negative carrier on scanner

mgecaFebruary 26, 2012

A colleague ordered an Epson V700 scanner to scan b+w negatives up to 8"x10" for a project. It scans color beautifully but doesn't do much for the b+w. I was under the impression that a "carrier," like an enlarger neg carrier, was required for scanning b+w negs as well as slides.

Is this the case? The scanner was recommended as suitable for my project by a reputable seller. Any advice is welcome. Thanks.


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By "carrier," do you mean something to hold the slides and negatives? According to Amazon's listing of the V700, several film holders are included with the scanner.

Looks like a good model. I'll consider it if my Canon ever fails.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 4:51PM
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Holder is the term I wanted--negative carrier dates me.

I have an assortment of negative sizes, mostly 3x5, some 8x10, a few nice 5x7. All are from the 1930s and 1940s, meaning there are a few odd sizes included from forgotten cameras. Ultimately they will be used as exhibit prints and powerpoint for an important historic site. It seems some of the desirable images are sizes that don't match the V700 holders.

The scanner and the expert are over there and I am over here, we speak different languages regarding technology, and I worry too much.

You are right, it does seem to be good if pricey. I will see first results tomorrow and report back.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 5:10PM
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Mike, I remember we talked about scanning negatives last spring. Here's the thread.

Unfortunately, Canon no longer manufactures the 9950F, the scanner I'm using for my dad's negatives in various sizes. If you ever run across a good used one, I'm guessing it would do the job very well for you.

Yes, please report back on the Epson.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 5:36PM
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We sure did and I was glad to see you response--I had no luck finding the thread.

I sent about a dozen negatives to a commercial scanning service and received a CD with very high resolution scans. That was about the time I was hoping to do more myself to save money and got good information from you.

My negatives are of varying sizes and quality. I still don't know to what degree a scanner can adjust to denser or thinner negs. Sometimes working with a professional isn't easy. Some of the hand selected negatives were contact printed by student interns is a real darkroom with decent results. I intend to use the best images in an exhibit or two and a PowerPoint presentation to celebrate and educate about a historic district I just got declared elibible for the National Register of Historic Places. I'll take the best legibility I can get and be happy for my goal.

During a visit today with the prof, a contributor to my work, I basically heard way too much about the quality of the negatives--too thick, too thin, scratched, poor photographer, improperly stored 60 years ago. As a perfectionist in her craft, she sees these problems and says we can't do much. My approach is if there is a problem, let's solve it. I am at the stage of selling my approach and getting her going.

No one had actually scanned anything with the Epson, so I suggested we give it a try since I drove there to see the scans. She put a decent 3x5 neg right on the glass and the Epson produced a great image.

I inquired if there needed to be a negative holder and that drew a blank--despite what the reviews of the machine list. So right now I don't know too much except I have faith that if we can get any image it can be manipulated to a reasonable quality.

I also found another on-line, reasonable scanning company, and they tell me they can handle about any quality and will send me images on line and I can pick and choose what I want and have to pay for. And the cost to do all my selected images will be less than the dozen I did before.

The question here is--do you scan from the glass or always use a negative holder? Have you tried from the glass. I know you talked about one of the photo programs to work on you rscanned images. How much can you enhance a darker or lighter scan?

Quite a response for only seeing one scan but I am frustrated by all the negative talk (yup, pun intended)


    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 6:29PM
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I made a big mistake. Recalling today's events, I now realize that what was scanned was a 3x5 contact print from a negative. She put a picture on the glass, not a negative. I was confused and it seems more true that the negs have to go in a holder to be scanned?


    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 7:19PM
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Mike, I always place my negative directly on the glass BUT it is surrounded by an adjustable black frame that blocks the scan from picking up the remainder of the glass. Let me know if it would help if I took a picture of the frame for you. I don't call it a holder because it doesn't actually hold the negative.

My scanner came with a slide holder and a 35mm film strip holder. Unfortunately, I can't scan slides that way because my dad mounted his in a metal frame, with glass on both sides of the slide. That makes them impossible to fit in the holder. I'm working on devising a system in which I can use my camera as the scanner. I've seen several versions of this on the Internet.

I use Photoshop Elements to enhance the scanned images. Sometimes an image needs no improvement, but often I have to lighten shadows or darken highlights, or remove scratches or dust, etc. All these things can be done satisfactorily for the most part.

Here's one I did last week. Interesting what people wore to the beach back then--quite a range of garments!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 8:06PM
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Hi Alisande,

Your pictures are wonderful. The photographer knew what was necessary to create a good negative.

