VueScan/LR Workflow Questions

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I have just finished the 100+ page PDF User's Guide to VueScan (VS) and was again reminded why I have had a love/hate relationship with this software over the years. I applaud Ed for providing a detailed guide for VS, but it leads me to believe that it was written for an audience of one - Ed himself. Little of it is user friendly, and it left me with more questions than answers after doing a full pass on the entire file.

Having said that, I will still be using it to run a flatbed scanner to scan a large number of old photographs (no negatives or transparencies as those will be handled with different hardware). My objective is to scan a 16-bit TIFF master copy that I can import into a LR catalog and then export out any derivatives as needed (e.g. posting on the web). I plan on cleaning the files up as time permits, but I do not necessarily have plans at this time for any extensive restoration. My other objective is to do the best scanning job that I can (given the material that I am working with) so that I do not find myself wanting to re-scan the images down the road. Reprocessing them later is LR would be fine, but I prefer not to have to re-scan if possible.

So, my questions revolve around how much do I want VS to process the master files during scanning? Are there adjustments or corrections that are better done in VS during the scanning process than in LR afterwards? Or should I leave it to LR to do most of the heavy lifting? I know that VS has quite a following, but there is no official forum that I could find and I have yet to find any information on the web that discusses the program's many features in any depth. Some of VS's features could be the next best thing to sliced bread, then again they might not hold a candle to what LR can offer. Scanning old photos is not an area where I have a lot of prior experience, and I am not sure that I have the wherewithal to fully figure this out on my own in any reasonable amount of time. Any thoughts about VS's features or links to information about them would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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Positive prints?

I spent some time experimenting with Epson's Scanning app that came with my scanner (not sure what scanner you have?) and I found it easier to use and just as good, especially when I put a collage of photos on the flatbed, it would find all the edges. I could not figure out how to make VueScan do that; it seems limited to doing that only for specific negatives and similar in a specific aspect and arrangement.

I also found that the dustoff in Epson was worth using (despite being positives) but nothing else, everything else I could do better in Photoshop or Lightroom (color balance, etc.).

I bought VS for negatives, though lately I've decided Negative Lab Pro works better for them, at least it is easier to get good results. I also struggle with VueScan each time I use it to really fine tune the colors, etc. I like it, but ... well, kind of like I like Listerine -- it works, sometimes I need it, but it sure tastes bad. (Contrarily I hated Silverfast, but a lot of people love it -- each to their own).

The simplest workflow by the way is to scan to a staging area, and then drag and drop those into LR. Alternatively if you want it to grab them as you scan, you can set the auto-import feature.

Suggestion: Watch context as you scan (album, box, bag), any clues as to what they are (unless you just know). Check back of prints for notes or date stamps. My biggest time consuming job so far appears to be figuring out what all my old photos actually are, especially really old family ones from before I was born. Amazing the little clues you can find in context, but may be gone once done.

Suggestion #2: Clean the flatbed aggressively, frequently, and wipe or blow off the prints. It's amazing how much dust and crud I found after they were all scanned and I was restoring, and too lazy to go find them and rescan.
 
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Hi Linwood,

Thanks for these suggestions and observations. Yes, this is just for positive prints. I purchased a Nikon LS-40 a number of years ago, and hope to dust that off when I get to my own body of negatives and transparencies. Regarding the scanner, I ended up choosing the V39. I was considering the V600, but as I had the Nikon, it did not seem as urgent (and space is somewhat of an issue at present). And, my understanding was that the V39 gave up very little with respect to scanning prints, the exception being that the Epson software only outputted 8-bit files (thus my preference for VueScan).

I could not agree more about dust. I remember when I scanned slides that having ICE was a godsend. I cleaned film with an anti-static brush over and over and dust still made its way into the scans.

