Exposure on Slimlite Plano

Hi, I’m using a slimlite plano and the Essential film holder.

What I find, however, is that I can’t get an even light reading, at f8, unless I’m shooting at 1/sec or 2/sec

Is it because of the diffusion plate in the essential film holder, that I’m not getting as much light as I need?

And, given I’m shooting raw, what is the best exposure approach?

Much appreciated

afaik, the extra diffusor of the essential film holder can be removed.
The plano has fairly good diffusion by itself, I use it too.

I’d use the EFH diffusor only when using a bare bulb as a backlight…
Separating the film holder from the backlight reduces the risk of dust that sits on the backlight being imaged on your shots.

Thank you for this advice. I tried it and it worked well. Appreciate it.

The best approach for RAW exposure is to expose to the right (ETTR). That means you keep increasing exposure until the histogram is right up hard against the right hand side but before any highlights are clipped (Blinkies). You can actually go a bit further but that’s another story… This will ensure you capture the maximum amount of data possible which in turn will also provide the greatest detail, richest colour and the least noise. In the back of the camera and in your editing software the image will look too light. It can look fairly horrible. Some think that such an image is overexposed but it isn’t; it’s optimally exposed. In Lightroom, you can then dial down the “Exposure” (it’s actually a misnomer - you are dialling down brightness, not exposure) to your taste. All that’s left is any other editing that takes your fancy.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write this.
Much appreciated,

I use the kit you use and do fine with it. I agree with Belinda that going to the right gets the most data. I don’t think I’ve ever gone that far to the right, but maybe that’s just my politics preventing me. :grinning:

However, just to say that f/8 seems to be everyone’s default assumption about sharpest.
But I tested my Sigma 70 f/2.8 macro, and sharpest was f/5.6
And on my Mamiya 645 120 f/4 macro it was f/11.

Never thought of removing the diffusor on the EFH, because the diffusor is really the best part of it. It is a top notch piece of material.

Andrew at EFH is super-responsive to questions and is always curious to discuss stuff. Shoot him an email.

Yes, f/8 is pretty arbitrary. Most macro lenses are sharpest between two and three stops down from wide open, but I always run tests. For years, I used a 55mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor at f/6.3, its sweet spot. Now, I’m using a Lumix 30mm f/2.8, which has a sweet spot of f/4. Since it is a Micro 4/3 lens, that is an f/8 full frame equivalent in terms of depth of field (not exposure). I always use f/4 with that lens for copying film. In normal photography, it’s fine from wide open down to f/8.

Lots of newbies think stopping down to f/16 or f/22 is a good idea… With anything smaller than a 4x5 film camera, it is not. Especially true of Micro 4/3, APS-C, and full frame formats, diffraction limits sharpness starting in the middle of the aperture range. Only testing with YOUR equipment will reveal the exact point at which this is noticeable/objectionable.

All my Micro 4/3 lenses are great at f/4-f/5.6, and good down to f/8, where there is very slight diffraction. When I used Canon APS-C, I could push that to f/9. When using full frame, I’d try to stay wider than f/13.

It looks like you’re getting some flare from your light source. Be sure everything the camera has in front of it is masked off with black. Any stray light that hits the surface of the film facing the lens can be a flare source. The only thing in front of your lens should be the image of the negative itself. I work in a dark room, wear black, and surround the film holder and light source with black velcro cloth.

Another issue is film curvature near the edges of the frame. It increases the possibility of flare. Keep that film FLAT.

The overall color balance of this image is very cyan-green. Was the film old when exposed? Is the negative old, and perhaps stored under adverse conditions? How about the camera? Is it leaking light at all? Older cameras with deteriorated foam seals can leak light.

Another thing to check is how you are using NLP and Lightroom Classic’s features together. You want to be sure the plug-in is installed properly, and that it is the latest version, and that you’re making adjustments in NLP first, Lightroom last.

Another thing to check is your monitor calibration. If not using a calibration kit (colorimeter or spectrophotometer and software), you might be driving into the color weeds…

Unfortunately, It’s really difficult to diagnose this with certainty based on an email or blog post. But I’ve seen all of the above lead to similar issues. Tracing my steps usually finds the offender.

Thank you for your advice.

Thinking about your advice and doing diligence to your questions.

Camera is an X-Pro 1, and I’ve had a lot of great success across about 600 images.
I don’t think it’s the camera. Until now, I’ve had a great workflow and success.

It seems like Negs from a particular era, that have that ‘purple’ density to them that inverts into Yellow. I will definitely try your black card / cloth and hood to avoid lens flare. I have had the odd occasion where a little bit of ambient reflection lands on the neg and this appears as an orange smudge in the final result.

I have the latest Negative Lab Pro, and Lightroom classic setup.
I will do an upgrade check, but doubt it’s this.
I will take your advice on the monitor, etc.

I follow Nate’s advices and workflow closely, with regard to white balance off the neg frame, then crop, then process, adjust, and leave as few as possible adjustments in Lightroom.

One thing I feel I’m flying a little blind, is the speed of shutter. I shoot at about 2, as I can’t get enough light, otherwise, to get to a ETTR.
I would have thought that the Slimlite Plano, plugged in, would have enough light to illuminate the 35mm slide.

I have the Essential Film Holder as a slide carrier. Getting it flat is subject to the best that the EFH can do. It seems ‘flat’, but it isn’t taught.

Thanks once again for your advice and time.

Longer exposure times don’t hurt. Use a remote control to operate the camera in order to avoid shake.

ETTR is fine, but leave some room at the right edge. Even though sensors are thought to be linear, in-camera processing might not be.

Light creeping over the edge: I can see this on my negatives too. And I mean the negative, not the digicapture of it. Light can get through the emulsion and propagate in the film base. That’s basically what happens in a optical fibre too.

Reflections off the film carrier: Even black plastic reflects light if the plastic is shiny. I took some steel wool to slightly roughen the edges of the Lomo filmholders I use.

Flat or not flat? Hard to say, but you could look over the negative at an angle and see if straight lines from the carrier look bent when seen as mirrored by the film.

How about DOF? We think of DOF being very shallow in macro shots.
Look at what exiftool reports at the end of one of my digicapture taken with an EOS 5D3:
[Composite] Aperture : 8.0
[Composite] Lens ID : Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
[Composite] Circle Of Confusion : 0.031 mm
[Composite] Depth Of Field : 0.005 m (0.372 - 0.378 m)

DOF is said to be 5mm, ample room for some slight bend. The value might be too optimistic if we believe in what this macro DOF calculator tells us.

Hi Digitizer,
Have located the marks on the images as my lens. Any ideas on how to solve / clean?

Most noticeable at closed apertures

If it’s in the exact same place on every shot, it’s probably from dust on the sensor.
There are lots of hints out there on how to clean a sensor.

I can see three spots, which you can remove in case they do show in regular pictures.
Use Lightroom’s spot removal tool or try flat field correction.

Thank you. Upon doing some online reading, I agree, it is sensor dust not lens.