Technical Notes & Equipment

This page is likely highly irrelevant and boring to most, be warned!

Page Contents


I have often wanted a place to store a bit about how I do things related to photography. I also think it is in poor-spirit to have a site on the internet that is almost entirely devoid of text content. As far as the machines of the internet are concerned, my site has always had very little content. I have buried this page here with the hopes that someone might find something of interest or use.


I don't think it matters what camera you use as long as it works for you.

Current go-tos:



Almost always Fuji Superia 200. I usually order between 20 and 100 rolls at a time because shipping from the US makes smaller amounts more expensive per roll. Recently I have been purchasing from Freestyle. I only use 36exp rolls because my costs for developing are the same regardless of roll length.


I scan with a Minolta Scan Elite 5400 and Vuescan. I mainly follow the "advanced workflow suggestions" which locks everything down after calibration of film density and orange mask subtraction using an unexposed portion of film. Before scanning I run the film strips through a Kinetronics StaticVac which helps a lot with dust, though I suspect a more reasonable priced anti-static solution in conjunction with compressed air would work just as well (the listed price is really high as it is marketed for commercial/industrial use, I got mine for less than $100).

After development I scan my rolls at 1350dpi. This is great for web and small prints. As needed I go back to the negatives and scan at 2700 or 5400dpi. I scan to 48-bit (16-bit/channel) AdobeRGB TIFF files, although the benefit over 8-bit really only comes into play when images are significantly under or over-exposed. My goal while scanning is to capture as much information as possible from the film, so I set the white and black clipping percentages to something quite low like 0.01%. This leads to images that appear a little on the "flattish" side (lacking contrast) but this is easy to resolve on a whole-roll level in Lightroom post-scan (see below).

At full resolution the 5400 produces 7654x5102 scans, equivalent to 39 megapixels if you want to think about it that way. These have a print size of 25.5" x 17" at 300dpi which is a good fit for my Epson 3880 and 17x25" paper. For this size I usually print 16x24 with half inch margins. When doing 'final' scans at full resolution I sometimes enable grain dissolver which slows things down but reduces the appearance of dust, scratches, and grain by introducing a built-in diffuser to the light-path.

In late 2014 I purchased a Pakon F135+, a standalone 35mm scanner that scans whole rolls or cut strips very quickly, it would have been sold as an add-on/upgrade to minilabs. At full resolution it creates 3000x2000 files. Output is 8-bit only using the standard software, but 16-bit output is possible using the TLXClientDemo software. It currently requires the use of antiquated software running under Windows XP. My workflow right now is saving raw 16-bit files out of TLXClientDemo, and running them through a script I made called pakon-planar-raw-converter which automates the process of .raw -> .tiff conversion via ImageMagick and inversion/balancing via negfix8. Many people prefer the output of the PSI software but I find it clips too much of the highlights and shadows (comparison here). It is important to avoid the raw output of PSI as the 8-bit only output introduces quantization. Sharpness is great as the scanner's film path is an arc, forcing a flat film surface as it passes the sensor. The Pakon's output is comparable to minilab scans with the benifit of being able to avoid the over-sharpened, over-contrasty images usually provided (which are worsened with the usual JPG compression).

Minolta 5400 Tips:

Disabling per-frame auto-focus while doing 1350 dpi scans is a huge time-saver. At this resolution a manually triggered auto-focus at the beginning of the roll is totally sufficient. It took me five years to figure this out.

I filed-down the windows in the film holder down so that all of the exposed area of the film can be scanned. This causes no issues although a crop buffer of 5 or 10% should be set in Vuescan so that this extra area is not taken into account during scanning image calculations.

I find shooting an IT8 target and profiling the film with vuescan makes a large difference, even though all documentation around it says it shouldn't work with neg film.

The biggest issue with the 5400 is lack of film flatness at the ends of the six-exposure strips. This is only apparent when scanning at the full 5400dpi. I have made a small sheet-metal clip which I can use to secure one end of the holder which seems to help mitigate some of the issue. I have tried various things such as ANR glass etc with little luck. Book flattening or back-rolling of a strip does help things for a short time. I would pay serious $$ for a machined aluminum tray with zero flex to ensure perfect film flatness.