Finally, you are correct about the context. Some photos have date and notes, and I plan to scan them as well. Unfortunately, the photos were "rescued" out of my mother's house a number of years ago after she had to move into an independent living facility, but the rescue happened during a heatwave after the house had been shut down, so everything was literally shoved into Ziploc bags and then mailed in boxes to my house. I had hoped to deal with this in earnest when I retired. But, my mother died last month and I realized that my oldest siblings and cousins are now over 70, so waiting another 5-10 years for retirement did not seem like a good plan anymore. so, now I am wrestling with VS and hoping that I can make enough sense of the whole affair to get some images up for the family to see.

--Ken
 
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My condolences.

So the Epson drivers can only do 8 bits but the device is capable of 16 and Vuescan can get to it? That's fascinating. And just plain annoying. I hope you can figure out how to get VueScan to locate the images sitting on the bed, otherwise doing one at a time will make you nuts.
 
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Epson software only outputted 8-bit files
Where did you find this information? Can you point me of where to look in a scanned file to see 8-bit?

I've been doing hundreds of quick scans using Epson SCAN software on a V700 so you got me concerned. I just did a test:
  • 24-bit SCAN to JPG: File Metadata shows; BitsPerSample=8, ColorComponents=3. I'm not sure how to read this but seems to be this gives 24 bits.
  • 24-bit SCAN to TIF: IFD0 Metadata shows; BitsPerSample=8 8 8
  • 48-bit SCAN to TIF: IFDO Metadata shows; BitsPerSample= 16 16 16
What am I missing?
Thanks
 
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My condolences.

So the Epson drivers can only do 8 bits but the device is capable of 16 and Vuescan can get to it? That's fascinating. And just plain annoying. I hope you can figure out how to get VueScan to locate the images sitting on the bed, otherwise doing one at a time will make you nuts.
Thank you for the kind words. It was especially stressful because of COVID-19. I could not travel home and there was no funeral or family gathering for mourning, so it was all a bit surreal.

Regarding the bit-depth, it is a great question. Yes, Epson's software scans in 48-bit, but only outputs in 24-bit (for the V39). Now, I am assuming that the hardware is actually 48-bit capable for input and output based on how it appeared in VS, but after reading the User's Guide, I am now questioning that assumption to some degree. It may be the case, but Ed also wrote this on page 31:

There is no scaling or color correction of the raw CCD data in the scanning step. Some
scanners either always or sometimes convert 10-bit or 12-bit CCD data to 8 bits before
transferring it to VueScan, and then VueScan converts it back to 10-bit or 12-bit CCD data. This
is done using the same gamma correction table specified by the sRGB standard.
I am not sure if that applies here, but it did catch my attention. If I knew that there was no material differences between the 24-bit and 48-bit files for these prints (and I could output a 24-bit TIFF), I might be inclined to consider the Epson software. I guess what I do not know is how much can one extract from an old B/W print. And, are the differences such that they are only noticeable when you are working on an image in something like LR (not unlike editing a jpeg vs a raw file)? I am always happy to be learning new things, but as I have a specific project at hand, I wish there was a clearer path with less variables for consideration that I would not regret down the road.

--Ken
 
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Where did you find this information? Can you point me of where to look in a scanned file to see 8-bit?

I've been doing hundreds of quick scans using Epson SCAN software on a V700 so you got me concerned. I just did a test:
  • 24-bit SCAN to JPG: File Metadata shows; BitsPerSample=8, ColorComponents=3. I'm not sure how to read this but seems to be this gives 24 bits.
  • 24-bit SCAN to TIF: IFD0 Metadata shows; BitsPerSample=8 8 8
  • 48-bit SCAN to TIF: IFDO Metadata shows; BitsPerSample= 16 16 16
What am I missing?
Thanks
I do not believe that you are missing anything as this issue may be confined to the V39 and possibly other lower end models. I first learned about it in an Amazon review which called this out. Since the scanner was able to input in 48-bit, I decided to take a chance and see if the reviewer was correct, and if VS could overcome this limitation. It turns out that the reviewer was correct and that the packaged software did limit output to 24-bit. And, VS did output in 48-bit. I do not believe this limitation applied to the higher end models (550/600/800/850), but I have not confirmed it myself.

