Scanning with SilverFast
Illustration by John Hersey

Scanning grayscale photos


Scanning with SilverFast

with Taz Tally

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Video: Scanning grayscale photos

In this video, I'd like to show you how to scan a continuous tone grayscale image. The image we are going to use is this photograph of my best buddy in the world, Zip. And before we get started and going into the automatic mode, I'd like to address a couple of our challenges and goals that we are going to be working with when we capture a continuous tone image. First of all, I've already performed a Prescan here in the full Manual mode and that's why the image is up on screen. When we're working with continuous tone images, unlike working with line art, where the issue is all about reproducing edges, in continuous tone images, the issue is all about reproducing the wide variety of grayscale values that you have in your image.
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  1. 5m 19s
    1. Welcome
    2. What you should know before watching this course
    3. Taking the Tazmanian Oath
      3m 38s
  2. 19m 14s
    1. Launching SilverFast
      4m 2s
    2. Touring the SilverFast interface
      3m 35s
    3. Understanding SilverFast's scanning workflows
      4m 28s
    4. Using automated vs. manual scanning
      4m 31s
    5. Getting help as you use SilverFast
      2m 38s
  3. 32m 46s
    1. Touring the SilverFast 8 automatic scanning tools
      6m 7s
    2. Preparing for automatic scanning
      4m 6s
    3. Arranging your workspace
      4m 23s
    4. Setting up color management
      4m 43s
    5. Setting scan frame and resolution
      3m 55s
    6. Adjusting, naming, formatting, and locating an image
      8m 24s
    7. Previewing scan settings with the info tool
      1m 8s
  4. 1h 7m
    1. Scanning simple line art
      8m 7s
    2. Scanning detailed line art
      8m 9s
    3. Scanning grayscale photos
      11m 43s
    4. Scanning color photos
      11m 17s
    5. Scanning a color photo as a grayscale image
      12m 15s
    6. Scanning a positive piece of film
      6m 53s
    7. Scanning a negative piece of film
      8m 39s
  5. 26m 1s
    1. Touring the manual scanning tools
      7m 19s
    2. Setting preferences for manual scanning
      10m 0s
    3. Calibrating your scanner
      3m 40s
    4. Arranging your workspace
      5m 2s
  6. 1h 35m
    1. Scanning simple line art and changing it into vectors
      7m 38s
    2. Scanning simple line art and keeping it as pixels
      5m 42s
    3. Scanning detailed line art
      8m 18s
    4. Scanning grayscale photos
      14m 5s
    5. Scanning landscape color photos
      15m 51s
    6. Scanning color portrait photos
      13m 56s
    7. Scanning color product shots
      9m 29s
    8. Scanning a color photo as a grayscale image
      4m 31s
    9. Scanning a piece of positive color film
      5m 52s
    10. Scanning a piece of negative color film
      9m 56s
  7. 1h 0m
    1. Should I use SilverFast or Photoshop?
      4m 9s
    2. Making global color corrections
      4m 37s
    3. Bringing out shadow details
      4m 28s
    4. Making a selective color replacement
      3m 21s
    5. Sharpening in SilverFast
      7m 15s
    6. Working with target-based corrections
      4m 55s
    7. Color correcting with neutrals
      10m 19s
    8. Exploring automatic color correction in manual mode
      3m 35s
    9. Scanning a printed image
      5m 49s
    10. High-bit-depth and HDR scanning
      5m 29s
    11. Removing noise and patterns
      3m 32s
    12. Removing dust and scratches
      3m 30s
  8. 7m 3s
    1. Batch scanning images
      1m 29s
    2. Using the JobManager
      4m 16s
    3. Exploring SilverFast 8 shortcuts and tips
      1m 18s
  9. 1m 29s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 29s

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Watch the Online Video Course Scanning with SilverFast
5h 15m Appropriate for all Mar 23, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, photographer and scanning expert Taz Tally describes how to use the LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast software to scan photos, line art, film negatives, and other printed documents, while getting the highest quality scans possible from your scanner. The course begins with an overview of SilverFast, then takes a task-oriented look at the SilverFast automatic and manual scanning modes, showing numerous scanning projects from start to finish. The course also explores a variety of specialized scanning topics, such as removing color casts and scratches, High Dynamic Range (HDR) scanning, and wet scanning.

Topics include:
  • Arranging your workspace
  • Setting up color management
  • Setting scan frame and resolution
  • Calibrating the scanner
  • Performing grayscale and color automatic scans
  • Performing a negative color film scan
  • Scanning simple line art and changing it into vectors
  • Scanning photos
  • Making global color corrections to a scan
  • Sharpening
  • Removing noise, dust, and scratches
  • Batch scanning
Taz Tally

Scanning grayscale photos

In this video, I'd like to show you how to scan a continuous tone grayscale image. The image we are going to use is this photograph of my best buddy in the world, Zip. And before we get started and going into the automatic mode, I'd like to address a couple of our challenges and goals that we are going to be working with when we capture a continuous tone image. First of all, I've already performed a Prescan here in the full Manual mode and that's why the image is up on screen. When we're working with continuous tone images, unlike working with line art, where the issue is all about reproducing edges, in continuous tone images, the issue is all about reproducing the wide variety of grayscale values that you have in your image.

