Scanning 35mm Black & White Negs And A Sunbeam

“Warning” this post contains some technical stuff, if this causes you to experience yawning or a mild case of narcolepsy just skip to the last image.

The screenshot below shows the interface for the Nikon Scan software that I use for scanning in 35mm film, Pentax MX and Fomapan 100 in this case.

WP_20191014_12_23_15_Raw copy

It looks a bit daunting at first but I find it quite intuitive, and it’s easy to turn all the enhancements on or off.

a) Histogram Black & White Points UnadjustedWP_20191014_12_14_12_Raw copy

This is the histogram display with a straight scan from the negative. I scan my Black and White negatives as a positive and invert the image in post processing. It seems to capture all the tones a bit better doing it this way. The small spike on the left is before adjusting the image size where it has picked up a bit of the area outside the negative frame.

Image No Adj14 copy
This is the cropped and inverted straight scan of the image. I’ve noticed on various social media sites some people make a thing about the fact it’s a straight scan, but to my eyes at least, it looks too flat.

b)Histogram Adjusted to Black & White Points
WP_20191014_12_18_21_Raw copy

I’ve adjusted the Black & White points (circled in Red) to just touch the histogram, this is the useful information captured by the film and scanner..

Image1 B&W Points 14 copy
To me it’s starting to look more like the scene I saw when I took the shot.

c) Nikon Scan Image Enhancer
WP_20191014_12_20_26_Raw copy

By selecting Nikon Scan Image Enhancer (SIE) from the scan menu it cuts into the histogram a little and gives a bit more contrast to the image.

Image Nikon Auto14 copy
It does a really good job on some images, but a touch too contrasty for me.

1930’s Sunbeam – The Final Image
Image1 B&W Points SF 8x 14 edited
Using scan b), Cropped in a bit tighter, some sharpening added, a small amount of clarity and a touch of vignette.



7 thoughts on “Scanning 35mm Black & White Negs And A Sunbeam

  1. paulamyes

    I wish I still had a good film scanner. I always liked using the Nikon Coolscan LS-9000 ED we had in the photography dept I worked. They got very good results. Have you ever tried Vuescan? It’s a great app and is able to squeeze the last bits out of a neg.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. paulamyes

        I’ve sort of made a New Year’s resolution to shot more film – I’ve got a particular project in mind that will lend itself very nicely to black and white film. So now I’m dreading scanner reviews and trying to make a decision – whether an Epson V800 or a dedicated film scanner such as the Plustek 8200 Ai. At this stage I think I’d want to develop the film myself as well to get the best results. So this year will be interesting to say the least.


  2. Doug Anderson

    An interesting description. Thanks for posting.
    I “scan” my 35mm negatives with a digital camera. I take straight RAW photos and process the resulting files with Affinity Photo, a pixel editor much like Photoshop. It’s different hardware from what you use, but my process is very much like yours: (1) convert the format to 16-bit gray, (2) invert the image and (3) pull the black and white points in to just touch the toe of the histogram. At that point I am often finished, but I will sometimes tweak the gamma of the image or drag a couple of points on the curve to produce a gentle S shape. Can you manipulate the shape of the curve with Nikon Scan?
    And that’s a great bike!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. conspicari Post author

      Thank you for the comment, No Nikon Scan doesn’t let you alter the shape of the curve, but you can increase the amount of analogue gain for all or each of the channels. There are also other functions that restore the colours on faded slides and reduce the grain. I tend to use Photoshop to invert the image and if I need to alter the curve, but mainly make most adjustments in Lightroom. It was a lovely bike, looks like a daily driver as well.


    1. conspicari Post author

      Hello Aly, so sorry for not getting back to you sooner, life seems to have got in the way ! An Epson flatbed scanner would probably be the best choice, an Epson Perfection V600 should give you the ability to scan 35mm and 120 with good results. Let me know if you need any further information.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.