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  1. #1
    Ara Ghajanian's Avatar
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    Scratches on film showing up in scanning...

    Okay, don't bite my head off for asking this question, but I don't know who else to turn to on this. Currently, I do not print my 35mm negatives traditionally, I scan them with a Nikon Coolscan V. One major thing I am noticing is long thin white lines in the scans. I am assuming they are scratches in the negatives. At first I thought my camera was doing this so I tried another camera and I still had the same problem. The lines are never in the same place and sometimes don't go all along the length of the negative. I thought it may be the scanner so I cleaned the rollers. Once again, the lines are not always perfectly straight, so I ruled that out. I'm starting to think it's one of two things: the negative pages that I insert the film into or something to do with drying the negatives.

    I never had this problem when printing traditionally. From what I've been reading it has to do with the type of light used when scanning. Whereas a condenser light source of an enlarger scatters light so much that extremely fine scratches are not apparent on the prints, a scanner is using LEDs so close to the negative that all imperfections are intesified. I really don't want to sit there and remove all this in Photoshop, plus I'm concerned with the possiblity that a step in my photographic process is damaging my film.

    Can anyone shed some light on this?

    Thanks in advance,
    Ara
    Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

  2. #2
    colrehogan's Avatar
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    Can you see any evidence of a line on your negatives? If so, do you squeegee them? That would be a place where this sort of thing can happen.
    Diane

    Halak 41

  3. #3

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    Scanners really do make small scratches and dust worse. If its b/w film, nothing you can do really except clean it up in photoshop and make sure you take good care of your negatives.
    With colornegs and slides there's something called Digital ICE that works wonders with dust and scratches.

  4. #4
    Ara Ghajanian's Avatar
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    I definitely don't squeegie any of my negs. I barely touch them after they have been inserted into the plastic reel for developing. The first time they come into contact with anything other that chemistry is when I insert them into the negative pages. I'm thinking that this is where it's happening.

    Digital ICE is great! I use it for all my color negs and slides and it works wonders. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with black and white negs. I really don't want to spend more time than necessary in Photoshop, that's one of the main reasons I don't shoot any digital. If I have to I will, but I'd rather find out why this is happening first.
    Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

  5. #5
    colrehogan's Avatar
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    Perhaps your scanner's light source is getting old and needs to be replaced?
    Diane

    Halak 41

  6. #6
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    It might be worthwhile to scan a color negative or transparency, with the Digital ICE turned off, and see if you have the same issues.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  7. #7

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    A few more thoughts:

    • Try examining the negatives with a loupe (or even a microscope, if you've got access to one) to see if you can spot the damage. You might notice something that'll give you more clues as to what's going on, or at least verify that the problem is actual negative damage, rather than a flaky scanner. OTOH, if you can't see any problems, that would suggest a scanner problem of some sort.
    • Try scanning some negatives before inserting them into plastic sleeves -- that is, immediately after drying them. If you get the same lines, this will at least get the sleeves off the hook and you can look elsewhere. If you don't get lines, repeat the scans after inserting and removing the negatives from your plastic sleeves a few times. (Obviously, use a disposable negative strip for this test.) If this verifies the problem is the sleeves, please post the brand and type of sleeves you're using, so we can all avoid them!
    • If you can't find a satisfactory solution and aren't wed to using particular films and developers, you could try using a chromogenic B&W film like Ilford XP2 Super. These films will work with your scanner's infrared filter (used by the Digital ICE algorithms), but they're C-41 films, so you'll need to switch to C-41 chemistry or have a photofinisher develop the film. Assuming the problem is real negative damage, this is certainly a poor solution, since the chromogenic film would probably also be damaged, but it may be better than touching everything up manually.

  8. #8
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Another possibility -- are the lines always perfectly aligned with the scan travel (i.e. edge of frame in original scan)? If so, it could be dust on the sensor or mirror(s), or even in the calibration area of the scanner. A grain of dust would block light, so scan as black -- which would show white after inversion -- and would persist along the entire scan. A grain of dust in the calibration zone would cause the scanner to block that pixel (trying to avoid this exact problem) and would scan as white, if the scanner doesn't automatically interpolate; that would show black after inversion.
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  9. #9

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    My vote would be for the pages. At our lab we no longer recommend these as the best way to store negatives. One of the reason is that over time the negatives will develop fine line scratches if they are taken in and out of the pages often enough. This was rarely a noticable problem until people started scanning their negatives. We now recommed the fold lock sleeves and envelopes.

  10. #10

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    Distortion from scanning should be linear, not chaos. My bet goes to the sensitivity of scanner.

    I'd recommend to have made an analog enlargement from one of the negatives that shows up worst after scanning it and compare. If the enlargement shows the same defects, your scanner is innocent.

    G

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