Step 13: Colour negatives

This specific negative is 15 years old. The colours have been preserved.

Camera settings

Essentially the procedure is the same as for B/W.
The negative was photographed  using  a slide projector  at  a speed of 1/200 sec.
 The camera was set for  tungsten illumination.


1. The initial shot needed cropping and rotating .
2. Then the colour scheme was inverted.
3. The challenge here is  to balance the colours and tones. I prefer to work by adjusting the tone levels for each colour separately and then make overall adjustments of the whole colour scheme. I avoid using the  brightness/contrast tool.
4. The next step is to control the colour hue/saturation in order to obtain a natural colour scheme. As a rule, the blue colour will need desaturation.

<p>Excuse my ignorance, how do you remove the orange mask from the colour negatives?</p>
<p>Dear kurva, the color negative appears <br>orange because of the different sensitivity of the film to blue and red.<br> Older negatives appear more orange/brown because the blue color dye is<br> the first to faint with time. The essential thing is that when the <br>colors are inverted the image appears bluish (see step 13 of this <br>instructable). It is all about correctly representing the actual colors <br>and not losing color information. This can be done in several ways: (a) <br>the one I am currently using is to take as a reference a small stripe in<br> the frame of the scanned or photographed negative which is also light <br>orange and it is supposed to be white in the negative and black (not <br>exposed) in the positive photo image. Then I use white balance <br>restoration in Photoshop Lightroom . This can be done either before or <br>after inverting the colors (b) In Photoshop CS4 and similar suites you <br>may use adjustment -&gt; levels and automatic color level adjustment. <br>This may not be enough and further manual level enhancement may be <br>required. The first method is better because you do not mess with <br>separate colors. Check steps 2 and 10 of my other instructable: </p><p>http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-digitize-slides-and-film-negatives-with-a-D/</p>
<p>Same as Allsop... tanks a lot ;-)</p>
<p>You are welcome. Check the improved version: </p><p>http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-digitize-slides-and-film-negatives-with-a-D/</p>
I have been looking for something like this for ages, so thanks. Now, I am not at all &quot;handy&quot; so many of these instructables are beyind me&mdash;I have managed to make a stand for my iPad out f an eggbox! That is about my level :-) So a couple of questions bearing in mind I will initially be scanning slides and then go on to negatives if I can manage the slides. Firstly what is the purpose of the tube that goes from the camera to the holder? Secondly I have a macro lens and light source, (my iPad with a torch app) so presumaby I could use my tripod to support the camera and just make a holder for the slides. I know this sounds daft but is that right, (I said I was not at all handy)? Cheers, Andrewt
Dear Allsop, I think that the use of your iPad a a light source might work.. You may cut a simple mask out of cardboard, put it on the iPad and put the slide on. Shoot with the macro lens. One thing to check is that no patterns from the light source are transferred on the copy. This might come from birefringence patterns or imperfections. If this is so you should keep the screen a distance of 2-3 cms (1&quot; ) from the light source. A tripod on the ground or a small tripod on a table will help you align the camera. You have to manually adjust exposure time. <br>Regarding the tube it was meant to avoid stray light. I do not use it anymore, i do the procedure in a dark room. <br>I have been using this setup for sometime now and I extended it to slides and 6x6 medium format negatives. An instructable is under preparation!
this is a good way of doing this, but i have one thing to say. JUST BUY A SCANNER!!!
Dear hats9994, I have been using this method for some time now and let me point out why I prefer it, compared to a scanner: When you project the negative you have two important advantages (a) you have absolute control over the white balance of the photo because you can adjust the lighting conditions of the source to the reception of the camera. For example I also adjust the temperature parameter of the lighting in the Olympus. This gives you a much better starting point for post processing with Photoshop, specially for faint color negatives and (b) by using a projector as a source you get the maximum resolution and contrast because of the parallel beam. I have seen real difference in BW negatives processed with a scanner.
Great Instructable. But I have a problem!!!! I saw your rig details and inmediately assumed you were digitizing 35mm slides wich is what I am looking for. A case of my brain seeing what I do want and need to see. <br>After visiting this 'able seven times I just suddenly realized that you are doing negatives. <br>Now, can you share/suggest any ideas about digitizing 35mm SLIDES? That will be greatly appreciated as I was about to start building your setup. <br>I will be using my daughter's Nikon D7000 with only Nikkor 18:200 lens. Reading your construct I am thinking of using instead my 40 year SLR Canon 50mm 1:1.4 lens with an extender. Any extra suggestions, please. <br>ron.dacosta@gmail{.}com
