Restoration of scanned old photos

Good evening to you,

I just spent the past weeks scaning litteraly THOUSANDS of family pictures that are of 30 - 50 years old. As you can imagine, the colours of a lot of them were a lot damaged / yellowed by storage / sun.

My question is, for the experts, would you recommend a workflow or automatic filter to recover the colours quality with PhotoLab ?

Thanks a lot for the help,

There is nothing automatic. There is no magic bullet. Just hard work.

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Good morning @Yakawar ,
I agree with Joanna even though I am not an expert :grinning:
Five or six years ago I own a Nikon Coolscan V Scanner and scanned a lot of slides and negatives with photos from my family. I used both the Nikon software and Vuescan as I got better results.
The Nikon scanner had the possibility to restore colours as well as to remove dust and scratches. I don’t remember the name of the process, but it sometimes gave good results.
I sold the scanner at some point, archived the Tif files and experimented with them from time to time or even created a small booklet for my mother.
When a friend asked me if I could scan slides for him, I bought the Plustek OpticFilm 135i after reading the review on https://www.35mmc.com/04/05/2021/plustek-opticfilm-135i-35mm-film-scanner/.
Again, I experimented with the original software and Vuescan. My friend then scanned his slides with the original software because it was more comfortable and easier for him…
I then tried post-processing with DXO, Affinity Photo and finally with Topaz products. Since they weren’t my own photos, I didn’t invest that much time, but as Joanna said, it takes a lot of work.
My friend wants to start work in the autumn, and we will probably invest a little more time in finding a workflow for him.
Maybe I’ll sit down at the PC in winter to make a photo book with pictures from 1985, or a family photo book. Where I’m not sure yet…should I take the pictures with the old charm of washed out colours and slight noise, or work moderately with e.g. Gigapixel AI.
In any case, I wish you lots of fun and memories with the old photos.

Have a great time

Guenter

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I have an Epson Perfection V550 scanner. One of the scanning options is Color Restoration. It works very well with faded photos. At least, it gets to the neighborhood.

I have been restoring old photos for over twenty years and have used many tools to do the job. So -
If you used a scanner then. presumably, your photos are either in jpeg or tif format. For these, I would use a photo editor such as Photoshop rather than Photolab. Lightroom is somewhere in between. Reason? the main tool used is the clone tool and Photoshop is by far the best.

Colour correction is also important. My experience is that Lightroom is a bit better in this regard than Photolab, especially, if you are going to use Photoshop next. In Photoshop or which ever editor you use, cloning and colour correction are at your finger tips.

If you used a camera then, presumably, your photos are in raw format. For these Photolab or Lightroom can be used to process the raw into tif but you still need an editor.

Neither Photolab or Lightroom can do the complete job by themselves.

Allan

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For those who don’t want to pay the monthly slave fee to Adobe, Affinity Photo will do the job. If you still have a computer that runs it, Adobe Photoshop CS6 is perfectly capable of doing this kind of bitmap editing with aplomb.

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I have never actually used Photoshop CS 6, but I agree that Affinity Photo does a very credible job.

Mark

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Yes, CS6, which is what I use with Win 10, is more than capable as are older versions.

Really, any decent editor can do the job. Photolab and Lightroom are not editors as such and were designed for a different purpose.

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Which tools would you use in Affinity Photo to restore colours in scanned images (TIFFs), Mark ?

John

John,

I was referring to Affinity Photo as a general replacement for the PhotoShop subscription. Sorry for the confusion.

Mark

I disagree about this “me being a tough girl” statement :grin:

It all depends on the quality of the source material - if there’s a lot of different films, different state of age, different quality of light and exposure - then yes.

If @Yakawar who just banged this thread in and disappeared afterwards, knows how to expose, used a few different film types, it’s pretty much straightforward, the tough work is just to adjust a few images and then create a preset. After scanning some 1000 negatives and later redo that again, just this time without a lame scanner (for what do we have macro lenses?) I think I know what I’m talking about.

Besides it also depends on the claim to perfection. My goodness, get a grip on this project! These are old pictures, maybe of emotional value but nothing to do a master thesis on. Back in the day you simply did not have the skills of today. I want to see my old pictures, having some sort of contact sheet and then bothering more about those I still like today - few enough!

Thanks for mentioning “disappeared”… Not.

I’m just seeing replies not really answering my precise question, so no need to answer to that.

  • Photolab only
  • 30-50 years old photo with bad yellowish colours, no other degradation.
  • these are thousands photos of family, not negatives.
  • brother scanner, jpeg files.

After weeks of scanning, I just enquire about tips / workflow / presets or something that could help improve the images a bit from the effect of sun/time.

Just hard work, well, ok. One by one for 5000+ pics… I’m unsure.

Enjoy the weekend.

First and foremost, @Yakawar Scanning and saving JPGs, was actually wrong to get some colors back. JPG is an export format for small file sizes, but it will limit your possibilities right from the beginning.

Second, if you ask here for advice, it would be helpful for all posters to give the information you just gave 3 days after thread opening.

We might have different ideas about “precise questions”…

Enjoy your weekend.

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Hello,

only an idea…why not working with Channel Mixer to minimise the yellowish colours, change some other settings and save as preset. Then assigning this preset to all photos

only an idea :innocent:

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Come to think of it, are the prints B&W or colour?

channel mixer, HSL tool, tone curve tool, Nik Collection tools and more can be used to at least partially restore faded colours. Presets can possibly work on a (limited) number of images…and all tools take some effort.

I often resort to B&W in such cases. As a starting point,

  • convert to B&W (HSL tool or Style/Toning tool or Color Rendering tool)
  • set Smart Lighting to medium or set black and white points with the tone curve

  • Add bulges to the TC if needed or wanted - only for selected images

Maybe you could share a few examples, @Yakawar.
Use a sharing or cloud service for heavier files.

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I recently scanned hundreds of old photo prints, mainly colour using an old Epson Perfection V500 photo scanner.
The Epson scanning software which came with the scanner automatically corrects colour, removes scratches etc. Also can scan multiple prints at the same time into individual files.
The resulting TIFs were processed in Photolab before exporting as final jpegs. A small number of images had additional processing in Affinity or Gigapixel.
I found the results from the Epson scanner were vastly superior to my fairly recent scanner / printer.

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Might VueScan software have some better restoration features than his present scanner software?

As others have pointed out though we have very limited information from the OP. I don’t think he has said what scanner/software he’s using.

I was concluding “yellowish colours = old color prints”, but what do I know about scan mysteries…

This could equally well be colour scans of B&W prints - in which case, it should be possible to convert the image to B1W and use the channel mixer or colour filters to “de-tune” the difference in shading.