As of version 1.3 of Negative Lab Pro, there is native support for converting RAW DNG files made from Vuescan (for supported scanners)
When done correctly, this process should give you excellent, versatile scans, which can be non-destructively editing in Lightroom using Negative Lab Pro.
The process for creating a RAW DNG file in Vuescan is as follows:
1. Set Vuescan Input Settings
a. If using a flatbed scanner, set the mode to “transparency”. If using a dedicated film scanner, use whatever mode is listed.
b. Set “Media” to “Image”
c. Preview the image if you haven’t already done so
d. Crop to show the exposed image (and a small amount of the film border if possible), then hit the “lock exposure” button. You should only need to do this once per batch.
What’s the difference between “Color Negative” mode and “Image” mode?
“Image” mode should be an accurate representation of the underlying raw negative without any color balancing. You can also experiment though with setting the media to “Color Negative”. In Color Negative mode, the gain on the blue channel and green channel are being increased in the RAW DNG file. This will happen somewhat differently depending on your scanner model, but this is mostly being done on a software level (i.e. Vuescan is simply pushing the gain up on the green and blue channels after scanner), with the exception being some Nikon Coolscan models. Also note, even though the “preview” in Vuescan will change to a positive image, the underlying data you will get back in your RAW DNG file will still be a negative, just with increased gain int the blue and green channels. The biggest difference in terms of result is that using Color Negative mode will typically result in more muted colors after the conversion.
What is “lock exposure” doing?
There is a lot of misunderstanding on what lock exposure does and its purpose in this case. Lock exposure is similar to using exposure lock on a camera… it locks the CCD sensor exposure level based upon it’s evaluation of the current scene (in this case, the currently selected crop area). This keeps Vuescan from reevaluating exposure after each re-crop (which can lead to inconsistent exposure across scenes). Ideally, you want your whole roll to be scanned at the same gain level, which is necessary for features like “sync scene” to work properly in Negative Lab Pro.
What about setting the “film base” color like I read about in the Vuescan guide?
That’s something different. You don’t want to do that.
2. Set Vuescan Filter Settings
a. If you’d like to (and your scanner is capable of it), you can include infrared cleaning in your RAW DNG file. You can also set grain reduction. Other settings will not have an impact on your RAW DNG.
3. Set Vuescan Output Settings
It’s important that you get these settings exactly as shown.
a. Make sure “Raw file” is the only file type selected
b. Set the “Raw file type” to 48 bit RGB (do this even if your image is black and white)
c. Set “Raw output with” to “Save” (this will allow for IR cleaning to work, if you’ve enabled it)
d. Select “Raw DNG format”
That’s it for scanning!
Converting and editing your RAW DNG in Lightroom with Negative Lab Pro
After importing your RAW DNG file into Lightroom, perform the following steps:
- Make sure to either crop out the film borders in your image OR use the “Border Buffer” settings later to ensure the film borders are not included in the image evaluation.
- Open Negative Lab Pro, and set the “Input” to "Vuescan RAW DNG"
- At this point, your “camera profile” should automatically be set to “Negative Lab v2” - if this is not the case, make sure that your scanner is supported and that the Vuescan scanner profiles have been correctly added to Lightroom ( LINK).
- Go ahead and set your other pre-conversion settings in Negative Lab Pro and hit “Convert”. Then continue to edit using Negative Lab Pro’s settings.