Last year I treated myself to a roll of Kodak’s re-issued Ektachrome film. I shot the whole roll at a steam rally (none of those this year, sadly 😦 ) and was looking forward to the results. Unfortunately, they weren’t what I expected – or, at least, my scans weren’t.
The slides themselves looked pretty nice. One or two of them were a little off on the exposure and looked a a bit dark, but nothing extreme, and the colours looked great. When I scanned them though, the colours were off and the levels were out considerably. Lots of deep contrast and strange, oily tones to the more vivid colours. Shadow areas lacked detail and I had to adjust the Tint and Temperature controls to make them look halfway decent. Some of them were beyond even this rectification though (or at least my skills to correct it).
The scans were made on my Plustek 8100 and Silverfast, a scanner and software that serves me perfectly well for most of the other things I scan – although this is primarily black and white. I did the best I could with them and posted some to Flickr, and a few on this blog (here, here, here & here), but otherwise wrote them off as a bit of a disappointment.
Recently however, I’ve had a hankering to shoot some more slide film, and shot a roll of 17-years expired Ektachrome the other week which gave surprisingly nice results. Not perfect, but more than I could have hoped for given the age of the film and my scanning it using Epsonscan – a package that I’ve always struggled to get satisfactory colours with (again, probably due to my skills with it as much as anything else).
So, I decided to revisit my 35mm Ektachrome slides for a fresh attempt. This time I tried something different.
Back before I bought my Plustek, I’d tried some alternative scanning applications to see if I could improve my colour scans on my Epson V550. One of those was Silverfast, the other was Vuescan. Silverfast software is linked to your scanner, so the copy I have for my Plustek won’t work on my Epson (something I dislike – If I buy a piece of software, I’d like it to work with different pieces of hardware thank you. It came with the Plustek though, so I’ll not complain too much). Vuescan however, will work with anything you own and has free lifetime updates if you buy the Pro version. As I still had the demo version, I decided to try it with my Plustek and the Ektachrome transparencies.
Lo and behold, the results looked much more promising than the scans I’d managed with Silverfast. I was pretty happy about this and, as Vuescan is discounted at present, decided to fork out for the full, non-watermarked version and give my Ektachromes a fresh attempt.
It took a bit of trial and error, but I think I’ve found a setup that does a good job on them. Certainly an improvement over the original scans to my eyes, so I thought I’d publish a few examples here today. I think the new scans are a noticeable improvement – a lot of the horrible green tinge has gone (how I didn’t spot that originally I don’t know) and there’s a lot more shadow detail. They’re in before and after pairs, the before shots first.
Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D & Kodak Ektachrome.
Taken on 30 June 2019