How to make linear scans with SilverFast 8.8

This is going to be a short post. In order to use SilverFast HDR Studio as an archival workflow solution as well as for a optimized FineArt workflow I find the idea of creating linear scans fascinating. What we basically do is splitting the workflow into two parts. First is the scanning process and second the post-processing that is required for every scan. During the scanning we make sure that we capture all relevant data from film. In order to do so, we do not alter the data in any way and we save the file as a linear 16bit Tiff file.

 An overview of the SilverFast 8.8 interface set up for the HDR Raw workflow

An overview of the SilverFast 8.8 interface set up for the HDR Raw workflow

What means linear?

A linear file is more or less a 1:1 rendering of the luminance values of the film on the scanner. For image files we normally work with gamma encoded files. Depending on the workflow and color profile this gamma value lies somewhere around 2.0 with 2.2 as the most common value.

No color profile

Color management is of course very important when we are looking for a consistent workflow. With linear files we want to make sure that there is no color profile embedded and the whole color information from the scanner is maintained until we process the files.

If all this sounds complicated and scaring, don´t worry. SilverFast does the work for us and a simple workflow ensures no data gets lost during scanning.

Benefits of this Workflow

The biggest benefit of this workflow ism that you can scan an entire roll or a large number of rolls without worrying about how they look and you don´t have to do all the artistic decision in an early stage of the workflow. You can access the linear scans at a later stage and do the final processing steps. You can of course always go back, undo changes and rethink your decisions on post-processing. Try several color balancing settings or different contrast levels. Sometimes this is very helpful for a good scan. There is no need to scan the frame over and over again, as all relevant data has been stored already. I like this flexibility a lot.

Isn´t HDR an image blending technique and what does this have to do with scanning?

A good question and I personally think the name is for many reasons totally misleading. Well we have to deal with it and just think of HDR as a term for linear files without color profile and no post-processing done. These files are 16bit Tiff files and can be opened in any image editor. They work best with LaserSoft Imaging HDR Studio as you can use the infrared channel with their iSRD technology and use the Negafix profiles for inversion. You can however use any other software that you like to open these files and process them to taste.



  • Check for the following setting in your SilverFast preferences and make sure HDR Raw is checked
  • Choose Transparency for film scans
  • Choose negative or positive depending on your film
  • Select 64bit HDRi RAW for color film
  • Select 16bit HDR RAW for black and white film
  • Select the folder and file name of the scanned linear file
  • Set the optimum resolution for your scanner: I use 2400ppi and sometimes 3200ppi for my Epson V700
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  • I recommend doing a "Multi-Exposure" scan for archival purposes. This is especially interesting for dense negatives as it will significantly reduce scanner noise and reveals image data. Two scan will be conducted and combined with the maximum available information.


  • Last but not least you can set the Negafix profile if you like. This will help you to identify the type of film you have been scanning when you do the porcessing later on. As I tend to use the "Standard" profile for all my scans this is more or less irrelevant and I leave it set to "Standard"

Prescan & Framing

  • Do a prescan
  • Select frames around each image frame of the film roll - you can duplicet the existing frame by hitting CMD + D (Mac)
  • Adjust the settings for correct file names after duplicating a frame if you like. I do this for consistent file names.


When all settings are done and all frames are selected you click and hold down the mouse button on the "SCAN" icon. This will reveal the "BATCH SCAN" option and if you have selected several frames click on this button to scan all of them. If you have only one frame to scan a simple click on the "SCAN" icon is of course sufficient. 

That´s it. Simple and easy. Now you are ready to post-process the files in any way you like. Good luck with your linear scans!