Richard Jones' Log: So very fuzzy

Mon, 20 Mar 2006

I started using my old film SLR again recently. It's been quite fun to move back from the "toy" that is the little digital camera we've been using since Abbey was born. I did the sums, and it works out cheaper to keep shooting film and getting it processed and burnt to CD than it is to buy a new digital body to suit the SLR lenses I already own.

So my first rolls of film went in for processing on the weekend, and I got the results back today. I leafed through the photos at the store, and didn't see anything amiss then, but when I got home and had a closer look some of the shots are kinda fuzzy. They look like there's this very slight noise through them (like you'd expect from a digital camera that's being pushed). Opening up the (JPEG only) digital scans on the CD it's even worse. There's noise all through the images, even the nice and bright ones. Where there's any darkness the noise is quite unbearable and ruins the photo entirely.

My boss has a scanner that I'll try when I go into the office tomorrow, assuming I can get it working (and it's still in Melbourne). Other than that - do any Aussies have recommendations for labs that scan negs well? I had some negs scanned years ago and I'm going to try to look up the lab that did that as the results were excellent.

The results from this scan are so bad I've even started thinking that perhaps it's a deliberate ploy to stop people from using film...

Update: I've used my boss' scanner (a rather nice Nikon Super Coolscan 9000) and achieved much better results

Comment by Andy Todd on Mon, 20 Mar 2006

I can't help you with specific labs, as I'm digital only. But that doesn't stop me having an opinion.

If you get your film processed on the high street the chances are that the scans they also do won't be very good. The good scanners for negatives are roller scanners (as opposed to flat beds) and the good ones cost upwards of $10,000. Your average Kodak franchise doesn't do enough scanning to justify that kind of capital outlay.

What you need to do is look through the phone book/yellow pages/search engine of choice and find commercial labs. They will usually quite happily process and scan your films for you. The only drawback will be that they probably won't process single rolls. If you can't find anyone local I know of a mob in Brookvale (Sydney) who come with a fairly good reputation.

Comment by Xander on Mon, 20 Mar 2006

Oh no! Who is that anonymous person kidnapping Abbey??

Comment by toby on Mon, 20 Mar 2006

What kind of film, and how old? Have you looked at the negs to make sure that they're not underexposed? My experience with scanning at consumer photo labs has been bad (low res, *really* bad colour). I had a couple of slides scanned and printed at Bond Colour, and the results were excellent, but the price makes it impractical for general use.

Dave's just bought a flatbed scanner with neg holders, and I've used a similar system at work for scanning medium format transparencies and negatives. Works pretty well in general - but much better for transparencies (getting good colour reproduction from a negative scan is hard). The results are a little bit blurry, but good enough to stick on the web/get a decent sized print off.

I've had the offer (again) of Lisa's mum's b/w enlarger, but I don't have anywhere to set it up.