Scanning Film Negatives with Epson Scan and Negative Lab Pro


There are pros and cons to each.

From what I’ve seen, though, I think that a good digital camera scan setup will outperform Epson scanners for 35mm film (in terms of resolution and sharpness). And once you get a setup you like, it is much much faster (I can scan an entire roll of 135 film in about 2 minutes with my digital camera setup… it may take almost this long just to scan a single frame on my Epson 600).

When it comes to medium format 120 film, though, you may need to shoot a stitch multiple scans with a digital camera to match the sharpness of a good scanner. And stitching together multiple shots can be a real pain and result in distortion. Although, I find for most uses, I’m OK just taking a single shot on the digital camera setup of the 120 film, even if I sacrifice a little detail.

The other advantage of a good scanner is having ICE to remove the dust. I’m pretty careful with my film, so I usually end up with very little dust, but for some situations ICE will be a big advantage.


Thanks so much Nate! Yeah it seems to be a great solution for 35mm:)

Have you tried the new Epson Scan 2? Have you tried saving the setting so that you can always re-apply it?


A new version of Epson Scan 2 was released a few days ago (6.4.86).
However, the support for Digital ICE for V550 and V600 scanners is still missing.

They are providing users with SilverFast SE which has the iSRD (similar to Digital ICE), free of charge.
You can read more here:

I asked the support if/when a version of Epson Scan 2 for macOS Catalina will support Digital ICE, but I’m still waiting for an answer, so I’ll write back as soon as they reply.

Ok, the reply I got from the support is this:

Unfortunately, due to licensing issues, we will not be able to provide Digital ICE for these models on OS 10.15 or other 64-bit Mac OS versions going forward.

We have made arrangements with LaserSoft to provide a copy of SilverFast to affected customers so they may use the dust and scratch removal features with their scanners.

Which to be honest is not what I was hoping for since scanning at 48bit using SilverFast is not getting you the iSRD. Something that I used to do with Epson Scan (48bit + Digital ICE).

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I’ve been using the old epson scan app with the setting of 3200dpi and 48bit color for color negative film and would get decent quality scans with about 10mb per photo. However when I updated to the Epson scan 2 for Mac catalina, with the same setting, the photo quality is significantly reduced even at "high quality’ setting my photo files are 2-3mb /photo now and the details aren’t as crisp as before even though I’m using the same lens and same film. I’m really frustrated and sad, I feel like throwing the whole scanner out the window, please help…

Epson Scan 2 does not detect the film frames. the scan isn’t proper in size. 6x6 and 35mm doesn’t work ok. If Colourposotives are scanned, they are ok, but negatives don’t.

there are no professional mode or any other choice to frame the scan-area.
I’m using Catalina as well, so there is no way to use the older version.

with new version a scan of two strips 120 is possible.
Preview scan, than six frames by hand and doing six scans. After that change to LR and NLP.

another question. Import of the frames is in TIFF Format. LR doesn’t give a tool for White-Balance to point to film border if the picture isn’t DNG or RAW.
How do that for a Portra 160 Colour Negative Film?

There are (at least a couple of) workarounds for running Epson Scan on Catalina. Upgrade to Catalina, install Parallels Desktop, and install Win10 and Epson Scan. OR, Upgrade to Catalina, install Parallels Desktop, and install MacOS 10.14.6 and Epson Scan.

Actually, there’s no reason users can’t keep an external bootable drive with their previous OS X or MacOS system and software on it. I have several that run on my 2013 iMac, all the way from 10.6.8 forward. I use them when I need to re-visit older software that has no replacement, or software that I don’t want to replace because I seldom use it. I even keep a 1999 Power Mac G4 for that reason. (I disable the Internet when running older systems, to keep things as secure as possible.)

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Hi Nate

Just curious - why did you not use the TIFF Scan Prep tool in this tutorial?

The output from EpsonScan is gamma 1.8, which should work fine with Negative Lab Pro without the need for TIFF Scan Prep. That tool is only absolutely necessary with gamma 1.0 scans.

Ahhhhh OK! I thought Epson Scan outputted gamma 2.2. I’ve been using this method exactly as shown, but I tried it using the TIFF Scan Prep tool in CUSTOM mode with input gamma = 2.2. I tried it side-by-side with the same original TIFF and no Scan Prep and I preferred the colours that I got using the Scan Prep tool! But I’m not exactly sure what the difference was.

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Hi all,
I’m just starting to use NPL and Lighroom as my workflow. Have to say, it’s been amazing! BUT I have just one small and probably dumb question.
When doing “Tiff Scan Prep”, what’s better; just double the file in the original or make a new copy in the gamma folder.
In any of those cases, should I delete the “original” Tiff file and just keep the gamma? Asking for the sake of HD space.

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Zach! Today I also tried using the Tiff Scan Prep Tool for the first time and compared my results. The tool gave me more natural colors and without it I was getting a very cool/blue look. Only issue is now each image is double the size and even triple if i want to edit via Lightroom adjustments

I have the same question

Is the workflow for digital ice positive scans (tiff) still the same for v3? I’m planning on scanning new negatives tomorrow

Hey all,

I was wondering if there is any news regarding the missing Digital ICE feature in Epson Scan 2 for v600 / v550? I know Epson provides free versions of Silverfast, but I have not been satisfied with the results I get from Silverfast… How are you guys dealing with this situation?
Are there any alternatives? Would you recommend using dust removal instead?

Regards from Germany

I like the ICE option, but when I compare my Epson scans to my Sony AR73 scans, the Epson isn’t nearly as sharp. Actually the Epson scans are downright fuzzy. Perhaps the focusing mechanism on the scanner isn’t working right?

Hi Nate, thanks a lot for the tutorial, trying it right now and getting great results!

Did you try by any chance also the saturation value with actual positive films? Would you keep -27 as well?
Also reading down the chat, you did some comparison of Epson Scan and Veuscan DNG method. I am not really an expert, just getting into the analog photography and scanning myself, so I don’t really know what actual calibrated camera profiles in Lightroom can do in case of film converting?

Thanks in advance!