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Attached is Revision A of my Tutorial on how I process and edit color negatives using Affinity Photo. My original tutorial generally resulted in good conversions, but sometimes the deep shadows took on a blue cast. That could be corrected during editing, but was not ideal. Rev. A corrects this problem entirely and results in better, more accurate conversions. The process in Rev A is different, but is simpler to implement. 

I do not own a dedicated slide scanner, negative conversion software or plug-ins. Instead of scanning, I used my DSLR, a 100mm macro lens and an LED backlight to photograph color negatives, which I brought into Affinity Photo in their original negative form. I shot RAW, but full sized TIFFs work equally well.

The approach described in this tutorial works with any brand color negative film and preserves the color relationships in the original negative. No special negative film profiles are required. This method works well for me and I hope others find it useful. There are many ways to process color negatives and convert them to positives, but this works reliably for me and yields an image that is easy to edit. 

Best,

Lou Dina

 

Processing Color Negatives in Affinity Photo-Rev A.pdf

Edited by Ldina
Amended Tutorial for better conversions and more accurate color.

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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  • 3 weeks later...
3 hours ago, diarbyrag said:

Thanks for sharing this pdf of your workflow, it looks really good and I look forward to trying it out soon, cheers, Gary

Thanks, let me know how it works out if you try it. 😀

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Lou

Thank you for sharing your Pdf workflow for negative conversion. I am presently using a trial version of Affinity Photo, and my previous conversion work was undertaken with my old copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5. And I have always found that my perfected method provided me with excellent conversions, some of which I enlarged, mounted and exhibited.

       However not being prepared to pay the extortionate subscription costs that I would need in order to upgrade my old copy of PS, I have during the past few weeks been exploring other options, Darktable, Gimp and Affininity Photo, and at present I do favour Affinity Photo, but was concerned that my negative conversion workflow would not be possible within Affinity, so reading your Pdf workflow I feel far more confident that I will be able to make the transition away from Adobe.

    My other concern had been my creating frames with text for exhibiting my images, but the excellent and very personal response from Robin Whalley of Lenscraft to my concerns resulted in him not only advising me by email, that what I required was possible, but he went to what I consider to be the extra mile, and has produced a first class video tutorial which clearly and concisely created exactly what I require, I have to say that having been a long time subscriber to Lenscraft, not only is Robin a first class landscape photographer, but his tutorials on Affinity as well as the two books that I have purchased that he authored cannot be faulted for their clarity of explanation, though I believe he has no connection to Serif, as far as I am aware, he certainly makes a first class ambassador for their product.

I am attaching an image that I converted from a Fujifilm 35mm Raw (NEF) negative, using my Adobe Photoshop workflow, I then created the frame with text in Photoshop, the photograph was enlarged to 12 x 8 inches the frame was 16 x 8 inches, it was then board mounted for exhibition purposes.

Mehal

The Ulster Tower Thiepval France -RS-2023-09-13.jpg

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@MehalD 

Mehal, Photoshop and Affinity Photo have many common menu commands, layout, structure, filters, etc, which makes the transition easier for long time Photoshop users. I started using PS in 1994, so I was very familiar with PS's various menu commands, filters and features. There are some differences, of course, so there will be some new things to learn. 

The latest version of Adobe software I purchased is their extended CS6 Suite (PS, ID, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, etc). That still works fine on my 2009 Mac Pro running OSX Mountain Lion (which will die some day), but CS6 does not work my my 2017 MacBook Pro on the latest version of Mac O/S. That is why I switched to Affinity Photo, Designer and Publisher. I'm very happy with Affinity Photo and find I can do anything I want with it, at least so far. 

Adding frames, mats, drop shadows, text, etc, isn't a problem with Affinity Photo and I have done that myself. You can save some of these elements as "Assets" and drag and drop them into images you are editing to save time. The example you posted with the Ulster Tower can be duplicated in Affinity Photo without any difficulty. It's easy to do. 