Thanks for your comments! I am glad if this helps you. Of course you can work with slides. The only change is that you do not have to invert the colors with Photoshop. Clip the slide on a cardboard screen. You can use the framed slides as they are. In fact I have used a slide frame on the screen as a guide for the 36mmx24mm format and in order to avoid the &quot;shadows&quot; that would arise from a cardboard window <br> <br>You may need to intensify fade out colors.A few suggestions: (a) a real professional work requires the RAW format (b) When correcting the colors with Photoshop use the Levels option and correct the basic colors one by one. (c) Use the Variations option if you cannot decide with the colors (d) I almost always use the Blur option to smooth and connect details (Gaussian blur 1-2 pixels width, no more) and then sharpen the picture. It becomes more clear this way.
,,,,, and BTW, I will be using this setup to copy all my Negatives once I am done with the 35mm slides,,,, thanks for this instructable.
Would this work for a camera without a lens?
I think not. The size of the camera sensor (mine is 17mm) is much smaller than the size of the negative (36mm) and you need to form a &quot;light cone&quot; to match these sizes. This is what a lens does. If you just &quot;project &quot; the image on the sensor you will lose a large part of the image. <br> <br>However if you just use any lens there will be deformations at the edges of the field. You have a choice between what I describe in this instructable ( a regular lens system + extensions --&gt; a macro lens) and any camera that can be zoomed to the size of the 36mmx24mm negative at a tolerable distance.
In step seven, you said &quot;I made this as an independent module in order to use it for other projects&quot;. Just curious, what other projects did you use it on?
Case 1: I found a nice 480mm apochromatic objective lens system and I wanted to test it as a spotting scope. For this I mounted it on the end of a long rectangular board and used the mecano x-stage to focus a telescope eyepiece mounted on the other end. The whole thing was covered by a tube of black canson paper This allowed me to calculate distances for a future construction of the scope.<br><br>Case 2: I have something in mind related to micro-milling . If (and when) I do it I'll probably make an instructable about it. Stay tuned!
why DSLR<br><br>there are million of compact 10+ megapixel cameras,<br>with &quot;close up mode&quot;.<br><br>it is possible to set enough light, <br>it does not move,<br>no complications with DOF<br><br><br>(i mean DSLR is not soo important)
DSLR because most point and shoots won't capture the wonderful dynamic range of film!<br><br>If you are scanning old negatives it is one thing, but if you really want a decent scan you should be shooting raws on a dslr.<br><br>But yeah, like tholopotami says, the idea is that you use what you've got!
Indeed &quot;raws&quot; is the best way to control colours separately. They should be used in the case of coloured films.
The point is that for this task it is better to use the best equipment you have. Before getting the DSLR I did the same job with a compact camera and a similar setup. Of course it can be done.
Would a Cannon eos xti work?
Not until you look at the front of the camera and learn how to spell &quot;CANON&quot;.
I do not see why not. If you want to mount an SLR lens with extension rings as I did the first thing to look for is an M42 adaptor for your model. They do not cost more than 20-25Euros. A set of M42 rings is less than 10 Euros on e-bay. By combining a couple of these rings you can adjust the frame as good as possible.
thank you I will look for that. I appreciate the help.
Never mind.... I do wonder if I have the ability to build this. It is just what I'm looking for though.
Glad to see someone else rocking Olympus DSLRs!
Nice Instructable. <br>I also have an Epson V-700, and it does GREAT on [minimum] 6x7 cm negs, and 4&quot;x5&quot; to 8&quot;x10&quot;, but I have beed dismally disapointed with 35mm and 6x4.5 negs. <br> <br>I did, however, find an old film era slide copier that has a t-mount base that will mount onto- and work on- nearly any digital camera, except for the entry level models. They work with negs and mounted slides. <br> <br>Total cost, about $8.oo [since I already had a t-mount adapter], from the used bin at the local camers store. Most stores don't carry them any longer, but look around. Most camera store employees don't even know what these things are, and they were all over the place just 10~15 years ago! <br> <br>Using a Nikon D300, I have made exceptional hi-res copies of some WWII negatives I have been looking to print, but couldn't afford to leave with the store- or pay their charges for lower quality scans.