And in particular, in images particularly have portraits like this, we want to really pay attention to three of four key things. One is the white highlight, like in Zip's fur, for instance, we want to make sure that this white fur is nice and bright and white but not so light that we lose detail that we blow it out. And in the shadow areas, like in the dark areas of the fur, we want to make sure that that's nice high contrast, so we have good overall contrast in the image but not so dark that we fill in and lose the details as a result of too much data. Then we want to address the overall brightness of the image and then the contrast of the image.

Those are the key elements when we work with a continuous tone image; it's all about reproducing the tone. So, let's just dive right in and get into the automatic workflow. And by the way, in all of these projects that we're doing, I'm assuming that you've cleaned your image and you've cleansed your scanner. So to get into the automatic Workflow, we click here on the WorkflowPilot, the red globe in the upper left- hand corner and that takes us into the automatic Workflow. And we start this by answering a few basic questions up here in the upper left-hand corner. And we always work from left to right in the automatic Workflow mode.

The first question we answer is what is the Source of the input image, is it a print, is it a photo, and this is a photograph so we choose photo. Then we address the output Task, that is, what do we intend to use t his for. And as you can see there are lots of choices here. What I am going to do is show you how to create a continuous tone grayscale image that you can use for a lot of purposes. We're going to create it for the highest quality purpose, which is print and then you can make copies with that image and downsize it, downsample it, save it in different resolutions and file formats for use later.

If you know you are just going to be using your image in, for instance, on screen and in presentations, you can go to Presentation mode and SilverFast can step you through that particular process. What I'd like to show you is a more general one that creates a very high-quality image that you can use for multiple purposes later on. So we're going to choose the Print mode here. So Photo for input, Print for output and notice based upon the settings that you have here that creates a set of tools that SilverFast puts up here for use for that particular purpose. And as you'll see, this is a standard set of tools to be used for creating high-quality prints. All right! The next step is to choose the Bit depth or the mode in which we are going to scan.

We have two choices, color and grayscale; we are going to choose grayscale, because that's the nature of this image. SilverFast will capture in 16-bit and deliver the file to us in 8-bit mode. And then, we are ready to start the process. I am going to click the Start button and what that does is it automatically performs a preview scan or a prescan and that brings Zip up on the image as you see here. And the next thing we want to tell SilverFast is what do we want the scanner to capture? And we do that by adjusting the red scan frame that you see here. Now you'll notice when we choose the Print task, we click in the upper left-hand corner which is typically where I start.

I go upper left and then lower right and adjust those and it's a quick way to adjust the frame. But notice in Print mode when we pull this down, the frame remains in the same dimensions. That's because in Print mode, and let's look over here on the left-hand side, you can fix your scan frame. So, for instance, if you wanted to have his image as a 5?7 image, then when you pull this down, it will maintain the proportions of the 5?7 image. This is very handy when you're trying to scan for a particular output size. So it's a great feature and then you just check on the Fix scan frame.

Well, in this case, we're not going for a particular output size and this is kind of a square image that we see here, so we are going to turn the scan frame off in this case. And then, we'll go ahead and click in the upper left and set the upper left boundary and to move down to the lower right and set the lower right boundary and that's a two step process for setting your frame on your image. And then before we move on of course, also in this dialog box we want to make sure that we set the resolution for the scanner at which we capture our image. And in Print mode we basically have two resolution choices; 300 pixels per inch which is good for high- quality printing and then a Draft at 150.

We're going to choose 300, because remember our goal here is to create a high-quality image that we can then make copies of and use for other purposes if we want to. So we've set out scan frame and we've set our resolution for scanning, then we click the Continue button. And because we've chosen the Print task, SilverFast is automatically going to apply some correction to the image. You can see that the image has overall better contrast here, because of the automatic correction that has been applied to it. And we are going to go take a look and see what that correction is.

I am going to click on the Continue button and you could just zoom forward to the end if you just want up accept what SilverFast offers you, and SilverFast will do a very nice job. But along the way I'd like to show you maybe how you might want to do some fine-tuning based upon the content of the image. And by the way, in SilverFast, we use terminology such as Histogram and Gradation tool which are exactly the same tools we find in Photoshop, but they are just called Levels and Curves in Photoshop. All right! So we can see what's happened here, is with the automatic adjustment of the histogram, SilverFast has already set the Highlight point and the Shadow point tucked in.

and where it places those will depend upon where we set the highlights and shadow points in the preferences that we talked about earlier. And I think we set those at 5% for the Highlight and 95% for the Shadow. You could adjust these here and you can adjust the midtone, but I recommend that you don't. In fact, there is a better place to adjust the midtone and that's in the next tool. So let's click on the Continue tool. We can see that SilverFast has already done a nice job. If we just completed the scan now we'd end up with a nice image, but let's fine-tune a little bit, add a little bit of manual fine-tuning to our automatic scan here.

and we are going to do that with the Gradation tool. Two things we're going to address here, one is overall brightness and then contrast. And that's the order in which you always want to work on images. Highlights and shadows first, then brightness and then contrast. And in the Gradation or Curve tool, we adjust the midtone to adjust overall brightness. Now watch this as I move this to the left, Zip gets darker, as I move it to the right, the curve comes up, the midtone moves up and Zip gets a little bit lighter. And how much you adjust this depends upon how light or dark your original image is.

