The art of scanning
– photograph © 1999-2011 by jens g.r. benthien –
The above photograph had been shot with a Rollei 35s and a Fuji Provia 100F slide film. Scanned @ 4.000 ppi with 48 bit color depth and a resolution of 5.550 x 3.700 pixels ~ 21 MegaPixel – pretty neat for such a small camera! For this shot I’ve placed the Rollei 35s on top of the counter and exposed with f=5.6 and 1 second. Many objects serve as a ‘high ISO’ for me – bar counters, fences, car roofs, and last but not least one of my 3 tripods from mini size to maxi monster.
So you want to digitize your images, have a scanner (in this case a Nikon LS 5000 or LS 9000), and a software package that came with the scanner. However, because NikonScan is no longer supported, you are looking for an alternative that perfectly fits into your processing environment. The definitive answer and solution is VueScan, developed by Ed Hamrick.
I am using VueScan for years now, and IMHO this software is the best you can get for dedicated film scanners. The reason is simple:
- you can download and test VueScan for free
- VueScan is extremely small to download: just around 10 MB – a small footprint on your hard drive is guaranteed (and shows that Ed really knows how to code!)
- VueScan doesn’t install anything in a registry, nor will it mess with your system
- You can purchase VueScan at any time and just copy and paste your serial into the trial
- The Pro version delivers lifelong free upgrades
- It runs on Mac OS X, Linux, Windows – on any 32 or 64 bit operating system
- Updates are very well documented
- You will get an excellent support if you follow the rules on the VueScan site
- VueScan lets you generate your own film profiles
- VueScan lets you set up unlimited settings (so called ini-files) for any type of film and scanner
- VueScan works with almost any scanner that is available – without the need to purchase an additional license for each scanner (like i.e. Silverfast). It currently supports more than 1500 different scanners on Windows, 1100 scanners on Mac OS X and 700 scanners on Linux (to check if your scanner is supported, click here)
- VueScan supports infrared cleaning or ICE
- At least with Nikon scanners (and some other scanners that support this feature) VueScan supports multiple pass and multi exposure scanning to get even the finest detail out of your negatives or slides and results in a tonal range you’ve never seen before
- VueScan is even a perfect RAW developer for digital cameras!
It’s up to you to adjust the interface of VueScan: you can use either the simple or the advanced interface (as shown above). The first time you’ll run VueScan, you might be overwhelmed by the many options. However, once you have found your perfect settings, you can save them under a unique name and load them any time you want.
One of the best features: the display of the histogram. You can use
(Note: the above histogram samples are from the same image)
and select the type: linear, square root, logarithmic
A nice feature is the display of the scan size in pixels, resolution in ppi/dpi, the image size in pixel or mm:
(This sample is from a 35mm slide scanned with the Nikon LS 5000 @ 48bit or 16 bit per channel, resulting in a 20.535 MegaPixel image. The maximum you can squeeze out of a 35mm slide is 5.669 x 3.780 pixels = 21,429 MegaPixel – something most of the current digicams can only dream of!)
I’ve already mentioned it somewhere else: VueScan is like steroids on your scanner – at least my two Nikon scanners are running very fast with it, and the processing of the scanned image uses both CPU cores at the highest possible speed, resulting in very short scan times even with multiple passes/samples and Multi Exposure activated.
OK, I’ll post more about the art of scanning as soon as I’ll have more time. Stay tuned, and if you have a question (as long as you are using Nikon scanners), just leave a comment.
If you want to learn more about the ‘hybrid’ process, you might check dpug.org.
To download VueScan, click here. Select the correct version for your operating system (if you have a small screen, just scroll down a bit). The standard download grabs the 32bit version of ViewScan, not the 64bit. To read the ‘What’s new’ section of ViewScan for the latest version, click here. The current version – 9.0.25 64bit – features again the ‘marching ants’ for the ‘crop box’. Though Ed mentioned he had improved the frame alignment with Nikon scanners, it’s still a drag with the Nikon LS 5000 ED if your film strips have been cut loosely by the lab. It’s a shame that Nikon doesn’t release the source files for the scanner interface: Nikon doesn’t update the software, but by submitting the data to Ed he could improve it faster for this type of scanner.
More about the art of scanning here.