I can't offer any comments on Darktable or Gimp because I'm not very familiar with them. I chose Affinity because it seemed pretty full featured and was a relatively easy transition. Also, the price was right, with no subscription. 

There are a handful of good ways to convert from a negative scan to a positive using Affinity Photo (or Photoshop). The tutorial I posted is just one way and it works well for me. I posted the tutorial because there are also some conversion approaches that do not work well, clip channels, cause colors to become oversaturated, etc. 

I hope this added information is of help.

 

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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Hi Lou

          Thank you for your additional comments, and your issue with CS6 and your 2017 MacBook Pro, illustrates another of my concerns, though I am using an MS Windows PC running Windows 11 Professional my concern is that when I update my laptop, then I too may also be unable to access my PS CS5, even though I have all the DVD's from CS2 onwards for upgrading purposes, but I supspect that Adobe is somehow attempting to lock out older copies, as is the case with my Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro, that although I own the DVD, I am unabloe to activate the licence key on my present system.

 

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Hi Lou

           Apologies for that, somehow my post went before I had finished what I was saying!

I intend to give your process a test run some time next week to see how it turns out, my only issue at the moment is that Affinity does not support Nikon NEF Files from the Z9, so I will have to convert them to DNG files in the Adobe DNG converter before I will be able to run my tests, hopefully if all goes well I will at the end of the trial period sign up for Affinity Photo. Thanks for your comments, they are very much appreciated.

Mehal

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@MehalD

Adobe DNG Converter works fine to convert those files to DNG format. Affinity uses LibRAW for RAW conversion (https://www.libraw.org). The Nikon Z9 is supported, however the LibRAW website states:

  • Z 9 (HE/HE* formats are not supported yet)

If your present conversion strategy from negative to positives simply inverts curves, you can do that with Affinity Photo. As I mentioned, there are a handful of good ways to get a positive from a negative that preserve the full range of captured tones, colors, saturation, etc, without unwanted clipping. 

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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Lou

    That image and frame is very impressive, and identical to what I have been creating with Photoshop, Robin Whalley of Lenscraft has now helpfully created a video tutorial that clearly explains the process, which has reassured me that Affinity is most certainly the way to go, regarding the other post about Nikon Z9 NEF imports not being supported in Affinity Photo at present, this is no problem as I can convert them to DNG Files until Affinity is able to process the NEF Files that my present camera produces, which I am sure will be only a matter of time, and given that new camera's are being produced all of the time, I suppose that the tech department at Serif have to constantly play catch up to keep pace with the ever evolving digital (mirrorless) camera scene.

Regarding your first post that I replied to in which you created a pdf file of your Affinity workflow, I am attaching a copy of my Photoshop CS5 workflow for a comparison, for some reason I am unable to attach a pdf file so the file is a MS Word document.

2021-06-15-Converting negatives to positives and adjusting quality of final print.docx

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3 hours ago, MehalD said:

regarding the other post about Nikon Z9 NEF imports not being supported in Affinity Photo at present

Depends on the APh version you use and also if you use standard compression for the Z9 here or not. - See what Ldina already wrote above for the Nikon Z9 and also take a look at ...

  • APh v2.0.x -- Nikon Z 9 (new) (standard compression formats only) !

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.6 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.6 ◆ Affinity Publisher 1.10.6 ◆ OSX El Capitan
☛ Affinity V2 apps still not installed and thus momentary not in use under MacOS

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@MehalD

While Photoshop and Affinity Photo are very similar and have many of the same tools and menu commands, there are some important differences. Each program has tools and capabilities that the other does not have, so you will sometimes need to do things differently than you are accustomed to. For example, Affinity Photo does NOT have Eyedropper Tools in the Curves dialog box to set White, Gray and Black points to neutral (which you currently use in PS, according to your Word document). You can accomplish the same thing, but the tools and strategies you use to get there may be different. 

