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My Epson 3170 just does not seem to be able to scan either my slides or b&W negs. Am I doing something wrong, or is it time to invest in a good scanner.
If so, which one would you guys recommend?
I have been using an Epson 4870 for a year and a half. It is great for b/w negs , color trans, and prints to 8X10. It has carriers for 35 mm slide, 35 mm neg, 120, and 4X5 as well as a white insert for print scans. It works great. Thumbnail and normal give an easy way to view scanned materials. Since I shot trans in all formats I could not ask for better. Well I could, but it would be a drum scanner.
The 4870 Pro has color correction chart and software. It cost about $100 more. When purchased mine was running about $400, and the Pro just over $500.
They now have more advanced models, but the 4870 does just what I need. With Photoshop 6 to import to, the combination is perfect.
Good Luck Mark,
I'm not familiar with the Epson 3170. Is that a non-U.S. model? Perhaps equivalent to the 3200 sold here? If so, before investing in another scanner, you might examine the software you are using. Often, the vendor-supplied application leaves a lot to be desired. You might look into ViewScan from Hamrick Software, or the Silverfast plug-in for Photoshop. I use Silverfast with my 3200 for 4x5 negs, and have generally been pleased with the results. Certainly not as good as a pro drum scan, but fine for smallish prints (11x14) on an Epson 2200 printer.
The other option to try before spending more is to examine your technique. With some B&W negs, for example, I get better results by scanning them as positives, and then inverting in Photoshop.
It's certainly time to get a good scanner if you're planning to make excellent prints. It would be nice if a $150 scanner worked as well as more expensive scanners but unfortunately it doesn't.
The Epson 4990 (replacement for the 4870) does quite well with 4x5 film and prints up to about 12x15. It costs about $500-$600 depending on the version you get. There are two versions, the scanner is the same with both, the more expensive Pro version comes with more software than the basic version. If you want exhibition quality prints larger than that you'll need something more expensive I think. There's a Microtek (sorry I can never remember the model number) that sells for $900-$1000 and supposedly is a good bit better than the Epson for larger prints. Then if you want even more quality you probably have to make a leap into the $3,000 - $5,000 range.
The Microtek scanner that Brian was referring to is the Artixscan 1800f. Microtek also makes a scanner that directly competes with the Epson 4990 and is about the same in quality (possibly not quite as good in resolution but better in dmax and color fringing) it is the i900 and they are coming out with a new model (or it may already be availabel in a few places) the i800. Canon also makes a model that competes directly with the Microtek and Epson models in the ~ 500 range .. the 9950 but it seems to have a lot of problems. Actually the price leap is first to around 2500 - 3000 for the Microtek 2500f (which is only available in limited quantities these days) and then jumps way way up.
There are also a number of interesting choices in the used market in termsm of higher end flatbed scanners that originally sold in the 10,000 and up range and drum scanners .... all of which can be had today for under 5000 and sometimes for under 1000. These older scanners are often a great bargain but not for the faint of heart as you often need to search long and hard for the right software (which may cost you more than the scanner), dedicate a specific computer, usually an older generation mac, etc.
I have been using a Canon 9950 to scan 4x5 and smaller film for about 6 months with no problems. I use Vuescan software, which is terrific and a great bargain, and in the most recent versions does a great job with the scanner. It works very well for 4x5, where the demands on resolution are not as great as for smaller formats, and I scan b&w negatives so dmax is not a big issue. I think most of the advantages of the Epsons are really that their supplied software is better than the software Canon supplies.
My 3170 works fine for all films in 120 size - I scan mainly B+W, but also slide (Provia, Astia and some Velvia - just make sure your slides aren't too dense) and colour neg. Make sure you're using professional mode, and turn off the auto-thumbnail feature (you need to manually draw the marquee around the target). I get best results from B+W by scanning in grayscale.
To scan any larger formats, you need to scan in mulitple passes and stitch with panorama stitching software.
Of course, it's not in the same league as (multi) thousand euro/dollar/pound scanners, but it does a good enough job for prints up to A4 size from 6x6 and 6x9.
First try and work out what the problem is with this one before spending money on a new scanner. You shouldn't be having problems with B+W negative film.
Paul, the B&Ws keep coming out in negative. I must be doing something wrong for them not to convert to positives?
I've sent you a PM - I'll take you through my settings and what works for me.
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