The secret to quality scanning is getting the most data possible from the original. The dynamic range, even from high-end scanners, usually requires a compromise with either the highlights or the shadows. A low-end scanner simply lowers the dynamic range so that neither are reproduced adequately. If you make adjustments to retain those light highlights, you end up severely blocking the shadows. When attempting to open them in Photoshop curves, all you accomplish is intensifying shadow noise. Now, however, there is a sensible solution that allows you to use multiple exposure scans in much the same way that HDR capture works on a DSLR. One scan is created for the highlights, another for the shadows. This is all created automatically using Microtek’s new ArtixScan M1 scanner and SilverFast’s Ai Studio software (which comes with the deluxe version of the scanner).
This is very different than multi-sampling that has been available on scanners for some time. Multi-scans essentially take several identical scans and then use artificial intelligence to reduce noise by eliminating erroneous aberrations.
How it works
Multi-exposure scans are actually a simple procedure. A frame of film is pre-scanned, and the full tonality is analyzed. Secondly, the scanner, instead of trying to manipulate the range of a single exposure, calculates two different exposures—one for the shadows and one for the highlights. This cuts the strain of trying to render both tonalities and also reduces the shadow noise caused by trying to accommodate both extremes in a single scan.
By using the ArtixScan, Silverfast, and multi-exposure scanning, there is no need for pre-scanned manipulation. In fact, all of the controls in SilverFast are grayed out when it is set to multi-exposure scanning. As with Raw files in your camera, you do not reduce your scan to an 8-bit file, but stay in 48-bit color or 16-bit grayscale. In order to do an HDR scan, SilverFast must be launched as a stand-alone application. The image is then saved and can be opened later in Photoshop for further editing.