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4x5 Negative Scanning

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Joined: 06 Sep 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all, brand new to the boards but I've been browsing this site for some time & have learned much! Also being new to 4x5 I'm interested in knowing about scanning 4x5 negs after I've processed them.
I'm set up with an Epson 4800 flatbed scanner & the software which it came with, including Epson Scan, Silverfast & PS Elements along with imaging software that came with the HP PC.

I'm not interested in really making my B&W prints any larger that 8x10"--What I'd like to be able to do is scan them & create a digital database of them, & would like to ask what works well for you folks along the lines of (perhaps) additional software beyond what I have.

Of course I'm just as new to scanning as I am to LF. I don't want this thread to become a complete exhaustive treatise on scanning 4x5 negatives, but can you offer suggestions on how to obtain the best possible scans to suit my purposes, i.e. print-ready scans up to (but no larger than)8x10? In scanning 4x5 negs & transparencies what would be the best dpi to scan with, and what would the proper file sizes be? What do you do to get good results?

Sorry for sounding like a total newbie, but that's what I am for now. Thanks for any advice!!!


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Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1554
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an Epson Expression 1600 flatbed which I use to scan everything from 120 to 4x5 and even on occasion 8x10 glass plate negatives. I began by using Photoshop 5.0 LE (I refer to it as "Lite Edition") which came with the scanner software, and added Photoshop Elements which came with the KonicaMinolta Dimage Scan Dual IV which I use for 35mm. I upgraded to v2.0 when that came out but haven't felt it necessary to update as v2.0 does everything I need it to do, even perspective correction which is mighty handy. I still prefer doing my basic work in Photoshop LE, and using Elements only for the PC feature which LE doesn't have. I have never felt it necessary to lay out the big bucks for the full version of Photoshop, for the kind of work I do (mostly b/w, some color transp. and occasional color neg., no fancy stuff beyond cropping, dusting, adjusting contrast and balance levels, and unsharp mask).

I always scan at 300dpi and size output for specific prints. My printer (Epson 1270) can handle 12.5" wide prints, and since most of my negs are 6x7 this yields maximum print size of 12.5"X c.15" (long dimension varies depending on the crop). File sizes generally run around 5Mb for b/w, but can be much larger for color, depending on output size.

Of course, it's important that your monitor (I have a CRT because of its better rendition) be accurately calibrated so its display is as close as possible to what you actually output. I use a PowerMac G4 computer with 600 Mb RAM.

Shutterbug Magazine has a very helpful column, "Q&A For Digital Photography," conducted by David B. Brooks, and I have emailed with David for advice. You might direct your specific technical questions to him at .

[ This Message was edited by: Henry on 2006-09-06 17:48 ]
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Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 2682
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a Microtek 8700, the one with the drawer below the light and while useless for 35mm other than thumnails on the web, it does real well with 4x5 and 8x10. Silverfast is one of the top two programs I would recommend.

Other than calibrating your monitor and printer (which is as much fun as a root canal) I can't speak of the scanner you have but if it has a drawer or someway to scan transparent material I think you're all set.
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Joined: 20 Jul 2003
Posts: 41
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your scanner is more than capable of doing a good job of scanning your film. Silverfast is an excellent scanning software. If your scanner came with the LE version, I'd recommend considering upgrading to the full Ai version. I would not recommend using the EpsonScan software. OEM software is generally not that good. The manufacturers include it essentially because they have to. A scanner with no software to scan through isn't much use. It's fine for regular document scanning but for photos a photo scanning software like Silverfast or VueScan is much better.

In terms of printing, using the standard 300ppi print resolution you would need to scan your 4x5 film at 600ppi to generate an 8x10 print. That said, this is not the best approach. The better approach would be to scan at something closer to the full resolution of the scanner (at least 2000 ppi) and then downsize to the file size you want to archive. This will allow you to get much more detail out of the film than scanning at a lower resolution.

In terms of a scan being "print ready" that's just not going to happen. All scans will need some measure of tweaking in your image editing program to get them ready to print. At the very least they will need to be sharpened. Silverfast is good enough that you can make many of your global colour and contrast adjustments in the scanning software if you want and then make finer, final adjustments in PS (or whatever editing program you're using) but you will need to make some adjustments.

Have fun with it.
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