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100 thoughts on “How To Scan Colour Film Negatives

  1. great video!! my only question is on a scene where you have no reference to middle like a night shoot what do you advise?

  2. Why don't you use the much easier, faster and better Photoshop adjustment in "Curves", "Presets" called, "Color Negative"? It does it all and the end result is excellent.
    Check out this video on youtube for a really simple and painless method that's fast: "Photoshop For Photographers – Episode 19_ Process a Scanned Negative"

  3. The best tutorial on scanning. I have been battling for a couple of weeks with the stuff (using the complicated Silverfast 8) and returned to digital, waiting for something like this.
    Thank you Sam J Bound !

  4. I'm sorry, does the epson soft not have the possibility to invert directly? Do I have to go through this for each and every slide?!

  5. Thank you! Got great results with my Portra shots using your method. Now I only need to re-scan hundreds of others 🙂

  6. Best scanning tutorial ever. I've always wondered how to get consistent results from color negatives and this method nails it. Great stuff, thanks.

  7. I know you read this before, but I need to say it: Thank you so much. A film scanner is really expensive, but with a cheap flatbed and your technique, I got good results. Should I invest in a dedicated scanner or just a better regular flatbed scanner?

  8. Amazing! Honestly, I just bought Colorperfect like a week ago but still was not satisfied with the quality but this is insanely much better.

  9. I really enjoyed the video! But is it possible to standardize the process in photoshop? It´s actually a bit inconvenient to process all scans from your photoshoot in ps, because I often just shoot in a studio.

    Also, photoshop won´t allow me to change levels, when trying to invert the image (first step). What can I do?

  10. I can I know what I scan will look like what I would get as an analogue print? Is there a general color correction for each type of film?

  11. Do I need to develop the film rolls first with chemicals then scan them or you can scan direct after taking photos? 🙂

  12. There's also a quick method of doing this if you don't care about this much detail.

  13. Can anyone tell me how this is superior to using the stock Epson software to scan your film as color negative and then fix it up in photoshop? i think i remember something about "clipping highlights" when changing exposure ? also if the file bigger/more detail? cheers

  14. Wow. Thank you 😍 I'm trying this when I develop my film 😊
    Btw, it looks great even before the color balance. Looks like an old film type color

  15. such an interesting balancing technique.. Im a fashion photographer and ive been looking for a way to balance negatives and this by far is the most accurate and true to color. My only problem with the method is how tedious it is.. For a selection of 10-12 negatives great.. but if youre working on balancing 100+ images it almost impossible.. Is there anyway to some how use a image processor like RAW, Lightoom or capture One to go about balancing quicker.. Given the method I highly doubt it.. but thought i would ask! thanks again man!!

  16. This looks amazing! I was wondering what is the advantage of using levels to invert over simply using Photoshop's dedicated invert function?

    Also does this method apply to other colour negatives like Ektar?

  17. Thank you for this great tutorial , i get too much posterize especially on the sky after all , even if i copy merged and paste ….. why is this happening ??

  18. I never write comments but had to here. This workflow is amazing, I'm shocked at the quality I just got out of my V600 following along to this, thank you so much. You've just made me not regret that purchase. Legend

  19. Great tutorial!! I had a play last night after getting frustrated getting the colours right between Epson Scan & Lightroom – I did find that I got a closer result by adjusting the RGB curves alongside the grey dropper, before going to the color balance layer, but maybe it was down to my particular image. One question I have, at the start of the video you mention the importance of selecting some of the film base, but I didn't see it mentioned again – unless I missed it?

  20. Sam, Many thanks for the well explained and structured tuto.
    I've got a similar setup (a V750 since I used to shoot large format as well). However I've found that for 35mm even an economical dedicated film scanner does a better job. A couple of months ago I found a sweet deal on a Plustek Opticfilm 8100 and grabbed it; I have a 14 y.o. Minolta 5400 that gave up the ghost and cannot afford to replace; so for about US$150 the 8100 seemed just right. Dynamic range is lower than the Minolta at 3.8 but about equal to the Epson and it does 7200 dpi, which basically translate to a factual 3600 dpi. On receiving it, threw the included SilverFast to the software drawer and fired up VueScan which is much more straightforward and no nonsense, but can do multiple passes and multiple exposures (if your scanner supports them).
    OTOH, I've found that a preview at 1200 dpi takes just 20 seconds and a scan at 3600 dpi with all settings at default is done in just 30 secs. The 48 bit tiffs come out virtually perfect if I just select automatic levels. No need whatsoever to invert in Photoshop or Lightroom.
    Now again, my (old) technique with the Epson involved doing a white balance layer sampling the negative edge before inverting. A huge improvement! Try it…
    Again, thanks a bunch for the tutorial. I've subscribed to your channel, good Job!

  21. Hi Sam! don't you assign a color profile when saving/exporting? that will take some impact after all the editing. if you don't, same photo will may vary more than usual from screen to screen I believe. thanks for great video and clarification!

  22. Great tutorial, thanks. Just a small tip though – CMD + Option + Shift + E (Control + Alt + Shift + E on Windows) would be a lot quicker method to create your top merged layer rather than doing all that copying and menu faffing.