--Ken
 
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I am not sure if that applies here, but it did catch my attention. If I knew that there was no material differences between the 24-bit and 48-bit files for these prints (and I could output a 24-bit TIFF), I might be inclined to consider the Epson software. I guess what I do not know is how much can one extract from an old B/W print. And, are the differences such that they are only noticeable when you are working on an image in something like LR (not unlike editing a jpeg vs a raw file)? I am always happy to be learning new things, but as I have a specific project at hand, I wish there was a clearer path with less variables for consideration that I would not regret down the road.
I spent some time on this question before I started. I had a Brother MFC which only did 8 bits, and worried I would not have the ability to correct old prints well. I read a few old "how to restore" sites, and every single one recommended scanning in 48 bits (and also in color even if it is a B&W print).

So I went out and bought the Epson, because I didn't want to wonder forever wonder if I could have done better with 48 bit. I offer that as an observation -- the amount of time you will spend on scanning and editing makes the cost of the better scanner lost in the noise compared to wondering.

Anyway... I did some experimentation afterwards and there is not much difference. But I think there is some, especially on badly faded, overexposed or under-exposed prints. Will anyone other than me ever notice -- not sure. What I did though was scan to 48 bit TIFF's at 600dpi, which gives huge files. I then went through each in Photoshop and adjusted exposure, cropped if needed, and retouched, then added some sharpening (some this helped greatly, some it made texture and scratching problems much worse). Then converted to grey if B&W. Then I looked at the result and picked a final size and resized -- there's no point in taking an old polaroid that had soft focus and saving it 4000x5000 pixels. For the mediocre ones I also saved as JPG not TIFF as I'll never edit them again, almost certainly.

I've found an interesting pattern though, which may or may not be true for others.

The photos from about early 50's until the digital age, taken by family, are all awful. I mean some were out of focus, some faded, scratched, stained, etc. But they just didn't have much dynamic rage. The ones from earlier, while often physically in worse shaped, seemed to have much better tones, more range of greys (or yellows as the case may be). Here's an example. This was badly scratched and faded, but when I applied curves to the overall image, then used shadow/detail, all the lovely shadow and highlights came out much better than anything from the 60's. The ones taken by pro photographers (I found a few) are even better still, but this was some consumer camera in 1938.

And yes, for those, I think the deeper bit depth did help. Wow, long way of saying that. ;)

PS. And here's a typical problem you will find -- I have the date (written by my mom probably, decided to keep it cropped in), but I have no idea who those people are. About 98% sure they aren't relatives, at least not descendents of the person who owned that house for decades before and after. Now the delima - delete it, or keep it and try to find who they are?

At least in 1938 they knew to keep the sun over your shoulder -- I can't tell you how many shots from the 1960's are backlit -- without flash and with a camera (or more precisely film) that just couldn't deal with it.
Ruths_Unlabeled_Album_Page_27_787.JPG
 
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And, VS did output in 48-bit. I do not believe this limitation applied to the higher end models (550/600/800/850), but I have not confirmed it myself.
/QUOTE]
How do you know it wasn't truncated somewhere in the pipeline of the driver, etc. to 8 bits?

The published specs are bizzare:

48-bit internal color depth

Along with 24-bit external color depth, 16-bit internal grayscale depth and 8-bit external grayscale depth for realistic detail.
 
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I do not believe that you are missing anything as this issue may be confined to the V39 and possibly other lower end models
This brings up the relation between the Epson SCAN Software and the different scanners in producing output. I have an V700 and V500 but both use the same Epson SCAN Software. Does Epson have multiple software versions?
 
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This brings up the relation between the Epson SCAN Software and the different scanners in producing output. I have an V700 and V500 but both use the same Epson SCAN Software. Does Epson have multiple software versions?
Very possible, or the software is model limited.

--Ken
 
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I spent some time on this question before I started. I had a Brother MFC which only did 8 bits, and worried I would not have the ability to correct old prints well. I read a few old "how to restore" sites, and every single one recommended scanning in 48 bits (and also in color even if it is a B&W print).

