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Scanner Profile over Ansel's Zones | by zoglmannk
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Scanner Profile over Ansel's Zones

This image and "Ansel Adam's Zones" are scanned from the same negatives.


I learned from this test image that scanning is more tolerant of under-exposure than the wet process of making prints, but it does result in a loss of tonal information as you move away from the optimal exposure by under-exposure. The tonal information seems to be preserved in over-exposure, but it comes at a cost of increased noise of the scanner trying to see through the dense negative. It would be very interesting to re-scan the negatives using a scanner with a better Dmax. My scanner has a Dmax of 3.4 compared to much better scanners that have a Dmax of 4.0.


You really need to look at the much larger size to see the increase in noise and differences of contrast. I have also hosted the original 16bit Tiff files if you would like to form your own opinion. You can download the 108MB file here .


This image was specially created to test out my hybrid analog and digital process. I took 10 pictures following Ansel Adam's directions in his book "The Negative." I bought a uniformly textured fabric, lit it uniformly as I could, and I metered carefully by 30degree reflection which is represented as zone 5 above. Then I changed each exposure by 1 f-stop. Moving to the right is of increasing exposure and moving to the left is of decreasing exposure. I only had 10 shots on the roll, so I didn't do a zone 10. If you are unfamiliar, zone 5 is the optimal exposure.


When I scanned each image I set the histogram so there was generally no real clipping in the scanning software and I was getting all of the information from the negative. And I reviewed each histogram after scanning and trimmed it a tiny bit if I errored a bit on the side of caution and had some empty histogram.


zone 0 - f/22 1/30th

zone 1 - f/22 1/60th

zone 2 - f/22 1/30th

zone 3 - f/16 1/30th

zone 4 - f/11 1/30th

zone 5 - f/8 1/30th

zone 6 - f/5.6 1/30 th

zone 7 - f/4 1/30th

zone 8 - f/4 1/15th

zone 9 - f/4 1/8th


Fuji Acros 100 ISO 120 sized

Developed in Rodinal 1+50 (16min 68F standard agitation)

Taken with Mamiya RZ67 with 110mm Sekor lens using a tripod and cable release.

Scanned on Epson Perfection 4490 Photo scanner.

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Taken on October 24, 2009