  23. The thing I don’t understand about using photoshop to this extent and editing the colour of the image so much, is what’s the point of shooting a specific film? Like surely the reason for shooting film (and if you’re going to exclusively shoot one film) is because you are happy with the results of that said film. Surely you can shoot any old roll and just edit the colours and everything else to your liking?

  24. The only part that lost me was selecting everything and using copy merged. What exactly did you select. Other than that I’m getting great colors with your method so thank you!

  25. Nice. I will try to apply Camera Raw filter on the layer instead of Adjustment layers.

    So I did. I think I achived a bit better result. First I profiled the scanner, and used that profile as a Source (Scanner). I set the target to Adobe RGB. I scanned with no correction of course. After opening in Photoshop I applyied AdobeRGB Profile (scanner does not do it which I think is a bug). Last think I did was convert the background to Smart Object, and used a "Camera Raw" filter. In Camera raw you have to invert image using curves. Tricky thing is, that some sliders works opposite way 😉

    Thank you very much for that tutorial. I didn't get the idea to scan negative as a positive, which is a clue.

  26. Thanks for this video. A question on the inverting part: any reason why adding a levels layer and swapping the pointers instead of just …invert it immediately?

  27. The most helpfull video ive seen ive been trying to scan for weeks! even my Gcse photo teacher couldent help cant thank you enough!

  28. i cant seem to get good colours on any pictures,
    im not sure if you can help, but here is one of my scans
    i dont know if its the scanner, film or version of PS (l know with this link the quality is cut down alot but idk what else to do)

  29. A useful tip to reduce dust is roll up your sleeves so you have bare arms before you begin, or even remove your shirt. Another tip for film scanning is to carefully rotate, crop, and scale the image after sorting out the exposure, colours, etc. so that the physical dimensions of the camera frame and pixel pitch in both dimensions are consistent. For example, if the scan resolution is 1600 pixels per inch, a 35 mm negative at 24.0 x 36.0 mm should end up as 1512 x 2268 pixels. Then, after this, you can deal with any pincushion or barrel distortion of the lens. Most photo-editing packages have options or functions to do this. Finally, flatten all layers and crop again as required at the end, and save the result!

  30. Thanks for this interesting technique Sam. I'm intend to try it with Affinity Photo as I don't use Photoshop. I'll let you know how I get on. Is there anybody out there who has adapted this technique for Affinity Photo?

  31. Great Video! But I was wondering how to set the correct white balance when there is no gray area in the image?
    Can anyone help?

  32. How long does it take to color balance a 36 roll of film? I imagine the time it would take, I would rather have the Lab do it because I don’t have the attention span to color edit every photo individually.

  33. Excellent tutorial, thanks!. It works very good at pushing & pulling all those colors right. I imagine with a few variations it can work for black and white negs as well?

  34. Hi Sam, I'm busy scanning B&W film on my Epsom V500 and via a YouTube video, learnt how to retrieve all details to get best results once exported to PS. and happy-ish with the results.
    Next is colour I want to tackle later today and this morning found your video.
    Thank you so much Sam, it's a pleasure to watch, easy to follow and later I'll follow as I go along and try this completely different approach
    So, long story short….. brilliant video.

  35. I'm fairly new to photgraphy, just wondering why you'd go to all this effort to shoot film to then edit in PS? Especially when you can shoot digital and use a good film preset in LR.

  36. Thanks, getting decent colour from my dslr scans has been the trickiest part for me, also I'm only using ps elements 14 so am finding slight differences there too.

  37. Simple question from me – if you like shooting film and are going to scan to digital then why not use slide film instead?

  38. If my photo has a terrible yellow tint from regularly scanning it as a color negative .. will this method solve it where I’ll get accurate colors as I shot it ?

  39. Thanks for the video! Very helpful. I just got back a roll of color negatives and the shop i got from also did scans but they are jpeg and I was thinking of rescanning them myself.

  40. Thanks for the video, its a shame that you stopped making videos as I agree with other posters in that your delivery style is no-nonsence.

  41. Hi Sam, like everyone below already mentioned, great informative tutorial! But I have an other question relatable to the scanning of a colour negative. I don't have a negative scanner, but I tried it the DIY way: I scanned the negative with a regular scanner and put my smartphone with a bright light and some tracing paper on top of it. The scanned negative was of 'good' quality, but if I reversed it to a positive in Photoshop, I ended up with a black and white positive instead of a coloured one. Do you maybe know what the reason behind this is? You worked with professional material, but you seem like someone with a good knowledge of analog photography and scanning. I hope you can help me! With kind regards, A.

  42. I tried using hp deskjet printer scanner in scanning color negative film but it just turned into black and white images when converted in lightroom. what is the possible solution in scanning it but preserving the color?

  43. First of all thank you for the great tutorial, but when I try this technique myself the photos tend to get highly oversaturated…do you have any solution for this problem?

  44. I love the " if you dont have the budget " but the scanner literally cost 2000 euros! We love the on a budget photographer 🙂

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