2013-03-19 19.15.30

Dave from Shoot Tokyo
has been working on his medium-format
film scanning technique
.  I commented
on how I manage scanner and film profiling in VueScan
and he asked for more info.

Someday I may write a general introduction to VueScan, but
for today I am assuming that you have the basics down.  I highly recommend the VueScan
as a starting point.

For slide film (positive) profiling you:

  1. Obtain color
    slide(s) in your film(s) of choice
  2. Scan the color target slide using your scanner (no need
    to save)
  3. Use the Profile Scanner function (it will require
    the data file that came with the target) and save the profile with a
    descriptive name (in case you have multiple scanners and/or films)
  4. Use the resulting profile in the "Color | Scanner
    ICC profile" field to base the color of future scans of this film

This results in slide scans to be very true
to the original as viewed on a light box. 
Of course, if the color cast in the slide is off you will need to correct it later (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.).

For color print film (negative) profiling you:

  1. Obtain color target in your slide film of choice or a printed target
  2. Take a photograph of said target using your film camera
    & negative film of choice under normal lighting.  Use even or diffused mid-day sunlight or flash.
  3. Process and scan the negative film frame with the color
    target (no need to save)
  4. Use the Profile Film function in a similar
    fashion as above, feeding it the data file for the color target you took the
    photograph of
  5. Use the resulting profile in the "Color | Film ICC
    profile" field to base the color of future scans of this film

This results in negative scans to be very neutral and consistent in color. Again, if the color cast was off in the shot to begin with it will still need some correction.

I used my Nikon F6, a macro lens, and a slide copying adapter to shoot a Fuji Provia 100F slide target.  You can probably make use of any camera-lens with decent close focus ability to shoot a printed color target.

Using a neutral target like Provia for profiling Kodak Portra 400 shots produces very natural results. 
I tried a Velvia target for fun (which has very saturated colors) and the resulting profile was wonky and
"not Portra like".

This process is a bit of a hassle to setup, but once you have the profiles in place you can save a lot of time by reducing your "normalizing" color correction work.

Written by Bubble Level

Jamie Zucek lives in California and enjoys film and digital photography, collecting and shooting vintage and modern cameras whenever he can.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Larry Reply

    could you please explain what you mean by: “Obtain color target in your slide film of choice or a printed target” when it comes to color film negative profiling?
    Do I have to obtain a x-rite passport and take a picture of it?

  2. Bubble Level Reply

    Obtain will equal “purchase” for most folks, unless you have a friend with one.
    Sorry that I did not repeat the link from the first section, I have purchased my targets from Wolf Faust in Germany: http://www.targets.coloraid.de/
    You can either use a printed (“reflective”) color target or a color slide color target. If you use the former you need to take a picture of a 4×6 print with your film camera and if you use the latter you need to use a macro lens to take a 1:1 picture of the slide.

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