Sometimes You Can Scan Film Better at Home

Recorded on December 5th, 2016

All the trouble required to scan 35mm at home can be well worth it. The image below is a “high res” photo, scanned from a well-known film lab on a pretty high-end scanner. It’s one of the first pro scans from a roll of Tri-X 400 I shot on my dad’s Nikomat FTn with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I was way underwhelmed when I saw it. It in no way resembled 35mm film. Blown-out highlights, smoothed-over textures, and murky, dingy shadows. I knew film should look better than this:

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Shortly after, I got the Plustek scanner. What a difference. I scan in a way that preserves much more of the highlight and shadow detail, and the glorious film grain is still there. I have to tweak levels and contrast in Lightroom, but there’s a point to it because the details are still there, waiting to be drawn out. It costs much more in my time than paying the lab less than 50 cents per scan, but it’s so worth it:

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I don’t think that my Plustek is better than the Noritsu or whatever it is at the lab, but I do think that the particular process and/or technician they used on that roll didn’t let the pro scanner rise to anywhere near its full potential.

Good Places for Photo Prints

Recorded on December 4th, 2016

I made these notes from Episode 155 of the Film Photography Podcast, when they got to talking about the places they liked for photo prints (either from film negatives or from digital files):

Mpix (or their parent company, Miller’s)
Good prices, and they use Fuji Crystal Archive paper.

For black & white:

  • The Darkroom does true black and white Ilford RC prints. And their dye-sub stuff is good, doesn’t scratch, and it lasts.
  • Digital Silver Imaging in Massachusetts. They do Lambda prints onto black and white Ilford fiber paper (and they also do Ilford RC paper).
  • Blue Moon Camera does optical printing.
  • Edgar Praus at Praus Productions in Rochester does optical printing. Can do dodge & burn, proofs, and hand color printing.

The important point is to print stuff more often. You can tweak your images to your liking in Photoshop or Lightroom and give a good lab the TIFF or JPG to print. This makes me want to not get 4x6 prints of all of my negatives when I get film processed. Just get high quality scans made, tweak them in Photoshop or Lightroom, upload the best ones to The Darkroom or Mpix, and get just those made into bigger, nicer prints (and show them!).

Developing Film with Coffee and Vitamin C

Recorded on December 4th, 2016

I learned today about the magic of using coffee and vitamin C (and a few other ingredients) to develop black and white film. This is actually a thing and can give surprisingly good results. I haven’t tried it, and am probably still going to go with traditional chemicals once I finally get the gumption to process film at home. But this is good to know.

How to Develop Film Using Coffee and Vitamin C! Srsly! | Photojojo