My tutorial automatically inverts the negative image to a positive and sets the black film border to RGB 0/0/0. (This same approach also works in PS.) So, you only need to be concerned about the white and midtone points because the black point is already set. Getting a decent positive that does not clip any channels or destroy color relationships is relatively easy and quick in Affinity Photo. The rest is normal color correction and the choices we make, which are the real art and work of photo editing, whether converting a negative to a positive, or just normal editing of a digital camera capture. Anyway, you will need to do some things differently when switching from PS. 

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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Hi Lou

         Thank you again for your very helpful comments, which I have taken on board, of course I fully appreciate that there are considerable differences between Photoshop and Affinity Photo, and I need to quite clearly develop my workflow, both digital negative conversion as well as print mounting to fit with the totally different interface, and it is the interface that I initially struggled to appreciate given that I have spent so much of my life in Photoshop that Affinity Photo took me out of what you could term my comfort zone.

       However what I have so far seen and read, and also having followed a number of Robin Whalley's excellent tutorials, and now having a copy of your own negative conversion workflow has been a great encouragement to persevere and make the change over during the coming weeks.

     I am also very impressed with the Affinity Forum and the very helpful comments that I have received so far, and feel very confident that should I encounter any difficulties help is not too far away.

     Again may I thank you for your most helpful comments.

Mehal

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@MehalD

You're welcome, Mehal. Yes, there are a lot of capable, experienced people here, who are eager and willing to help. It's a good forum.

It took me a while to become totally comfortable with the Affinity Photo interface and their way of doing things after using Photoshop for nearly 30 years. I have generally come to like the Affinity interface better than PS, and their non-destructive approach to editing files. Photoshop has some features that Affinity Photo does not, but the opposite is also true. Things I used to do in PS are sometimes done differently in AP. When I use PS, I find I miss some of Affinity's features, tools and their interface. It's like learning any new tool. 

I'm glad the tutorial and the comments in this thread have been helpful. 

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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  • 1 month later...

Today, I uploaded Revision A of the Film Negative Conversion tutorial, which is an improvement over the original. It's a different, simpler process and the results are definitely superior. I removed the original tutorial and replaced it with this one. See my original post (first post in this thread) if you are interested in downloading the improved version. 

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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Ldina,

I think your rev A workflow, which pretty much nails the process. It is not too dissimilar to how I had been trying to process some of my old negs. Thankfully I do not have too many! You have produced a well thought out tutorial, which is nice to see.
Selective colour adjustment is, to me, one of the most useful tools - used carefully
The thing I miss most about Affinity is the lack of black, grey and white eyedroppers, which I used for many years in PS. At least Affinity is very flexible in how one does the adjustments. Thank you for your work, as it will really come into its own when I next end up converting negs - and forgot how I did it!
 

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@kalee Thanks, Kalee.

I also wish Affinity had White, Gray and Black eyedroppers. When using eyedroppers, you have to be sure you are actually clicking on the blackest black and whitest white in the image, since those eyedroppers force those areas to be pure black (0/0/0) and pure white (255/255/255). I have found that using the Levels adjustments on individual Red, Green and Blue channels often yields better results. 

To make the film negative conversion process a bit faster and save a few steps, I am attaching a macro that adds the necessary adjustment layers when converting from negative to positive. It is important to CROP your negative image before adjusting Levels, Curves or Selective Color. You don't want the film base, sprocket holes and light source to be visible when adjusting your image. The macro adds some basic adjustments in Levels and Curves, but they won't be accurate for most images. You will need to readjust the Levels and Curves for each individual image. You can correct color, contrast and brightness using Curves, or Selective Color, or both together.

Below is an alternative approach that is more automatic, but it is destructive and is rather "hit and miss". It works pretty well on some images, but not so great on others. The Rev A Tutorial approach is definitely superior, but requires more user involvement.

The quickie, destructive approach...

