Scanning panoramic Xpan negatives with a 35mm dedicated scanner

So I had some fun trying to scan the Xpan slides and negatives from my last post. They are on 35mm film, but take up the space of two frames, per shot. My dedicated 35mm scanner, a Nikon Coolscan IV ED, can only scan one frame at a time. I eventually managed to scan all the frames using a simple, if long process:

1) Using Vuescan, load the first half of your slide into the Preview pane. You can use the colour correction options if you like, but I choose not to, to keep it simple, and adjust later.

2) Use the Frame Offset option to shuffle your frame up and down, until you can see an edge. Sliding towards negative numbers moves the image down, sliding towards positive moves it up. Go in increments of 5 to begin with.

3) Crop and Scan this first half of the frame. Save as a TIF to preserve as much tonal info as possible.

4) IMPORTANT: select “exposure lock” now, to lock the scanner’s exposure setting to what it used for this frame half. If you don’t do this, it’ll scan the second half to a different exposure config.

5) Now increment the frame number by 1 to move to the next frame (keep the offset the same for now) and hit Preview to see what that gets for you. Use the frame offset to shuffle and preview, shuffle and preview, until you see the other end of the frame.

6) Crop and scan, and you have your two halves! Ideally there should be some overlap in the middle of the two frames – you can use this to align the two halves.

7) Open both halves in your image editor of choice (I used PS CS5), copy both layers into a larger canvas, align and save as a TIF. Voila! You have your long Xpan image.

8) Now adjust colour, exposure etc as you would normally – I open in Lightroom and do it there, as I find the interface much simpler. Having it in TIF format means there’s a lot more room to play about too.

Hope this helps someone – next time, I’ll just pay whoever develops my negatives to scan them as well.

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