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A method of digitising slides

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Microbial, Apr 13, 2016.

  1. Microbial

    Microbial New to Mu-43

    8
    Jul 9, 2015
    Prompted by a couple of other posts on here, I just thought I would share my method of photographing my family's large collection of 35mm slides (and a few 126 slides too).

    The method has gone through several evolutions (the history of which I won't bore you with) and I think I've reached the point where I can't improve any further without significant expenditure.

    Key to the set up is this small battery-powered slide viewer: http://www.amazon.co.uk/MEDALight-Viewer-SV-4-viewing-slides/dp/B009HRJGQ6/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1460400874&sr=8-8&keywords=slide+viewer

    It had a plastic film on the front which goes over the slide to keep it in place, but I removed that so that there was a direct view of the slide.

    Then I made a wooden jig to hold the viewer at the optimum distance from the camera. It is adjustable for reach and tilt and the viewer is held on tightly with an elastic band. The jig is then bound to the column of the tripod with elastic bands and velcro. See photo.

    The camera is a Panasonic G2 and the lens is the Olympus 60mm macro. I also use a wireless shutter release to reduce shake and speed things up a bit.

    Once everything is in place a certain amount of micro adjustments are needed. I set the camera to 3:2 ratio to match the slides and then frame it so that the edges of the slide mount are just visible. Slides mounts do vary a little, so some types will show more mount than others, but this is cropped out later. Time spent getting everything straight and square is important, and once done it doesn't move.

    I then set the white balance with no slide in the viewer, and reset it a few times during the photographing as the colour of the viewer changes a little as the batteries run down. There comes a point of course where the batteries need replacing, but one pair will do several hundred slides.

    I use aperture priority and f8 as this is probably about the optimum for this lens.

    That's it. Use a dimly lit room, put a slide in the viewer, take a photo, replace slide, take another photo. Each cycle takes around 6 seconds, some dark slides need very long exposures however.

    I’m sure everyone will have their own opinion and preference on post-processing, but I use RawTherapee and in most cases all that is necessary is a crop and auto white balance correction. Some slides need more work than others of course, and it's up to you how much time is spent on each one, depending on its importance.

    The taking process is so quick that I’ve not been selective and am photographing all the slides I have. I found it is worth photographing apparently blank slides too as it's sometimes been possible to bring up a faint image. Consulting the histogram of these show where there may be something lurking.

    Finally, if you are considering digitising your slides (or indeed negatives), then do it now. Even some of my relatively recent 20 year old slides are deteriorating.

    P2241135.JPG
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
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  2. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    btw (if you mean us) the examination is going well
     
  3. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    634
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    I have been doing something similar but for negatives. I am using the em5ii with high res mode and the 12-40mm at around 35mm (almost fills the frame). I'm still working on getting the exact color for my LR preset but its close to the prints. I'm getting images at least 5800x3880 which is 22.5Mp. I had to spend $13 on the film holder but I had everything else.

    4j1NJs8.

    For best results so far
    CWB - 10k, Autofocus, High Res mode (1 second charge delay), Manual, iso 200, 1/10th
    Flash on 4th power bar (yn560) wireless trigger
    Softbox - 9-10 inches away from lens
    Film holder - 2-3 inches away from lens

    Currently working on Kodak Gold 200-6

    qQ6G7dI.
     
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  4. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi

    for what its worth the work that I am doing with @acnomad@acnomad and his camera is producing quite fine stuff. The core issue which I'd experienced before (mainly the clipping of channels and the loss of information and the difficulty of colour casts in negatives) is being offset by the advances in RAW processing tools.

    I suggest to assist you in your determination of the best exposure that you try the following:
    • have a well illuminated background which is always illuminated in a consistent way (consistent meaning exactly the same brightness)
    • set the camera on manual
    • determine the correct exposure based on the RAW conversion : criteria being minimisation of clipping. Remember that the nature of Negative is that the Red channel will have the longest curve, the Blue the shortest. The maximum density of the Blue will be higher than the maximum density of the others.
    • the densest areas are the highlights
    • you need to set your exposure to avoid loss in the lowest areas
    • take advantage of highlight recovery in modern RawConversion tools if you find you need it.
    The figure below is the characteristic curves of a Fuji Negative (all colour negatives are very close to this)
    fig1.