We can apply a five or six value adjustment or lightening to this image, just to lighten up the midtones a little bit in the image. Then we'll adjust contrast. Now this is something you want to pay attention to based upon the content of the image. This is a portrait image, no doubt about it. Whether it's Zip or whether it's a human, you typically want to decrease the contrast of the image as opposed to increase the contrast. Notice when I pull the curve over to the right, the quarter tone gets lighter and the three-quarter tone gets darker, increasing the contrast of the image.

Now, as I move this to the left of center, we darken the quarter tone, lighten the three-quarter tone and it flattens out the image just a little bit, which is a great thing to do for portraits. Whether it's Zip or skin tones, you don't want a lot of high contrast on there. Just moving that back maybe about five points will just give us a little bit of softness to the image, which is very nice for portrait. Okay, then on to the next tool. And again, you don't even have to use this tool if you don't want to, but one of the things that's interesting about black-and-white images that a lot of black-and-white images has some color tone to them, either as result of the paper on which they're printed or maybe the age of the print.

And if you know that there is a little bit of color tone in your image. For instance, this one has a little bit of red tone to it, watch what I can do and watch the image in particularly in the midtone. I can come in here and pull this up like this and see how it lightens the midtone, just taking some of that color out of the midtone. You can put it all the way up if the image were really dark here; I am just going to go about 75% of the way up. The next tool that we click to on the Continue button is the GANE tool, which is Grain and Noise Elimination, truly for an automatic scan. I would just leave this the way it is; you use it on the default. If there is noise or grain in the image, it will automatically take it out of there.

And then we move to the other Unsharp Mask tool. Just a quick note about sharpening is, whenever you capture an image that is you digitize it with either a scanner or a digital camera, it softens the image, because you're taking a very, very fine grain continuous tone image and converting it into pixels. So, typically before we go to print, we want to replace some of that sharpness and that's what the sharpening or Unsharp Mask tool does here. The question you want to ask here is do we want to replace sharpening during the scan or afterwards in Photoshop. My suggestion to you is, if you're working in automatic mode, assume SilverFast is going to do all the work and the image is ready to print.

Later on when we work in Manual mode and combination of scanning and Photoshop, we'll address those issues of, where you want to apply your sharpening and when you may or may not want to. But for here, let's just go ahead and take the defaults, these are a good set of values. And by the way, if you want to learn more about these things such as bit depth and Unsharp Masking and understand the fundamental concept, I'll refer you to my previous scanning courses in which the fundamental sections of those courses cover a lot of the academic background of these tools. So we've applied our sharpening using SilverFast software and we're going to click Continue.

And the last thing we really need to do is name our file, choose our file format, and where we want to place the file. Now when I name an image, I like to use a logical name, in this case Zip of course. And then I like to put the scan mode which is grayscale and then I like to put the resolution, remember we chose 300 pixels per inch which is a good high quality resolution for a print image. And then we'll choose our file format. My recommendation is for print images or just images in general to save as high quality, with a generic format you can use just about anywhere, choose TIFF.

It's uncompressed high quality format that you can take and open in just about any image editing application. If you know you're going to be working in Photoshop after you complete your scan, then go ahead and you can choose .psd which is the native editing file format for Photoshop. Now if you know you're going to be using this image just on the web, you could choose JPEG, but my recommendation to you is capture your original images in a high-quality uncompressed format. Then you can always make copies of those images and downsample them and save them out in other file formats later on. So I am going to recommend TIFF.

And then we'll choose where we want the file to be saved and when the scan is done. And you just click on your folder here to do that then you can locate it using this dialog box. And then we are ready to go. And you can notice that it will tell you what the size of your file is going to be. It's going to be 2.2 megabytes. We just click Continue and then that initiates a scan process and then you can watch the scan process down here in the Scanner status dialog box. If your scan hasn't been turned on for a while, you may see that your scanner has to heat up before the scanner actually works. All right! And then finally after the scan is complete, you can click here on this Open image button that's in the right-hand side of the Scanner status dialog box, and the image will open in whatever application your operating system has been set to open that particular file format.

In my case, all my graphic file formats I open up inside of Photoshop, because that's where I like to view them and edit them. There is the very handsome zip and notice when we go to our magnifying glass and we zoom in on this image, we can see all the beautiful detail, because that sharpening has been applied to the image. And you'll notice that we've got lots of nice detail and the highlights and we've got nice detail on the shadows, overall brightness and contrast is very good. And those were all the challenges and goals that we had set out for ourself when we set out to scan this image.

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