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Alternative method of scanning black and white negative


Following method for scanning black and white negatives has been developed by Aleksander 'Alkos' Nowak. All kudos, flowers, boxes of chocolate, money in an envelope, groupies, autograph requests etc. should be send directly to him.

Please keep in mind that this is just a mere attempt at his scanning workflow and a lame translation of the original method described in one of Polish Pentax Forum's thread. Therefore I keep no responsibility for all the things which can go wrong. On the other side, I can say that I have scanned many rolls of film with this workflow and it works for me.


When writing (translating) this tutorial, I have assumed, that:

  1. You have (Konica) Minolta scanner with factory-shipped scanning software. I have Minolta Scan Dual IV scanner, and I know that it works flawlessly on other ScanDual models. Method can be easily adapted to be used with other scanning equipment, though (I have used it for a long time with Epson 4490 and I know for sure that it works across other devices).
  2. You have a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS (or higher) installed (screenshots are from Adobe Photoshop CS5, but fear not, older versions are just fine.)
  3. You have downloaded Alkos' inverse curve preset from (without it, you cannot make it!). Feel free to put the file extracted (c-log-rev-inv.amp) wherever you like. A copy of this files is also available at the end of this article, just to be sure that it won't disappear.

Step-by-step tutorial

Set your scanner to use following settings:

Word of explanation: I have found that multi-pass scanning isn't actually improving much, and just adds on the top of scanning time.

Make sure that you are scanning your black and white negative as positive (no, it's not a mistake). Allow the scanner to choose the optimal levels of exposure, but switch all auto-options off if your scanner does these adjustments on the software level, rather than during pre-scanning.

Scan your image

When your image is scanned, you can open it in Adobe Photoshop. You will see something like this:

Now, invoke Curves window

It's CTRL+M on PC, and something else on Apple Mac... Choose "Load preset":

Load curve preset (c-log-rev-inv.amp). To do that, you may need to change file type by the way - otherwise you may not see the file.

This is the effect of loading the inversion curve:

Our image of horse looks better. It is inverted now - but still lacks contrast and it's generally rather ugly. Don't worry, we will fix it soon.

Invoke the Levels function

(CTRL+L on PC). With the help of three small triangles on the bottom of the graph, set the desired levels of contrast.

Another step - fine-tuning

To tune up the image, just manipulate with its brightness/contrast levels.

Then, play with dodge, burn, contrast and other tools as you please :)

Remember that if you want to show your image in the Internet, it'd be a good idea to turn it into 8bit sRGB image. At the minute it's 16 bit grayscale. I am pretty sure that you know how to do it, but just in case... This is what to select:


Our horse is here. And you have just learned how to scan black and white negatives with what many have found the quickest and most successful method possible.

You may consider configuring all these actions as a set of re-playable action steps with the help of Photoshop Action palette. If you don't know what the hell is this about, check your Photoshop help file.

Wojtek Kutyla,
19 Sep 2010, 10:42