bookmark_borderVueScan RAW + RT Film Negative = Good Colours

In March, I experimented with using a DSLR to digitise negatives and liked the results more than those obtained from my low-end Epson Perfection V200 scanner. However, this sentiment is now reversed, since I can produce better images from the scanner.

Previously, I scanned a negative with VueScan (using Lock Exposure and Lock Base Color features to neutralise the colour of the film base), saving the frames as TIFF images, and refined colours with Curves in GIMP. That method relied on my ability to correctly judge neutral colours and was therefore subjective.

The Film Negative module in RawTherapee uses maths to balance colours from film negatives, which is more consistent than human judgment. But until recently, it worked only with RAW files produced by DSLRs. Now the added support for TIFF files in RawTherapee 5.10 enables me to process negatives with it.

My new workflow is to scan each frame of a negative as a RAW image and to save it as a TIFF file. A RAW image is the direct output of the scanner and does not contain any image processing. I can work with the TIFF image in RawTherapee in the same way as I do with a RAW image from a DSLR. But Film Negative does the heavy lifting. Most of the time, it automatically finds the correct colours, but it can also get a good outcome from two user-selected points of neutral colour from a frame.

So far, I am very pleased with the performance of Film Negative. The picture above, which was used in my previous comparison, is the output of Film Negative. It is true to life: The skin, black jacket, grey dashboard, and red car look much more natural than in previous images from both the scanner and the DSLR digitisation. The photos in my previous post were obtained in the same way.

Theoretically, Film Negative works similarly on both a TIFF image from VueScan and a RAW image from a DSLR. However, experimenting with the DSLR method today, I could not get satisfying results. I am now reconsidering the purchase of The Lobster Holder, which I’ve wanted since my DSLR digitisation experiment.

bookmark_borderNailed it!

Those film shots mentioned in my last post about playing with artificial light? They were a total loss after being developed.

I was so pissed by the waste of a rather dear roll of film that I immediately grabbed the Nikon FM2 and drove to the local country park to shoot another roll of the same film. I had to know where I messed up.

It turns out that making twenty-four photos is not a quick affair. I walked for two hours, now and then stopping to take a picture of some random nature thing, before I could return home for Round Two of developing Kodak Ultramax with Bellini C-41 kit at 38 degrees Celcius. But now I was armed with a sous-vide heater to keep the chemicals at a constant temperature. And I was going to agitate the chemicals by inversion instead of rotating the small plastic stick/rod.

It paid off. The development, that is—the photography, meh.

Was this success a fluke? The only way to be sure was to go for Round Three of developing Kodak Ultramax with Bellini C-41 kit at 38 degrees Celcius. To up the challenge, I used a twenty-year-old roll of Fujifilm Superia 400, rated at ISO 200, to photograph stuff from around the house. Again, finishing the twenty-four frames took a while. But the subsequent development process was done slowly and carefully.

The pictures that came out were as good as they could be from expired film. I had nailed developing Kodak Ultramax with Bellini C-41 kit at 38 degrees Celcius.

I believe the most significant change I made was the use of inversion agitation—which looks like shaking a cocktail drink, except with less vigour—instead of agitation with the stick/rod.

Even P was impressed.