Lately, I have been experimenting with chromogenic black-and-white film. However, I have had some trouble scanning the negatives. With colour film, scanning seems to work fine with the standard settings. However, when I try scanning chromogenic black-and-white film, I'm having trouble getting a good image.

Are there any recommendations or best practices when handling chromogenic black-and-white film (minimizing the amount of post-processing necessary)?

More specifically, the following pictures were taken and scanned using:

  • Ilford XP2 Super, ISO 400
  • HP ScanJet G4050
  • Image Capture on Mac OS X El Capitan on standard settings

The following pictures were scanned as colour negatives (in the same run, without any changes): weird red hue and banding weird hue Here are some more pictures from the same run for comparison: , ,

It seems to me that either the scanner or the software attempts to balance colours in some way?

When I switch to greyscale negatives, the colour problem (obviously) disappears, but then the scans look somewhat bland, lacking depth (but maybe I'm just seeing things?) and the banding problem gets worse: still some banding even worse banding Again, some more pictures from the same run for comparison 8, 9, 10.

For comparison, here's a photo I have taken of a (cheap) print from the negative. It's not optimal quality, but it's still much better than what the scans deliver: print

Obviously, I could just desaturate the colour negative scans, but this doesn't solve the banding problem (and it looks a lot to me as if this was the same thing the scanning software does?): still banding in desaturated colour scan

  • \$\begingroup\$ Flatbed scanners will give you disappointing results... They have a very limited dynamic range and even when using good software (vuescan or silverfast) the optical quality is so very limited. I would suggest that you re-photograph the image with a macro lens and a camera that can record RAW format. \$\endgroup\$
    – user39557
    Dec 8, 2017 at 4:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @cegaton : your claims are wrong (cf my answer); furthermore we don't create more information by reshooting and playing with the subsequent raw. You can eventually create more information by using many images. This is the case when you do astrophotography, HDR, and superresolution (from video). \$\endgroup\$
    – Soleil
    Dec 8, 2017 at 14:55

2 Answers 2


It looks like your scanner is scanning with a limited spectrum when you ask to scan BW begative images, hence the flattening when luminance details come from blue and green channels, and little from red channel. When I take the red channel from the color scan you published, I get (with few adjustements with 'curves') a very close result as your BW scans, hence I strongly believe your scan takes only the red spectrum.

In order to get the real result with this model of scanner, I recommend you to scan in color, then to flatten in BW your image. Unless your want to rewrite your scanner drivers (which can be fun), or unless you can tune such parameter as "the spectrum used for BW scan". You can play with color filter, channels specific adjustments to optimize your result, the same way photographers were using orange and red filters with BW films at the shooting moment to soften and lighten skin tones for instance.

I worked a lot with XP2, and I always got the best results from scanning in color. even though my scanner was working with full spectrum in BW mode.

Today, when I want to do BW images, I shoot in color (digital) and then work the color channels later, this gives me maximum flexibility and creativity.

Good luck


I always used VueScan for scanning negatives. I believe it's still being actively developed, and it always gave me the best results.


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