B&W film scanning question.

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by domromer, Feb 8, 2008.

  1. domromer

    domromer TPF Noob!

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    I've read that b&w film has the widest latitude range of all films. I was thinking of shooting some 120 b&w then scanning it and tweaking it on photoshop.

    Is it possible to get prints with the same range when it's developed in PS or is this something that can only come out of the darkroom?

    I'm not sure if this question makes any sense but I'll post it anyways.
     
  2. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    There's a lot to that question. What scanner will you be using?

    If you expose and develop B&W film so that it is suitable for traditional printing, then it should be fairly easy to use the entire density range of the film when scanning - though it does depend on your scanner. In fact it is often easier to handle the full density range of film by scanning than it is when printing traditionally.

    As far as prints go, digital prints can show the same, or greater, density range than traditional silver gelatin prints.

    Very sweeping generalisation: it's often easier to scan dye-image film than silver-image film. If you want the graininess characteristics of a particular silver-image film, it may not be apparent in a scan. It needs fairly high-end scanning to reproduce the graininess of silver-image film well.

    You might find that colour film, or maybe chromogenic B&W film, gives you scans that you prefer to those from silver-image film. It is a personal choice though.

    Please forgive the generalisations.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  3. domromer

    domromer TPF Noob!

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    Not sure about the scanner. It's one we have at school I know it's a drum scanner. I'm scanning some chromes on it next week.

    I guess what I want to do Is shoot B&W , develop the negs myself and then scan it and do the rest through photoshop. I want all the benefits of true B&W without having to set foot in a dark room.

    Is that possible?
     
  4. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    A drum scanner should be ideal for B&W silver-image film, thanks to the variable aperture. What you want should be possible. Which printer or printers do you have available?

    Best,
    Helen
     
  5. domromer

    domromer TPF Noob!

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    Epson 2200
     
  6. MichaelT

    MichaelT TPF Noob!

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    B&W film does have great range - far greater than photographic paper will render. You dodge and burn in the traditional darkroom in order to get the range of the film compressed into the range of the paper.

    Digital cameras have a RAW mode (it's the digital equivalent of a negative) with wide range too. But you're still limited by what the paper can handle. If I need wide dynamic range, I'll sometimes process the camera RAW image twice, once for the shadows and again for the highlights, and then combine images in Photoshop to get the dynamic range down to what paper can handle.

    A top end film scanner might be able to render the dynamic range of a well exposed B&W negative, but even so, the file will still be beyond the range of photographic paper, so you're back to Photoshop in an attempt to get it printable. A lesser scanner won't render the whole dynamic range, but the scan will print easier.

    In my personal experience, digital images from a camera have much better detail and range per kilobyte than scans, and they are a lot easier to get onto paper. But most digital cameras don't work very well in B&W. I use an old Fuji S1 just because I love the B&W images it makes.
     

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