Eric Radman : Photography

Epic Film Scans

One of the reason B&W prints in the darkroom are so compelling is that it is possible to transfer nearly all of the micro-details on the negative to paper.

The usefulness of color reversal film is entirely dependent on the qualify of the scan. A consumer-grade scanner benefits from a larger negative, but for 35mm and 645 I find that a 24MP digital camera is competitive with a consumer-grade flatbed scanner.

For work to be printed we need to do better. I recently sent out a 645 transparency to James Beck Digital and the results were astonishing.

Selection area from Provia 100F transparency (Mamiya 645 Pro, with 80mm lens at f/4)

Detail Comparison


Fuji XA-3 with 16mm macro adapter
(scaled up)

4800ppi drum scan at 100%

When I scale back the digital camera scan to the smallest visible detail I end up with an image that is 3360x2460 or 8.3MP of real usable detail. After cropping, the 4800ppi Beck Digita drum scan gave me a meaningful image size of 10528x7708, or nearly ten times the detail!

Dynamic Range

From the close-up comparison it is already apparent that the color accuracy of Beck Digital's drum scans are a massive improvement, but details visible in the shadows is also surprising.


Fuji XA-3 with 16mm macro adapter

4800ppi drum scan at 50%

Keep in mind that the first scan is a composite of three separate images that I took by bracketing the exposure—and it still can't compete.

This comparison also highlights two myths about Fuji Provia 100F: the first is that color reversal has poor dynamic range, and the second the second is that a warming filter is necessary to preserve color in the shadows.

Conclusion

Film photography is not convenient, but it has a life about it. Most of us succeed at capturing memorable photographs only a fraction of the time—but when you do, take your hard work and get a proper scan!

Last updated on January 11, 2019