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

MOlwylerPhotoMOlwylerPhoto Registered Users Posts: 2 Beginner grinner
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!


  • MOlwylerPhotoMOlwylerPhoto Registered Users Posts: 2 Beginner grinner
    PS: These scans are from the original negatives, most from the 1950s and 1960s.
  • pathfinderpathfinder Super Moderators Posts: 14,679 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, 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 -

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
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