Saturday, September 24, 2005

The most tedious task in the world?

I have spent what seems like the whole day scanning negatives. This has to be the most tedious task ever!

I borrowed a scanner and a nice one at that - an ArtixScan 4000t, with the intention of scanning some holiday photos taken in August this year. I thought that it would be nice to share the photos with some friends and relatives and hey I wasn't planning to do anything else today.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure let me explain a little about the art of negative scanning. First you have to review your prints and decide which frames you would ike to scan. Secondly you have to place the strip of four negatives very carefully into the negative carrier, being extreemly careful not get any dust on the negatives which (being primarily cellulose) pick up even the slightest electrical charge and then act as dust magnets. You then place the carrier into the scanner.

Once the scanner has loaded the negative carrier, run through a series of checks of the stepping motor, and adjusted the focus of the scanning head (all of which takes a minimum of one minute). You then use your scanning software (in this case VueScan) to preview the frame that you would like to scan. The scanner then scans the frame and corrects the colour (a cool three to five minutes depending onthe density of the negative). You then adjust the crop marks and as its viewscan you save the high resolution preview (4000 ppi). If you are lucky enough to have more than one frame on the series of four you move on to the next one otherwise its back to finding the right strip and loading the negative carrier.

Bored yet? Well I wasn't either for the first hour or so. Continuing onwards...

The negatives have been cut into strips of four and it would seem that the people in the processing lab have an uncanny knack of determining which frames I would like to scan and ensuring that no two are on the same strip of four negatives even if they were sequential photographs!

Well so far today I have managed to scan a selection of frames from four rolls of negatives, thirty nine frames to be exact. Not bad but as I have twelve rolls still left to scan I'm beginning to feel that I made a BIG mistake even starting.

Once I've finished scanning I have the joy of post processing to look forward to. As the ArtixScan 4000t does not have an infrared scanning head, the scanner does not support any form of automated dust and scratch removal I have to do this manually. The tiniest particles of dust and the finest of scratches - not noticable with the unaided eye become huge on the completed scan so you have to remove them. So for each scanned negative the joys of 'spotting', cropping, rotating, levels and curve corrections and some light sharpening are all necessary prior to resizing for whatever the intended purpose, be that printing, posting here, emailing or whatever.

Well I'd better stop bitching and get on with it, I have to return the scanner tomorrow morning and will try to scan as much as I can tonight. If anyone out there has a scanner with dust and scratch removal like a 'Nikon Coolscan V ED' or better yet a (much quicker) 'Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED' and they would like to lend it to me please let me know :)

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