Yet another raw vs. Jpeg question.

Grandpa Ron

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This kind of twist on the Raw vs. Jpeg question.

I shoot 4x5 black and white negatives on an antique camera. I digitize the negatives with my 18 MP Canon DSRL and a light board fixture. I find that the digitized negatives or their inverted positives, do not seem to have the same contrast or sharpness as the 4x5 negatives.

I tried to make up for the fact that the monitor enlarges the 4x5 images, by viewing the negatives through a focusing loupe. But the negative seems to have better detail.

So the question is, "Would shooting the negatives in RAW be worth the effort?" Since color is not an issue, and the processed Raw image has to be downloaded through Jpeg; would I gain any contrast or sharpness over a straight Jpeg from the camera.
 

Ysarex

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So the question is, "Would shooting the negatives in RAW be worth the effort?" Since color is not an issue, and the processed Raw image has to be downloaded through Jpeg; would I gain any contrast or sharpness over a straight Jpeg from the camera.
Yes, but only you can determine if the difference will be enough to make it worthwhile. All camera JPEGs represent a compromise that the camera engineers are forced to make. Hanging over their heads is the threat that you might press the shutter release on the camera and hold it down. At that point you're telling the camera to take photos as fast as possible. Processing to the final JPEG is part of that sequence and the bottom line then is: corners will get cut. In other words the camera JPEGs are good enough but never best possible.
 

wfooshee

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You need a film scanner, but one that handles 4x5 is not going to be cheap, I don't think. Forget using a flatbed scanner, that won't work any better than what you're doing, and maybe not as good.

What you're doing is taking a picture of the negative, and doing so in RAW would give you more freedom in post-processing, but an actual film scanner would be multitudes better.

Here's my own work duplicating and digitizing a 35mm slide. The first pair of images are the full frame and a crop of simply photographing the slide from a light board.

26356826254_9351ca2572_c.jpg


26356823284_e62c0be9e1_c.jpg


Now the same slide scanned with a flatbed scanner, full frame and crop:
26356823144_e0ebe925d3_c.jpg


26356823404_7871def318_c.jpg


Now scanned with a film scanner, full frame and crop:
26356823614_f1b4bd1e52_c.jpg


26962168375_f2061b189d_c.jpg


Something else to notice as that my film scanner, as most do these days, has an infrared pass it uses to remove dust from the image. The slide is transparent to infrared, so anything that shows as a shadow doesn't actually belong in the image, and it can be digitally removed by the scanning software.
 

webestang64

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Forget using a flatbed scanner, that won't work any better than what you're doing, and maybe not as good.
My Epson flatbed yields a 48 bit color, 2400 res, 565MB file, desaturated positive from a 4x5 BW neg.
 

Strodav

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When digital was becoming popular there was a lot of debate on how many pixels it would take for a FF sensor digital camera to match the detail of commonly used 35mm film taken with a typical film camera and lens. A popular answer was about 12mp. Doing a little arithmetic you would need an 80mp digital camera, give or take, to equal the detail captured in a 4" x 5" piece of film. So I am not surprised at all that you lost some detail using an 18mp camera. Contrast and sharpness are easily adjustable in post. Note that sharpness and detail / resolution are two different things. Detail is measured in line pairs inch, but sharpness is subjective and contrast and sharpness are related. Make 2 prints of the same picture, one with a bit more contrast than the other, especially in the midtones. No other changes. People will say that the image with more contrast is sharper.

A couple of options would be to buy a higher mp camera. 60mp would probably be close enough like the Sony A7 R IV, but the Fujifilm GFX 100 is 100mp digital camera. The other option as mentioned above is a 4 x 5 film scanner. I routinely scan in 35mm and 120mm film on my Epson V500 photo, but have no idea about larger format film. You might want to find a large format film forum and ask you question there.
 

wfooshee

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My Epson flatbed yields a 48 bit color, 2400 res, 565MB file, desaturated positive from a 4x5 BW neg.
I will correct myself from when I said "won't work any better than what you're doing," which is demonstrated by my own samples. The flatbed is clearly better than the photographed duplication. My revision will be, "It won't do all that much better." :icon_biggrin: But I stand by my statement that a flatbed will not compare to an actual film scanner.

Flatbed, 1-to1 crop of the center of a frame, scanned at 2400dpi (Epson XP-440):
51881937784_c22620e79c_c.jpg


Same type of crop from a film scanner, same resolution scan (Nikon LS-2000, which I no longer have as it only worked up to Windows XP):
51880648512_414ede3617_c.jpg


I think the simple fact that there's a piece of glass between the transparency and the scanner results in the loss of sharpness, perhaps the inability to focus exactly on the image.

