Linear RAW Scans with VueScan

VueScan (VS) is popular scanning software solution offered by Hamrick Software. It has many functions and features, with a relatively simple user interface. I can’t say it’s the most user friendly, but it gets the job done. In general, I only use VS for its RAW, linear capture, so that I get complete control of the image without auto-editing from the scanner and software.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the process of obtaining a linear scan using VueScan 9 (9.5.69), on macOS Sierra, with an Epson v800. Since VS can work with a number of different scanners, get to know your features and how VS can take advantage of them.

Why Linear Scans?

Much like RAW output in a digital camera, the linear scan is RAW output straight from the scanner’s sensor (e.g. CCD on Epson v800), without any manipulation from the scanning software. Most software packages that come with consumer scanners do not offer this ability (e.g. Epson Scan or SilverFast Ai), and software like VS does. It’s unfortunate, as you’re dropping cash for software to basically “do nothing” for you.

Fortunately, you can really harness the power of RAW scans as your scanning workflow matures through IT8 monitor calibration and film calibration from mature software like ColorPerfect film profiles or slide specific IT8 targets. Note, IT8 film targets are only useful for slide film, and VS is terrible at IT8 calibration, as it doesn’t use 3D color LUT (Lookup Table), it uses a simple 3×3 sampling matrix which is very limited in accuracy. More on this topic later.

Software Layout

VS is organized in six different tabs, Input, Crop, Filter, Color, Output, and Prefs, all which contains settings that can impact your scan. I’ll walk you through the configurations in each of these tabs, relative to the Epson.

 

Input Tab

The input tab contains all the configurations on how VS will scan the image, shows you the preview and actual scan. Typically the quality of the Preview and actual Scan in VS is terrible, so don’t judge your image until you’ve had a chance to bring it into your favorite editor.

  • Options – Professional, which gives you complete access to parameters
  • Task – Scan to File, as you’ll be saving the final image
  • Source – select your scanner
  • Mode – Transparency, for film
  • Media – Slide, pure image right off the CCD without VS trying to interpret what is “negative”, use this for all film, including B&W
  • Bits per pixel – 48-bit for a full gamut, 64-bit if you want to do infrared dust cleaning
  • Preview resolution – 800 dpi, use a high enough resolution that allows VS to adjust the scanners exposure
  • Scan resolution – 3200 dpi, use the highest resolution that makes sense for your scanner, and down sample later
  • Auto flip, Rotation, Skew, Mirror – up to you, no impact
  • Auto focus – Not available on Epson, use it if your scanner supports
  • Auto save – None, turn this off and you can control when you decide to save
  • Auto print – None, i doubt you want to auto print
  • Auto repeat – None
  • Number of samples – 3, determine how many times a single line is sampled to help with scan quality (e.g. noise)
  • Multi-exposure – None, could be helpful for scanners with low DMax that have a hard time pulling data off the film
  • Lock exposure, R/G/B gain – these help with identifying the base color of the film, you’ll need to do this for each film

Crop Tab

The settings on this tab aren’t that critical towards a RAW scan, as they are used to adjust. The most notable setting are the following:

  • Border % – 0,
  • Buffer % – 20, determines how far from the crop border the color calculation will be done (i.e. ignore film border on film strip)

 

 

Filter Tab

This is a critical tab, where you want to effectively disable all auto settings. If needed, you could enable infrared cleaning, using “Light”. I’ve found it to be pretty helpful and reduces the amount of time I spend cleaning up the scan in post-processing.

 

 

 

 

Color Tab

Another instrumental tab, where you want to effectively disable all color correction.

  • Color balance – None, you will manually take care of color balance in post-editing
  • Curve low – 0.25, I left this at default, you could set it 0, but basically this is the bottom end of the histogram curve (black)
  • Curve high – 0.75, I left this at default, you could set it to 1, but basically this is the top of the histogram curve (white)
  • Brightness, Red, Green, Blue – 1, no adjustment
  • Slide vendor – Generic, don’t apply any film color correction, VS’s profiles are not good
  • Slide brand – Color, don’t apply any film color correction, VS’s profiles are not good
  • Slide type – Slide
  • Scanner color space, ICC profile – I’ve selected the Epson default ICC profile and file
  • Scanner IT8 data – blank, if you have IT8 targets, you’ll use them in post-processing, not in VS
  • Film color space – Default, leave as-is
  • Output color space – Adobe RGB, I believe this is the Epson’s operating gamut
  • Monitor color space – ICC Profile, I calibrated my monitor using XRite i1 Display. If you don’t have a profile, use Adobe RGB

Output Tab

This is the tab where you’ll configure a RAW TIFF output file, and the settings are very simple.

  • Raw file – check this box, none of the others
  • Raw file type – 48-bit RGB, for full gamut, 64-bit if you want to do infrared cleaning in post-processing
  • Raw output with – Save, tells VS to save the output when you save the file
  • Raw compression – Off, we don’t want VS compressing any details

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