Quantcast What settings to scan old photos in black & white ? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
02-14-2012, 06:43 PM
Sossity Sossity is offline
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My mother dug out some old photos of family that are in black & white, from the 1940's & 1950's World War II era, most are fairly small, about 4 x 6 or 5 x 7, with a few bigger.

I have an Epson perfection photo 4490 flatbed scanner, that I am using with Photoshop CS5, & Elements 6.0

I am scanning & saving them in .tiff format.

some questions about settings

what resolution should I use? I want a printable resolution for printing as well as for uploading to the internet, mom likes to upload some of these to her facebook page.

what color? or should I use color or one of the grey scales options? there is 8, & 16 bit grey scales.

A note; In the past, I had some greyscale scans & tried to open them up in windows explore, on a computer running windows xp home, & it could not open them, so I thought for best compatibility, I would stick with color even though the images are in black & white.

so what would be the best for platform computer compatibility? for older & newer macs & windows computers? color or grey scale?

if I use color, I thought since they are black & white, that I could use 24 bit color in sRGB color space, I would not need advanced color & bit depth since they are black & white, is this good?

once I have scanned them in & open them in Photoshop, what would be the best image enhancers? like brightening them up, removing color cast etc.
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  #2  
02-15-2012, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sossity View Post
I am scanning & saving them in .tiff format.
Good choice.

Quote:
what resolution should I use? I want a printable resolution for printing as well as for uploading to the internet, mom likes to upload some of these to her facebook page.
I would scan at 600dpi, which is generally the optical threshhold of most consumer flatbed scanners (anything higher is just interpolated anyway). You can also scan at 1200dpi, and see if there's anything different. Preferably more detail -- not more noise.

Quote:
what color? or should I use color or one of the grey scales options? there is 8, & 16 bit grey scales.
I would suggest scanning as color, and then scaling to gray in Photoshop. You can further mess with level in Photoshop, too, to perfect the right about of black, white and gray. More modern versions of PS even let you add sepia tones (copper, gold, yellow, etc -- I like copper/bronze).

Quote:
A note; In the past, I had some greyscale scans & tried to open them up in windows explore, on a computer running windows xp home, & it could not open them, so I thought for best compatibility, I would stick with color even though the images are in black & white.
You may have saved them in a special B&W type of mode, instead of just a normal image. You can scale an image to grayscale by reducing color, without "converting" the image to grayscale artwork. Go to the saturation controls, and drop them. There are also some fancy B&W filters available for Photoshop. I use a third-party free plugin, but I believe the newer versions have this feature now embedded. I've not done a lot of B&W work lately.

Quote:
so what would be the best for platform computer compatibility? for older & newer macs & windows computers? color or grey scale?
Macs tend to handle Photoshop and photography workflows better. That used to not be the case, but in recent years, the Windows experience has been rather miserable for scanning, sorting and editing images. That's the main reason that I converted to a Mac mini in 2010 for all photography work. The slowness of the Windows based workflow was just killing me, wasting tons of time. I'd lose hours just waiting on Photoshop or Bridge to unhang.

Quote:
if I use color, I thought since they are black & white, that I could use 24 bit color in sRGB color space, I would not need advanced color & bit depth since they are black & white, is this good?
Yes.

Quote:
once I have scanned them in & open them in Photoshop, what would be the best image enhancers? like brightening them up, removing color cast etc.
I'm replying to the post as I read it, and most of this seems to have already been answered in past sentences. To sum it all up, reduce Saturation or use the B&W photo conversion filters, tweak the Levels (some of which happens automatically using the filters), and use your clone/heal brushes to remove imperfections in the image. The manual noise removal will take up the most amount of time. Scanning is easy and quick, Levels and B&W saturation is easy and quick. The NR takes patience -- lots of changing brush sizes, zooming in/out, re-grabbing clone locations, etc.

I just finished restoring several 1930s and 1950s images. I didn't do B&W, because these were already sepia. I did change it to a copper sepia, however, which looks much more classy that a dingy yellow shade.

I think you know Photoshop well enough to know where most of these tools/features are located. If not, just ask a followup question in this thread, and I'll grab a few quick screen caps for you.

Enjoy the project -- photography should be fun.

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  #3  
02-15-2012, 05:30 PM
Sossity Sossity is offline
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Yes, a few screen caps of where those B&W filters & other tools you mentioned would be helpful, & the order in which tools to use in the workflow. Is auto tone good? so far, after I had the photos scanned, I just brought them into Photoshop, & used the auto tone feature, or used the levels palette to adjust brightness contrast.

which is better to use those little palettes on the side for adjustments? or use the auto features from the dropdown menus at the top of the screen, like auto tone, auto contrast etc.

I read that some photographers use something called vue scan & do their scans in DNG or RAW files. Do I need to do this? or is .tiff good?

is vue scan good? should I get & use it with my scanner?

right now I am using the Epson scan software that came with my Epson scanner, to do the scans & then I do all the color, healing ect in Photoshop, is this a good workflow?
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  #4  
02-15-2012, 06:28 PM
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RAW or DNG (digital negative) would be massive overkill for what you want to do. It creates large files that are harder to work with, especially for a novice. That's generally intended for use with scanning film anyway, not prints.

VueScan isn't really that good, in my opinion -- it's not even close to the quality of Silverfast. But Silverfast only works with specific scanners, like the higher-end Nikon 35mm film/slide scanner I have, and it costs more. VueScan is more of a general scanning tool, and is more newbie friendly, at consumer prices. (I vaguely remember VueScan being the software that came for free with some scanners, in the early 2000s, but I'm not 100% sure on that. It's been too long.)

