Tag Archives: Printfile

Proof Scanning (the digital contact sheet)

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this one before. It’s such a time saver.

I cut and sleeve my negatives in the Printfile clear sleeves for storage. One of the useful features of these sleeves is that you can make contact sheets from the negatives without having to remove them from the sleeve.

Not having a darkroom at this time, my workflow involves scanning the negatives on a roll at low resolution in order to get my “contact sheet”, though a better term might be “proof scans”. This is a pretty quick operation and with everything locked to a standard exposure setting I get a good feel for how well I exposed the film.

But fiddling with those Epson film holders is a pain, and slows things down. For my 6×6 negatives it’s even worse because they only fit two frames at a time. I’d started cutting those into 4 strips of 3 and scanning them directly on the glass for my proofs, using a piece of posterboard as a scanning area guide and to keep the strip straight.

This week it occurred to me to try scanning my proofs with the negatives still sleeved. I had 3 rolls of color negatives and didn’t feel like spending an evening farting around with the 35mm holders so I used my posterboard guide, put the filled Printfile sleeve on the scanner glass and set a sheet of glass from an old picture frame on top to keep it all flat. Just like I would if I was making a contact sheet on photo paper.

Worked very nicely and saved a good deal of time. I do have to keep the sleeve material away from the very top area of the scanning bed, since the scanner does something with that area related to exposure and things can get a little weird and unpredictable if I’m not careful to leave it clear. Vuescan coped well, the lock exposure function allowing me to set an exposure time which took the film base and sleeve into account.

They’re not the cleanest scans, of course. The sleeves do have a slight texture and keeping everything clean of dust and specks would be very time consuming. But I’m not after the cleanest scans I can get, I just want to get an idea of how the photos look in their final positive form. A digital contact sheet.

I’ll be taking this approach from now on, at least until I set up to do it the old fashioned, no computer required way.