Scanning Artifacts in Black & White Negative Scans...Why? How?

MOlwylerPhotoMOlwylerPhoto Registered Users Posts: 5 Big grins
Inexperienced with scanning, I'm finding lots of artifacts messing up the high resolution black & white scans I'm trying to produce with an Epson Perfection v800 Photo scanner. Can you tell me: What causes the common issues of artifacts in scans? How can I minimize/eliminate them? Is an "artifact" the same as what many are calling "noise" in the scans? Do I just need to burn/dodge them out or use the spot healing brush in PS? Will using the dust removal function increase the likelihood of artifact creation? Any suggestions and explanations welcome to improve my project!
Michael

Comments

  • MOlwylerPhotoMOlwylerPhoto Registered Users Posts: 5 Big grins
    PS: These scans are from the original negatives, most from the 1950s and 1960s.
  • pathfinderpathfinder Super Moderators Posts: 14,696 moderator
    edited July 3, 2023

    Hi Michael, welcome to dgrin.

    I've been scanning my own positive film slides ( Kodachrome, Ektachrome Agfachrome etc ) and 35mm B&W silver negatives - PlusX, Tri-X Royal X and loads of prints, mostly B&W, from the 19th century over the last twenty years. I have used a Nikon 35mm film scanner - a CoolScan IV ED, and an Epson flat bed scanner - a V700 PHOTO - for most of my scans, I did own a Polaroid scanner briefly, but have very few scans I can identify from it. I use VueScan software, currently version 9.7.95. VueScan is available via download from Hamrick.com, and i have used my copy for nigh on 20 years now. I update it whenever there is an update. I have used other scanning software over the years, but strongly favor VueScan in my hands. It does require one to understand histograms, exposure curves, and a bit of color balancing. I have never found any software that I can just just press a button and get good results - I find good scans - at least in my hands - require anywhere form 2 to 4 to 15 or 30 minutes effort. I do my initial edits in Lightroom Classic, but some images require a pass through Photoshop or image noise reduction software. I use Topaz AI as some of the scans I attempt to rehabilitate ( especially old monochrome prints ) were very small sizes of very old images that were not really that sharp when captured. I frequently receive scans from family members, but they are often compromised by poor focus, dirty specimens, poor color balance and small scan sizes.

    I find scanning 35mm color negatives can be challenging - color negative film has never been known as highly stable long term in terms color balance - so I scan some old color negatives to monochrome if they are sharp enough. Lots of old snapshots from 75 years ago were not that sharp due to focus issues and camera movement when shot off a tripod by most amateurs, like my ancestors. Images shot in studios a hundred years ago were usually quite sharp.

    It is my understanding that the digital dust elimination software in most scanners, especially the Nikon film scanners, will not work on opaque silver emulsions, like Tri X or Plus X.

    I am not certain what you are describing as artifacts? Dust motes on the emulsion? Noise in the captured image? Why not post an image of them, so that readers can be more cedrtain what you are describing. Some of these issues can be addressed before scanning, but once in the scan they will require spotting manually in Photoshop - at least in my hands.

    Most of my scans are family photos from the 1870 to the 1980s or so, and I don't make most of them public, but this image of me from 1945 demonstrates the quality one can expect from Kodachrome during WW II, captured hand held, with zone focusing by my father in Fort Sam Houston.

    Here is a monochromatic image of my son several decades ago, probably shot on TriX with an OM1 camera - scanned with my CoolScan IV ED - notice the grain. I used to shoot Tri X often, back in the 1980's

    Some scanning of small prints is relatively easy to do today with an iPhone or similar camera on a good stand, with a remote release. The color balance the iPhone will offer can be pretty good if you use good color balanced lighting at the time of exposure, and your original is not too far off.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • MOlwylerPhotoMOlwylerPhoto Registered Users Posts: 5 Big grins
    Thanks Pathfinder for your experience with scanning. I would have written back sooner, but I didn't get the notification you'd responded. So far, I've not seen anyone else's ideas about the "artifacts" issue.
    The difficulty with the artifacts has been intermittent. I’ve been seeing them in my black and white scans from my Epson Perfection V800 scanner. I’ve taken your suggestion and uploaded a jpg of a blow up of a section of a recent scan I did at 3200 dpi. My father’s photos are 50 and 60 years old and I’m preparing them for an exhibit in central Mexico. So, I’m disappointed to be seeing artifacts in my scans start to show up again.
    Are the artifacts—squiggles and jagged lines such as those around the boy's eyes—caused by a memory problem? Or the scanning light? Or the Epson software? If you or anyone else has an idea on how do eliminate the artifacts, that would be great. I’m on a MacOS Monterey 12.7, and I’m using Photoshop for the photo’s technical adjustments. Any ideas will be appreciated!
  • pathfinderpathfinder Super Moderators Posts: 14,696 moderator
    edited December 23, 2023

    Feliz Navidad!!

