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[filmscanners] Hi bit discussion

  • To: lexa@lexa.ru
  • Subject: [filmscanners] Hi bit discussion
  • From: "HPA" <tom@historicphotoarchive.com>
  • Date: Sat, 20 Sep 2003 11:10:32 -0700
  • In-reply-to: <200309201019.DAA00468@technicaladvantage.net>
  • Unsubscribe: mailto:listserver@halftone.co.uk

Henk de Jong wrote:

>  In the beginning of this discussion someone wrote that
> advocating in favour of 16bit/channel was wrong advise to newbies. And
> that was the moment I jumped in. Let the newbies find out themselves, let
> them work out there own workflow in which they are happy and producing
> beautiful pictures, because that is were it is all about. It is not the
> workflow, but the final product which counts.

I am the person who is guilty of writing the initial post advising a newbie
to do 16 bit processing.  It should be recalled that the person seeking the
advice was scanning old postcards.  Usually these are quite faded and
require a big stretch of the tonal range, that is why i made the

I agree with Henk's statement above. Some people want speed and quantity,
other people want the ultimate top quality.  I think this is the perspective
to evaluate the question of high bit.

I scan color in 48 bit and keep the files 48.  Sometimes I can tell the
difference, sometimes i cannot.  All of the slides I scan are 25-90 years
old.  Many Ektachrome, Anscochrome, and Autochromes are seriously faded,
turned red, and need great expansion of the curves, or are Kodachrome and
have base stain problems.  Maybe you do not believe that slides can be this
old.  Color photography as we know it today was invented in 1862.  The first
photographic color slide (not hand colored), as we know it today, was
invented in 1907, it is the Autochrome.

I can tell you that I really started learning photoshop when I began doing
all 16 bit workflows.  Dodging and burning in 16 bit requires feathered
selections and history erase moves, and having to learn these made a huge
difference in the quality of my work.  I am not saying my photoshop work is
visibly better because of high bit file.  I am saying that the 8 bit toolbox
of dodge/burn is just plain crude compared to hi-bit techniques that are the
subject of many tutorials on the web, especially Jeff Schewe's.

I agree that 8 bit is usually fine, especially for newly photographed film
in excellent condition.  Hi bit workflows are much harder to do, take far
more time, and use more storage space.  However learning them can improve
your knowledge and skill.  The final result may or may not be better.  But
you will be a better scanner because you know more.

Thomas Robinson

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