View Full Version : film vs. large format flat-bed scanners [24X36]

phil cushway
11-Mar-2005, 14:08
I am definately an amateur here, but I need some advice pretty badly.
I am currently working on a book on rock posters ranging in size from 8.5X11 tp 24X36 and larger. Some have been rolled for several decades. I need to get images for over 2,000 posters. Many are valuable [some going for over 25,000 so handling sometimes is a problem. I, of course, want the best quality possible.
I have talked with numerous people, and have gotten all kinds of interest. What really bothers me is that I found it almost impossible, okay, impossible, to get independent answers without getting tied up in their own individual interests.
Take a look at my website [artrock.com] to see the kind of images I mean.
Some say that film is better for color. Some say the large flat-bed [24X36 Colortrac] is the best, and that with a flatbed the lighting is not a problem, and the colors can be excellent.

All I really want if some straight answers from people that care about the subject and the results, and not how much they can sell me, [regardless of whether it is right for the job or anything else].

I hope that is all of the info I need to provide, and that it is acceptable for me to ask these questions here.

email: artrockgallery@yahoo.com

[no sales people please--------------

domenico Foschi
11-Mar-2005, 14:21
My opinion: they are both good choices. Both will give you results that will satisfy you if you print the book at the usual standard sizes.
Personally , i would use a flatbed scanner used by a professional, more predictable results probably ,since the lighting in reproducing on film can sometime present a problem and the latter also being very likely more expensive.

Bruce Watson
11-Mar-2005, 16:05
Another way to do this would be to photograph the posters using a large format scanning back like on of the Better Light backs, or even a medium format digital back. There's a lot of flat art copying going on out there done with digital now. They do it because they say they get better color fidelity and less image file cleanup.

The reason I bring this up is the volume, and the variable sizes. It's hard to keep the quality level stable with variable sizes and a big flat bed scaner. If you are going to use a camera, your choice is film + scanning + photoshop cleanup, or a digital back + minimal photoshop cleanup. At the number you are looking at the extra expense of the scanning step is going to add up. The compromise position would be a digital back. Best of both worlds perhaps. Clearly, YMMV.

Ralph Barker
11-Mar-2005, 17:47
There are several people who participate here who have extensive experience shooting art with large format cameras, and who can give good advice on that process. On the practical side, either approach sounds reasonable. But, if some of the posters are larger than the Colortrac scanner, you still face the film issue (nailing exposure and color rendition). Additionally, there is the issue of properly flattening the rolled posters so they will either scan or photograph well. I'd talk to a archivist/conservator on that matter, and be sure to get damage waivers from the owners of the posters (they likely have insurance, anyway).

I'd also examine the reproduction process, and what requirements that might dictate or suggest. If , for example, the only reproduction is going to be in the book you're writing/compiling, the imaging requirements will be substantially less than if you were going to make full-size reproductions or archive copies. You might, in that case, get by easily with a high-end 35mm-sized digital camera with an excellent lens and proper lighting. No need to make the process more complicated (or expensive) than it needs to be. A large vacuum frame (large enough for the largest poster), and proper alignment of the camera would keep the geometry square. (I made one once from 1"x4" pine for the frame and masonite, to which I connected a small shop vac.)

David F. Stein
11-Mar-2005, 19:59
I agree. High-end digital medium format back (see Luminous Landscape for info and reviews) and a gentle vaccum positioning system. You still need to light the posters and I am not so sure flash is the best. If the posters can handle it, I still like tungsten photofloods in a array of 4 or more. With digital cameras, light balancing is simple. In the old days, tungsten film and tungsten lighting could provide dead-on neutral images of neutral B&W photos on E-6. GOOD LUCK WITH THE PROJECT.

adrian tyler
12-Mar-2005, 00:11
if possible for facimile art book reproduction we scan on a flat bed for printed matter but a very expensive flat bed scanner and i don-t know if the large format scanners offer much quality, goyas lithographs have all been scanned and reproduced this way in spain with excellent results.

you are going to get your best advice from somewhere like the metropolitan museum of art (you can write off line if you want a contact).

so unless you are really sure that the scanning house have the best equipment for the job, and there are high end digital capturing deviced for large format artworks, you may be best doing some quality photographs.


i-ve participated in this forum several years and have never come across any "salespeople" hawking their products.