It seems to work better and better. As of now, I have entirely moved into scanning color negative film with a digital camera, and then post processed in Lightroom Classic together with Negative Lab Pro - and then further post-processed in Photoshop to get the final colors right.

Negative Lab Pro doesn't give "final colors" with a single press. But it gives you a very good start for your post-processing in Photoshop to get the colors right. And of course, you have to adjust the contrast and lightness of the image, as well. So, at first you might be disappointed after Negative Lab Pro has done it's magic, which doesn't look so magic.

But it is of all the solution I have been working with for many years, so far the best. After all - it is the final result that matters. When I used a digital camera, my results always where hopeless. Only with extensive tinkering in the most strange ways, I would get a somewhat good looking image. but it was unstable and hugely time consuming - without that convincing feeling of getting good results. Something always felt "off"...

 

This seem to be past now...

And boy am I am happy, happy, happy. It has been such a hassle for so many years... The whole procedures with the new Apple Mac Studio computer, it is even less time consuming - albeit many steps are involved to get to the final image - it still goes smoothly and fast, once you learned to manage a good work flow.

I also noticed, that I had forgotten many images I made from the years of 2016-2018... like the images of Sal at the bench at the main square in Nicolosi (bordering the Etna Volcano). It was such a lovely sunny and warm day... and we had ice cream. Not just any ice cream, but that very special ice cream (I have to ask Sal what the store's name is... "Gelateria Privitera, Nicolosi"). That ice cream is truly devastatingly good (and all home made with natrual ingredients. Expensive - but the best of all ice creams I have ever had)

So yeah, quite often we went to that place... You know how that goes... when you got a sweet tooth. *LOL*

 

Addition thoughts
7 May 2022

Natural colors is of course a relative term. I am not saying they turn out to be perfect. Over time, when I follow up let's say one color negative, and interpret them several times (with time in between), I do get differences. Ultimately it is up to you how you interpret your own images in terms of color accuracy.

For example: When you look at Sal's arm to the right, in the highlight of the skin, there is an ever so slight greenish tint evident. Do I care ? Not really, since it is my Diary, and I am not working for anyone. Some thing I notice after studying an image over time - where I discover slight oddities. Or I may realize that an image still has a slight color tint.

What I want to say is - that sometimes, when you think "I got it right", it may show after a couple months - but there is still some slight color tint present. It may be uniform, or it maybe present in a separate color channel drifting off a notch (like in Sal's right arm).

 

In the end

I am very happy - that the overall results I get from using a DIGITAL CAMERA as the main duplicator of my color negatives, are looking much better in their color reproduction. The slight deviations are now within the margins of how the eye interprets colors. And I achieve good results in much less time. Earlier it took me ages to get one single images look natural in the colors. (if I use the digital camera, instead of flatbed scanner).

 

• Flatbed Scanner

A flatbed scanner, is usually gentle to the film grain but inferior when it comes to sharpness - especially when you scan 24x36 negatives, the sharpness leaves a lot to be desired. As you sharpen up the image, well, the grain too becomes more pronounced. What I am saying here isn't that any of the techniques are bad. On the contrary - you can achieve fine results - yet each one has pro and cons.

 

• Dedicated film scanner

Now my dedicated film scanner, was very sharp, but colors and contrast could sometimes get wonky (especially thin negatives or strong dominating colors, sunsets etc). It also exacerbated the film grain, and in my case, also resulting into nasty banding (Canon Canoscan FS 4000). Ultimately... it just doesn't cut it.

 

• Digital camera as a "scanner"

Produces very sharp results resembling almost drum scan quality. It is also somewhat more gentle to the film grain if a soft light source was used (with high CRI - which I didn't - mine was far too cold in temperature - somewhere around 10.000°K together with an additional cyan filter I always use)

The colors and color balance where always a major problem for me, and I never got it really right - until I started to work with Negative Lab Pro 2.3. I still have to tinker with the colors, here and there... including contrast and other parameters... It means: You ain't getting "perfect images" right out of the box.

But somehow, Negative Lab Pro 2.3 + Lightroom Classic seem to do something right - where all others ways failed for me (in my personal experience). I think what matters are overall more consistent results.

 



But one thing is for sure

Effort is always required, no matter what technique you use ! To deal with analog film in photography - with the goal to makes images shine; you need to add your part into the whole: your spirit energy flowing the creation.

If you think you get brilliant images by the click of some buttons, or that it should be that easy - then you haven't understood the task of literally creating something.

I don't know why we got raised with the idea of that everything has to be fast and perfect right out of the box. Is it the industry, which dumps us down ? So that human beings forget, that they carry the flame of creation deep within ? There are many "magicians" at work who define what we out to think and feel. And sometimes I get the feeling we are getting lured by the most.

I don't know. I am not the judge of that - but believe there is a rotten dog buried beneath the whole business in human affairs - in how we people are taught life, and the ideas which are loudest promoted on on the public stage.


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