I'm still new to LF I'm trying to decide if I should invest in a drum scanner or not. I am somewhat mechanically and technically inclined and don't mind tinkering with things.
I've read through the Yahoo scanner Hi-end forums, have done the Google searches and have looked around at the used scanner market a little just to get an quick idea of what is involved and believe that owning and operating a drum scanner is no simple undertaking, but it's doable, so is it a good investment? I'll number my ideas to reduce the amount of typing needed to respond.
My goal is to become a fine art landscape photographer and sell enough prints to keep me in the canyons with a camera??? I have no idea what the most popular print sizes that sell are and I may be heading over the top quality wise when it's not necessary.
1. Some people in this list have commented that it's better just to continue to shoot, and just pay for drum scans? Is there an optimal archival 16 bit file size for 4x5 scans?
2. A number of people seem to use the Epson scanners for a lot of work and have drum scans made when needed. If I sink $1,000 into an Epson and mounting kit and then pay $$$ for drums scans it seems like a used drum scanner may pay for itself in a few years? The M1 is due but I'm assuming that it will be in the same quality range as the Epson's given the price point. Some have given up on the Epsons completely.
3. A number of very experienced people on this list use the Eversmart flatbeds and not drum scanners? I'm guessing this is because the Eversmart's quality and ease of use will handle the majority of the scanning needs and there may only be a few instances where drum scans are needed beyond the capability of the Eversmarts?
4. WCI, Calypso, etc. use the Tango scanners but I have heard the the smaller apertures of the Azteks and the ICG's provide better resolution. Many people think the Tango scans are all one needs but some people think that the finer resolution of the smaller apertures is apparent, and better?
5. A used Howtek/ Aztek scanner seems to be a logical choice if a used drum scanner is eventually chosen and it seems like having the capability to scan in 16 bit mode is needed. Is there a need to scan above 4000 dpi? It seems like the for quality the Howtek 4500 is the cut off at the bottom end or maybe the 8000 dpi Hi Resolve is? I'm not sure at what specific level of machine or software is needed for 16 bit capture. I'd like to get some feedback on these scanners before calling Aztek.
I'm sure the variety of opinions and answers recieved will not point to one specific solution, as the people on these lists have not gravitated to one, but it will help me understand the options a lot better. I will have to keep my investment in a scanner and all accessories to under $7000 as a cut off.
I'd like to hear what works for you, what prints sizes and quality seem to work and what you would do if you were just starting out as I am now. I don't wish to start a format war so if there is an opinion presented that you would like to disagree with off the list please email me at email@example.com.
I am really gratefull to all the people that contribute to these forums that have made my foray into large format photography a pleasure. I understand and appreciate the years of hardship and bad investments that I have been able to avoid. Most of all I enjoy hearing what a rewarding experience shooting LF is for everyone.
Thanks for your help!