Creating perfect photos from your slide and negative scans with ColorPerfect: Hasselblad, Imacon, FlexColor

Increase the quality of your slide and negative scans from Hasselblad/Imacon FlexColor with ColorPerfect! Find out more about how to scan with your Flextight. ColorPerfect processes scans with color integrity and gives unprecedented flexibility in creative image editing. To harness the full potential of our Photoshop Plug-in it's important to obtain image data that has been subjected to as little processing as possible (RAW data). The following tutorial gives a step by step explanation on how to achieve this with Hasselblad/Imacon FlexColor.

Creating suitable scans from slides and negatives with Hasselblad/Imacon FlexColor

FlexColor seems to add in an uncalled for "compensation" when a straightforward adjustment of gamma back to 1.0 (linear) is specified. This thoroughly distorts the shadows in a scan, yielding terrible results as ColorNeg inverts these shadow distortions to spread through the entire image. To solve this problem you have to use the *.fff (3F) RAW format. To open such *.fff files in Photoshop, you must have the Imacon 3f.8bi plug-in installed which registered Hasselblad users can download for free from Hasselblad's web site.

Saving the basic settings as a profile

To prepare for creating linear scans you will once have to define a suitable setup. Save this as 'Raw linear scan' or something similar and use the following settings.


General tab

  • Mode: RGB 16 bit
  • Descreen: 0
  • Adaptive light: 0
  • Film type: Positive
  • Enhanced shadow detail: Off

Contrast tab

  • Contrast: 0
  • Brightness: 0
  • Gamma: 1.0
  • Shadow depth: 0

Texture tab

  • All: Off

CC tab

  • Active: Off

Auto tab

  • All: 0 / Off

ColorSync / ICM tab

  • Embed profile: Off
  • Convert: Off

Scanning a negative or slide

Like detailed above the scans must be created in 3F format. To do so select "Scan 3F" from the file menu which will bring up the 3F Scan control window. In this window set the film type to Positive regardless of wether you are scanning slides or negative film and set Setup to "Raw linear scan" or whatever name you used for your setup created in the steps above. Turn off Auto Levels, set the desired resolution in percentage of your scanner's maximum resolution and click Scan which creates your 3F file.

ATTENTION: The scans you create via this route are not opened linearly in Photoshop but will be Gamma encoded to Windows' System Gamma of 2.2. On Mac OS X a Gamma of 1.8 might be used instead. Prior to converting negatives with the original ColorNeg plug-in you will have to reverse this encoding using our auxiliary Plug-in Scantique which comes with the ColorNeg package. This will create a suitable linear image file.

Using our new plug-in ColorPerfect that reversal step using Scantique is no longer necessary. ColorPerfect is able to directly process images with various input encodings. If you'd like to put out sRGB encoded image data from ColorPerfect for example you'd usually set up the start panel the way depicted to the left of the image.  To be able to process a scan with an output encoding that is neither linear nor matches the input encoding you'll have to leave the start panel once to access the options. On the options screen find the setting "Gamma C In/Out" , activate it and OK out of the plug-in.

After restarting the plug-in the start panel used will be the one shown to the right. The left of the two Gamma pull down menus specifies the encoding of your scan. When scanning with FlexColor and opening the 3F files on a Windows computer that's 2.2 and when opening the scan on Mac OS X this might be 1.8. The right hand side Gamma pull down is the output encoding (Gamma C) which must be set according to the working space you prefer to use. ColorPerfect saves these values so that you will usually have to set them up but once - unless you work with images in multiple color spaces or from different scanners. The configuration described here is stored separately for each of the plug-in's three modes ColorNeg, ColorPos and TouchUp. You'll have to set it up once in any mode you need it.

For a completely PC based workflow we could ascertain that you need to use a Gamma value of 2.2 to linearize the 3F data but did not test on Mac OS X. It is well conceivable that Gamma 1.8 is used there instead upon putting out the data. In the past a credible source had provided the information that such 3F files actually contained linear image data. Whether an alternate 3F.8bi Plug-in exists/existed that allowed importing the data linearly in Photoshop or whether things are different on Mac OS X is currently unknown to us. We ask FlexColor users - especially those using the Mac platform - to contact us so that we can aswer these questions.

FlexColor can be used in combination with Hasselblad's so called virtual drum scanners Hasselblad Flextight X1 and Hasselblad Flextight X5 as well as with older models such as Imacon Flextight 949, Imacon Flextight 848, Imacon Flextight 646, Imacon Flextight 343, Imacon Flextight Precision II and Imacon Flextight.

To conclude we'd like to thank our user Andrew McIntyre cordially for providing the screen shots used.