On Scanning (Redux)

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On the scanning front, I posted a few days ago about how I’ve been cranking my large collection of old analog photography through my epson scanner to digitize it. This is merely an update, an addendum, on a couple small refinements to the process that I’ve incorporated. You may want to read those posts if you want any sort of context for what I’m about to relate next, which deals with the arcana of vuescan.

I found that due to the slides not being so perfect in the mounts I was doing an awful lot of minor rotating in post processing. So I began to religiously set the setting for “Border (%)” (in the “Crop” tab) to 5%, which adds an extra amount around the automatically selected crop. As I mentioned before, I’m kind of lazy about post processing, and since the auto crop worked so well I wasn’t going to fret a lot about a few pixels lost here and there on an edge. But if I’m ending up rotating many of them anyway, I’m going to need to crop after the rotation. In that case, no sense losing any pixels whatsoever.  So I started dialing in the 5%, which adds a small black border to all the slides where the mount is being scanned.

If you set that parameter, you are best off also setting the “Buffer (%)” parameter (also in the “Crop” tab) also to 5% to avoid reading all that black into the white balance calculation (this is during the second scan, from RAW scans to TIFFs). I’m using the “White Balance” setting for choosing color, which seems to do something more or less like an Auto Levels in an image editor. So far I’m pretty pleased with the results, although I’m sure with a good deal more trouble I could eke a little more out of the slides. But I’ve still got a lot to go, and I can always reprocess the RAWs again any old day I want to.

I also discovered this lovely feature of loading and saving the settings. So I have two settings files, one for slides to RAWs (DNGs) and the other for second pass post processing, RAWs to TIFFs.  Using the batch scan feature and just scanning to raws means I can crank through a few dozen slides in a typical work day, and lots more on the weekends.   I have two other tools for sharpening and converting to JPEG, and uploading to Flickr.  I’ll describe those in a future post.

5 thoughts on “On Scanning (Redux)

  1. Eric,

    I’ve boxes of old photo’s I’ve been wanting to scan. Your scanning project posts might just push me to get started. I have Vuescan along with an Epson Perfection 4870 Photo scanner so many of your tips apply.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Earl,

    I’m really impressed with Vuescan the more I use it. It could really stand a good manual (or better yet a book) to use it well from the beginning. I made a number of mistakes and iterations of scanning before I finally settled into this groove which is working for me. And for the price it’s well, well worth it.

    Does your Epson 4870 have ICE (infrared scan dust removal) technology? That’s been a godsend. It’s saved me untold days of spotting. It does soften the picture a bit more than a normal scan, so that more aggressive sharpening is needed afterward, but I’ve found the “light” setting in Vuescan is sufficient to remove all the dust motes. Scanning to RAWs means you can always re-postprocess (without rescanning) minus the infrared channel if you want a particularly sharp one that you’ll manually touch up.

    Good luck. It took me forever to get going on this scanning project, but I’m so glad I did. Lots of memories coming up every night and my printer has gotten busier as I find old gems to print out.

  3. Eric,

    Actually my Epson 4870 scanner does have ICE tchnology. It was one of the first scanner to imploy it. I’ve never scanned to RAW before and I’m looking forward to trying some of your workflow.

  4. Hi,
    I have boxes of pictures I need to scan. Can someone direct a novice to a site where I can get educated on picture scanning and archiving? Thanks

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