1. Develop Persona - set WB to match your neutralized light source (5850K/+12 tint for my LED backlight). No other adjustments. Click Develop.
2. CROP image to remove film border and sprocket holes (before or after inverting the image). 
3. In Photo Persona, use Command-I on Mac, Control-I on Windows to invert the negative to positive. 
4. At the top of the screen, click on Auto Levels to set the darkest point to black, the lightest point to pure white. Or try Auto Contrast as an alternative. You can use Cmd-Z to Undo if you don't like the result. (If you don't see those controls, you can also find them in the main menu, Filters > Colors > Auto Levels or Auto Contrast.)
5. The midtone color & brightness will require adjustment (use Curves, Levels, or Selective Color to adjust the midtones, and to tweak Highlights and Shadows).
6. Carry on with other editing as desired. 

Film Negative Conversion.afmacro

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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Ldina,

I gave your macro a quick run on a couple of 50 year old negs I have played with before.
It works fine as a quick and dirty process for me - and you can quickly dump another image on top to see if the tweaks work on that one the same.
I hate old colour negs, as I usually shot slides and B&W, but this combination is all I need. I do not compensate for light source, as these are already scanned, but will keep it in mind for future scans.
Thanks again.

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@kalee The macro is VERY generic and needs major adjustments on an image by image basis. It wasn't designed to be a 'single click and you're done' macro. Its job is to load the appropriate adjustment layers to save a few steps, and to remind the user of the process and layers used in the Tutorial. Individual red, green and blue channels need to be adjusted in Levels, and the midtone luminosity and color usually need adjustment (Levels, Curves, Selective Color, etc).

If you're looking for 'quick and dirty', try the destructive process in my previous post. It works reasonably well on some images, but poorly on others. Auto Levels or Auto Contrast aren't discriminating, have no adjustment options, and apply the same exact algorithm every time. If that algorithm "happens to fit" your image, the results are fairly good. If you're just looking to digitize a bunch of old negatives and aren't too picky, it might be worth trying. 

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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  • 4 weeks later...

I wanted to add one more thing, which I have often found useful when converting color film negatives to positives. It's an "optional" step to the tutorial and can sometimes result in more accurate conversions.

Before using Levels on the individual Red, Green and Blue channels to set their respective endpoints, I often use a Threshold Adjustment Layer to identify the brightest and darkest parts of the image. This works particularly well with the darkest shadows if you want to force them to 0/0/0 Black. It works well with the white point too, but if you select a non-neutral bright area and force it to be white, you can introduce a color cast. I use Threshold in conjunction with the Samplers in the Info Panel. 

1. Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Threshold

2. Move Threshold slider to the left to find the darkest part of the image.

3. Drag a Sampler from the Info Panel and drag on top of that darkest pixel location. Set Sampler readout to RGBA.

4. Move Threshold slider right to find the brightest part of the image that you want to force to be neutral or pure white. Set a second sample point, also to RGBA. (You may choose a specular highlight, a known white, etc, but try not to pick something that is non-neutral.)

5. Once Sample points are selected, you can Delete the Threshold adjustment layer, or turn off its visibility. Its job is done. (The Samplers will remain in the Info Panel even if you delete the Threshold Adjustment Layer.)

6. Use Levels (per the tutorial) to set the individual Red, Green and Blue endpoints, but you can refer to the readouts of the Sample points in the Info Panel to adjust them more accurately. Black points can be set to 0/0/0 (pure black) or a little lighter if desired (e.g., 10/10/10). The white points can be set to 255/255/255 (pure white) or a little darker if desired (e.g., 245/245/245). 

7. Continue with Tutorial steps and normal editing to your taste. 

2017 15" MacBook Pro, 16 MB RAM, Ventura v13.6.1, Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher v2.2.1, Adobe CS6 Extended,
Dell 30" Monitor, Canon PRO-100 Printer, Adobe CS6 Extended

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