Negative Conversion

If this can be helpful to all the negative conversion people:
There is a live talk today with Smugmug/Flickr HERE. In the youtube description you will find a link to a blog post about it.
Have a nice day :slight_smile:

Hi, I’ve only just caught up with this thread. This would be not only a really useful addition to PL but would also help make it a one stop shop program.

I presume color or B & W negatives would be scanned to produce the files for processing. My Epson scanner has scanning options for color and B & W negatives.

I haven’t tried scanning negatives, but if the Epson options are good, would a conversion option in PL be needed?

…imagine taking photos of your negatives. Many of us have decent cameras that can serve to reproduce film negatives with high quality and in less time than a scanner takes. Negative conversion would be a nice complement for people who shoot film.

Thanks, I just learned something; using a camera as a scanner. I can see the speed advantage, but isn’t the cost of a decent camera, a light box, etc. a little high for a hobbyist like me?

Only you will be able to decide if the camera you own can also photograph a negative :wink:
Appetite comes with eating, you can always start small to see if things work for you.
As for processing, you can check a few starters like this:



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The Epson options are good but not necessarily good enough for high quality publication. NegativeLab Pro and other programmes are very useful - especially with archive negatives scanned with something like the Hasselblad Flextight scanners. Currently I have to go back into Lightroom just to use the plug in. It would be great to be able to do everything in PL.

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Hello :wave:t4:

I am now also diving into the negative “scan” and conversion ocean now.
I do not use Lightroom anymore so Negative Lab Pro is not an option.
Yesterday I stumbled on this “small” but effective App: FilmLab.

My main problem is to remove the strong orange colour cast from the negative.
I might encounter other “problems” with other types of negatives… who knows.
I do not want to spend much time on one single photo, so I like the fact this tool make good correction automatically.

My workflow (I am still using the 14 days trial) is:

  • take the best picture possible of the negative (RAW)
  • open the RAW with PhotoLab to process it with DeepPrime
  • export as a DNG
  • open and process it with FilmLab

I wish DxO would provide the necessary tools in a future update of FilmPack :grin:

There is a way that you can do it totally within PhotoLab

(image taken from a dpreview article)

This is only a jpeg file, RAW would work better.

Start by reversing the three colours in the curves tool

Then use the white balance pipette on the unexposed border of the negative

This should give you a “near enough” neutral white balance. It works better with a RAW image

Then return to the curves tool and adjust the RGB curve to enhance the contrast

At this point, You can either continue with the original image (but be aware that a lot of the sliders now act in reverse) or export to DNG to get a “fresh start” with the now positive image.

It’s not perfect but it can be done with only PhotoLab and a bit of patience :nerd_face:


Essentially, a few steps can do the trick (and some negatives take a lot more work)

  1. Crop and white balance
  2. Invert R, G and B tonecurves
  3. Shift R, G and B tonecurve endpoints in order to get you neutral highlights and blacks
  4. If necessary: Change gamma values or bend curves until you get close to target.

Step 1

Crop image to remove borders,
white balance on brightest part of the negative

Step 2

R, G and B tonecurves have been inverted

Steps 3 and 4

R, G and B tonecurve endpoints shifted,
slight gamma change to G and B curves

Note how few settings needed a change.
Shot taken in 1978 with a Mamiya 645 and Sekor 80mm lens on Kodak Gold 400.
Image needs to be flipped horizontally because I shot the emulsion side.


Thank you @Joanna & @platypus
I will give it a try during my next “negative” session.

Hopefully we can get some “help” from PhotoLab in the future ( @StevenL ?) to win some time and also have the cursor behaving normally and not reverse.

Hello dear negatives fans :grin:
Is there a reason not to invert « all » channels instead of R, G and B separately ?

I did invert the « all » channel, adjusted the WB and playing with SmartLighting and Clearview helps for contrast and light.

I found that inverting the coloured curves makes it easier to get the targeted colours in the image. Note that the main operations for removing colour casts etc. is in these curves. All other settings can be left as is or need only slight touches.

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Thanks again for your inputs.
I was able to test and try a bit and it is “okay” to work with PL. But it is far from great.

I have a question… I have no experience with films and just trying to get the best results.
I know the film itself has grain.
Some of my pictures really look awful… and I guess it is the quality of the negative with combination of the photographer itself :sweat_smile:

Is someone in the mood to look at one of my raw file to give me a feedback ? I will share the file in PM only.

Bumping as someone currently searching for a good negative inversion method. I’m a Dxo Photolab and Filmpack user, love it for my digital photography.
Just about to start scanning some old negatives with a JJC negative light/carrier kit, and initially a Panasonic LX15 (may upgrade to a macro lens on a Panasonic G9 if the JJC equipment works well).
Being able to put RAW shots of the negatives straight into DxO will be invaluable.

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The easiest and one of the best ways is NegativeLab Pro, a plugin for Lightroom :person_shrugging:

For PhotoLab and FilmPack, there is no other way than to convert manually like shown in a few posts in this forum, e.g.

You might also add your vote here:

I’ve tried darktable, but found no friend in it.

Aye, cheers - I’d already added my vote to this feature request before bumping the thread :slight_smile:

It’s a shame that there isn’t the facility in DxO yet. I don’t really want to deal with Lightroom, having tried it before and not got on with it.

I’ll probably end up using FilmLab or something, but then I won’t be working on RAWs afterwards, which will reduce the functionality of Photolab

“Something” is fine…but all it takes is a) inverting the tone curves (and adjusting their endpoints and curvatures) and b) getting used to sliders that work “the other way 'round”. It’ll look and feel scary in the beginning, but you’ll get used to it the more negatives you convert.

You can create a preset with inverted tone curves, but everything else will probably need to be adjusted manually and one by one. Some negatives will be easy to convert, e.g. B&W, others will take more effort. Variation is in film type, lighting, exposure and development of the negatives.

Thanks, sasquatchphotog, for the bump here.

And Thanks, platypus, for the recommendation of LR plug-in Negative Lab Pro. I’m still a ways off from using this, because right now I’m re-editing all my old digital images going back to 2002, and I’m only up to 2009. (BTW, this is a lot of fun and well worth doing, if you haven’t tried it, because the photo app software tools are so much better now than back then, and my skills as an editor have slowly improved. For a very few minutes effort per image, in most cases, images can look a lot better now than what one did years ago.)

When I finish that, or rather get close enough to 2023 that the gains in edited image quality are minimal, my plan is to digitally capture and edit my old slides. There aren’t as many, just 5-10 years worth of a few hundred per year between 35 mm film and digital shooting. A friend who tried all options tells me that in his experience, using a modern digital camera with a macro lens is a great way to digitize good slides.

And then I’ll go back to digital capturing and editing earlier film negatives and will definitely benefit from a tool like Negative Lab Pro in LR.

I’m curious, platypus, which you’ve found to work better for you: digitally scanning negatives, or using a new camera to digitally photograph negatives?

you use a camera ? try do a round trip may be : raw → PL → invert curves → export to linear DNG w/ corrections applied → PL → sliders shall work normally

may be add uniwb to “avoid” WB backed in ? raw → Adobe DNG converter → DNG → fix WB to UniWB ( if you raw does not allow this like Canon CR3 or Fuji RAF - WB tags are not /yet/ write-able w/ tools like exiftool, hence using DNG ) → PL → WB = as shot, invert curves → export to linear DNG w/ corrections applied → PL → sliders shall work normally

if you can code then raw → Adobe DNG converter → DNG → read , deduct black level, invert, add black , save back in situ to DNG - feed to DxO PL

just $0.02 as I never dealt w/ scanned negatives