Scanning old negatives with colour shifts

Hello. I’ve been getting more experienced with camera scanning and, with NLP, I get great results with negatives that are new.

My particular interest, however, is with archive material and light restoration. I’ve recently been scanning some negatives from the mid 1970s that were taken on Kodacolor II film. These were being done for a friend so I have no idea how they were stored but I assume in a drawer in normal room conditions. There were several films and all had deterioration of the dyes resulting in excessive purple at the edges of each image.

I wondered if there are settings in NLP or if there could be settings that would take into account ageing films? I used Epson Scan in the past and there was a setting for some colour correction for older material.

I do my best in Lightroom and Photoshop but I thought that it might be better if NLP were able to tackle this at the RAW stage.

Does anyone have any advice for films such as these?

Thanks for your help, Tim.

The discolored edges still baffle me, either on older or newer processed films. Apart from aging, I think it has something to do with how thin those parts are (due to underexposure, lens vignetting, etc). It seems that we’ll get to a point where we’re just photographing the light source itself.

I’ve tried masking extraneous light, working in the dark, using different holders and using very high CRI lights. There’s also nothing in your situation that suggests that the edges would shift differently from the centers of the negatives.

The trick that helped the most was to play with Lightroom Classic’s white balance sliders after NLP conversion. I still initially take the WB off the base using the dropper tool. Convert the negative image first without adjusting too many settings then adjust the B/Y and G/M sliders incrementally until the color casts on the edges go away.

I find it much easier to get the colors I want after doing that step. When the method works, you should see the edges magically become visually balanced with the rest of the image without having to do spot work. I never thought to do it because I thought the dropper tool was enough but I tried it out of curiosity and was shocked at the result.

It would help to see samples of this purple color shift. There are more experienced members here who may have better ideas.

1 Like

Welcome to the forum, @tim and @eslc,

please post an example file here or via sharing platform. Nothing better than a real life example of a difficult image or two for us to chew on!

Other than that, the second tab of NLP has a few options that can greatly change the look of a converted image. Playing with these options will help to progress, and you can try the options on virtual copies to save some drive space.

Thanks for your reply. I think you’re right that the way the original photos were taken may be the issue. This may have contributed to the way the negatives have aged. I’ve been given a bundle of these negatives by a friend who wanted them scanned. Most of them are Kodacolor II film but some are Kodak 5035. I’m sure it’s the same photographer and camera and that they were all taken in 1976.

These problems are only evident on this batch of films (about 60 of them) and not on any others that I’ve scanned.

I’ve been scanning using a Canon R5 and RF 100mm macro lens. I use an Essential Film Holder and a Negative Supply 99 CRI light table. I scan in darkness and mask off any extra light.

I’m enclosing a Dropbox link for 3 files that demonstrate this. I’ve included scans of the negatives and the resultant images converted by NLP. I’ve not done anything to them apart from the conversion. I did a white balance beforehand on the edges of the negatives.

I’ve been able to mitigate some of the colour issues by my own adjustments but the images are never satisfying to me. I do have some of the prints from the time and they don’t have the same issues. Overall, though, my scans are much better and much sharper than the prints. Just a shame there are these colour issues.

I had originally wondered if NLP could have settings to help with aged or discoloured negatives like these. It must be a fairly common issue and may follow a similar pattern.

Hope that all makes sense and that the images can be seen ok! Thanks, Tim.

@tim, I see that your shared dropbox folder contains .JPG files only.

I suppose that you start out with .CR2 or .CR3 files.
If so, please drop a few of these RAW files into that folder too.

Other than that, the shifts are visible. I don’t find them to be too terrible though.

I’ve put the .CR3 files in there as well. They’re upside down as that’s the way the camera goes on the stand!

The shifts are tolerable but, I guess, we’re all perfectionists on here!

Hi @Digitizer, glad to be here.

By the way @tim , I must also add that it could be helpful to adjust the vignetting amount under Profile Corrections assuming you have turned it on. Sometimes, there can be overcorrections that can affect the edges.

Since you are using the EFH with the Negative Supply light, it’s possible that you are diffusing the light source twice which can result in much longer exposure times. It could help to experiment with removing the diffusion layer of the EFH and lowering the mask. Unless you have completely sealed the sides of your EFH, there is still a possibility that stray light is finding it’s way to your lens.

Based on the histogram of IMG_0050.CR3, you can try exposing right of center. That image was exposed left of center. Doing this could give NLP more to work with.

I tried converting IMG_0050 but find that selective masking really is needed to correct the shifts. It is beyond NLP but it won’t hurt reevaluate your setup before resigning to manually correcting everything.

The thing is, one amazing result with NLP makes all the effort worth it. We indeed are perfectionists. :wink:

Thank you for your advice. In terms of vignetting, I have found that reducing this in the positive copy goes a long way to reducing these effects. This is especially the case where there’s a dark background.

I will experiment removing the diffusion layer. I also have two other devices, the Pixl-latr and the Negative Supply Basic Film Carrier. Maybe they would be better for these issues? I tend to use the EFH as I find it the easiest.

I let the camera sort out the exposure and focus. In most cases this works really well. I have to be honest that I’m not 100% sure of how to expose right of centre with my camera. Do you have any tips for this? I presume this is because I’m effectively taking a photo of a negative image?

I’ve also bought Negmaster which is a Photoshop plug in. I do find, however, that the new version of NLP really does an amazing job. When I’m scanning negatives with no degradation issues I find that the result is normally around 90% there straight away. Mostly I’m just adjusting for taste.

Thanks everyone for your help! Tim

Looking at the converted images, I found that one image has a colour gradient at the short edge, while the next has it at the long edge. This feel strange, I’d expect the changes to be in the same place (long edge) assuming that the films have all been rolled and in a canister e.g.

Anyway, the shifts cannot be corrected automatically and therefore require manual work by perfectionists.