I am currently waiting on a shipment of Wess AHX500K "scanning" slide mounts. These are glassless mounts with a full frame aperature and a full set of pegs which engage the sprocket holes of the film. I am hoping that they will deal the flatness problem and that they can be used to secure a single frame at the end of a film-strip. The slide carrier has one open end which does allow this configuration. Further reading

Organizing my files and negatives

I find a good system organization for images and film to be critical. This means consistently organizing and labeling your images and film so you can easily retrieve items for rescanning.


I ID each roll based upon the date when it was scanned in the following format: YYYYMMDD_XX where XX represents the index of the roll scanned on that day. For instance, the 2nd roll I scanned on June 25th would have the roll ID of 20130625_02. If I am away from home for a long time I sometimes scratch a few numbers onto the film canister representing the date as I complete the roll, and then I can use this date as the roll ID. I don't have the need to ensure the date in the roll ID matches up exactly with the date the photos were taken, it is more about a rough equivalence and having unique and sequential identifiers.

As I scan each roll I put the files from that roll into a folder named after the roll ID. Within this folder each image is named with the the roll ID followed by the image number. So 20130625_02_10 is the 10th image on the 2nd roll scanned on June 25th. That file should be in a folder named 20130625_02 within the year folder of 2013.


The contents of each roll folder are loaded into a Lightroom catalog that contains all images within the parent year folder. Lightroom allows me to adjust my images non-destructively and allows me to maintain my file-based organization as described above. I "dust" within photoshop, but otherwise make all adjustments in Lightroom. LR makes it easy to use keywords and star-ratings to pare things down for an edit or organize things in any way I might need, and arbitrary collections can be made from these items without duplicating the files themselves. One of the nicest parts of LR is its export feature: Any image set can be exported to any format and any size easily. LR is great tool for printing from as well.

After scanning I store each roll in a Print File 35-7BXW sleeve page (7 strips of 6 exposures) and place it sequentially in a binder. Every several months I print off a list of Roll IDs, cut them into strips and insert them into the identification area at the top of the sleeve. Each binder is labeled with the date-range contained within.

The only enclosed binders I have been able to find that are truly wide enough to fit the 35-7BXW sheets is the Print File Oversized Binder & Slipcase. The other enclosed binders I have tried without success are: Vue-All Safe-T Binder, Beseler Archival Binder, and the Dotline Oversized Image Safe Binder. The Print File Slipcase binder is 12"x12" square when shut. I keep four of these in a Pelican Air 1605 case to control moisture, dust etc. The binders just fit in with half an inch of space around - here is a picture of how they fit.

I keep the scanned files on a few external SSD drives (Samsung T3 500gb ) that are plugged in as needed and are backed up with Backblaze. The one problem with this is that the drives need to be scanned by Backblaze once a month or the backups will be deleted.


I started with an Epson R1800 and now have a 3880. I use a ColorMunki spectrophotometer to create custom profiles. I previously had a SpyderPrint device which was much slower to operate and generated inferior profiles.

I usually print on paper from Red River. Aside from a great selection of weights and coatings they also offer most of their stock at 17x25" in addition to the more common 17x22" (which isn't suitable for the aspect ratio of 35mm). 17x25" is just above the maximum output of my scanner when printing @ 300ppi. I more commonly print 12x18" on 13x19" paper. My favorite papers are Ultra Pro Satin for general printing, Arctic Polar Luster for special prints (for the additional weight but I could do with less bright-white though), Zeppelin Semi-gloss C2S for book projects (despite their suggestions I find printing with PK ink works better for me), and the new San Gabriel Semigloss Fiber which is extra heavy and 100% acid and OBA free. I printed a stack of one thousand 8x12" prints on their 60lb Premium Matte Plus on my R1800 for a project.

To add: third-party ink notes.

The 3880 is an huge upgrade, but the output of the R1800 looks great even when compared side-by-side with it. The biggest limitation of the R1800 (aside from the limited output size) is its internal pads for waste ink. While the 3880 has swappable "maintenance tanks", the R1800 simply shuts down when it thinks that its internal pads have reached capacity. Mine actually started to leak ink from the bottom of the printer before the shutdown occurred. It is fairly trivial to install a waste-ink diversion tube to an outside container and override the counter.

This Website

This site is generated with Middleman and hosted on Nearly Free Speech. The image assets are hosted on S3 and delivered via Cloudfront. Previous versions were built with Stacey and Indexhibit.


Thoughts or questions?

Last updated 2017-02-15