SilverFast Ai & HDR

SilverFast Box

Tutorial - 3 -

Scanning negatives using NegaFix

By Ian Lyons




A Computer Darkroom Tutorial

Nobody needs me to tell them that scanning colour negative films with SilverFast has been a particularly difficult task. We all know that the source of the problem is the "orange mask" and the lack of accurate film profiles. Without such profiles and since no single film vendor seems to agree upon a colour or density for the "mask" we generally find ourselves tweaking the preview scan in an attempt to eliminate its worst effects. Even so it has been possible to produce some very nice results, but the work required tended to put many off.

Overview of NegaFix

NegaFix is a real-time negative film optimisation facility that has been designed to handle many different types of negative film stock, e.g.  Black and White and of course Colour. LaserSoft Imaging have initially included 120 film profiles so that the process of editing negatives is now easier than ever before. The film options include: vendor, type, group and speed. Best of all NegaFix is compatible with the full range of scanners currently supported by LaserSoft Imaging, including Nikon. I've been fortunate enough to use the new version of SilverFast on the Polaroid SprintScan 4000 and 120 models along with SilverFast HDR. The following is a summary of the various controls and brief overview of how NegaFix works.

Step 1 - Getting SilverFast ready for negative scanning

After opening SilverFast Ai or HDR we must configure SilverFast for negatives, this is done from within the "General" tab of the main control panel.  Once the user chooses to scan a negative the NegaFix control panel should appear on the desktop.


Selecting Film Type

Selecting the Film Type - Positive/Negative


Insert the "Uncut" filmstrip holder into the scanner gate. If you've previously scanned negatives a preview of the last image will appear along with the NegaFix control panel shown below.



NegaFix Control Panel - Basic Configuration


Step 2 - SilverFast Colour Management


In order that the final scan matches the preview screen it's important that the "CMS" dialog found in the "Option" panel is configured as shown below. Actually SilverFast reconfigures itself when NegaFix is selected. Specifically, users will find that SilverFast automatically disables the calibration profile and defaults to "None" and the Input profile is ignored.

In the Profiles for ColorSync/ICM "Internal" choose the colour space that corresponds with what you have chosen in Photoshop. When NegaFix is chosen this is the profile that will be embedded in our images. SilverFast ignores the scanner or calibration profile, although the preview display will still be correct.


CMS Dialog

Configuration of Colour Management Dialog


Step 3 - Creating the overview scan

By pressing the b3 button the "Overview" window will appear. Simply choosing the "Refresh Overview button will cause the scanner to quickly create a group of thumbnails for each image on the filmstrip. Make your choice and press "OK".


Scan Overview

Overview scan of images available on film strip


Step 4 - Making the pre-scan

From the "Frame" tab select your scan resolution, etc. Of course make sure the "Q-factor" is set to "1" and the "Filter" is set for "None". Also ensure the tool palette looks like the one shown below, otherwise hold down the "Alt" key and press the "Option" button to reset all previous corrections. This step MUST be undertaken so that we may be sure that the characteristics of the previous scan are not carried over.

You can now press the "Prescan" button and watch the image appear on screen. Typically the pre-scanned image will look bad, this is almost always down to the cropping boundary not being correctly set. To ensure correct operation of NegaFix it is essential that the cropping boundary for the pre-scan image is set so that NOTHING other than the actual image is included.



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