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scanning overexposed b&w negative on Coolscan V ED

David Benyukhis , Dec 09, 2011; 06:33 p.m.

How to obtain a scanned image from very overexposed b&w 35 mm negative?
I work on my old film archive. Unfortunately, there are some overexposed negatives, and my Nikon Scanner Coolscan V ED of about 5 min scanning these negatives produced almost blank images.
Any tips are very welcome. David


JDM von Weinberg , Dec 09, 2011; 06:46 p.m.

If your controls/scanner allow multiple scans (in effect stacking them) you may be able to get some detail, but if the negative is so overexposed as to be truly and really just black, well, you may not be able to draw out any detail.

Len Marriott , Dec 09, 2011; 06:46 p.m.

David, 'Farmer's Reducer' or some similar product to thin the negs somewhat? Best, LM.

Marc Epstein , Dec 09, 2011; 07:33 p.m.

Try to reduce the analog gain in the control panel of the Nikon Scanner. You may have to go in steps to get to the point you need, however, the results may not be great for -2 or more stops. Worth a try.
Also, another technique is to use a slide copier and your digital camera to "scan" the negative. You have a lot of control over the exposure this way. There is some published information on this method .. see the dam book .. no pun intended ..

Marc Epstein , Dec 09, 2011; 07:33 p.m.

let us know if this works

Hector Javkin , Dec 09, 2011; 08:43 p.m.

Marc has the right idea in general, just the wrong direction. It is possible in Nikon Scan (and probably in whatever software you're using) to increase the gain on the light source, which is what you need to do to get any light through an overexposed, and therefore very dense, negative. It can be increased by up to 2 stops. If that doesn't work, a lab can either do the scan for you or produce an inter-negative. Understand that you'll lose some quality, hopefully not too much.

David Benyukhis , Dec 09, 2011; 10:57 p.m.

Let me cordially appreciate the prompt responses on my problem. Thank all of you very much.

Mendel Leisk , Dec 10, 2011; 09:11 a.m.

I've scanned tri-x with dense highlights, both with a Coolscan V and a Minolta Scan Elite 5400, and the latter was able to get more highlight detail. To be fair I didn't experiment with the V's analog gain. I've posted some examples here:


One thing with the 5400: it's an undocumented necessity to turn on the scanner at least 20 minutes before scanning. This is to allow the light bulb to full warm/brighten.

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