    I looked at your attached jpg - and I see the artifacts near boy's left eye, and his nose and upper lip, as well as the left ear and facial crease near the left side of the mouth of the older man.

    Before I saw this image, I thought perhaps there was dirt or fungus on the emulsion of your image, but from the jpg you posted the actual emulsion seems pretty clean, and easy to tidy up in LR or PS with the healing brush or the cloning tool.

    I do see the rectilinear dark, almost black irregularities in your image in the regions I described, and I agree with that these look like processing artifacts of some type. The rectilinear shapes seem like they are artificially introduced via the scanner or software processing. I've never seen anything like this with scans from my V700 or my Nikon CoolScan IV. I would try moving negative to a different location on the scanner bed and see if that offers any help, or I would alter the resolution to 1600, or 2000 pixels and see if that helps. Maybe trying to raise the emulsion just slightly ( 1 mm or less) above the scanner platform might help

    Trying to clone out those artifacts would be challenging in my hands, you might be better at it than me, of course.

    I do like Topaz Photo AI for its ability to reduce grain, sharpen an image, and and refine facial features even on images that were not ideally focused when captured. But I don't think it will correct those artifacts adequately. Hopefully, changing your scanning technique moderately, will capture a file for you without the artifacts in your image above. I can see the appeal of this image

    One other thought - One can build a negative scanning platform with an LED light panel, and photograph the negative with an iPhone camera and then invert the file in LR or Photoshop - which is another way to capture an image of a B&W negative these days if your flatbed scanner can't be made to offer an artifact free image. There are lots of videos on YouTube about converting slides and negatives to digital file with an iPhone and some simple home made platforms to hold the phone, the emulsion, and the light source .

    Like this https://youtu.be/8s4T0IgaZ5k?si=iNk7nmiD0DLzt0dA

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,787 moderator

    @pathfinder said:
    ... I use VueScan software, currently version 9.7.95. VueScan is available via download from Hamrick.com, and i have used my copy for nigh on 20 years now. I update it whenever there is an update. I have used other scanning software over the years, but strongly favor VueScan in my hands. It does require one to understand histograms, exposure curves, and a bit of color balancing. I have never found any software that I can just just press a button and get good results - I find good scans - at least in my hands - require anywhere form 2 to 4 to 15 or 30 minutes effort.

    @MOlwylerPhoto said:
    ...
    Are the artifacts—squiggles and jagged lines such as those around the boy's eyes—caused by a memory problem? Or the scanning light? Or the Epson software? If you or anyone else has an idea on how do eliminate the artifacts, that would be great. I’m on a MacOS Monterey 12.7, and I’m using Photoshop for the photo’s technical adjustments. Any ideas will be appreciated!

    MOlwylerPhoto,
    It appears you continue to use the Epson software that came with your scanner. Please note that Pathfinder is using a third-party software that many of us use, "VueScan".
    VueScan is really good software, with 25 years of development, and highly recommended. I strongly suggest you try it instead of using the Epson software.

    VueScan Scanner Software
    https://www.hamrick.com/

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • pathfinderpathfinder Super Moderators Posts: 14,696 moderator
    edited December 24, 2023

    Good comment, Ziggy. I haven't used the Epson software in over a decade or more, I am certain. I think the artifacts in the scan are from the scanner, if I had to guess, but replacing the Epson software makes sense as well.

    I see the current version of VueScan is 9.8.22.12 ,so I need to update mine as well. Done and done!

    https://www.hamrick.com

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • MOlwylerPhotoMOlwylerPhoto Registered Users Posts: 5 Big grins

    Thank you ziggy53 and pathfinder for your comments! I'll check them out and hope that these modifications and ideas will help eliminate the artifact problems I'm having before I can finish up on the photographs for the exhibit in late 2024 in Mexico.

  • MOlwylerPhotoMOlwylerPhoto Registered Users Posts: 5 Big grins

    Sorry for the delay in responding...it's been busy here!

  • EljustinoidEljustinoid Registered Users Posts: 4 Beginner grinner
    MOlwylerPhoto, I have also had the exact same issue - artifacts on V800 scans. I don't really see other reports of this so I joined this forum to comment. I am also using Epson Scan 2 software.
    I tried switching off the dust reduction - I still get artifacts.
    They are exactly the same type of artifact that you are seeing.
    I just tried some repeat scanning. Sometimes the repeat scans don't have the artifacts, sometimes they do.
    I also tried lowering resolution from 4800 to 3200 - I still get artifacts. (35mm)
  • EljustinoidEljustinoid Registered Users Posts: 4 Beginner grinner
    Actually I may have a messy solution...
    I've been scanning colour negs as well with no artifacts at all.
    So I'm going to scan my BW in colour and desaturate, and see how that goes.
  • EljustinoidEljustinoid Registered Users Posts: 4 Beginner grinner
    No, still artifacts when scanning in colour aaaarrggghh
  • EljustinoidEljustinoid Registered Users Posts: 4 Beginner grinner
    So it's gonna be Vuescan I reckon
Sign In or Register to comment.