Using Negative Lab Pro with Vuescan RAW DNG scans

UPDATE 12/2/2019 - With the updates to v2.1, the directions have changed slightly to reflect the new dual-illuminant profiles and dng compatibility utility. As such, I’ve also removed some of the questions and responses in the comments, as they would have been misleading given the new directions.

The process for using Negative Lab Pro with Vuescan RAW DNG scans is very similar to the regular process of working with DSLR scans, but with a few important differences. Read on to learn more.

Preparing your image for conversion

Before beginning, be sure to you have followed the guide to creating RAW DNG files in Vuescan. If you have not followed this guide, your DNG files may not be correctly set to be converted by Negative Lab Pro.

To prepare your file in Lightroom before conversion:

STEP 1. After import, set your “profile” in Lightroom to "Negative Lab v2.1"
If you do not see this as an option, this means that you need to run the “Update Vuescan DNG” utility which will make the selected images compatible with the correct profiles. To run this option, select all the Vuescan DNG images from your import, and go to “File > Plugin-Extras > Update Vuescan/Silverfast RAW DNGs” then follow instructions. If it works, you should see the profiles change to “Negative Lab Pro v2.1”

Step 2. Exclude the film border or use “Border Buffer” - Like DSLR scans, it is generally preferable to NOT include the film border in the conversion analysis that Negative Lab Pro does. To make sure it does not throw off the conversion, you can either make sure to crop it out prior to conversion OR use the new “Border Buffer” setting to exclude a portion of the film border from the analysis.

Step 3. Use Lightroom’s White Balance tool Prior to Conversion - As of Negative Lab Pro v2.1, it is recommended to use the wb tool in Lightroom prior to conversion. Try and use the wb picker tool to select a blank area of the film border. If you don’t have any film border to select from, you can also use Lightroom’s “Auto” wb setting (in some cases, this may produce better results).

Step 4. Open Negative Lab Pro, and set your “input” to "Vuescan/SF RAW DNG

Adjust the other pre-conversion settings, and then hit convert.

After analyzing the image, it should produce an intial conversion.

Step 5 - Edit to Taste

At this point, it’s up to you to adjust the tones and colors further to your taste. This can be done using the controls in Negative Lab Pro, which are specially made for working on the original negative.

Alternatively, you can use the “Make Tiff / Jpeg Copy” feature to create a positive copy, on which you can use Lightroom’s regular controls.

Does anyone know how to add the camera raw profile suggested above. I’m on a mac and can’t find the folder. >.<

How/where should I create the folder if it doesn’t download automatically to lightroom. Photoshop tries to open it with an error message, and I can’t locate the folder listed here.

Hi there, I’ve heard a lot of good about NLP and I am trying it out, but my conversion ends on an (incomplete) error window saying there is probably a problem with folder permissions … I tried unlocking the NLP folder from read only, but it doesn’t allow me … Any opinions ?

internal error Negative.lua:738:
Error : Could not write photo for analysis

Hi,

I’m assuming this is Windows? Windows folder permissions are a pain. The easiest thing to do is to relocate the plugin folder to a place where YOU have complete ownership… I would recommend trying the root of the C:\ drive and seeing if that works. You’ll need to remove from “file > plugin manager” and then re-add from new location.

Hi Nate, so I noticed, I tried by all means to have permission, but no use…
I just found the way out, indeed by moving the plugin folder (uninstalled NLP, moved to another drive, reinstalled the plugin) - A genuine pain in the … this problem was … Thank goodness it’s solved

1 Like

Hi Nate, I’m following Steps 1-3 & all is working as expected, with the dng colour profile set as NL v2.1 & white balanced. However, as soon as I open NL to begin converting a photo, the profile jumps to NL v2.0 (profile missing) throwing the colours off. This is a clean install of lightroom cc & NL 2.1 on Catalina. Am I doing something wrong? Cheers.

Try updating to NLP v2.1.2.

If the issue is still happening even after update, go to the Library module, change the metadata dropdown to EXIF view and look at the “software” field. If the software field doesn’t include “VueScan” or “SilverFast” then NLP will assume it is coming from a digital camera and try to change it to a profile that may not exist. To fix this, you can run the update utility at “File > Plugin-Extras > Update Vuescan/Silverfast DNGs”

-Nate

Just want to confirm one thing. After I’ve converted, if I make changes within the settings of NLP and then tick to create a tiff copy and then click apply, do the changes I made to colours etc in NLP save to that tiff file?

