If you want to use your Flextight film scanner with Negative Lab Pro, this article will show you the recommended workflow.
Why use Flextight scans with Negative Lab Pro?
The biggest advantages are workflow, compatibility and control.
First, Negative Lab Pro offers a modern, non-destructive workflow that integrates directly into Adobe Lightroom Classic. With it, you can convert and edit your Flextight negatives non-destructively – no information is ever clipped, you can always adjust your edits later, you’re always working off the original.
Second, if you are using Flexcolor, it’s kind a pain to spend much time in. It’s OK for the initial scan, but you don’t want to have to go back into it every time you make an edit. And although it is a good basic editor, you may have to run a non-modern operating system to use it. Switching constantly between operating systems is a pain.
And finally, using Negative Lab Pro just gives you way more control over the final output.
Ok, so let’s do this!
How to use Flextight scans with Negative Lab Pro
- First, make sure you’re scanning in in FlexColor as 3F Raw Scans (16-bit, no settings applied, scanned as positives)
- Rename the extension of those scans from .fff to .tif (they’re really just tiffs after all, but you need to rename them to .tif so that LR can accept them)
- Import the .tif files into Lightroom
- Do NOT color balance using the white balance tool - You may have seen this done in other videos for Negative Lab Pro, but that only applies to “scene referred” RAW files (like from a digital camera, or software that supports DNG output, like Vuescan). It will create some crazy colors if you try it on the Flextight tiff.
- Do NOT use the Tiff Prep Utility – that’s more for gamma 1.0 tiffs, and the Flextight is 1.8 or 2.2 gamma already.
- If there is a lot of border or non-film area included in the scan, crop that out now. (In most cases, there will just be a little border and that’s OK - the “border buffer” settings will take care of that).
- Open Negative Lab Pro, adjust your pre-conversion settings, and hit “Convert” - I like to keep it at color model: basic, pre-sat: 3
- Adjust to taste using Negative Lab Pro’s controls
Here, I have a Flextight X1 scan (courtesy of Jessyel Ty Gonzalez). It was scanned on FlexColor as a 3F RAW Scan, then the extension was renamed from .fff to .tif and imported into Lightroom.
(In this case, I haven’t need to crop prior to conversion, because there is very little border/non-film area, and because “border-buffer” is set to 5%, it will just disregard that area during the analysis).
Ok, so we’ve got our settings in, let’s hit “CONVERT NEGATIVES” and see what happens!
Here’s the initial conversion:
The initial conversion is OK, but needs a bit of adjustment. It’s a bit too bright (the skin is getting washed out) and the color temperature is a bit cool for my taste.
Fortunately, it is very easy to make powerful, natural adjustments in Negative Lab Pro. In this case, I found that using the “CINEMATIC - Rich” tone profile provided a more natural look and starting place. I also changed the WhiteClip to -6, which in this scene gives the skin tones more room to breathe. Not shown, but I also set the “Highs” color slider to +3 yellow, to give just a touch more warmth to the skin.
Here’s what it looked like after 15 seconds of adjustments:
Whew! That skin is looking MUCH better now!
When you’re done, you can hit “Apply.” Negative Lab Pro will remember your settings for that image, so you always can also come back in to Negative Lab Pro and pick up right where you last left off!
Once you start to find the settings that you like, you can use the “Save” feature to make those setting the default for a future conversion.
You can also use the “sync scene” feature to get this exact same conversion to apply across other negatives (which works especially well if they’re from the same scene or the same roll).