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Thread: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

  1. #1

    What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    Howdo,

    Looking through the Collaborative Large Format Scanner Comparison http://www.largeformatphotography.info/scan-comparison/ I see that many of the film scanners are no longer made, available, or supported although most of the high-end scanners (Imacon [now Hasselblad], ICG, Heidelberg, Creo, etc.) are either still produced or have a relatively strong refurbishment market.

    As it's been several years since the last scans were posted, what is the general concensus on the quality of those scanners that are still available compared with what's available today, if indeed there has been any significant advance in the technology and consequent output quality of scanners?

    Cheers,
    Duff.

  2. #2

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    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    I'm not aware of anything new that would be an improvement (or even be equivalent!) to the good old stuff. I suspect that DSLR "scanning", either stitched or one-shot is where it's all heading. For now it seems that parts etc are relatively available for my IQsmart and I have no complaint about how well it scans - only about how SLOWLY it scans thanks to really old internal compute capability. On the other hand, no big deal to load it up in the evening and let it scan away until morning.

  3. #3

    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
    I'm not aware of anything new that would be an improvement (or even be equivalent!) to the good old stuff. I suspect that DSLR "scanning", either stitched or one-shot is where it's all heading. For now it seems that parts etc are relatively available for my IQsmart and I have no complaint about how well it scans - only about how SLOWLY it scans thanks to really old internal compute capability. On the other hand, no big deal to load it up in the evening and let it scan away until morning.
    Thanks Jim,

    Interesting. I know a couple of pro printers who now use DSLR's to 'scan' film and I can't fault the quality of the final image for it's intended purpose.

    Duff

  4. #4
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    See post 42 in this thread: http://www.largeformatphotography.in...-Scanner/page5

    Dslr scanners can be very good, but building a good system is non-trivial.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

  5. #5
    pendennis's Avatar
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    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    I have a number of negatives and transparencies in 35mm, MF, and LF which needed scanning. I know that scanners like the flat bed models will be a compromise, but I also have to consider costs. Drum scanners are outrageously expensive unless you can justify sufficient volume, say for business.

    I bought an Epson V850 earlier this year, and I'm very happy with the results. I've started shooting film again, so it will get ongoing use. I also just bought a couple of 4x5 cameras, and I'm gearing up for them. One of the additional items I've purchased is a film holder from www.BetterScanning.com. These are outstanding additions to the Epson and work much better than those supplied.
    Best,
    Dennis

  6. #6

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    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    For several years I had access to an Imacon Flextight Precision II at an educational institution just a 30 minute drive way. Scanned many of my B&W negatives and color transparencies but not all of them. Hoping to try to approach or even replicate the quality of the Imacon's scans at home, so put together the following set up:

    Image capture: Nikon D4 FX body. True a series D800 Nikon would give me a lot more pixels, but the image files of the D4 by far exceed the resolution of my Platinum/Palladium final prints.

    Equipment: a Nikon Multiphot. Probably the ultimate apparatus for photomacrography. Alignment of stage, lens, and camera back probably the best one could ever wish for.

    Lens: 65mm Macro-Nikkor for 35mm and the 120mm Macro-Nikkor for larger formats. Shooting at #3 aperture in both cases. For larger than 4x5 negatives, I use a LED (lightbox) panel. Mine is a 13x16 inch "LED COPY BOARD Model: A3" and I have found its illumination to be completely even.

    Illumination: For 4x5 and smaller formats, 1/2 of the exposure made with the collimated Multiphot's condenser light source and the other 1/2 of the exposure with a 100% diffused substituted LED light box. The condenser illumination caused an over-sharpening effect and it produced a slightly distorted reproduction of a step wedge. Using the 100% diffused light source produced a great range of tonalities but apparent sharpness of the image suffered a bit. Fred Picker, up there, is probably saying "I told you so". For large than 4x5 formats, I use a LED light panel and do ever so little sharpening in Photoshop using an Action which I've tweaked over the years.

    Results... I actually preferred the images captured with the Multiphot over the images captured with the Imacon. I am not enlarging the images all that much in making the digital negatives and then contact printing Platinum/Palladium prints. With greater enlargements of the scans, the ones made with the Imacon, I would think that they should be a bit better, but I haven't experienced this so far.

    To be fair, depending on the subject matter, shoot some film negatives with only using the collimated Multiphot's condenser light source, some with 1/2 of the exposure made with the collimated Multiphot's condenser light source and 1/2 of the exposure with a 100% diffused substituted LED light box, and then finally some with using only the 100% diffused LED light box.

    Comparing scanning the negatives with my Epson V750 Pro with the final output being an 8x10 print... with 4x5 or larger negatives I couldn't see any difference. With 120 was a toss up. With 35mm the Epson scans were (subjectively) inferior.

    Some points to consider:
    Films shot with the Multiphot were laid flat on glass, emulsion side down, and held in place using painters masking tape to tension the film.

    In the end, for producing digital image files from 8x10 and 11x14 negatives (4 scans with photo merge for 11x14), the Epson was just a whole lot easier to use.

    comments welcome

  7. #7

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    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    I use the single shot DSLR scanning method for 35mm work. I tried stitching them together from multiple shots, but in practice there isn't a noticeable different in quality, and a huge noticeable difference in the time and energy it takes to go that route. Though every once in a long while I'll still go that route (and only for E6 emulsions with super fine grain where it actually makes a difference). I use my ancient Epson 4990 for LF stuff. If I have a LF shot that I particularly love and want to blow it up huge, I'll send it off for a drum scan, but generally speaking my flatbed works well enough for 99% of the stuff I do. I've found the flatbed isn't sharp enough for the small 35mm format. And the DSLR is too hard to stitch together for LF. I usually wind up getting errors somewhere if I let the software stitch the image, or it takes forever and a day for me to do it by myself. I'd rather just ship it off for a drum scan at that point, rather than spend that a day or more trying to get one decent super high resolution file. I've thought about building an automated DSLR scanning rig, but it always seemed like a ton of work, time, and money that was just too hard to justify the gamble on. Maybe if I had a friend who built one or some other way to get my hands on one first and see if it's worth the investment before heading down that road, I might change my mind. But for now, I can't say I have any issues using a single shot DSLR (for 35mm), a flatbed scanner for general LF work, and a postage stamp for the LF stuff I want to blow up big.

    I don't do MF stuff very often, so I don't have a set procedure for them. But one thing I will say is that getting a good process down is more important than getting the best gear. And it's not just in the physical scanning portion that's important, but also in the PS manipulation realm. Color correction, dust removal, and sharpening are all more art than science.

  8. #8
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    If you have a repeatable positioning system, setting up a stitching template in PTGui works beautifully.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    I am considering the phase one repro system for my future scanning needs of old photographs, Unique prints that I make, and possible film reproduction but I would have to test the final one against my Eversmart Supreme and Imocan

  10. #10
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: What are the film scanner options in 2017?

    That would be an interesting test, Bob!
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

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