I was told that the scans are nearly complete and they are really good and the interns are busily touching up the pics. Later I was told told that they skipped over a lot of negatives where they felt the quality wasn't good.

I just told the prof that I want everything scanned irrespective of quality--I need to see the entire array--and to work on enhancing the less than perfect ones. I know a picture is usually no better than the negative, but with all the technology I can't believe improvements can't be made.

This is a problem of working with a visual arts professional with standards that may or may not be important for other goals. I appreciate an old photo made to look like it was taken yesterday, but there is a value in showing old photos that look like old photos, in certain circumstances at least.

I have seen lots of your photos and they are perfectly exposed negs for the most part. Do you have any negatives that are light, thin, that you scanned with any success? Did you use Elements to enhance, is it possible?

I'd appreciate any ideas and experiences before I go to look at everything on Tuesday. Then I can give you a better opinion about the Epson scanner. To me, the proof should be in how it does with under and over-exposed negatives; doing well with cherry picked negatives is hardly a test.

Thanks - Mike

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 11:10PM
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Sorry, Mike--I didn't see your post until today, so my answer might not be very useful.

I scan the negatives individually, and open up each one in Elements. The most common adjustments I've made are:

Removing dust specks (the #1 adjustment)
Darkening highlights and/or brightening shadows
General lighting adjustment
Removing areas of damage (rare)
Sharpening (also rare)

I don't use the Dust Removal tool, because it makes the dust disappear by blurring the focus. Instead, I enlarge the image and work on the specks one by one. This is sometimes a tedious process, but manageable. Most of my negatives aren't all that dusty; I've had more dust problems with slides.

I don't know what you mean by light, thin negatives. All mine appear to be the same thickness, more or less, although they're in several different sizes.

How did it go on Tuesday?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:26AM
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I have mixed results and missing images (haven't looked for negs yet). A so-called thin negative is underexposed--took me a while to figure out what she meant.

The Epson did a pretty good job, the underexposed a bit light but quite legible. Unfortunately, there are four scans that are just some kind of icon or whatever, and when opened they say drawing not complete. No one knows what that means yet, perhaps the worst of the underexposed.

It is all chaos tho. There are a bunch of extra prints I have never seen in a year of handling the negatives. There are missing images that I really want, with no explanation. And the order is all over the landscape. Scans that should be together (for example pictures of people on consecutive negs in an envelope are widely separated (e.g. scan 12 and scan 43 should be consecutive), obviously scanned at different times.

It seems they cherry picked the best negatives at the outset and everything got mixed up afterward.

Speaking of the envelopes, the negative number to scan was written clearly on the envelope and apparently ignored. By the time the instructions were filtered to the eager but undisciplined student intern they were unclear. That is why I always prefer to do it myself or look over someone's shoulder.

There is some process of re-touching going on--I hope that is with Elements or equivalent. I asked for a cd of everything scanned, re-touched or not, just to review, so I can't comment on final quality yet. The problem with the re-touching is that there are about 20 scans that have nothing to do with my project (out of 60) and time will be wasted on those.

At this point I believe the scanner is quite good, but there has not been a systematic trial, they just jumped in. As always it is the person scanning where trouble arises.

More to see, more to come. Frustrated.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:59AM
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At last. The scanner worked very well once the operator got accustomed to it. Some of the most underexposed negatives yielded very nice images. A 1934 birds-eye aerial view of downtown Pittsburgh even shows all the smoke in the air from the steel mills of the time.

They tell me the scanner makes automatic adjustments, but I have no knowledge of that. As far as I know, the only Photoshop use was to change either contrast or brightness, not sure which. But in fairness they may have done more as I wasn't there most of the time. I looked at image on the screen, the woman clicked something and I selected the image I wanted.

I'm obviously not the best technical reviewer and too distracted to pay attention to the details and features. The scanner is fast, they were scanning 50 negs in a couple of days. They were placed right on the glass I believe.

It worked for my purposes as I got some stunning pictures on a par with yours and could have had more with your careful use of Elements.

Pricey of course, quite movable (it was put in its box and takenout of the classrom daily), seems like good quality. While I most likey will never buy a negative scanner (but saying that reminds me of a trove of negs in a box in the attic), this Epson would be on my list, especially since any size negative can be scanned without a mask or whatever.

The quality of prints from an office laser is outstanding, enough so that yesterday a local tv producer will use some in a documentary. Of course, they can do tech magic.

I will be happy to get any technical information from the people involved, if you desire.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 11:03AM
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