Once your negative scans are inside Lightroom, there are a few simple steps we need to do to prepare them for conversion before we open Negative Lab Pro. The exact steps will be a bit different depending on the type of scan you have.
Be sure to follow the steps for your scanning method.
Before converting, use the white balance selector in LR to sample off the film border (you can do this once per roll and sync across photos). If no film border is available, or if Lightroom says that it is too bright, use ‘Auto WB’ setting in Lightroom.
If necessary, crop your negative to exclude any non-film elements (you can re-crop after conversion, or in most cases, you can just use “border buffer”).
If your scan is at gamma 1.8 or gamma 2.2 (recommended), skip to step 2. If your scan is gamma 1.0, first run the TIF SCAN PREP utility (File > Plugin-Extras > TIF Scan Prep). Then continue with the new TIF it creates.
Do NOT white balance in LR. This will create color casts on TIFs.
If necessary, adjust your crop or border buffer so any non-film elements are excluded from the analysis.
In a few circumstances, you may get more accurate results by including some film border. If your shot was taken at box speed, or if the scene does not have anything in it that is true black, you will get more accurate colors in your shadows by including a small amount of the film border during conversion. If your conversion looks significantly off, it’s easy to try it another way (since everything here is non-destructive). Just “unconvert” and hit “apply”. Then change your crop to inlude a small amount amount of border. Reopen Negative Lab Pro, set “border buffer” to 0, and retry the conversion.
You can speed up the pre-conversion process a bit by using Lightroom’s internal “sync” feature to sync the white-balance and crop settings across the negatives, assuming that they are the same film stock. If you have scanned multiple films stocks, be sure to sample the film mask borders separately for each film stock.
Once your negatives are prepared, select the negative (or group of negative) you want to convert, and open Negative Lab Pro.
On mac, you can open Negative Lab Pro by hitting the CTRL + N shortcut key. Or by going to File -> Plug-in Extras -> Negative Lab Pro.
On windows, go to File -> Plug-in Extras -> Negative Lab Pro to open. Or if you have the Windows Hotkey running (new in v1.2), use the hotkey combo for the nationality you have selected in your Lightroom language preferences:
English: Ctrl - Alt - N
German: Ctrl - Alt - P
Swedish – Ctrl - Alt - N
Netherlands: Alt + N
French: Ctrl + Alt + X
Italian: Alt + Shift + X
Portugese – Alt + X
Spanish – Alt + X
Before you begin the conversion process, you have a few options that can help shape your final conversion. This happens BEFORE the conversion process, because Negative Lab Pro needs the data as an input for calculating the conversion itself.
Don’t worry too much about getting it right the first time. You can always experiment later. Just un-convert your negative, try different settings, and re-convert. And since this is all non-destructive, you can also make virtual copies in Lightroom if you want to compare!