Cheap light source vs "good" light source

Hi! I’ve been using a cheap 20$ light pad off of Amazon, and then after seeing a few posts on the analog community subreddit and on the forums here, I went ahead and purchased a Raleno light pad.

I was wondering if while I wait for it to ship, if anyone here has any comparison scans between a cheap light source and a good one? I’m using a Fuji X-T4 to scan with a Minolta 50mm f/3.5 macro and am getting good sharpness, when I focus correctly in the actual film photo lol. Also using an essential film holder and have a cardboard mask and lens hood to block stray light.

The reason I ask if anyone has comparison images is because my scans seem to lack contrast and color saturation, and I heard that a proper light pad can make a world of difference. Of course I can turn them into tiff files after conversion and edit them to look better, but a light pad can still offer vast improvements. I also learned to use enhance details for Fuji files due to the Lightroom classic worms and it helps balance it out.

Thanks for any advice or tips!

Welcome to the forum, @LoganWood

Negative Lab Pro has many settings that can make quite a difference too. If you post one of your low contrast/saturation images here, we can see if there’s more to the shot than what shows easily in a first conversion.

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Thanks! And I will definitely post some images as soon as I can, guess I should have waited until I got home to ask haha. Will have them for you soon. I’ll reply again to your comment with them.

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…seeing an image often helps, as does good humour :+1:


Here are some samples, negatives and conversions with no further edits. They just feel slightly washed out

The conversion of the rock formation doesn’t seem too bad, although still not very contrasty or saturated. I suppose this could be due to the +1 stop of exposure while scanning, and then I could just duplicate them into tiffs and edit more thoroughly. Also, my shadows seem to come out quite bluish or tinted, which I might be able to contribute to the light source?

Thanks for any extra help! Sorry for the separate posts, the forum only allows new users one piece of media per post haha

Are you looking for something like this?

After converting with the settings as shown below, I used the masking tool of Lightroom 11 for the sky and rock areas. Note that the result has limited quality because of the jpeg file you posted and the (low amount) of effort I put into editing.

Other than that, I do not have the impression of terribly bland results, but that’s a matter of personal taste. A better light source will probably get you better colour/tonal separation and maybe a slightly better appearance, but I don’t expect it to produce saturation levels way beyond what you get now.

Yes, that does look better! I guess I’ll have to massage the file either way to get the final results I want.

On the other hand, do you know why I was getting blue tint in the shadows? I was shooting Ektar 100, and I’m not sure if blue shadows as strong as I was getting is a characteriatic of that film

I shot my last films a long time ago and have no idea what current film looks like. All I know is how I’d like my images to look, which might be the important part :wink:

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