Scanning 6×6 Negatives

The 35mm film scanning setup I have developed over the last several years uses a digital camera, most recently a Fujifilm X-T20, combined with a Leitz BEOON copy stand and a 50/2.8 Schneider enlarging lens. It produces scans I really like. It is very fast and very easy to use. For the few 6×6 negative I have scanned recently I used the same setup, taking six 35mm shots of the one 6×6 negative and stitching them together with Panorama Stitcher. I like these scans too, but the process is neither fast nor easy. I have some old 6×6 scans that I did with an Epson V700 and some even older scans I did with a Canoscan 8800f. I have some 12×12 prints I made from some of those scans some years ago. They aren’t half bad but, sadly, both scanners went with the big sale before we downsized to our current quarters. But I recently found an Epson V600 at a very reasonable price and I bought it. I thought it would be interesting to compare the scans with the V600 and the stitching setup.

Concurrently, I have been trying to find room on my tiny guest bathroom sink counter for the larger bottles and graduates I used for developing 120 film in our previous home. Once I realized that the jug of distilled water could actually go on the floor I was ready to give it a try. I finished shooting a roll of Tri-X in my Hasselblad, My records indicate that I loaded it in 2017. Needless to say the film had developed a nasty reverse curl. Combined with the curly film, my lack of practice resulted in a botched job of loading the Hewes reel in the changing bag. The film was badly wrinkled and in a number of spots not properly separated from the adjacent track. None of the 12 frames were unaffected. The frame below is one of the least bad. 

Here is the subject frame scanned with the Epson V600. 


And here is the same frame scanned with the Fujifilm X-T20. 


Both images were scanned as Gray16 JPG’s with all additional image processing in the scanner and the camera turned off. Using Affinity Photo for both scans I simply cropped them, set the black and white points to 0.3 and 0.7 respectively, and set the gamma to 1.5 to get a little more contrast in the mid tones. No sharpening was done to either image at any time. They both look pretty good to me on the 13″ Retina display of my MacBook Air. I am confident that both would produce perfectly acceptable 8×8 prints. But what about larger prints, or heavy cropping? Let’s take a closer look at the exact same scans.

Here is a closer look at the V600 scan. 


And a closer look at the T-T20 scan.


The V600 scan is better than I expected, and I am a little disappointed with the X-T20 scan. I expect I could get away with a 12×12 print of the stitched scan, but probably nothing larger. If I decide to continue with medium format I will probably scan all of the frames on a roll with the V600 and go back and scan just those I decide to print with the X-T20. 

Thoughts? Comments?

5 thoughts on “Scanning 6×6 Negatives”

    1. Thanks! When I went back and looked very closely at the X-T20 scan I saw a few places where the stitching had problems lining things up.

      I also suspect that the stitching software may adversely affect the representation of the scanned film grain. It was certainly a product of the digital era. The next test when I get back home will be doing a single 24mm by 36mm X-T20 scan of the center of the 6×6 negative and comparing it with the same portion of the stitched scan at extreme magnification.


      1. Hi Doug. Why do all of this? If the difference is only noticeable at high magnification, why do the comparison? I do all my 35mm film scanning on a V600, and I’ve never thought to magnify the results, especially since the. The purpose of my scanning is to display them digitally. Given that the most modern phones/tablets/laptops/desktops/TVs max out at 4K (4096 × 2160 pixels), the differences are not noticeable at typical viewing sizes.

        FWIW, I think the V600 scan is better. I’ve never used my X-T3 to scan a negative (or positive).


      2. Hi Khürt, I scan to make inkjet prints. My “large” 6×6 prints are 11.5″ by 11.5″. With the 360 dpi native resolution of the Epson P700 that works out to roughly 17 megapixels. (Yes, I know that dpi doesn’t translate directly to psi, but it’s not a bad first order approximation.) Prints from V600 and stitched X-T20 scans of the same negative look different at an arm’s length viewing distance. The V600 prints seem to have better separation of the mid tones but the X-T20 prints have more “punch.” (I hate the term but I can’t think of a better word right now.) Both scans are RAW files so post processing doesn’t account for the visible difference. The close-up views were a first attempt to explain the difference.


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