I’m continuing my exploration into the world of digitizing negatives. After my quite successful results with black and white negatives which came out quite a bit sharper than with my otherwise excellent Plustek scanner (and the files are much smaller too – 18Mb for a b&w scan and 4,5Mb for a digitized version), I’m getting into color today.
And I’m amazed about how easy it was!
I imagined that I had a lot of trouble getting the colors right without the help of the scanning software, but let me tell you that it was extremely easy and fast.
And what’s more, I did this all on my iPad!
Let me give you a quick rundown of my workflow.
I set up my LED lightpad, the tripod and the X-E1 with the old Takumar 50mm macro lens, darkened the room somewhat and masked the lightpad with some ugly cardboard cut to size. I definitely have to get some repro stand and build a nicer setup that’s easier to put into action.
Then I quickly snapped some negatives I had from 2014, photos I quite like. The film was Portra 400. I decided on the 6 frames I liked best from that roll, all frames that presented some bold colors and lighting that I thought was hard to get right. At least way back when the Vuescan software had trouble getting it right. Silverfast managed quite well.
I popped the SD card into my iPad’s card reader and imported the ‘scans’ into Photos. In the last days I have experimented a lot with some apps to help me invert negatives and manipulate the colors as easily as possible. I tried Pixelmator, Priime RAW and some others but I was simply overwhelmed by the possibilities of Polarr. Not the cheapest app at 22€ for the ‘pro’ add-ons, but totally worth the cost.
And what’s more, it integrates perfectly as an extension of Photos so I can use it as an ‘internal’ editor.
And it really IS a fully fledged editor that allows me to easily crop the scans, invert them and use the Curves tool to quickly set the colors right.
A quick dive into contrast and highlights and shadows for some frames (but not for all) And I have really great looking results.
Let’s compare the scans and the digitized versions once more. Of course WordPress will bring down resolution quite a bit but you can believe me that it’s a lot better than with the scanner. And very very much faster too. I did the 6 frames I tested in about 10 minutes…. from snapping them to having the finished product. That amounts to about an hour for a whole roll (If I use all the negatives). With the scanner a roll of film would take about an hour to scan and then the tedious chore of adjusting each frame… let’s say at least double the time!
Still not digital-fast of course but well, you know, I got this crazy thing going about film photography… 😉
So here we go – thanks to my Olympus XA2:
First photo is the original scan from the Plustek with a lot of tweaking in Lightroom:
And here’s the new and faster version done on the iPad:
A bit less vibrant but that’s what I wanted. And at least as sharp and well defined.
Another one from the scanner:
Yellowish cast I was unable to get rid of completely. Artificially sharpened and clarity applied to get it to look OK.
The new version, straight without sharpening or clarity:
Great color, great definition… I’m happy!
And a last one, a photo I fiddled with for a long time to get the menacing, cloudy look from just before a thunderstorm. Amazing that the humble XA2 managed to get it right. Here’s the scan:
And here’s the new, digitized version:
Well, to end this story, I can say that I’m positively surprised about the quality I was able to obtain and the ease I had to do so.
I guess my scanner will now find it’s way to eBay.
As for working on an iPad, this was the last hurdle I had to take. The thing that worried me the most. But the iPad mastered it better than I would have thought. It’s been a month now that I last used my Mac Mini… for anything! And I’m really questioning it’s usefulness.
Of course the screen is small…. but the resolution of that tiny screen is amazing. The best way to view and edit photos apart from holding a real print.
Guess I have some downsizing in my near future!
Thanks for visiting!