I’m shooting tons of slide film. To be exact: Fuji Provia 100 F and Kodak Elitechrome (now discontinued). Using the Nikon Coolscan LS 5000 and LS 9000 to digitize the images, I am sometimes struggling with the well known ‘peppergrain’. Because the Nikon scanners use direct light, the light is very harsh and reveals even the smallest imperfections in a scan.
Though nobody knows the real reason for peppergrain, that means the very tiny, black particles in an image with a round or oval shape, it is sometimes very prominent in the medium and highlight areas. There is no chance to get rid of it, except by using a drum scanner. But who can (and will) afford a drum scan for each slide? You’ve got the point…
Just by coincidence I stumbled across an information about Ximagic in the PhotoLine forum (PhotoLine is a 48 bit image editor that rivals the Adobe product and in several aspects even surpasses its features). Usually I don’t need a denoiser or noise reduction, because I love film and particularly the look of film. However, I’m kind of a tech freak to play with some stuff if I have some time available.
So I downloaded free Ximagic denoiser plugin for PhotoLine on my Mac OS X and installed it. To be honest, Ximagic is a bit slow, even though it is a 64 bit app and really challenges the CPUs in my Mac, if I apply it to large, scanned images.
After playing with it for several weeks, I’ve discovered a setting that eliminates the peppergrain from my Fuji film scans! Wow, I didn’t plan it, I just modified the sliders, tweaking the options here and there, and bingo – there it just happened. Without eliminating and ironing the grain in the image, it just killed the peppergrain!
Here are the settings for you. I’ve made this screenshot with the ‘Difference’ setting, which clearly shows that only the tiny black spots are removed:
(click the image for a larger version)