    So you can see what I mean about where the R G and B will sit in the exposure range.

    I have been following my own points in by blog posts when working with the negative expoures that @acnomad@acnomad has given me

    in my view ...: Negative film scans on Nikon Coolscans

    in my view ...: quick negative scan tutorial

    When you go through them and look at your own captures in R G and B channels (in Photoshop this is relatively easy) you can then make sure that at capture you avoid clipping, then working in 16 bits in your editor get them balanced in the same manner and you can then expect results like this:

    26310169850_756b24bee1_o.

    You can't rely too much on Auto Exposure for just like in the real world the variations in subject brightnesses (snow or beach VS a black car both in the sun) will cause exposure variations in your camera.

    Once an exposure has been found for a negative type (say Fuji Reala) then that will always work as the BASE FOG of each film type will be the same. Base Fog should set your upper clipping point but it is tricky to get it perfect.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
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  5. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    634
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    Thats a nice conversion. I am doing everything in manual and think I do has a consistent background light (the softbox). I'm not clipping any channels. My aim is get a 1 click lightroom preset which gets me 90% of the way there
     
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  6. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Great post, thanks much for the info. I haven't gotten to this yet but bought a EM5II+60mm macro to do it. I'm thinking of using a small LED camera light as some others have done.
     
  7. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    634
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    Let me know how that goes, I was worried about the limited spectrum the LED's put out but I do know some scanners use them
     
  8. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    what matters is consistency. If you check the spectral output of the LEDs then compare that with the R G and B bands that the dyes are in you'll find that there is enough "fatness" in each to make it less of a problem than you may think. Recall these things have distinct colour bands not a full spectrum (that's the RGB colour model) and so 'continuous' colour is in reality an illusion.

    I suppose you know to check with holding down the Alt key while you move the slider to see ... yes?
     
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  9. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    634
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    @pellicle@pellicle thanks you for the blog. I think my biggest mistake was no using enough flash due to the lights being black on the negative. I pumped up the flash output and my negatives are now even closer to the print. I think my greens are a little off. Another thing I learned is I should crop immediately to remove my frame which was the cause of some of my clipping when looking at the histogram. Thanks again
     
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  10. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    634
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    Ok after the new improved setup I got this just with levels and invert

    N4GeOsn.
     
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  11. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    there appears to be illumination consistency issues (sky upper left) but otherwise that's pretty darn good :)

    PS, nice subject matter :)
     
  12. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    634
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    I thought that too so I moved the film holder to a different part of the soft box and got the same thing. Other negatives don't have it so I assume it is some thing with this negative.
     
  13. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    hold it up to the light with a magnifying glass and look for that in the negative. Its probably a water streak which happens when slackarse minilabs go stingy on their wash (which is the cheapest part of their costs).

    I'm of the view that watermarks like this will vanish when scanned with a Nikon LS40 or above. The ICE on those is exemplary and is based on an IR channel (so R, G B and IR) that observes and subtracts things like that (and dust).

    While camera digitisation is increasingly possible to me you just can't beat the real thing. You can get a LS40 on ebay for under $500 and it'll give pretty darn good scans. Digitise and then sell it (if you're not staying with 35mm film).

    Film however can be a good choice for other reasons - high contrast scenes being one.

    For instance on this image I used my digital to determine exposure and took 3 exposures with negative each increasing by 1EV. Digital blew out (which could have been addressed in this instance by backing off exposure and increasing shadow noise) but I was using it to determine my primary and shadow exposures knowing that negative just does not blow:
    sample.

    if I had not brought my 35mm camera and 6 rolls of film then this part of the wedding would have been a blowout
    weddingOverview.


    people often misunderstood how much was captured in a neg - most probably due to rubbish printing quality ... which still goes on:

    in my view ...: a Negative printing experience


    and still my full frame is film so naturally I can't resist showcasing where film works better :)

    12969733443_13a35c90cf_o.

    taken back in 2014 using supermarket grade neg on my OM1 on a very cold day in Finland straight into the sun (which is still visible and not a blob)
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
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