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Best way to get right color in negative in lightroom

Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,900
Location
Fort Myers, FL
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
I'm digitizing lots of old negatives by photographing them. I like doing it with lightroom as the non-destructive nature is SO much smaller than the huge TIF's you get out of negative scanning (or conversely is more editable than the JPG's you might get).

In principle it is easy -- invert the RGB tone curve, then adjust the colors to take out the negative tint, and adjust the rest as desired (with some controls now working backwards or just different).

In practice the inter-relation of each change makes it hard.

It is easier in photoshop, since the curve inversion is destructive and once inverted you are just adjusting a positive (as opposed to lightroom where you are seeing a positive but adjusting a negative, e.g. moving toward yellow gives below, more exposure less, etc. )

There's tools like Vuescan which actually do this very nicely -- but again, the output is TIF or JPG.

So here is my question:

In terms of how ACR works, is there an optimal way to make adjustments. What do I tackle first, and with which slider.

Let's take the neutral, say I actually had a grey card in frame -- I can crop to just it and look at the histogram. I think I want the R, G and B to exactly overlap (though it's not clear where on the histogram I want it, left or right wise). But I can do that with temperature sliders (somewhat), with the tone curve itself (and there I can do it by either changing shape of a color or biasing the color while keeping it linear), or with the HSL sliders. Which is the place that, having adjusted, gives me the most "normal" adjustment for fine tuning later.

There's got to be, algorithmically, a "best" way to do this, that preserves the ... leverage?... of the other controls. E.g. do I set black first? And do I set it as white (pre-invert) or as black (post invert). And with which control? How do I remove bias in the tone curves -- keep it linear at a 45 degree angle and raise/lower both ends, change the angle, some sort of curve?

The more I do this the more I feel like I am just on the edge of finding a good approach, but not quite. Anyone have any suggestions?
 
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,900
Location
Fort Myers, FL
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
Yeah, thanks -- read that one.

I've spent days doing more digitizing. For the vast majority I just gave up and used Vuescan, which does a pretty decent job on them.

What's odd is once in a while (I think poorly exposed) I can do a much better job in lightroom, though it is tedious.

I feel like Lightroom has all that I need here, between the curves and HSL and other slides, but what is needed is to get the order right of making the adjustments. But it's beyond me.

Here's an example, left is Vuesan, right is my attempt in lightroom. T he color cast looks easy to remember, but remember none of the controls work as you expect, try to fix one color and another gets much worse. Photoshop also works better, because you can invert the tone curve and then all the tools work normally.

This is too much of a niche need, but I bet all lightroom really needs is an "invert then ignore the inversion" mechanism, and it would work great for this.

(By the way, this is one of the mediocre lightroom ones, some are pretty decent, some are awful, but this is "average". Also note most of my negatives are an average of 30 years old so probably have more than just their original color cast.)

 

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pluton

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
Messages
51
Location
Santa Monica, CA, USA
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Yeah, I also got a few---very few--- quite nice in Lightroom, but most were not really good, and a few were impossible. Having seen how quickly and effortlessly scanner software handles it during a normal scan, I think that's the route I will take in the future.
 

themoose

Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2015
Messages
39
Location
Calgary Canada
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Another option you may want to consider is the ColorPerfect plug-in for Photoshop. I've copied several 2-1/4" square color negs (45 years old) and managed to get good results. I use my Nikon D600 with a Nikkor 55 mm f2.8 Micro lens (35 years old). Attached is a sample of one photo created from the original neg where the 45 year old 8x10 print was badly fading/yellowing. Negatives seem to retain the color much better than the paper prints over the years. I'm a new Lightroom (LR) user and have managed to tether my Nikon to my old MacPro so the camera files go directly into LR which speeds up the copy process compared to using a scanner or camera card to move the files to my computer. I'd be happy to share more info about my copy setup if anyone is interested. This is my first post (with an attachment) in this forum so I hope it is done correctly, and any feedback is most welcome.
http://www.c-f-systems.com/Plug-ins.html
 

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