Creating perfect photos from your slide and negative scans with ColorPerfect: Creating linear scans

Suitable scans are the key to producing color integrity with ColorPerfect. The following tutorials will show you how to scan using different hard- and software. We have created these tutorials to aid you in getting started with processing your slide scans in ColorPerfect's ColorPos mode and your negative scans in ColorPerfect's ColorNeg mode. The instructions also apply to our previous generation of plug-ins ColorPos and ColorNeg.

What do I have to look out for when scanning slides and negatives for processing with ColorPerfect?

To harness the full potential of our Photoshop plug-ins it is important to create imagery that is as untouched as possible (RAW Data). This might require some involvement at first but will soon become easy. It is of the utmost importance that you do heed the following guidelines. The image file resulting from a scan must be in RGB mode, must have a color depth of 16 bit per channel (48 bit RGB) and should ideally be linear. The term linear refers to the image's gamma encoding. A linear image has a gamma value of 1.0 which means no adjustment has been applied to the data. Scans of this nature are comparable to a digital camera's RAW files. They contain the unaltered equivalent to the intensities of light read in by a scanner's CCD.

Our previous plug-in ColorNeg could exclusively work with images like that. To process slide and negative scans in ColorPerfect's ColorPos and ColorNeg modes linear input is still recommended. In ColorPos mode gamma encoded input is generally acceptable, too. The new ColorNeg mode now also features settings that allow processing gamma encoded negative scans. This is important to some users because it is impossible to create linear scans with certain scanner software.

The steps required to create suitable scans vary depending on the scanner software you are using. Creating linear scans is very straight forward with some software while with other software accomplishing suitable scans can be more tricky. Please be aware that learning how to create such scans is the single most important step to successfully harnessing ColorPerfect's and/or ColorNeg's powers.

What scanner is suitable to scan slides and negatives and which settings should be used?

Scanners that feature an analog/digital converter with a precision of 14 bit per channel and whose scanner software is able to write image files with 16 bit per channel are generally suitable to create negative scans. For scanning slides and black and white negative film devices with 12 bit precision can suffice. To create color negative scans with such devices special techniques are required. Some scanner software does not have an explicit option to create linear scans. Still such scans can often be created by setting the gamma value to 1.0 and turning off anything that is said to "enhance" color in any way. This can usually be set up one way or another using the software's options. The default value for the Gamma setting would be 2.2 or 1.8 adjust that to 1.0.

The automatic removal of dust and scratches, e.g. digital ICE as well as any hardware based exposure or analog gain settings can usually be used without any problems.

Since you don't want some inferior automatism of the scanner software to invert your negatives but rather want to use ColorPerfect later on the negative usually needs to be scanned in a mode intended for slides or positive images. Some scanner software has a special mode for negatives that does not invert the data but saves it to disk without any processing. Such modes can also be suitable.

Your objective always is to retain the negative as such. That is so that you see the photo in negative form when you open the image in Photoshop. It might or might not have the same color cast as the original negative depending on the scan's settings but it will usually look very dark. That is normal and of no consequence. This look is brought about by a misinterpretation of the input data by Photoshop which is part of the workflow. ColorPerfect will rectify this. Open the image in Photoshop, assign a suitable color profile and set up ColorNeg mode's Gamma C setting accordingly. Even though ColorPerfect's ColorNeg mode was primarily developed to process color Negatives it is also ideally suited for black and white ones.

Detailed instructions for different types of scanner software

This section of our web site contains a growing number of detailed tutorials on how to create linear scans using various scanners and their software. We hope to further expand this section in the near future but require your assistance in doing so. If you posses any suitable scanner that uses a software or driver not featured here or use an English version of a software whose screenshots on these pages are in German I'd like to ask you for your help. In case of an already featured software simply make screenshots of the parts of the UI shown in the respective tutorial and e-mail them to info(at)ColorPerfect.de.

If you use different hardware with software that is not yet featured here it would be great if you could help in determining a suitable workflow. You can either do so on your own and report your findings afterwards or you may contact me to get assistance in figuring out what to do. I would greatly appreciate it if the result would be a series of screenshots on which I could base another tutorial for this section. Of course credit for your help will be given unless you prefer otherwise.

The currently featured products merely reflect what hardware and software is available to us or to users who have volunteered to help in creating these instructions. Other hardware and software certainly also is suitable. This list of tutorials is incomplete and does not imply any featured products to be solely or specially suited for creating linear scans.

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