Dust Removal – Scratches Too
When we scan medium format or 35mm slides & negatives we use a feature in Nikon & Epson scanners called Digital ICE, this automatically handles scratches and dust removal inevitably found on old material. It’s done using dedicated hardware and infrared light. However …
It doesn’t work on black & white material, and the results with Kodachromes can be variable. And we don’t scan all the slides out there that need scanning.
We rely heavily on a program called Silverfast from a German company called LaserSoft Imaging for our slide scanning service. Alongside their support for Digital ICE (which is hardware based) they’ve developed a software only alternative which is baked into their scanning program. Exactly as it should be as I think we paid over £600 for the software, anyway I digress.
If you have any images you’ve captured from slides or negatives (35mm / MF/ Large format; colour or mono) you can now access Silverfast dust and scratch removal by investing in a Photoshop plug-in called SRD-X. The regular price is due to be 99 Euros / Dollars but it’s on offer now for 29. Here’s how it works thanks to a German original tutorial helpfully dubbed into English.
We’ve tried SRD-X from within the Silverfast scanning application and it definitely improves things. But …. clean your source material first. The sample image you see in the video is just filthy. Using a soft brush, a dust blower, even your handkerchief you can get a lot off the image before you scan. Then, if your scanner supports it, use Digital ICE as it delivers a better result and it’s very much faster.
You will be left with imperfections, and the video view shows this, that you will have to deal with. As you’ll also see if you allow the software unrestrained power you’ll lose detail that you might otherwise want. This type of plugin is not a silver bullet when it comes to dust removal. Nonetheless, if you have a project that doesn’t lend itself to commercial scanning or another way to use Digital ICE this will save you time and frustration at pretty modest cost.
There should also be a free trial / preview version as there typically is with LSI Silverfast products.