Best setting for camera - where to compromise?

SHUTTER SPEED: Set to your camera meter’s recommendation, or 1-stop higher

I have been using NLP to convert many old MF and 35mm negatives. My question is regards the “best” camera settings, specifically, where to compromise if necessary for exposure?
The quote above is from the Best Practices Guide.
Does “1-stop higher” mean over exposure or under expose by 1 stop?
My light source is an Craftsman LED shop light that works very well, but its output is fixed. So, even though I try to shoot at my D810 lowest native ISO (64) that results in multi second exposure times. I am using my venerable Nikon 55/3.5 macro with Nikon extension tube and slide adapter. I am usually at 5.6
So, my question is where to compromise on settings for best exposure?
My workspace in on the second floor of an older home, so floor vibration can rarely happen. I try to shoot at 1/15 @ 5.6–would like f8-- and that requires a 400 ISO. But the question is: Is that best practices?
Instead of raising the ISO should I open up the F stop or slow the shutter speed or just keep shooting at the 400 ISO?

With a sturdy setup (tripod, copy stand, remote release etc.) longer exposure times are no problem.

As for exposure, set aperture to f/8, ISO to its lowest value and expose up to one or two stops longer than your exposure meter suggests. You can also bracket a series of shots and see what NLP delivers based on each exposure.

I found that NLP is fairly tolerant to exposure (see below), nevertheless, it’s a good idea to keep the histogram close to the right edge, but not too close. Here’s an example of a series of shots, taken while increasing exposure by 1/3 stop from shot to shot. The highlighted negative was shot at +2/3 stops, the two rows of converted images were made by NLP with different conversion settings.

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I’m using the same lens as you (but I think it’s a 2.8, no?) and generally setting it at f8. Some experiments left me thinking that 5.6 and 8 offer best sharpness edge to edge. My exposures are about 1/4 sec with a tripod, sometimes 1/2 sec, which seems to work okay. But I’m doing everything I can to keep things steady – triggering the shutter with a remote rig, and using the electronic first curtain to reduce vibration.

Hi, Steve,
There were two versions of that lens, iirc, a 2.8 and a 3.5. Both are sharp. I have the 3.5.
I’m getting good images with my current setup, but just looking for best practices. One day when I was focusing I could see vibration in the film grain, so I went to a faster shutter. I had been using 1/4, but the images were soft. Going up to 1/100 gave sharp images, but required upping the iso. Images were still good. It was possibly that one day that some vibration was coming thru the floor and the tripod. Since then I haven’t felt or seen it so I may go back to the iso 64 w the slower shutter and compare sharpness again. Thanks for the input. Appreciated. I am on the second floor in an old house on and near busy streets, so the vibrations were likely coming in from outside??? Or the AC was causing it.

addendum: and I am using a sturdy tripod and triggering the shutter out of Lightroom. I am tethered to it.

Use the mirror up function on the D810 and you can shoot at lower speeds with better results. You need to trigger it twice in Lightroom - once for the mirror up, wait a second or two, and then again for the shutter. I wish tethered LR also supported the bracket function. I’m using a D850. If you ever want to invest, the Skier box is pretty affordable and the light super bright and even (I went from like 1/4 second exposures on the Kaiser Slimlite to like 1/250th!). You could also try using some washing machine style vibration pads or similar under your tripod feet.

I am using a flash as light source and think it’s a good way to get rid of a lot of trouble.
First it prevent from shaking problems. It also allows for stopping down the lense to get enough depth of field at 1:1. Another benefit is that you can scan at high shutter speed (I am using 1/250) and forget about ambient lighting which may induce color cast.
Here is my set up : Nikon D800 (100 ISO and 1/250s)+ Nikkor 60mm 2.8 D (f/11) + SB800 (flash output at 1/128). With a modified Nikon ES-2 I can roll-scan a 35mm film in 3 minutes. A dream :sunglasses:

thanks for all the suggestions…many ways to skin a cat
Washing machine vibration pads? Many brands out there and many prices. I have some decent sized silicon bumper pads I may add to see if that makes it better or worse. My tripod is a Bogen (Manfrotto) 3011, a substantial tripod, but not super heavy. I only noticed that vibration on a couple of occasions, but enough that I am always concerned about it. Most often the image is stable. I have my 810 tethered to lightroom, but focus using Sofortbild until Adobe builds LV into LR for Nikons…ugh.

The idea of a flash to backlight is intriguing, but I use my light source to focus. My 55 Nikon micro is manual focus. I have no issue with ambient light. My negatives are cut in strips of 4-6, and require individual placement in the ES-1 slide copier. I could never do a whole roll in 3 minutes. The ES-2 looks like a much better solution for filmstrips, but it appears to be specific for the Nikon 60mm micros. I am using the ES-1 with a PK13-27.5 extension tube and my setup focuses fine, though much more cumbersome than using the 60 with an ES-2. I am researching what I’d have to do to use an ES-2 on my current setup. Budget would allow purchase of an ES-2, but not the 60 micro.
Thanks again.

The 55mm Micro-Nikkor works just fine with the Nikon ES-2. The standard screw thread of the ES-2 is 52mm, for use with the 40mm APS-C macro lens. The ES-2 comes with two different 52mm-62mm converter/spacers for the two different 60mm full-frame macro lenses that Nikon produces. In order to be able to focus at 1:1 with my 55mm Micro-Nikkor and the PK-13, I had to add a 7mm spacing ring with 52mm threads between the lens and the ES-2 film stage. Similar rings are available for around $10 You might not be able to copy a whole roll in 3 minutes like Edouard_Bo, but the ES-2 will be much faster.
As far as vibration, all of the above suggestions (a brighter light, flash, and/or mirror lock-up) are good starting points. I’m using a sturdy copy stand with a fairly bright lightbox giving me exposures of around 1/4 second at ƒ8. I had tried using a light source from an Intrepid 4 X 5 enlarger, but I found that even though it gave me nice short exposure times, it was a little too bright to work with comfortably.

Thanks, Sy, for the details. I have one on order from BH, but it seems they are back ordered all over the place, including Nikon USA.
If you did it over would you choose the 7mm spacer or some other size?

Actually, in the Amazon link that mentioned ealier they show items “Frequently Bought Together” with the 7mm spacer, and list 14mm and 28mm spacers and I bought all three. I use the Nikon AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm for my own copying, but when I was testing the 55mm lens (which I still own) and PK-13 combination with the ES-2 to see if I could help out with your query, I found that the sliding film stage of the ES-2 would not extend far enough to focus, even at 1:1. When I added the 7mm spacer, I could then move the film stage so that the 1:1 image was in focus. I just tried it with the 14mm and 28mm spacers. The 14mm spacer also allows the image to focus at 1:1 when the film stage is moved to the correct position. The 28mm spacer will only allow the lens to focus at a reduction ratio of 1:1.4, even when the film stage is closest to the lens.
I just reread some of your comments and I want to mention that my 55mm lens is the ƒ2.8 version, not ƒ3.5. Even though they look quite similar, with the front of the lens being fairly recessed, I’m not sure if the design of the lens will make a difference in how far the film stage needs to be from the lens.

Correction to the above post. I actually had two spacers screwed together when I thought that I was testing the 28mm spacer alone. When using the 28mm spacer by itself the reduction ratio still will not get to 1:1, but will get down to a little below 1:1.2.

I have two old filters, 52mm, that I can remove the glass (they are very old and clouded-never used), screw them together to make an effective spacer of 10mm. That should work fine, you think?

Sounds good to me! :+1:

Thanks. Appreciate it