Thanks for noting this. I forgot to mention the option of trying to find a slide copier for SLRs.
Cool. I'm getting extremely good results on my slides and negatives with my Epson V700 scanner. It costs around $500, though, so this method would be awesome for someone on a budget. Normal flatbed scanners can't do negatives properly.
I have a $49 Epson scanner, I use it all the time for black and white negatives, i just reverse the image (blacks turn white, etc) in photoshop after scanning. I'm sure most free photo editing software programs have that option too. My negatives are over 50 years old, it's hard to even see what is on them, so this is pretty magical when they come into view.
Yeah, color negatives are really hard to do without a really expensive scanner - I'll bet B&amp;W works fine like you say though. It is really cool to see what comes out - my slides from the 50's look amazing.
I believe you about the 50 years old negatives. B/W contains only silver microcrystals which will stay there as long as the celluloid can keep them.Only the medium is subject to aging (becomes more yellow because of UV exposure). <br>Things are different with colour dyes (see step 14)<br><br>Thinking about the DSLR setup here is another advantage: When working with B/W I use a projector and an opaque screen. This produces an homogeneous and parallel light beam which helps increase the contrast of the negative image. This may improve the final result compared to a scanner.
Thanks! As you say the problem is that you need more than a normal scanner to do the job decently. The advantage in my case is that I already had all the equipment ad did not have to buy anything. With the DSLR you can experiment a lot . For example you may change the &quot;filament temperature&quot; for lamp exposure from 4000-7000 depending on the light source you are using. This is useful the case of old colour negatives. Even better, with this setup you may use sunlight by pointing to a white wall. It works very well.
You can get far better results using the color curves tool, which I did on your second image with GIMP. The result is here attached.
It looks better than those I posted!
Thanks for trying this ! In fact I hesitate to use the curve tool since I do not have much eperience with it.
Is that a Olympus E-420?
Yes. It is the less expensive of the series and it is also very light. I have an additional 150mm telephoto of the same brand and I modified an older 200mm telephoto for it (see one of my other instructables). I also use it on telescopes.
I<em>t is not a surprise that films are still used for specific applications such as aerophotography.</em><br> <br> I feel that the move to digital, while good for business and in certain respects the environment and my personal ecomomy (I can now shoot as much as I want last year 5k pix) has been a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Negs aren't OS dependent or Harddrive dependent nor do they need power to be viewed. Look to see the prices on medium format cameras on ebay- those guys aren't giving up, neither are the large format shooters..<br> <br> Thanks for the Resolving Power work with the math - much appreciated. &nbsp;All in all a very interesting Instructable.<br> Thanks again,<br> M<br>
I am glad someone appreciated the calculations!
Cleaning the table was perhaps not the thing I thought about as much as setting focus to something in the picture. ;-)
You are right, what can I say!<br>
Maybe it was because we wasn't supposed to see the dirt! ;-)<br>Nice instructable, almost make me want to make my own - but I don't have one of those flashy cameras. Maybe I'll try hooking up a lamp on top of the flat bed scanner instead...
Before getting the DSLR I used a compact camera of 5Mpxls. I set the camera at 3x zoom and infinity focus and also put a large 4x magnifying lens in front of it. This must be as large as possible to avoid distortions. Then I used the film holder with the x-stage but this time to focus since you cannot focus with the camera.
amazing, thanks!
You put a lot of work into this. 100 Quatloos!
Thanks! I have been experimenting on the method and trying various setups with different cameras , in my spare time , for about a semester. I really enjoyed the results specially in B/W.
&quot;gap between the frames&quot; is important/<br>it can be used in the photoshop to set &quot;white point&quot; and &quot;black point&quot;
Thanks for pointing out this. It is a valid tip. In order not to loose pixels by exposing also the gap I prefer to select this manually by adjusting tone levels even for colour negatives.
this is an amazing journey that you have invited us to join you on. I enjoy the images you used to demonstrate your process, and I will no doubt be doing something similar to preserve my old negatives. thank you for the great instructable, 5 of 5 from me. <br> <br>
Thank you for your kind comments. Indeed I enjoyed the journey also!

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Bio: I am a physicist working in research, Making things and sharing the experience with others, helps me in many ways.
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