My 8X10″ Negative Conversions: UPDATE 2 / Epson Scanner Has Arrived

This is the third installment documenting the conversion of my black and white film negatives, of which the majority are 8X10″ format, to digital files. I started off this process searching for an inexpensive method that would provide a usable digital file. This involved basically making a copy of the negative from a make-shift light table, shooting it with my Fuji X-E2 digital camera.
What seemed like a good idea proved to be limited in the subsequent applications of that digital negative. For online use, it was more than satisfactory. Images with a size of 1000 pixels in the larger dimension looked great on a monitor in a variety of online sites from Facebook to Flickr. But that was the limit to their usefulness. As soon as I tried creating a print using my Epson R2400, the shortcomings of the file (no matter how I tried to teak it) became glaringly evident. Lack of sharpness was only was of the problems. Things like strange artifacts in the edge to edge sharpness caused strange mutations in a variety of situations.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. This cropped portion of a shot is pictured here 1:1. Notice the “painterly” quality to the leaves. In particular, look at the upper left corner of the image. When making a comparison to the scan from my new Epson V700, the image quality, or lack there of will become very clear.

Below is a 1:1 cropped portion from the same negative, scanned using the Epson V700 and the Epson scan software. The software allowed me to scan into a 16 bit file which proved for better tonality and a smoother transition in the grays than say an 8 bit file. Additional processing was done using Adobe Lightroom.

scan test

My experimentation, in an effort to be frugal, was the validation I needed to invest in a quality scanner. I still did my best to save money by opting for a Epson Refurbished unit, thereby saving about $300 off the regular list price. I paid $415 including shipping. Units on Ebay are going for more than that used.
Also included SilverFast 8 Scan Software, which I have played with a bit, but it’s rather “clunky” in it’s UI and workflow. But I’ll keep experimenting with it and do a review of it at a later date.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 was also included. Now in the past, I always thought of Elements as the amateur version of Photoshop, even though, back in the day, Selective Color Correction was just about the only thing stripped out of Elements, but if you were preparing files for print, it was a necessary tool.
Nowadays, I find myself in a different situation. My current version of Photoshop is, I’m embarrassed to say, CS2. Although I have not installed Elements 11 yet, it may actually prove to be an upgrade.

My take away from this whole process. We spend time and money, as well as our passion to create images we hope have meaning and are worth preserving. Short selling a step in the process because of time or cost is just not worth it. I knew that all along, but after seeing my first scan from the Epson V700, I knew that I was back on track.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave the below, or contact me via email.

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