The point just above about the megapixels needed to realistically capture a 4x5 negative is very valid, as well. I was working with 35mm slides, and the photographic duplication at 16MP was still the worst result by far.
 

webestang64

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For sure a dedicated film scanner does do the best job (other than a drum scanner). I had a Nikon Coolscan 9000 and the scans from that with a 4x5 neg were amazing.
 
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Grandpa Ron

Grandpa Ron

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Well a lot of good information for sure.

Now I have to evaluate it with regards to my world. I may be trying to put a $200.00 saddle on a $20.00 horse.

As I mentioned, I am shooting B&W negatives on an antiques camera made in 1909, with one of two Wollensak lenses from the early to mid 1950's. There is a limit to how sharp and inherently "softer focus" for lack of a better word, negative needs to be.

Lens technology in the last 65 years has improved remarkably, not to mention the individual skill levels of some post processer folks. They seem to extract the last morsel of photographic goodness from every digitized item they touch.

I would like to get a 4x5 film scanner, if for no other reason than to save the set-up and tear down of my light table and camera set up. And, Christmas is coming. :)
 

RAZKY

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For sure a dedicated film scanner does do the best job (other than a drum scanner). I had a Nikon Coolscan 9000 and the scans from that with a 4x5 neg were amazing.
How do you scan 4 x 5s with a medium format scanner?
 

RacePhoto

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Yeah, how much do you want to spend? I admire the 4x5 B&W film as an interesting medium. Best to your efforts. Sounds like great fun!

Really? 80MP to make a 4x5 B&W image the same quality?

OK here's an abstract idea. Shoot multiple images, macro of your negative, and stitch them. Best I could do at 11PM on short notice. :encouragement: Might be crazy or might actually work?
 

RAZKY

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Edit: Not sure what happened - I didn't type anything, yet a blank "reply" got saved! Anyway ...

"Would shooting the negatives in RAW be worth the effort?"
It takes no more effort to shoot RAW than JPEG of TIFF. (Exporting a RAW file as a JPEG or TIFF only takes a few mouse clicks.)

" Since color is not an issue, and the processed Raw image has to be downloaded through Jpeg ..."
Is this a Canon thing? I shoot Nikon RAW (NEF), and export as TIFF - lossless, uncompressed - I never touch JPEGs.

Somebody could probably offer some help if we knew what lens you are using to copy the negatives. (I think that's where your problem lies.)
 
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webestang64

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How do you scan 4 x 5s with a medium format scanner?
You are right I didn't. I had to think about it, I think it was the 4500. It's been a very long time since I had that scanner.
 
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Grandpa Ron

Grandpa Ron

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The lens I use to copy. is the Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55 mm that came with the camera. It takes excellent digital pictures.

The set up is simple, a light table under a fixture I made. The fixture is a 5x7 wood frame, upon which is a piece of ground glass. The ground has an 4x5 area masked off to hold he negative, then another piece of clear glass holds the negative flat and in place.

The camera is mounted on a tripod with the lens parallel to the negative, the zoom is adjust to fill the viewing screen, and a cable release is used to take the picture and avoid any vibration.

The Canon will download Raw, Raw+Jpg and Jpg.
 

RAZKY

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The lens I use to copy. is the Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55 mm that came with the camera. It takes excellent digital pictures.

The set up is simple, a light table under a fixture I made. The fixture is a 5x7 wood frame, upon which is a piece of ground glass. The ground has an 4x5 area masked off to hold he negative, then another piece of clear glass holds the negative flat and in place.

The camera is mounted on a tripod with the lens parallel to the negative, the zoom is adjust to fill the viewing screen, and a cable release is used to take the picture and avoid any vibration.

The Canon will download Raw, Raw+Jpg and Jpg.
I would recommend using a 50mm macro lens. Most any brand (Canon preferred of course), second hand will be fine as long as the glass is clean and it is compatible with your camera. I'm sure you know that you don't want any non-imaging light shining into your lens. Good luck, and keep us informed!
 

pendennis

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I use an Epson V850 to scan 4x5 negatives and transparencies. I can adjust the settings to suit the type of 4x5 film, and I always scan both TIFF and JPEG files. For me, the differences in film types determine the scanning software used for the task. All software makers use slightly different algorithms, and I choose the software to fit the film. The TIFF becomes the digital "negative/transparency" file, and the JPEG files are used for "quick and dirty" editing for prints.
 

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