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The Quiet Things No One Ever Asks: X-PRO Self-Scanning Troubles & Woes

After purchasing my first ever film scanner, the Epson Perfection V500, I was stoked to finally be more "hands-on" with my Lomography experience. But alas, something that should be as simple as pressing a button has caused me more stress than ever! After researching and testing, I've figured out 6 different ways to configure your x-pro scans -- read on to join the conversation.

Scanning in itself is an art.

Any experienced film photographer can tell you that and strongly attest to the struggles he or she has experienced during their process in learning the process. It all comes down to the way a tangible item is transformed into digital information — there is a translation that occurs within the process.

And like any translator will tell you — there can never be an absolute direct translation between languages.

For example, translating between Japanese and English, two people may have different perspectives of the word “Love,” and thus, come up with two different translations. A friend of mine told me that a famous Japanese poet (whose name slips my mind at the moment — anyone recognize this?) translated “I love you” in English to “The moon is beautiful” in Japanese. Stunning, mentally perplexing, and delicately radical, if you ask me.

After researching through Lomography articles, Flickr chat rooms, photography blogs, and just asking fellow Lomographers, I’ve come to realize that there may not be a “right” way of scanning. Heck, if art in itself was dictated only by standards, then… it wouldn’t be much fun, now would it?

So I’ve tested out my Epson Perfection V500 using 6 different methods and configurations when scanning cross processed film. I’ve scanned the same 4 photos using the different methods, so you can see exactly how each method affects the same photo.

Please, have a read, and tell me which ones you use, prefer, don’t prefer — whatever! This article, and my series in general, is meant to create conversation.

Oh, and a side note… Cross processed slide film is a wild, crazy creature when it comes to scanning. Don’t even get me started…. All of the below photos were shot in a Canon AE-1 Program, with Kodak Ektachrome E100 VS (one of my favorite slides to x-pro with).

Method #1: Scan in Color Negative mode, w/continuous Auto Exposure
And yes, I said auto exposure. Don’t stone me! (hides) Many Lomographers that I have talked to, scan their x-pro in auto exposure, simply because of the wild shifts and color casts that can result after x-pro. Essentially, there is always some sort of exposure compensation when it comes to scanning, because the process includes a computer trying to read your film… they’re not exactly of the same type of medium.

Method #2: Scan in B&W mode, selecting the Color option, w/continuous Auto Exposure

Method #3: Scan in Positive/Slide mode, w/continuous Auto Exposure, then invert in Photoshop

Here’s where I hope I’ve still kept you readers engaged, because I’ve also tested out the previous 3 methods without Auto Exposure (but only on 1 photo, I got a tad bit lazy…). Better, yes, nay, up for you own preference?

Method #4: Scan in Color Negative mode, w/OUT continuous Auto Exposure

Photo by dearjme

Method #5: Scan in B&W mode, selecting the Color option, w/OUT continuous Auto Exposure

Photo by dearjme

Method #6: Scan in Positive/Slide mode, w/OUT continuous Auto Exposure, then invert in Photoshop

Photo by dearjme

So what do you all think? I’ve mostly scanned my photos in Positive/slide mode with Auto Exp, but that’s just the way I prefer most of my x-pro shots to look like.

I’m also not very familiar with why there is an option to scan as B&W, but in color format? But I read it somewhere on a Flickr chatroom, and decided to try it out.

I hope that this article has broadened your views on scanning, and also has some good platforms for discussion. I’m a firm believer that there’s no “correct” way to scan, but I’d love to hear your preferences and why! Lomo on!

written by dearjme

7 comments

  1. dragontw

    dragontw

    I use the Epson Scan software in Expert mode. Pretty much turn off all the options except for the basic dust removal and scan as color negative. That way I can set the curves myself. Each Film brand tends to act differently, so you really have to experiment with the curves until you get a look that you like.
    [Photo:15997901]

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  2. hazy_baby

    hazy_baby

    I have an Epson 2450 and I use the inbuilt software. I preview the negatives, turn on continuous exposure, and select an area of one picture and the colours automatically adjust. The bigger/smaller you make that box the more the colours change. Decide on a good look then turn auto exposure off and you can select the full picture without the colours changing. You have to do this for each negative tho.

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  3. dearjme

    dearjme

    @dragontw That sounds like a great way to be more in control of the curves. And yea, even two rolls of the same brand of film may act differently!!!

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  4. dearjme

    dearjme

    @hazy_baby That's a great tip! Thanks for sharing the tip about the box selections and the color adjusting. Must try that out next time.

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  5. attelid

    attelid

    This may seem a silly question..but.. Can I use an epson scanning software if I don't have an epson scanner? Because among all the scanning software that I read about, I realized that the best Lomo-useful software is the epson one (for example for the tip that @hazy_baby suggests, there is no scanning software that allows this)! Did anyone try? (I have an HP scanner but HP software really sucks!)

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  6. nick_a_tron

    nick_a_tron

    You guys are grossly over complicating this process. The absolute key to accurate and workable negative scans is using Vuescan as your scanning software. Read any post on Apug about scanning negatives and Vuescan will be championed. Once you have it installed you can simple scan the film leader (the most heavily exposed possible colour) and lock in the exposure, then select a piece on the film between two shots (the least exposed possible colour) and lock that in as the film base colour. Hey presto, you have accurate negatives...

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  7. dearjme

    dearjme

    @attelid I'm not quite sure, but I couldn't find any downloadable software for the Epson software. And I had to put in a serial number in order to start the software, so you'd probably need the scanner first. @nick_a_tron just commented about Vuescan, which I have heard great things about, so maybe check it out? They have a free basic software you can download and try out, but no advanced options, until you pay a bit. I will try it out, as well! Thanks @nick_a_tron for the great tip!

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