The many ways of skinning a black and white cat (aka digitizing a 5×4 negative)
Here is my step-by-step guide to how I digitize my 5×4 black and white negatives (Ilford Delta 100).
Gitzo 3540LS, Induro BHL3, Novoflex Castel-L, D800E (set to 5000K white balance and 5×4 crop mode), 60 f/2.8 AF-S micro; MedaLight 5×4 panel; darkened room; iphone for leveling camera with compass app; lego 5×4 film flattening frame.
The neg (processed by Peak Imaging) on the light panel before starting:
The digitizing setup:
Four files in Bridge, after straightening, desaturation, and setting of black and white points in ACR (for D800E no capture sharpening at this stage):
100% detail in ACR:
Bridge->Photomerge (Auto) -> CS6:
CS6 Processing Steps:
- Duplicate Layer; Crop; de-spot if necessary and clone out film clip marks (combination of cloning and healing brush).
- Curves (adjustment of black and white points and contrast):
- Curves: selective darkening around edges
- B&W Layer: addition of tint (c8af92):
- Gradient Map Layer: custom Platinum toning (mid-point on gradient brought up); adjust opacity of earlier global curves contrast layer to suit. Reduce opacity of layer to suit, to allow tint to bleed through:
Final image before sharpening:
- Duplicate Green channel
- Filter->Stylize->Find Edges:
- Filter->Noise->Median 3px
- Image->Adjustments->Levels: pull in from left under end of curve slightly to enhance the edges:
- Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur 2.0
- Select as mask
- Apply as mask over duplicate layer and invert mask
- Apply USM Sharpening 500/0/0:
- Resize to output as appropriate. I don’t usually save the file with the sharpening steps above included, because extra merged layers increases file-size substantially.