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  1. #1
    keyofnight's Avatar
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    First C41 roll… how do I know if it's success?

    So I developed my first roll (Ultramax 400) in Kodak Flexicolor SM chemistry…using those weird F1 and F2 processing units. To my surprise: images came out without too many noticeable problems. I inspected the negatives for streaks and ripples, scanned a few images to get used to the workflow, but honestly I can't tell if I did a good job or not.

    Why? I have to edit these pictures a bit to get them usable. I end up: reversing colors (of course), doing a curves adjustment to set black point (because the film base is so dark/orange), setting white balance, setting levels. How would I know if I were having color shifts? What are some problems I should keep an eye out for?

    Here's a sample from the roll. Let me know what you guys think. (:




    By the way: I got a lot of help from you guys, so thanks a lot!

  2. #2
    bvy
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    Congrats. It's a nice shot. Probably not the best subject matter for anyone to judge your processing (beyond confirming that there are no streaks, spots, etc. -- at least in this one frame). Also, the fact that you adjusted contrast and color balance after scanning doesn't help. You've introduced too many variables.

    One thing I found helpful was to scan my own C-41 processed film alongside a lab processed film of the same type and subject matter. And I mean scan the whole negative -- sprockets and all. I placed them side by side on the scanner -- three frames from one film on top, and three more on the bottom. Then I took a high-res scan of the six frames with the "no color correction" option checked and compared. It's hardly scientific, but it might help.
    Last edited by bvy; 02-20-2013 at 08:29 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3
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    Neon light has a pretty narrow and spiky spectrum so it's basically impossible to tell from that shot if your process is OK because the green- and blue-sensitive dyes were probably not exposed at all. You certainly couldn't tell if there was crossover or anything subtle like that.

    If you want to evaluate whether your process is working, you need a range of identifiable colours in the test scene and a fairly full range of greys from very-dark to nearly-white. The usual answer is a Gretag-Macbeth chart, or you can just use your hand (for skintones) and a handful of primary-coloured and white plastic things. I went with my hand, a blue plastic bottle, can of coke and a box of HP5+ to get the primary colours, range of greys and skintones. Light it with a flash if you have one, otherwise direct sunlight.

    There's a C41-scan article in my FAQ (link in signature), which may or may not help you...

  4. #4
    keyofnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    Neon light has a pretty narrow and spiky spectrum so it's basically impossible to tell from that shot if your process is OK because the green- and blue-sensitive dyes were probably not exposed at all. You certainly couldn't tell if there was crossover or anything subtle like that.
    I honestly didn't post that image as an example—I was just proud of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    If you want to evaluate whether your process is working, you need a range of identifiable colours in the test scene and a fairly full range of greys from very-dark to nearly-white. The usual answer is a Gretag-Macbeth chart, or you can just use your hand (for skintones) and a handful of primary-coloured and white plastic things. I went with my hand, a blue plastic bottle, can of coke and a box of HP5+ to get the primary colours, range of greys and skintones. Light it with a flash if you have one, otherwise direct sunlight.
    I think I'll go the route you did, or just look through the roll for better test shots. I had a picture of different fruits that I wanted to post, but I scanned it at such a low resolution by accident. Whoops. I think I'll post it anyway. Here goes:



    While we're talking…I have to say that your FAQ has been a huge help over the last year, so thanks a lot.

  5. #5
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    Glad to be of service!

    There's something wonky with your scan though as the highlights are clipped to pink (it's clearly a digital artefact, not chemical). My guess is you adjusted the colour balance after setting the black & white points, which means clipping the image and then modifying the colours so the net result is the white-point is no longer white. You need to get the colours right during the inversion before clipping the dynamic range to an 8-bit file.
    Last edited by polyglot; 02-21-2013 at 12:57 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #6

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    I think your first C-41 was a success! The fruit looks great.
    - Bill Lynch

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wblynch View Post
    I think your first C-41 was a success! The fruit looks great.
    Thanks! ;D

    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    There's something wonky with your scan though as the highlights are clipped to pink (it's clearly a digital artefact, not chemical). My guess is you adjusted the colour balance after setting the black & white points, which means clipping the image and then modifying the colours so the net result is the white-point is no longer white. You need to get the colours right during the inversion before clipping the dynamic range to an 8-bit file.
    Just for the record, I use a Hasselblad Flextight X1 and it's wonky Flexcolor software. I don't make adjustments to scans while I'm scanning beside the automatic inversion it does (I should turn that off too, I think, but I imagine it saves me a ton of time). I do all of my adjustments in Aperture 3. With that said… let me think about what might've gone wrong. OH! If my settings reset to 300dpi, they certainly reset the bit depth to 8-bit too. Cool! When I do a real scan on the whole roll—at 16-bit—I probably won't have that problem, right?

    I'll post again with more pictures.
    Last edited by keyofnight; 02-21-2013 at 08:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #8
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Maybe. The problem is order of operations, not the absolute bit depth.

  9. #9
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    From a home processing and home post processing perspective, I think any result that gives you an acceptable image is by definition success. One way to check your results is to take your negatives down to the local mini lab (assuming this is 35mm) and ask them to make you a print. If *they* can print it, and the result looks good, I'd say your negs are just fine. Only time will tell if you got the "permanence" part right.

    In terms of hybrid post processing, Polyglot's recommendations are fine. There are also software packages that attempt to automate the orange mask removal, with varying levels of quality. That's probably more of a DPUG discussion, but Polyglot's info is very good for doing it yourself.

  10. #10
    chuck94022's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keyofnight View Post
    Thanks! ;D



    Just for the record, I use a Hasselblad Flextight X1 and it's wonky Flexcolor software. I don't make adjustments to scans while I'm scanning beside the automatic inversion it does (I should turn that off too, I think, but I imagine it saves me a ton of time). I do all of my adjustments in Aperture 3. With that said… let me think about what might've gone wrong. OH! If my settings reset to 300dpi, they certainly reset the bit depth to 8-bit too. Cool! When I do a real scan on the whole roll—at 16-bit—I probably won't have that problem, right?

    I'll post again with more pictures.
    (Apologies in advance to the APUG community for the following...)

    One thing to note: Aperture 3 is one of the worst tools you can be using to do these adjustments, because it does not have a simple Invert control. Instead, you have to invert using the Levels tool, when ends up reversing every other control you will be using. It absolutely sucks. Photoshop is really the best tool I've found when trying to work with adjusting color negatives, then once you've got the inversion done, you can use Aperture for the rest of your work. (I know, Photoshop is an expensive tool... maybe you can get away with using GIMP, but it has been a while since I've looked at it.) On the Mac, you might be tempted to try Pixelmator, since it is much cheaper than Photoshop and seems to be powerful. Don't. It doesn't have individual channel levels, and it only does 8 bits per channel. Worthless for this.

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