It depends a bit on what problems you're seeing. If you have large areas that are either transparent or very dense, you're going to have trouble. If you see a reasonable distribution of tones, you have the start of something you can work with. After that, it's a matter of ensuring you're using the right color profile for the film when scanning (very important), and you're using the right tonal settings. Even after doing that, you may need to do some touch up in Photoshop to get the images looking right. All that presumes you're doing your own scanning and post-processing. If someone else is doing the scans, the quality can vary tremendously, just as it does with commercial processing.
>Shot a roll of Kodak ultramax 400 yesterday when it was a bit >cloudy. Not one picture scan came back that was useable. >Grrrr. > >Later, I will post one of the crappy images. I think I know >what the problem is but want your opinions. > >How can ya tell by looking at the negatives if the color >images are decent or not?
Let's see some photos from them. Also did you remove the lens cap??? Just kidding.
My rule when working with film was to take as many other players out of the flow as possible. For B&W I bought my film in bulk and spooled it. I did the development of the negatives in a highly temperature and time controlled environment. The idea was in my quest toward standardization, if I had 20 rolls of film from the same serial number batch, then my tweaks in development for proper shadow density where being applied to the same negative stock. Over time, the developing became standardized and then when the film stock changes, the tweaks were usually good after the first roll.
Then came the scanning. I did the scans with a Nikon Cool Scan 4000. A great and very slow machine. But eventually the quality of the scans evolved to what I wanted.
For color film, I found a local processor (Wolf Camera in my case) where the store manager seemed to be long term and to whom I could have a good conversation on how often they changed their chemistry, whether there was a preferable day for hitting the "fresh" curve, etc. Could I request that my film be developed ASAP after they changed the chemistry. Would they mind just developing the negatives and properly packaging them (a whole different conversation) with a index print. The index print part keeps them somewhat honest in that if they know you are going to look at least one print, they make some effort to not make it a lousy print.
If they ever scratch a roll of negatives you can often see some evidence of that in an index print (amazingly). I also ask for a loupe (or take my own) and just inspect the negatives before they leave the shop and make it a casual discussion - an interested manager will enjoy that if not inundated with work.
At this point, I scan myself the color negatives. I found that if I had them process the color negatives and not cut them, I could do the cutting in groups of six negatives per strip. That made my scanning process more efficient as my scanner would automatically scan and record a strip of six negatives.
Another color process that worked for me was to expose something like Fuji Velvia and have that developed (many more advanced shops can handle that locally) but not mount the slides and I would again do the cutting into my six transparency strips for scanning. IIRC it would take my machine about 20 minutes to process a six-frame strip and record them to HD.
The rule of thumb is minimize anything that is not in your direct control.
Have fun, the process isn't as daunting as it may sound. BTW, I see that some people are using flatbed scanners for groups of negative/transparency strips. When I have time, I plan to (re)start that thread here but right now I just don't have any experience in the quality and individual image separation that may be possible from a batch scan on a flat bed.
Good luck, it would be nice to see some samples that prompted the original query.
Is the film out of date or perhaps under exposed? I have some film that I was using up with my cameras and it was only the ubiquitous Kodak Gold 200, but it looked terrible. Its been my experience that out of date film looks grainy and under saturated. . . cloudy.
When I scanned it using my V500, I checked the "restore color" option, but that seems to really boost the contrast making the auto exposure scan option useless. Took some tweaking of each negative to get the curves and contrast even half way decent.
I've got some fresh Kodak GC-200 and I'm going to try that and see if things improve.
That happened to me this week, as well... After shot a roll of TMAX100 with very good results, with my F Photomic FTn, i tried a Velvia100 and the results ended up quite ugly: 60% of the pics were underexposed, and i was sure that i made a perfect light reading for every shot. I must look/study all the photos again to understand where did i failed.
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One question I have is what program are you using with your scanner? The one that came with your scanner, or something like VueScan, or what?
If it is the Nikon program, it will take me a while there.
Please give me a little more time to come up with some suggestions for your scanning problem. While there is a Minolta ScanDual here now, around the end of April a fellow will drive by Latte Land and drop off a Nikon CoolScan 9000ED, so I will be able to do 120 Roll Film also. While I could say a few things, they are all based on the Minolta system at this time. With a Nikon machine here, the answers to be available later may be more applicable.
Ralph Latte Land, Washington
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