Weird noise in DSLR scans?

I just got NLP and I have been converting all my negatives and I love it so far! Now I am not sure if this is an issue with NLP or the DSLR I am using or the setup, but I am getting weird digital noise in some of my scans, especially in dark areas. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Taken on 35mm Ektar 100

Taken on 35mm Ultramax 400:

Zooming in 100% will reveal some weird noise that looks unsatisfactory to me. It is more apparent on dark areas.

However, when I scan MF film, I do not see any issues.
Taken on 120 Ektar 100, at the same plane and distance as the 35mm ones:

Any ideas of what could be causing the weird noise?

Some other information:
The negatives were scanned using a Nikon D3200 with 55mm micro Nikkor f/3.5 w/ M2 attachment using 100 ISO. My DSLR setup includes a Raleno light source, DIY film holders, a tripod and a remote shutter.

Have you looked at the negatives with a magnifier? Could it be film grain?

It could be a couple of different things.

  1. What are you using as your light source? If you are using a pixelated source (like an iPad) make sure you have a good diffuser in between the light source and your film.

  2. What are the ISO settings on your DSLR camera during capture? Make sure it is set at the base ISO setting. A higher ISO will increase the appearance of digital grain.

  3. Even at base ISO, you may see some digital color noise from the sensor. Trying adjusting the “Color Noise Reduction” in Lightroom if you want to remove this.

  4. It could also just be that it is trying to show details in the shadows that aren’t really there in the film. You can try pulling down the “darks” tone slider, and you should see some of this go away, or at least become less apparent.

Hope that helps!

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I’ve been using a Raleno LED light, which already has a diffusor and has a high CRI. I’ve also been shooting at 100 ISO.
Using the “Darks” and “Blacks” slider definitely helps! In some cases it does not help much, the luminance/color noise sliders work better, but maybe it is the consumer film that I am using. Maybe Ultramax 400 would have more noise than Portra 400?

Your examples above look like color negative film grain to me (perhaps slighyly underexposed, as it’s in the deep shadows), more than digital noise — Ultramax 400 will likely have more apparent grain than Portra 400 in 35mm, and definitely more than in 120 — even Portra 400 grain will be more apparent in 35mm than 120, when scanned at the same resolution.

To see a more balanced comparison, scan a 35mm frame-sized portion of a 120 negative, then the grain-to-sensor ratio will be the same.

That’s perfectly normal and fine film grain - one of the reasons why people still shoot 35mm film in the first place. If you don’t like that you need to either go digital or large format.

Makes one wonder …

To see a more balanced comparison, scan a 35mm frame-sized portion of a 120 negative, then the grain-to-sensor ratio will be the same.

I posted a couple of examples comparing 35mm and 120 Ektar 100 (I took a picture of the full frame 35mm, then a section of the 120 at the same length), while different pictures, I noticed that the black areas had different kind of noise (or grain) and I wasn’t sure why.

I guess the reason I made this post is because I’ve seen other people’s photos and none had the noise (or grain) that I had ad I was wondering why.

Ektar will have a lot lower grain than Ultramax for sure — that last note of mine was more to your comment about Ultramax being grainier than Portra 400 (and generally about comparing the same film stock in 35mm and 120 to see that there’s no difference in grain when the film is the same and the grain is scanned at the same optical size and resolution).

So, grain differences between those stocks, as well as dynamic range of those stocks, and whether shadows were underexposed or not, will all play a role. The other part that makes it difficult when looking at other people’s scans if that you don’t know what adjustments they’ve made to the image, if they’ve reduced chroma noise, pulled down the blacks, et al.

I think your scans look pretty solid and it’s most likely a little underexposure in the shadows on a cheaper, smaller film :ok_hand:t3:

  1. Fast film will have larger grain than slow film.
  2. Large format film will show less grain than small format film at the same image size.
  3. In a digital file, dark areas (shadows) are by definition less exposed than light areas, contain less information and contain more noise than highlight areas.
  4. If the digital file is underexposed and is brightened in post, the noise will be amplified.