My Output Dilemma: Scanning


How much technical manipulation do you do in order to get the perfect scan? I thought my images were not great because of my photography ability and not quite understanding the camera yet, but it turns out, it might be my scanners fault!

So, I bought the Diana Mini, not so long after that I bought an Epson V330 Photo. The plan was to happily spend quality time scanning all the 35mm negatives I can’t wait to see the results of.

Everything was great, happy with the scan, reasonably happy with the results for a newbie. Until, for the first time, one roll of film was also printed onto matt paper.

This has changed my whole process and outlook. Seems drastic I know, but I never bothered having the negatives printed when I can scan them at home, it just seemed a waste of money and paper.

Now I’m stuck.

The colours and depth on the prints are exactly what I was expecting the Diana Mini to produce when I first started shooting. I saw everyone else’s Diana Mini images and could not understand why the colours on my images seemed so flat. Living in Wales, and shooting in the dark, grey winter, I’m aware that some of my images are flat due to the lack of sunlight!

Credits: angelc5

While scanning, I changed some of the settings to match the prints, but now I feel like I’m cheating! I want the cropping and rotating control of scanning, especially with the over exposed and overlapped images. But, the prints are sooooo nice, yet I run the risk of the machine not printing out the right sections together. Plus, each photo-developing place will produce varying results (which I’m not going to experiment with).

(Left: Scanned negatives, Right: Scanned prints)

Credits: angelc5

Also, am I cheating if I change the scanning settings and then keep them at that setting all the time? Maybe or more than likely, I’m over reacting, but what’s the point of going analogue if it’s not honest, but then who would know!

So here’s the thing, how far do you feel you can you push the digital/technical side, before it takes away the analogue magic? After all, we need to use so much in order for the images to be part of the social network community.

Now I need to decide which method I prefer, scanning the negatives or the prints? Or do I use both and choose whichever outcome is best for each image individually? I guess I’ll have to experiment with the scanner settings, to make sure they get as close as possible to the prints.

Credits: angelc5

I’ve just re-read this post and now I’ve decided I’m not cheating if I adjust the scanner settings, after all each scanner will produce varying results, so it’s up to me to find the best setting for the negatives I’m using.

It would be great for you to share your scanning secrets!

All I know is, I’m going to have to get all the other negatives printed to see if they will come out better than the scanned negatives!

written by angelc5 on 2011-05-27 #lifestyle #negatives #cheating #scanning #prints #technical #output #options


  1. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    I have never seen the difference between my scans and shop scans/prints but i would be interested to know if theirs looks loads better than mine. I currently havent had a lot of scanning experience and havent tweaked the photos at all but once I get to see the difference then I dont think it is cheating to make them look their best, after all that is what the shop will have done in the first place

  2. rtmoratin
    rtmoratin ·

    I don't think it is cheating because you really need to tweak the settings to get the right image, don't do overdo it. :)

  3. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    there's no cheating by adjust the settings of your scan, and even to adjust the contrast and brightness of your scanned negatives. Every scanner software has a way to interprete colors and textures, so does the photolab when printing your shots! Your scanned negatives seem so flat because of some lack of contrast, brightness and color saturation. Did you try the automatic setting and the manual setting? did you see a difference? Take a test shot where you see on the negative that there is a lot of colors and contrast and try to scan it with different settings on your scanner: without any pre-settings of color, brightness or anything. than add an automatic color setting... then the same with other settings (I don't know the epson software using a canoscan) and you will learn to know better how your scanner reacts and get what you identify on the negative. Or try eventually to use another scan software.... As long as you try to get exactly what you see on the negative (analyzing the negative is a very important task before scanning!), there's no cheating! :)

  4. angelc5
    angelc5 ·

    thanks for the comments and likes, after I wrote this and done a bit more experimenting, I wrote a follow up to this one that compares the different settings:…

  5. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Please, you shouldn't bother too much about this "How much am I allowed to do/ No (digital) manipulation"-stuff which sometimes seems to be taken too seriously by some ...Most important is that you like your photos, so what's the use of sticking 100% to analogue by not adjusting your scanner settings and not liking your pictures, honestly??? Also, I have my own darkroom and did you know that you can change a whole lot of stuff (e.g. contrast) by using different filters, paper and paper developers, film developers, etc.? When you adjust the contrast of your shots with the scanner settings or even a programme like Photoshop or similar Freeware, you're basically doing what I do when I use more or less magenta to highten contrast of a (black and white) print, so you're surely not cheating! That's my opinion....

  6. lomokev
    lomokev ·

    I have no problem with tweaking your scanner settings after all that's what a lab dose when they scan or print them. no such things as cheating!

  7. etxenike
    etxenike ·

    Labs always do some tweaking when printing even if it's straight from the negatives. I always get contact sheets and try to reproduce the contacts when scanning.
    But the lab doesn't print each of the pictures in the sheet separately, they try to get most of the pictures looking right, so sometimes I end up having to "salvage" photos that, judging by the contact sheet, hadn't come out right. On those I just decide what it would have been looked like in print, and the way I like it the most.… is a great example of this. The contact was an almost black square.

  8. sedgetone
    sedgetone ·

    When I first shot slide and xpro'd I had the reels developed and printed. What came back was really dark, mostly green and black images. Strangely, there was the odd one or two shots on the same reel that looked as I was expecting. So instantly I thought something was up. Sure enough on querying and getting more prints done, they came back as I was expecting them to look.

    So then I bought a Canon scanner (9000F) and rescanned the negs myself.... wow the difference you get! I could get the detail back and the colours I was expecting. Now I only scan my own stuff. The other big thing to remember is that you really need to calibrate your display monitor if you're going to make colour decisions. I don't like rotating and I don't mind seeing frame borders and the odd bit of dust, hair or scratch: it all adds character and that's why were using film and not digital cameras.

    The scanning software will only allow you to get off the negative what is actually there. Yes, sometimes we have to adjust individual colour channels to achieve a good result; this what the labs do anyway. In general I just try to correct the exposure and pull back as much detail as I can, film has a massive contrast range compared to an 8bit DVI-D feeding your display. If you go Display Port and have a wide gamut monitor then you're talking big bucks but film still has more colour range.

    Interestingly I recently went to a digital photography expo where it would seem all bets were off. People were colour processing like crazy in Photoshop. Gradients and vignettes added, even lens flares. That I think is taking things too far. That isn't photography, it's digital imagery creation gone made. I don't process the image in GIMP/Photoshop etc afterwards. My fear is of putting in colours and the artefacts that weren't there before.

    With a metered camera you have to do very little correction. Most of the cameras we use are manual and so we guess. Hence why during scanning we have to work a little harder some times.

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