Scanning Color Negatives using Epson Scanner and ColorPerfect Plugin

Here is a quick and easy visual tutorial for scanning color negatives using Epson scanners (v700 in this example) and ColorPerfect plugin.

Setting up Epson Scan for Positive Scans

Select Configuration button at the bottom of the main screen in Epson Scan software and update the settings based on the following screenshots.

Click OK when you are done with the all settings in the configuration window.

From the main window, select the File Save Settings (small icon to the right of the Scan button) and configure the settings to match the following screenshots.

Please make sure that the Embed ICC Profile is selected.

You are now ready to start scanning.

Keep the following notes in mind when you are scanning using Epson v7xx or v8xx Scanners:

  1. Try to start with a DPI setting around 1200  – 1600.
    I have noticed that the contrast reduces with increase in DPI after approx. 2000 DPI and it makes the inversion process more difficult.
  2. Always hit the Reset button after you have selected your scanning frame.
    You do not want Epson Scan to apply any post processing other than scanning with the selected Gamma and Continuous Exposure setting from earlier.
  3. Make sure that all software processing settings (unsharp mask, grain reduction, and etc.) have been turned off.

Use the following screenshots as a reference to make your scan.

Notice the increase in brightness due to the automatic adjustments applied by the software when you selected the scanning frame.

Click on Reset to remove all of these auto adjustments. See screenshots for before and after clicking on the Reset button below. The Reset button should be grayed out.

Your preview should show normal exposure after the Reset button has been clicked. Again, see the screenshot below as reference.

At this point, go ahead and click on Scan and save the Tiff file.

Processing Scan in Photoshop using ColorPerfect

Please note that ColorPerfect works with various versions of the following photo editing software: Adobe Photoshop, PhotoLine and Adobe Photoshop Elements for PC & Mac
More info can be found at: http://www.colorperfect.com

Open your scan in Photoshop.

Let’s convert the scan to Adobe RGB profile which works best with the ColorPerfect plugin. From the Edit menu, select Convert to Profile and follow the screenshots as reference.

Once the file has been converted to Adobe RGB, remove any film rebate by cropping the image. This helps ColorPerfect get the best conversion as a starting point. You can experiment with including the film border once you have mastered the basic workflow.

Start ColorPerfect by selecting it from the Filter menu.

You will need to setup default settings for ColorPerfect the 1st time you use it. The settings to change are directly under the “Start” area on the top-right of the plugin. Make sure that these are set to ColorNeg and ‘L” for Linear and Adobe 1998 (profile we converted to earlier). If you do not see these options, click on [<<] icon on the top-left to bring back the default starting point.

Also uncheck all options on the main layout with the exception of BP Trails. Set BP Trails to .005 as the default value.

Once this has been setup, select the correct Film Brand (Kodak in this example) and Film Type (Ektar 100 in this example) from the drop-down selections at the bottom. You should see a very good inverted scan at this point with white balance still off.

Click on a neutral white or gray area on the image to auto select white balance and viola! You should have a pretty darn good scan with minimal effort so far. This is why I love ColorPerfect and I am sure you will too 🙂

From this point on, it’s all a matter of personal preference.

Here are few things that I typically go through to finalize my scan.

Based on this scan, I can tell there is a slight cast to the image. Let’s use Photoshop’s one of the many magical algorithms to quickly eliminate it.

Select CTRL + ALT +B -> Auto Color to remove cast.

Here is what Photoshop selected in this case. Review and update if you like but I mostly just click OK at this point.

Here is what the scan looks now. See, we are making progress 🙂

Now lets apply a Contrast Curve (CTRL + M) to taste. I try to select two points on the histogram. 1 for Shadows and 1 for Highlights.

Here is the latest preview. I could just stop here but I want to show you a few other tricks that I use.

One of the most powerful tools in Photoshop for photo editing is the Camera Raw Editor. Select it from the Filter menu or use the CTRL + SHIFT + A shortcut.

Purely based on taste, I adjusted the white balance to add some “coolness” to the scan by adjusting the Temperate and Tint sliders under the White Balance settings. Keep in mind that Ektar 100 is a highly saturated film and it always scans that way when I use a drum scanner. However, Epson scans tend to reduce the saturation which you can easily add back using the Vibrance slider.

Add Vibrance to taste.

Click OK. Here is what our the scan looks like now.

At this point, I am very happy with this scan. I typically add a white or black border to finalize the scan. Here is the final image!

 

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