DSLR scanning emulsion side?

Hello. I’m new to this forum.
A quick question, does anybody have any opinions on shooting negatives back to front, so the emulsion side is uppermost rather than the film base and then flipping horizontally in LR afterwards? It would just seem logical that this would acquire the greatest sharpness and accutance, as you 'd be recording the emulsion directly rather than from behind the film base, or is the difference so vanishingly small that it’s not worth wondering about. TIA.

That’s what seems to be recommended:

direct link to the timestamp of the explanation of which side of film faces camera:

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Many thanks for the reply. The video is slightly ambiguous, in that the commentary says to place the matte side down, whilst the on screen caption reads, matte side should face the camera? My scans have been very good with the negative shot from the gloss side previously, but I’m just interested in whether anecdotally, anyone is getting slightly sharper results shooting the negative back to front, or whether the difference is so marginal, it’s not worth worrying about? Thank you.

Agreed the video is confusing. He does this because he ultimately scans with the film holder upside-down in order to increase the distance from the light source.

I’m still waiting on my copy stand. Can’t offer any personal experience. :frowning:

I’ve tried it both ways, and my vote is: Vanishingly small at best (although of course you could try it yourself and see which you prefer.) It might be different when using a flatbed scanner, where getting the film surface into the plane of focus matters… but if you’re doing DSLR (or mirrorless) scanning, your macro lens can easily focus on the image surface either way.

Besides, even if the film base does affect your capture a tiny bit, the only effect will be to render the edges of the film grains a bit more or a bit less sharply… no real impact on the structure of the image itself.

Hi guys,

Sorry for confusion in the video!

In most cases it won’t make much of a difference, but I recommend shooting with the emulsion side (matte) facing the camera. And then flipping in Lightroom afterwards. You can select all the images you want to flip in lightroom, and do it at once, so it really isn’t difficult to do.

Shooting the matte side should also lower the chances of reflections being picked up on the film surface during digitization. (The reflections would be barely noticeable until you go to convert the negatives in Negative Lab Pro, and then you would see orange blobs.)

Creator of Negative Lab Pro


As Nate says - only reason might be the reflections in which case you are doing it in wrong light conditions …

I’ve so far always done as recommended above. One downside I found is that Lightroom can flip the image (while other apps can’t do it) but does not seem to show whether an image has been flipped or not. This can be annoying.

Agreed. The info on flipping is actually inside the photo metadata, but isn’t shown in Lightroom. You could use a plugin like Any Crop Lightroom Plugin to be able to see whether or not the image has been mirrored.