Negative Conversion

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

Started the digitalization with camera captured copies of negative film. Never tried anything else due to extra cost and time. Many good hints can be found in the forums of NLP and I propose that you check those out, even if you don’t use the NLP plugin.

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Pros and cons for both techniques. There aren’t that many good scanners available these days, and scanning can be time consuming. One advantage is infrared dust reduction available on some models, which can reduce time required for removing those pesky specs (obviously partially dependent on the condition of original media). Using a camera requires some setup equipment, but can be faster. As @platypus says, there’s good information in the NLP forums even if you don’t use the NLP plugin. (You can use NLP for slides as well as negatives, but the real magic is the color corrections NLP can provide for negatives.)

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Even though my Minoltas and Braun MF scanners are not the fastest ones, they are yet faster than I can keep up with cleaning the scans from dust and other annoyances.
So they feed me with a constant pace of scans and I work them fast in PL.

It’s a quite comforting process and I’m in no way hindered by the scanners.

Speed is not a matter of one step in the workflow, but the overall time spent from A to Z. Automatic dust and scratch removal are nice and if the scanners support it, it saves a lot of rather annoying effort.

Nevertheless, good scanners have had their market share, but they are niche products now and hard to get, specially for medium format. As technologies evolve, camera scanning offers a first step in bringing back those old transparencies and negatives…and with DxO’s know-how, automatic negative conversion could be brought into their product(s). Could be an opportunity too with the current revival of film photography!


Yes indeed.
If or when DxO decides to evolve into film neg/pos processing I will most likely move away from scanners. :smiley:

I think you will have a long wait on your hands.


DxO ONE - Film Scan edition :shushing_face:

I second what have said Joanna, Platypus…
I use this method in a global process to digitalise silver films described here ; in french, just translate, easy today.

The advantage of using the RGB tone curve and not the global tone curve is to adjust the primary colours - not just the colour balance (which is usually way off) but to also compensate for colour distortion due to age and storage. This varies from image to image and is not constant across the length of the film.

This also allows for a far simpler removal of the colour mask on colour negatives.

The global tone curve adjustment is not good for this.

For focus accuracy, reversing the negative/slide and focusing on the film grain is the way to go. However, this involves having to reverse the negative/slide after processing - something that PL cannot do. (still). An option to flip the image on export would be useful.

Most zoom lenses are not ideal for this job due to their field curvature. Micro lenses are recommended.

I still get excellent results from my 1972 vintage Nikon 55mm f3.5 Micro Nikkor lens.

The act of zooming and/or focusing changes the reproduction ratio. The proper method is to move the camera and lens combination forwards and backwards to achieve focus. This maintains the reproduction ratio.

Another issue is that, for a lot of lenses, there is a small focus shift as the lens is stopped down. This becomes an issue at the very small working distances in this application. Therefore, it is advisable to focus at the working aperture and not at maximum aperture.

Focus peaking is not accurate enough for this application.

I now use PL to process the raws from the camera but I still use Photoshop to do the editing. A good pixel editor is still required and PL is not a pixel editor.


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Flipping an image was introduces in DxO ViewPoint version 4. Activating a VP4 license in PhotoLab activates the feature … without any need to install the VP standalone application.

…not really. Whatever we do with PhotoLab can be done with a (camera) scanned negative - if we can get used to sliders that work mirror style. And we can always export an intermediate TIFF file for ease-of use.