The Epson scanning software is plenty good. I use it for my Epson flatbed scanners. I don't know that VueScan implements all of the noise reduction filters found in Epson flatbeds, so VueScan might even be a worse choice for a good Epson flatbed.

TIFF is excellent. (Even a 'Highest' JPEG would be "good enough".)

I'll often tweak colors a bit in the Epson software first, to improve it as much as possible without over-correction, and then fine tweak it in Photoshop or Lightroom afterwards.

In Photoshop --
  • Never use Auto Levels. Go to the full Levels control. Feel free to hit the Auto button there, and then drag it to perfection. Photoshop is really quite lousy at automatically detecting the best levels for an image.
  • Auto Tone is sometimes good, sometimes not. This one is usually pretty good.
  • Auto Color is sometimes good, sometimes not. It's about 50/50 at best, on being helpful.
  • Be sure to edit your Photoshop preferences, and then expand your undo layers to at least 100 long. It increases RAM and swap/vRAM use, but it's better than making a mess you cannot undo. (I put 8GB of RAM into my Mac, which largely solved the resource issue.)

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  #5  
02-15-2012, 06:39 PM
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I found a good discussion at the RangeFinder forum, where people are discussing and comparing VueScan to Epson and Silverfast. The overwhelming opinion there seems to be that Epson software works best on Epson scanners (including the Epson 4990 and V700), and VueScan is prone to various problems -- misaligned film/slides, color casts, etc. And then it has a 1990s quality GUI that makes it annoying to use, unlike the user-friendly Epson GUI.

So t sum it up: VueScan sucks for Epson scanners.

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  #6  
02-16-2012, 12:22 AM
Sossity Sossity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpmedia View Post
RAW or DNG (digital negative) would be massive overkill for what you want to do. It creates large files that are harder to work with, especially for a novice. That's generally intended for use with scanning film anyway, not prints.

VueScan isn't really that good, in my opinion -- it's not even close to the quality of Silverfast. But Silverfast only works with specific scanners, like the higher-end Nikon 35mm film/slide scanner I have, and it costs more. VueScan is more of a general scanning tool, and is more newbie friendly, at consumer prices. (I vaguely remember VueScan being the software that came for free with some scanners, in the early 2000s, but I'm not 100% sure on that. It's been too long.)

The Epson scanning software is plenty good. I use it for my Epson flatbed scanners. I don't know that VueScan implements all of the noise reduction filters found in Epson flatbeds, so VueScan might even be a worse choice for a good Epson flatbed.

TIFF is excellent. (Even a 'Highest' JPEG would be "good enough".)

I'll often tweak colors a bit in the Epson software first, to improve it as much as possible without over-correction, and then fine tweak it in Photoshop or Lightroom afterwards.

In Photoshop --
  • Never use Auto Levels. Go to the full Levels control. Feel free to hit the Auto button there, and then drag it to perfection. Photoshop is really quite lousy at automatically detecting the best levels for an image.
  • Auto Tone is sometimes good, sometimes not. This one is usually pretty good.
  • Auto Color is sometimes good, sometimes not. It's about 50/50 at best, on being helpful.
  • Be sure to edit your Photoshop preferences, and then expand your undo layers to at least 100 long. It increases RAM and swap/vRAM use, but it's better than making a mess you cannot undo. (I put 8GB of RAM into my Mac, which largely solved the resource issue.)

thanks for the link, it is going to have to be the Epson scan, as I cant really afford more expensive software now anyways.

it looks like I am on the right track, but a rundown of which adjustment settings to use in what order & where they are in Photoshop would be helpful.

when I was scanning in my audio cd album art, I often used auto tone, auto color, & auto contrast, was this ok for theses type of scans? well I guess it does not matter so much now, I have scanned in nearly all my audio cd album art, & I am not going back, I just dont have time, so i guess it will have to be good enough.

On a side note, I do notice that when I am adjusting the crop boundary box in either Epson scan or Photoshop, the fans will spin up more on my mac laptop, & the boundary box will sort of "stick or get stuck for a few moments, there is a momentary general hang, until the fans spin down, & I can finish adjusting the boundary box.

I have 4gb of ram in my mac laptop, & it can get take more, up to 8 gigs, but I know nothing of installing mac parts, as I have come to this mac after several years on a Dell windows pc desktop, so I am still a newish mac user. I am scared of doing anything like that, & the old saying of if it is not broken dont fix it comes to mind.
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  #7  
02-16-2012, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
when I was scanning in my audio cd album art, I often used auto tone, auto color, & auto contrast, was this ok for theses type of scans?
That sounds fine.

Quote:
On a side note, I do notice that when I am adjusting the crop boundary box in either Epson scan or Photoshop, the fans will spin up more on my mac laptop, & the boundary box will sort of "stick or get stuck for a few moments, there is a momentary general hang, until the fans spin down, & I can finish adjusting the boundary box.
I don't really know what to tell you here. This happens on my laptop when too much is running. There appears to be a lot of virtual RAM (page swap on Windows) going on, because I'm requesting more memory resources than is physically available. The overflow for RAM is virtual RAM (swap on Mac, page/temp on Windows).

But there's also issues where the computer is simply confused. I tend to reboot before scanning, even on a Mac. Contrary to Mac fanboys of the world, Macs crash, and quite often. In the past month alone, Windows XP has crashed maybe twice (once each on two computers), while OS X 10.6 has crashed at least three times with vague errors or outright lockups.

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  #8  
02-20-2012, 02:34 PM
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Since Photoshop color use is a somewhat new/different topic than scanning, I've moved the Photoshop B&W color correction posts here:
See Best way to convert color photos to B&W in Photoshop ?

Thanks.

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