How useful is NLP for pure B&W negative processing

I am starting a project to scan my parents collection of medium format B&W negatives.
I am trying to decide if for B&W negative processing I should invest in NLP or if it is overkill. At present It is unlikely I will be doing any colour negative work.

In what areas would Negative Lab Pro provide extra features or simplification of B&W negative processing and correction?

I think there would be three main benefits of using Negative Lab Pro in a primarily black and white film workflow:

  1. Time Saving - rather than having to manually invert and correct each image, you can do that in batch with Negative Lab Pro. You can convert hundreds, or even thousands, of black and white images at once if you’d like.
  2. Workflow - all the edits in Negative Lab Pro happen non-destructively against the original file, so no detail is ever lost. You can edit the same image multiple ways if you’d like (using virtual copies) without the need to create additional images. Or go back and tweak images where you left off without worrying about clipping any information.
  3. Accuracy, Control & Image Quality - Using Negative Lab Pro gives you much better control over the accuracy of the tones in your black and white conversions. For starters, it uses a special camera profile that keeps the original information linear. I then recommend using the “linear + gamma” tone profile, which is truer to correcting for the gamma of black and white film (as paper would). You can fine tune the tonality of your image to the smallest degrees without ever touching a tone curve directly.

A few examples of Negative Lab Pro with black and white:

Of course, I’d also highly recommend you play around with the free trial download to see what you think!

Creator of Negative Lab Pro


I had asked myself the same question and bought NLP because I do have colour negatives that l’ll digitize. Comparing manual b/w conversions to what I get with NLP showed all the benefits that Nate mentions above. Converting manually is feasible but not fun if you have to do it by the hundreds. NLP saves a lot of repetitive effort for batch conversions. Time I’d rather spend on something else.

One important benefit for me is that NLP treats each image individually, taking into account differences in exposure and development, something that will eat your time, specially if you have a lot of different source materials to start with.

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Thanks for those replies. I think this project is going to take a while before I am ready to start testing and learning the software tools. First off I have to get my digitizing hardware configured and working. Then I will have to get familiar with the basics of Lightroom - and after that evaluate the trial version of NLP. Assuming I can get all this operating smoothly then it sounds like NLP may well be worth the investment - as I will likely have at least 500 images to process.