Mystery Textures on DSLR Scans - Digital Noise?

Hello all,

First, specs:

I’m using NLP 2.2 with the recommended version of LR. I use the ‘NLP-Natural’ colour profile. Followed Nate’s file prepping instructions.

DSLR: Canon 5DMii. Lens: Canon EF 24-105 f/4, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. Shooting at f/8.
Also shot on Fuji X100T.
Light Box: Kaiser Slimlite Plano
Holder: Essential Film Holder (both with diffuser attached and diffuser removed).
Film: Kodak Portra 400 shot on Pentax 67, frames are shot at around f8-11 and SS250-500.

The problem: A haze of noise/grain that doesn’t present when same roll has been scanned on Epson flatbed. It isn’t film grain. On NLP’s ‘sharpen’ settings, the nature of the grain changes with each setting, but it’s present before conversion, too.

Shot with a DSLR as per above settings with an ISO 400, below:

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So… this is definitely digital grain, but… it’s not at all what I call an acceptable compromise. I tried DLSR scanning because keeping the Epson dust-free with negs flat was infuriating and I couldn’t find a sheet of ANR glass to flatten the film anywhere. The same problem was present across all Canon lenses and when using the Fuji X100T. So it can’t be the Canon alone causing the issue.

The one thing to note is that I haven’t yet tried a Macro lens (and would choose the canon fit Sigma 105 macro, because my budget is near gone) - would that have any effect at all? I feel like I must be missing a simple fix because Nate’s included files converted beautifully.

I would be hugely appreciative of any input anyone could give :disappointed_relieved:

I find it difficult to see and say what you got in the images you provide.

Can you post one or two of the shots you took from your negative?

I suppose you shoot raw… and I’d recommend to take all shots at base ISO and expose to the right, pushing the histogram close to, but not flat against the right, that is. This will help to get more light in the shadows, which will be the bright parts after the conversion.

NLP presents itself as being fairly tolerant to exposure variations and you can easily find what the best exposure should be if you take a series of bracketed shots. The series below was shot in increments of one third stop off of a Kodak 400 film exposed more than 30 years ago.

400% view of the upper righthand corner: The “noise” is actually the film grain.
Left image: Std. exposure. Right image: Exposed +5/3 stops

Put more space between the Kaiser Light and the EFH diffusion panel. At least three inches should help.

Use a medium aperture. Tiny apertures limit sharpness by adding diffraction. Experiment to find the best compromise.

Expose generously. Either fill the histogram or go up to a stop beyond.

The film emulsion should FACE THE LENS. You can flop it back to “right reading” in post.

Go easy on the structure and sharpen sliders in LR.