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Thread: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

  1. #1

    Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    Hi Guys,
    I own a small lab in Portland Maine called Northeast Photographic. I opened up last summer and have the same basic develop to scan business model that Indie Film Lab, The FIND Lab, Richard Photo Lab etc have. Most of my clients film is scanned on a Fuji Frontier SP-3000.

    Increasingly I've been getting fine-art photographers interested in exhibition quality scans of small batches of film. I've been working with Nikon Coolscan and Epson scanners for this purpose thus far, even wet mounting in some cases. I got a wet mounting kit for the Nikon from Scan Science and a Better Scanning holder for the Epson. Needless to say I'm a wet-scan convert after seeing the results.

    Anyway, I want to provide the best quality for my clients that I can at a reasonable price. I was very close to buying an Imacon 848, but the fact that it can't do 8x10 and is ill suited for wet scanning (and a bad tax return hahaha) held me back. Some time later this year I believe the lab should acquire a drum scanner. I want to be able to tell my clients that I am actually providing a file that is the best file possible. Plus I don't want to have to tell people that I don't have a real drum scanner, when I know that's what they're seeking.

    I have experience with the Fuji Frontier, Epson, Nikon, Imacon scanners, and wet mounting as I've mentioned above. I have NO experience with drum scanners. I've done some forum reading for a while and it's hard to get a clear picture on various models, their availability, the differences between them to the user...

    I have questions like, how different is a Heidelberg Tango from a Howtek 4500? How do these compare to a IQSmart3? How long does it take to scan an image? How reliable are these units? What is the most serviceable drum scanner available? Where is the best place to actually source a working on? Can I run them on a current mac if I'm running a Windows emulator? I'd like to scan up to 11x14 if possible.

    Can anybody help me out? I'm sorry but when all the answers are distributed among hundreds of forum posts it's hard to get a clear idea...

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    Talk to Aztek in CA. They may be the last company on Earth that still manufactures drum scanners. Their Premier scanner is perhaps the best that's ever been made, especially from a fine art perspective.

    Bruce Watson

  3. #3
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    Hi Sperdynamite

    I own a lab in Toronto, www.alternativephotoservices.com and before that Elevator Digital, been making mural size prints for over 40 years during different aspects of my career.

    I have tested Wet Drum High end scanners and the Flat Beds, and Imocan, as well I owned Fuji Frontier and Epson Scanners.
    After years of testing I have concluded that the Imocan is great for 4 x5 and smaller images, as well I settled on a Creo Eversmart Supreme for Scanning .

    I am very happy with both options, I have the wet mount device on the Creo but to date never used it. As I have stated I tested three labs (names withheld) to protect their reputations, against these two devices that I have and made mural Prints and over time had many clients blind test which device was better by looking at these sample prints. In all cases the Creo was in the top selects and funny enough so was the Imocan.
    This did indeed surprise me as the scanner gods of past were so adamant of their machines.

    One thing that is critical is good PS and good Scanner operator who can bring out the best of each image. I have always found it amusing when a vendor says X product is better than Y product.
    Usually it is coincidental that the vendor has X product in house.

    I strongly suggest you look into a used Imocan for ease of use and of course I highly recommend Micheal Streeter who sells, and maintains a full Creo lineup. I did testing before I jumped into this unit , by having Micheal make test scans of the same colour negatives and black and white negatives I was using for testing purposes.

    best regards

    Bob

  4. #4

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    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    Another vote for the Creo flatbeds. I have an IQsmart 2 that I got refurbed from Michael Streeter ( info@scansolutionsonline.com ) and he provides the absolute best support I could hope for. When I get totally messed up he can log in to my system remotely and help diagnose (and fix) the problem.

    I was thinking about a drum scan and I had Lenny Eiger do a few scans for me when I visited him. He does great work but I concluded that the drum scan workflow wasn't for me. Until getting the Creo/Kodak I had been using an Epson 750 wet mount. Haven't seen the need to wet mount since I got the Creo. Only drawback is that the machine is slow - but then again a drum scanner isn't a ball of fire in the speed department either.

    Workflow simplicity won me over and I'm completely satisfied with the results for anything from 120 to - well, to whatever you can lay on the 12 x 18 inch bed,

    Software is passable and you'll need an old Mac with Firewire. I do nothing fancy in the software, just set endpoints and scan, everything else happens in Photoshop.

    For 35mm and Minox (yes, I really use one!) I think the IQsmart 2 is "adequate" but perhaps not optimal. That's the only place where I regret not getting the IQsmart 3, but $$$ considerations prevailed since 95% of what I do is 120 or larger. The IQsmart 3 also supports "Digital Negative" but so far I'm fine without it.

  5. #5

    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    Thanks for all this info! I'll have to research the IQSmart series to see if they're for me. They do seem like they might have fewer moving parts that could go out of alignment...

  6. #6

    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    What's a reasonable price to pay for an IQSmart 3? Just curious because I am seeing a lot of different prices here and there.

  7. #7
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    Quote Originally Posted by sperdynamite View Post
    What's a reasonable price to pay for an IQSmart 3? Just curious because I am seeing a lot of different prices here and there.
    call Micheal... We paid over 10 k for the Eversmart Supreme , not unhappy with this .

  8. #8

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    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    Paid around $5k for the IQSMART 2. Can't remember if that included shipping. I could have gotten one for quite a bit less from a private party but the machine I got had been completely refurbed and came with the calibration sheet and software plus great support so I avoided a lot of start up issues. And the support from Michael was worth the difference.

  9. #9
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
    Paid around $5k for the IQSMART 2. Can't remember if that included shipping. I could have gotten one for quite a bit less from a private party but the machine I got had been completely refurbed and came with the calibration sheet and software plus great support so I avoided a lot of start up issues. And the support from Michael was worth the difference.
    Agreed - much better idea to purchase directly from Micheal.

  10. #10

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    Re: Lab Owner needs Drum Scanner Boot Camp

    I'd suggest you take a couple of good negatives and have them drum scanned and then send them to Michael and ask him to do a scan and then compare results like Bob did. It's the only way to know for sure if you can get the quality you're after. Then consider the workflow. There's a mounting station available for the IQsmart but so far I haven't needed it. With a drum scanner you will need one.

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