So like many of us who shoot film, we want to scan it ourselves. If not for the creative process, then for the cost saving process. Here in the UK, getting a full high resolution scan of a roll of Kodak Ektachrome in 35mm can cost around £35 for a high end lab.
I’ve had an Epson V550 scanner for several years now and I have found that the plastic film carriers, whilst very useful, are not great at keeping the film perfectly flat. If you have a roll that is a little cupped, even slightly cupped, then it can make a noticeable difference to your scan.
I recently read a tip from a member of a photography group in which I am part about placing the negative directly not the glass and then placing a piece of non-reflective glass on top of it that is small enough to fit into the central column of the scanner where the film strips live. So about 3″ x 10″ in my case with the V550.
So I started looking around for some off cuts of something like TruView Glass, which is a special museum glass used to avoid reflection of framed masterpieces. Local UK suppliers did not have small cuts available for general members of the public, but believe it or not I have a small picture framing shop not far from me called “Cherry Tree Picture Framers” who I have used to frame a handful of my better large photos. I gave them a call…
I explained my situation and to my surprise they said they can obtain such a piece of glass for me from TruView (or whatever source, but it is TruView glass). A week later, and at a cost of £20, I had it; one piece of 3″ x 10″ TruView glass.
Today I tried it out with the scanner and it does indeed seem to work very well! The negative is naturally made perfectly flat and as long as you make sure you line the glass and the negatives up nice and central, it works fine with VueScan. I make that last point because it seems VueScan is clever enough to realise when something is not perfectly aligned as I kept getting the red error blinking light when I clicked “Preview”, but after asking the developer he got back to me to say “I bet you have left the cover on the overhead light source”, which I hadn’t but it gave me a clue. When I lined the glass and the negative up properly, it worked fine.
The other issue is my ability at getting good looking scans! The scan above is from my Epson V550 with the glass at 1600 DPI. It does go higher but no matter; it is the colour and look I was checking. I loaded the raw TIFF from the scanner using DarkTable and boosted it a little here and there but it still doesn’t look as good as the pro version scan that the lab did for me. So I need to finesse my technique. But it is a step in the right direction (the lab version is below) for reference.