So I went out and bought the Epson, because I didn't want to wonder forever wonder if I could have done better with 48 bit. I offer that as an observation -- the amount of time you will spend on scanning and editing makes the cost of the better scanner lost in the noise compared to wondering.

Anyway... I did some experimentation afterwards and there is not much difference. But I think there is some, especially on badly faded, overexposed or under-exposed prints. Will anyone other than me ever notice -- not sure. What I did though was scan to 48 bit TIFF's at 600dpi, which gives huge files. I then went through each in Photoshop and adjusted exposure, cropped if needed, and retouched, then added some sharpening (some this helped greatly, some it made texture and scratching problems much worse). Then converted to grey if B&W. Then I looked at the result and picked a final size and resized -- there's no point in taking an old polaroid that had soft focus and saving it 4000x5000 pixels. For the mediocre ones I also saved as JPG not TIFF as I'll never edit them again, almost certainly.

I've found an interesting pattern though, which may or may not be true for others.

The photos from about early 50's until the digital age, taken by family, are all awful. I mean some were out of focus, some faded, scratched, stained, etc. But they just didn't have much dynamic rage. The ones from earlier, while often physically in worse shaped, seemed to have much better tones, more range of greys (or yellows as the case may be). Here's an example. This was badly scratched and faded, but when I applied curves to the overall image, then used shadow/detail, all the lovely shadow and highlights came out much better than anything from the 60's. The ones taken by pro photographers (I found a few) are even better still, but this was some consumer camera in 1938.

And yes, for those, I think the deeper bit depth did help. Wow, long way of saying that. ;)

PS. And here's a typical problem you will find -- I have the date (written by my mom probably, decided to keep it cropped in), but I have no idea who those people are. About 98% sure they aren't relatives, at least not descendents of the person who owned that house for decades before and after. Now the delima - delete it, or keep it and try to find who they are?

At least in 1938 they knew to keep the sun over your shoulder -- I can't tell you how many shots from the 1960's are backlit -- without flash and with a camera (or more precisely film) that just couldn't deal with it.
View attachment 14544
Funny, I have a Brother MFC and I was going to use it to start on the images as the IQ didn't seem too bad. But, the unit was as slow as molasses, and that alone would have driven me crazy. I concur with some of your observations about photo IQ. Some of the studio shots from the 1940's had a lot of detail and dynamic range. And a lot of the later snapshots were soft and quite limited in contrast. Still, I think that folks still would like to see a number of them, especially my nieces and nephews.

Now that my mother's generation and her mother's generation are no longer with us, I suspect that we will have a number of photos of folks that we either do not know, or only possibly know in many of the photos. Funny enough, my mother's passing may have given me the push to get moving on this, but it was actually a text from an elder cousin a few weeks before that got me to dig up the photos that I saved from my mother's former house a few years ago. My (retired) cousin was staying home/staying safe and managed to find and text some old photos of my mother with her mother. The photos looked familiar and I wanted to see if I also had a copy of them. One thing led to another and then I realized that she is probably the most likely person to identify some of these older photos of relatives and thought that it would be a nice tribute to my mother (who once told me to burn all of the photos that I found in her house :eek2:) to scan them for the family. I must be a glutton for punishment.

--Ken
 
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I must be a glutton for punishment.
Well, it's better than sitting and obsessing over watching CNN/FOX/etc. repeating the same things over and over and over....

And if.... no, I mean when... when, definitely when I finish it all, I will feel like I accomplished something. When. Just say "When it is done".
 
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Well, it's better than sitting and obsessing over watching CNN/FOX/etc. repeating the same things over and over and over....

And if.... no, I mean when... when, definitely when I finish it all, I will feel like I accomplished something. When. Just say "When it is done".
Before I started in on this, my wife kindly reminded me that I am doing it for myself and nobody else. I understand her advice, but I have six nieces and nephews and if they only wanted a handful of the images I scan, I will consider it successful. Scanning the images gives them a chance to live on in the family, and in more families, so I am considering it a gift to the next generation and possibly the ones after that. I just do not see that many folks wanting the actual photos themselves, but I might be surprised.

--Ken
 
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