it definitely does not like when a large portion of a negative is occupied by a dominant color like blue skies or water.

It is hard to have a frame of reference when scanning and inverting color. My approach is to shoot a test roll for each emulsion with good variety of subjects, including a color target and a grey wedge onto every frame. Then you spend some time inverting manually trying to mimick the basic RA4 principels and watching the grey wedge for color casts. Then you can store Photoshop originals (with all adjustment layers) and transfer these settings to future rolls to keep robo-invertors like NLP honest.
 
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