Hi @liam.wtf,

Every time you make a tiff copy, it will make a new tiff file that will reflect the most recent changes you’ve made in NLP… it will not overwrite the old tiff file.

Is that what you are asking?

HI,

ive followed the steps above however no profile for NLP is available. the only profile which is availble is ‘Monochrome’…aslo the white balance tool is not allowing me to select it.

i am scanning black and white negatives in silverfast 8 se, as 16bit HDR RAW and saving as DNG. lightroom detects the DNG but still no negative lab profile is available

-matt

Hi, first, try selecting the DNGs and going to “file > plugin-extras > update vuescan / silverfast DNG”. Then follow the prompts. This will make the DNG compatible with Negative Lab Pro no matter which scanner model you used.

If you get a “profile missing” error still after doing this, then double-check to make sure you have the profiles installed correctly, per the installation instructions (note, the profiles should automatically be added via the mac installer, but on windows, you need to follow the installation instructions to manually added the profiles.

If you believe that you have your profiles correct and it still isn’t working, you may need to rescan as a 48bit rgb dngs. I always recommend scanning at 48bit, even for black and white, as you can run into compatibility issues with 16bit single channel scans.

Hope that helps!
-Nate
Creator of Negative Lab Pro

1 Like

Hi nate,

I’ve solved it. I now scan at 48bit!

Thanks

Matt

1 Like

Hi,

I have old negative raw scans (Epson V600 + Vuescan) where I didn’t check the “.DNG” box as you suggest thus they are just raw.

I wonder if it is the same if I convert them with Adobe DNG Converter.

I don’t have a copy of NLP yet.

Thanks

Would this process yield better results than a 51mp Canon DSLR?..I’m trying to decide wether to get the Epson v800 or the Negative Supply 120 film holder

Hi @RewDowns,

There are pros and cons to each method.

The Epson will be better for dust removal. Some people also prefer having everything ready to go in a single box (vs having to build their own setup with multiple pieces for DSLR scanning), and there is certainly less room for error. For medium format, the Epson v800 will also offer very good resolution in a single pass.

Scanning your film with a Canon DSLR + Negative Supply 120 holder should be significantly faster once you’re all set up (especially if working with uncut rolls of film). You have more control over your setup (light source, lens, etc) and it is modular, so you can change it and improve it over time as new cameras / lenses / light source come out. You should be able to really good sharpness with a single shot, or incredible sharpness by taking multiple closer shots and stitching together.

I usually prefer the DSLR scanning route because it is faster and I have very little dust on my film, but it will just depend on your needs.

Hope that helps!
-Nate
Creator of Negative Lab Pro

That’s very helpful Nate, thanks!

I’ve heard good things about the brush for removing dust so I’ve decided to back the Negative Supply 120 Kickstarter :slight_smile: I’ll be using the DigitaLIZA in the meantime.

Is there any other solution to get NLP 2.1 profile associated to DNG 16bit BW? Scanning in 48bit color means 3times more file size and time for scanning. This is significant cost for associating profile.

Without solution I consider switch back to tiffs, that are more compatible with nonAdobe products.

Hi @thobias - let me see what I can do…

If you any 16bit B+W DNGs, could you please send one or two to nate@natephotographic.com? I’ll take a look.

-Nate

Hi @thobias and all -

Just an update here:

For whatever reason, there doesn’t seem to be a way to have custom DNG profiles for single color-plane files. The DNG spec is always look for 3 or more color planes (for example, R/G/B). This appears to be true even for monochrome digital cameras, like the Leica M10 Monochrome. The profile in Lightroom will always show “Monochrome” with no other options, and the “standard” Adobe tone curve will be built in.

That said, I’ve built a preset that will “undo” the Adobe standard tone curve, and will make the file as close to linear as possible. You can download that here:

You can import this preset into Lightroom, and apply to all your 16-bit monochrome DNGs prior to converting with Negative Lab Pro. This will essentially make the file linear prior to processing.

Since this is black and white, I then recommend using the “linear + gamma” tone profile in Negative Lab Pro, as this will most closely mimic black and white photo paper. From there you can just adjust the tones as you normally would.

This is what the result looks like with the image you sent:

I would see this as a good, neutral starting point, and it should be very very similar to the results of using 48-bit scan on the black and white image. And of course, there is lots of editability inside Negative Lab Pro to get the exact tones you want out of this black and white scan.

Hope that helps!

-Nate
Creator of Negative Lab Pro