scanning 4x5 sheet film

Discussion in 'Scanning and Scanners' started by Ces1um, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. Ces1um

    Ces1um Member
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    I was wondering if people simply put the 4x5 sheet film directly on the scanner glass or do they use a special 4x5 film holder when scanning?
     
  2. Alan9940

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    I wet mount directly on the scanner glass for both 4x5 and 8x10.
     
  3. OP
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    Ces1um

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    rookie question, but how does one wet mount? A couple drops of distilled water on the scanner glass and drop the film on? Or would you sandwich your film between plastic sheets first? How do you clean your scanner afterwards?
     
  4. jim10219

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    There are a million ways to do it. Some people use specialized stuff like Mylar and Kami fluid. That stuff is expensive, and I've found a cheaper method that works just as well in my case.

    I first clean the glass on my scanner with Windex, and then blow it with a rocket blower to get off any lint and dry any remaining Windex. Then I drop a line of Ronsonol (which is chemically very similar to Kami fluid) on the glass about the length of the film. Then I curve the film like a taco, and place it into the bead of Ronsonol and let the sides down so that it spreads the Ronsonol out evenly to the sides of the film. Then place another bead of Ronsonol on top of the film and take a sheet of Grafix Duralar (a cheaper alternative to Mylar and make sure it's bigger than the film to cover the edges) and basically repeat the same process of dropping down the taco. Next, I take a dry microfiber wipe and push any air bubbles in the sandwich out to the edges, past the film. The last step is to place some cut sheets of black construction paper or whatever to mask off the edges, so you don't get glare or flare around the edges when you scan. After I'm done, I soak the film in water with a drop of Photo Flo, and may add a bit of formalin if it's color film, before hanging it up to dry and restoring it. I've also just let the Ronsonol evaporate without the last washing step, and that seems to work too, but I think it's probably better for archival reasons to go ahead and get rid of any left over residue (which I don't ever notice any, but better to be safe than sorry). After that, I repeat the whole process, starting with cleaning the glass of the scanner.

    You can theoretically scan directly on the glass without using a wet mount system, but then you often have to deal with Newton Rings, depending on the humidity levels. In Oklahoma, it's always too humid to dry mount film. Also, wet mounting helps to negate dust and stuff, so it makes the post process a bit easier, which with large format usually takes a good bit of time.

    Of course, not every scanner is set up to focus directly on the glass. Some scan better if the film is up off the glass a bit, in a holder. Mine scans better directly on the glass, which is why I sold my film holders (after trying forever to get them to work). And sometimes, you need to adjust the height of your film holder, which is why they sell film holders with adjustable heights. I'd recommend doing some tests at various heights to see where your scanner scans best before deciding on a wet mount or film holder method.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
  5. OP
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    Ces1um

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    Thanks for the thorough answer! Ronsonol- Lighter fluid?
     
  6. jim10219

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    Yup. It's a purified version of naphtha. There are lots of different kinds of naphtha on the market (it's not a specific chemical, but a type of chemical), but I find Ronsonol to dry cleaner than most, easy to source, and cheap enough to use regularly. It's also great as a cleaning agent, so I always have a few bottles on hand even though I don't smoke. Avoid the charcoal lighter fluid stuff for your grill. It's not the same and no where near as pure.
     
  7. hsandler

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  8. Patrick Robert James

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    You haven't said what scanner you are using.
     
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    Ces1um

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    Epson Perfection V600 Photo Flatbed Scanner
    I have to scan each 4x5 twice and stitch the two halves together using hugin software to get the full image. No idea if my scanner focuses fully directly on the glass or not though.
     
  10. MattKing

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    If you are scanning colour, you may need to re-wash and final rinse your film if you use wet scanning.
     
  11. Alan9940

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    I use Kami fluid and mylar sheets. Basically, the procedure goes like this:

    1. Clean scanner glass with glass cleaner using Photex scanner wipes.
    2. Squirt some Kami fluid onto the glass; amount varies, of course, based on film size.
    3. Bend film in a bit of an arch and lay into the Kami fluid (I scan emulsion side down)
    4. Squirt Kami fluid onto upper side of film.
    5. Lay mylar sheet into Kami fluid using same technique as the film.
    6. Use a hard rubber roller from film center to edges to remove air bubbles; make sure you don't get any Kami fluid on the rubber roller.
    7. Clean up excess fluid around the edges with the scanner wipe used in #1.

    I should probably mention, too, that I use that blue painters tape to tape all around the edges of the glass to ensure fluid doesn't seep under there and/or get into the scanner body.

    Hope this helps.
     
  12. jim10219

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    You have to test it out. Some scanners, like the V700-850 have a separate lens for film that focuses above the glass. I have no idea if the V600 does or not. But even if it does, it's best to do a test because the scanning height will vary from unit to unit straight from the factory. I have an Epson 4990 and somebody on here once told me they have the same scanner and have to raise negatives up off the glass for optimum sharpness. I've done extensive testing on my end, and optimum sharpness is about 0.5mm above the glass. That's hard to mount anything that close, and the fluid does raise it a bit off the glass. So with my particular scanner, wet scanning is the best method. But it's entirely possible that someone else with the same model of scanner might benefit from a different method. That's why you just have to test it yourself and see where your scanner scans best.
     
  13. Andrew O'Neill

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    When I want the most out of a negative, I wet mount directly on the scanner glass, especially if it's a Rollie IR negative.... base is just too thin to stick in the holder. Crimped and distorted.
     
  14. hsandler

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    I don't think that scanner focuses well directly on the scanner glass, although you mighty be lucky and have one with a particularly low optimum focus height. (The Epson V700 and V800 have dual optics, one for the scanner glass and one for above it, but I don't think the lesser Epsons have that feature). Before you invest in wet mount fluid and such, I suggest dry scanning a good sharp negative at various heights off the glass to see the effect of height on sharpness. You can simply prop a fairly flat negative up on stacks of cardboard for the experiment and scan a flat portion in between the cardboard standoffs. I think you are likely to find that the sharpness advantage of getting a bit of height is more important than the advantages of wet mounting. If so, and if you still want to wet mount, then you could look at putting a sheet of glass up on standoffs and wet mounting onto that.
     
  15. OP
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    Ces1um

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    Oh, I'm not sold on wet mounting at all. I was just curious how it's done. My scanner isn't really made for 4x5- I'm kind of jerry rigging things. I'll try your suggestion first as it seems easier than going out and buying lighter fluid. I'm sure I have something I can prop the film up with. That being said, I'm scanning pinhole photographs so really, how sharp would I get things. That being said, my negatives always look sharper than my scans with these things so maybe I do need to prop those negatives up some.
     
  16. Les Sarile

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    Using a V700, I put the 4X5 film directly on the glass dry and clean. Granted I've only scanned about a dozen of these size films but the results are very good. Here's an example of a WWII 4X5 b&w shot by a colleague's dad who was a combat photographer who obviously knew his craft.

    [​IMG]

    Very minor post work of dust and levels.
     
  17. Doug Fisher

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    >>Ronsonol- Lighter fluid?<<

    Gamsol is another alternative that is available at most art stores and very inexpensive compared to the fluids marketed specifically as scanning fluid.

    Doug
     
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