This is current as of February 2002 and is mostly outdated now. I
still think it provides a few good tips on how to get film images up
on the web in a reasonable manner, although almost every I shoot now
cameras and lenses
I'm not really qualified to give much advice here, but there are some
pretty obvious things.
There is no shame in using "consumer" lenses. Besides costing tons
less, they usually weigh a lot less and can produce fabulous images if
There is a difference between "consumer" and "kit" lenses. I'll cite
Canon's 28-80 and 28-105 lenses as an example, but there are many
others. They're useful for many things, but the difference is usually
Although sometime considered a false economy, renting lenses and other
equipment can make a lot of sense in some situations.
Tripods and camera support help a lot. The 1/(lens length in mm) rule is
a guideline for getting acceptably sharp exposures, but it's amazing how
much better you can do with a faster shutter speed or a sturdy tripod.
film I use a variety of
films. Perhaps someday soon you'll be able to query my image database
and get a list of all of the emulsions I've ever used (since I have that
information for almost every image that originated on film), but for
now (January 2002) , this is the list:
Fuji Velvia RVP50
Fuji Superia 100 - S100 E60A CN12
Fuji RDPIII (Provia 100)
Fuji Reala 100
Fuji Superia 100 (E60A CN12)
Fuji Superia 200
Fuji NPH 400
Fuji Press 400
Fuji Superia 400
Fuji Superia 400 Xtra
Fuji CZ5 L05 800 from a disposable
Fuji Press 800
Fuji NPZ 800
Fuji Super HQ 800
Fuji Superia 1600
Fuji Neopan 1600 B/W
Kodak generic 100
Kodak Portra 160NC
Kodak Portra 160VC
Kodak Royal Gold 100
Kodak Supra 100
Kodak generic 400
Kodak Royal Gold 400
Kodak Portra 400NC
Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak Tri-X 400 exposed twice at ASA 800
Kodak Supra 400
Kodak MAX 400 (free)
Kodak Supra 800
Some films scan better than others. Some films are a lot cheaper, and
obviously some films do a better job in some situations than
others. Personal preferences apply to a large degree, but there are some
general areas where choices can be narrowed down. My quick feelings on
Never use Fuji Velvia for pictures of people, unless they're wearing
really bright and interesting clothes that overshadow any skintone
Portrait films exist for a reason -- they really do help.
Buy imported film from online retailers like B&H Photo/Video -- you'll save a lot of
money over retail shops, and shipping is very cheap for something like film.
Always have a few extra rolls of something versatile and cheap. (I carry
Fuji Superia 400, as it's inexpensive and forgiving).
Use films you know when it matters. I know Fuji Superia 400 and Fuji
Reala 100 really well -- I can shoot comfortably in many situations with
those films, because I'm pretty sure I know
what I'm going to get.
scanning I scan almost all of my film
images in on a film scanner, although from time to time I'll scan a
print (when that is all that is available) an 8x10" B&W print. Sometimes
I pay to have a Kodak PhotoCD made.
Film scanners come in all shapes and sizes (cost-wise.) I use the
Photosmart S20 scanners that are available for free to Georgia Tech
students in OIT's
Rich Multimedia Lab. These
scanners work well for low density negatives, such as properly exposed
print film. They do not work that well for things like slide film, so
slides often have to be scanned elsewhere.
I scan at 2400 dpi and usually save as high quality JPEGs. If I want
better quality than that, I'll usually use a 4000dpi scanner and save as
a TIFF, but for web work the JPEG files are fine.
- Use compressed air to blow the dust out of the scanner
- Apologize to others in the lab for your use of compressed
air. It's a multimedia lab, and unless you want to spend hours in
Photoshop fixing dust marks, you need to clean the negatives
immediately before inserting them into the scanner.
- Start the HP Photosmart scanning software and change the temporary
directory to E:\ (where there's more than 5 megs free).
- Cut your first strip of negatives. The scanners accept five frames
at a time. Dust them off by setting the dusting can down on the desk
and moving the negatives over them as you shoot quick jets of
air. Moving the can too much shakes up the liquefied propellant and
reduces the effectiveness of the canned air.
- Insert the strip into the scanner and let it feed. Make sure you
put the emulsion side down -- you should be able to read the frame
numbers from the top of the film looking down on to the scanner.
- Adjust the levels for each image separately, and rename each frame
with a quick description. Preface each file name with the frame number
on the film so that things appear in order and can be referenced back
to the original negatives. (I.e. "01_Jessica.jpg" would be the first
frame if it was a picture of Jessica.)
- Use the exposure and histogram tools to get a good scan -- every
lighting situation is likely different, and you want to make sure to
preserve detail where you can. There is much better scanning software
out there, but the HP stuff works well enough for simple things.
- Select the images you want and scan them to a directory where
there is sufficient space.
- Do something interesting while you wait, like reading a book or
chatting on IM.
Once you have your JPEG files, you'll be stuck with large files that
aren't suitable for most web viewing purposes.
I use a custom written set of perl scripts to keep track of all sorts of
image metadata -- just about everything you can imagine. The frames are
then resized to thumbnail and medium versions with the following ImageMagick commands:
convert -quality 75 -antialias -interlace NONE \
-unsharp 1x2 -geometry 300x300 \
-border 4x4 -bordercolor black oldfile.jpg oldfile.thumbnail.jpg
convert -quality 81 -antialias -interlace NONE \
-unsharp 1x2 -geometry 774x540 \
-border 10x11 -bordercolor black \
-gravity SouthEast -fill white -pointsize 10 \
-draw "text 12,12 'copyright Peter Jensen <firstname.lastname@example.org>'" \
Of course, all of those parameters are pretty much chosen
arbitrarily. If you want your images to look really nice, you should
spend a fair bit of time using unsharp mask and other nice features of
Photoshop. This is just what I use to get images online in bulk.