Shooting film is always fun and seeing your work actually come out is even more of an amazing feeling, but breaking down the steps to get to your final product can be tedious and time consuming.
Whether it be developing, fixing, scanning, or conceiving a shot, there are no easy steps, and to have a really good outcome, you should know how all of the steps work and how variable components can affect your film.
Today we’re going to be looking at scanning film with the Epson Perfection V550 Photo Scanner and how you can produce high quality results with an affordable negative scanner.
This Epson photo scanner is a flatbed scanner with many incredible features for beginner and professional photographers. With 6400 dpi resolution, this scanner will be sure to produce high quality, crisp images whether you are scanning film, slides, negatives, photos, or your office documents.
Let’s get started by looking at how to load the film into your scanner and the display options.
To start with scanning analog film slides, you’re going to want to cut your film strips into sections of 6 frames or less. After you’ve cut your frames into single slides or into sections of 6 or less, go ahead and grab your film negative holder and place your 35mm negatives in the slot labeled ‘A’ and line the place holder up with the ‘A’ on the flatbed.
If you are scanning 120m film, go ahead and proceed with the exact same steps, but instead, use the 120mm placeholder labeled ‘B.’
When you insert your film into any placeholder for scanning, make sure that it is faced down and reversed so that the scanner can properly portray your frame. It is also a smart idea to purchase a scanner cleaning kit so that you are able to achieve the highest quality scans. This will help out a lot in cleaning off the screen so there are no hairs or dust on your scans.
When you are ready to scan, go ahead and press ‘Preview’ so you can see what your frames look like before scanning them with all of your settings. After you’ve gotten your negatives into the scanner, you also have a few options for viewing your scans and their previews.
You have the option to view them in ‘Thumbnail’ display or ‘Normal’ Display. Look below to see the difference.
If you’d like to be able to see the film rebate on your scans, you also have the options to lay your film flat on the scanner without the placeholder. This will allow you to see the frame counter and scan the raw images.
The scanner will also come with a free Epson Scan Software that is perfect for making minimal adjustments and color corrections prior to scanning to ensure that everything will look clean when finished scanning.
Let’s take a look at the Epson Scan Software paired with the Epson Perfection V550 Photo Scanner.
Epson Scan Software
As you can see there are quite a few tools to help you get started with scanning your film, photos, or documents. Today we’re going to be looking at scanning film negatives, so let’s go ahead and select ‘Professional Mode‘ in the top box.
After that, go ahead and choose ‘Film‘ for the Document Type and then select ‘Color Negative Film‘, ‘B&W Negative Film‘, or ‘Positive Film‘ depending on what you are scanning.
Next, under the destination tab you’ll need to set the image type, resolution, and document size.
If you are scanning color negative film, select ‘48-bit color‘ so that the scanner is able to pick up and produce all of the colors that were captured on your negative. If you are scanning Black and White film, select ‘16-bit grayscale‘ to let your scanner know that it should be picking up the grayscale of colors and not all colors.
After you’ve set the image type to pair with what you are scanning, you’ll need set your resolution. This is something that will be changed on a per-project basis depending on how high of a resolution you will need on your scan. The higher the resolution, the more crystal clear your image will be, but it will also take much longer so think about what resolution you need before scanning.
The same goes for your Document Size. It will always depend on your individual preference and what you will need to produce for the specific project you are working on. My basic, go-to document size is 1.76 x 1.90 in.
Now that you’re into the adjustments layer, you can really start to make some pre-scan enhancements.
Starting with the five boxes directly underneath ‘Adjustments‘, you are able to make some Photoshop-like adjustments prior to even scanning your slides. Many photographers may prefer to make their adjustments after scanning, but making the changes beforehand can save you a ton of time in the long run.
The Density Tool (1st box) can be checked on or off in order to help with your clarity density. If you select this prior to scanning, you will see more of a dense effect on your image, providing more of a bold color scheme.
The Histogram Adjustment Tool (2nd box) will help you to adjust the levels on your highlights and shadows to make sure that you can see all of the tones and colors you were aiming to capture. To make some small fixes move the left/right sliders to play with the lighting on your slide. Doing this can make your image brighter/happier or darker/grungier.
The Tone Curve Tool (3rd box) can be a big help in fixing your color scheme and your tones. Adjust this in a positive or negative manner to effect for your photo as you see fit. Increasing the tones will make it brighter and airier, whereas decreasing them can add clarity and mood.
The Image Adjustment Tool (4th box) is perfect for all of your basic adjustments with brightness, contrast, saturation, and color balance. For anyone looking to clean up their photos with one main tool, this is that tool for you – brightness, contrast, saturation, and color balancing all in one tool.
To show you the effect that this tool can have on your scan, we went ahead and adjusted the color balance a few times – here are the results.
The Color Palette Tool (fifth box) is another great tool if you need to make some major color adjustments. With this tool you can change the overall color of the image and give your photo a tint to portray a certain mood or feel.
Now that we’ve gone through all of the the boxes in the Adjustments tab, let’s take a look through the scanning adjustments as well.
‘Unsharp Mask‘ is the first amongst the scanning adjustments and is a masking tool that adds a sharpening effect and can be turned off/on, along with all of the others. Here is an example of the Unsharp Mask tool in effect.
The next is the ‘Grain Reduction‘ Tool which relatively self-explanatory in what it does, but in case you are unfamiliar, this tool does a great job of sharpening the image as a whole up and decreasing the grain throughout.
After that, you can check out the ‘Color Restoration‘ Tool which is great for adding a nice, bold touch to your color to make the image more vivid and bright.
The next tool is very similar to ‘Color Restoration’ and is great for brightening old, dark images or photos that may be underexposed. The ‘Backlight Correction’ Tool is another tool that is very helpful, but usually used for a certain type of image (dark, vintage, or old).
As you can see in the image above, the Backlight Correction tool helped to brighten and enhance this image that was a bit underexposed.
Lastly you have the ‘Dust Removal’ Tool and ‘Digital ICE Technology.’ These two are both ideal for getting rid of any hairs or dust that may have fallen on your negative. They will add quite a bit of time to your scanning process, but if you are ok with your scanner getting rid of these hairs, then you will save yourself a ton of time from having to manually do it in Photoshop.
The last step after seeing your previews is to finally hit ‘Scan.’ After you press scan, a box will appear. Here you can choose where you would like to save your scan, the name of your scan, and many other options. Once you have everything set to the way you would like it, go ahead and press scan!
We hope this tutorial helped you to get started with scanning your negatives and learning some new tips on how to get the best results while scanning film negatives! If you have any questions or are unsure on anything, feel free to leave us a comment and we’ll be sure to get back to you. :)
For more on analog photography, check out some of our other articles like:
- Ilford HP5 Plus Film Stock Review
- Super 8 Test Footage Using the Canon Canosound 514 XL-S
- How to Load 120mm Film