Hello, everyone. I know NLP is primarily a converter for those who ‘scan’ their film negatives from a digital SLR/camera, but I am seeking help on improving my workflow and/or settings, and to anyone else who uses (traditional) scanners.
I shoot medium format (6x7), almost exclusively on Kodak Portra 400. I scan on a Flextight X1, in FlexColor software (4.8.13 on macOS), as 3F raw scans. (Meaning they’re 16-bit, no settings applied, and are scanned as positives since I want NLP to do the negative conversion.) I then rename the extension to .tif from .fff (since the files are wrapped TIFF’s).
I bring the files into Lightroom, and have had a difficult time with conversions in regards to color — especially with skin tones.
I’ve experimented using two methods:
A straight conversion, where I use the white balance picker on the film border, crop said borders, then convert (Control + N). These conversions are never quite to my liking; the colors always appear unnatural, even after adjusting color settings.
A conversion using the TIFF Scan Prep tool (File > Plug-in Extras). I take my file, and run the tool without doing any white balancing or cropping. I then convert using this newly-created file. However, this tool is a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve experimented with many of the Gamma settings: Linear (1.0), Flextight Mac (1.8), and Custom Input Gamma of 2.2.
Some settings are better than others, but I can’t get good results with any of them. (I would have assumed the Flextight Mac option would be the way to go, but I’m not sure I’m using it appropriately.)
I’ve included outputs of all the methods below as reference, including one from a while back that I did with Epson Scan. (Please don’t suggest I go and use Epson Scan. It won’t work with the Flextight, and I want to make NLP work).
All methods/conversions use the following settings:
- Source: TIFF Scan
- Color Model: Frontier
- Pre-Saturation: 3 - Default
- Border Buffer: 10%
- Tones: Linear + Gamma
- Brightness, Contrast, Lights, Darks, Whites, and Blacks are all at 0.
- Soft Highs: Checked
- Soft Lows: Unchecked
- WhiteClip: -2
- BlackClip: -3
- Color (on the film tab) is set to AutoColor 2.0 Warming.
- Every other color setting is at 0.
As you can see, the color is all over the place, none quite right - especially when viewing the skin tones (which seem quite depleted in reds). The standard conversion is too cyan. Linear really depletes the reds (her lips especially). Flextight Mac is too yellow. Custom also has red desaturation issues.
I know I could tinker with color settings to get to a decent place, but all of these feel like such a departure as a starting point. The Epson Scan - though a tad bit on the magenta side - is at least a good starting point where adjustments are kept to minimum. I feel like I must be doing something wrong. Is the above the correct method? Anything I’m doing incorrect or can be improved upon?
Thanks in advance!
(Output images converted to sRGB. I’m using Negative Lab Pro 2.1.2, in Lightroom Classic 9.4, on macOS Catalina 10.15.6.)