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Thread: Professional flatbed scanners?

  1. #1
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Professional flatbed scanners?

    What are the really professional level flatbed scanners currently available? Creo/KodaK?
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  2. #2

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    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    Ideally you should talk to Ted Harris but I can mention a few. There's the Creo/Kodak, I just bought the Creo IQsmart3 and so far find it far more of a professional tool than the Imacon it replaced. It's harder to get up and running because the software and scanner do so much more. Fuji makes a professional level flatbed, Screen has one, Azek has one.

    The differences between these and Microteks,Epsons, etc is huge, there's really no comparison. My Creo IQ3 does 5500 optical over the entire 13x18" bed with great shadow detail and very low noise and I have yet to try wet mounting which will yield even better results. These really are professional, pre-press tools.

  3. #3
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    I ask because I had Ted do some scans for me and they were impressive. He is out of town till tomorrow I think.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  4. #4

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    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    Brian, wonderful work on your web site. I need to see your prints.

    Question for everyone: Why choose a very expensive flatbed over a drum scanner? I understand the need for prepress - a flatbed is much more productive. But I'm curious about the reasons a fine art photographer chooses a flatbed.

  5. #5
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Gittings View Post
    What are the really professional level flatbed scanners currently available? Creo/KodaK?
    I'm a drum scanner guy, but here's a few links to some of the current professional flat bed scanners:

    Eversmart Supreme II

    iqSmart 3

    Screen Cezanne Elite

    Fujifilm Lanovia Quattro

    Aztek Plateau

    Heidelberg seems to be completely out of the scanner game, I don't see their Linoscan flatbeds listed on their website any longer.

    There are undoubtedly more that I've forgotten, Ted will know. And the used market has a number of good scanners that are no longer in production.

    Expect to pay considerably more for a used professional flatbed then you would for a used drum scanner. Ted can give more details. Really, it depends on your application. A pro flatbed is often the correct answer, else there wouldn't be so many of them out there.

    Bruce Watson

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    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Miller View Post
    But I'm curious about the reasons a fine art photographer chooses a flatbed.
    Being a fine art photographer doesn't mean that your time is unlimited :-)

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    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Miller View Post
    Brian, wonderful work on your web site. I need to see your prints.

    Question for everyone: Why choose a very expensive flatbed over a drum scanner? I understand the need for prepress - a flatbed is much more productive. But I'm curious about the reasons a fine art photographer chooses a flatbed.
    Don, thanks for the kind words.

    The flat bed has an advantage in that it also allows one to do very high quailty scans of mounted prints, and my prints often have a high amount of optical manipulation, that is more than just burning and dodging, so I need to scan the prints themselves.

    One other reason I chose a new, still in production flatbed versus a used circa 1995 drum scanner is long term parts availability and repairs. Kodak/Creo is still making the scanner I bought and by law they have to have parts and service for it for at least 7 years from the end of production and Kodak is a rather substantial company. There is a fair chance that parts for a drum scanner built in 1995 might not be available in 2014. Also service for the Creo is in house, that is they come to your place, you're not shipping some 100 pound monster somewhere.

    Also my creo uses firewire, not scsi which is barely supported on Macintosh, my preferred platform. While the drum scanner might have a very slight edge, and I mean very slight, in image quality, I don't think that difference would be visible except under the condition of having to scan a truly awful negative or one that requires extremes of density range. My negs are all within a very useable range.

    So that was my rationale for the Creo IQsmart 3 over a drum scanner like a used Howtek.

  8. #8
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    I'm back but only sort of as I am working intensively with a client here, at my studio, through tomorrow afternoon.

    BTW, we just did some prints with the new Harman matte paper and they are impressive.

    To respond to Bruce, for our purposes the Supreme II is total overkill and very overpriced (not sure Kodak has sold any in the past months and they are reevaluating its pricing). The IQSmart 2 and 3 are the scanners I most frequently recommend to North American Photographers. I run a 3 along with a Cezanne and the differences between the 2 and the 3, while real, are rather small and inconsequential for many. The Cezanne Elite is much more expensive (but can sometimes be purchased at a hefty discount but that still keeps it well over 20K new). I don't recommend the Fuji Lanovia on this side of the ocean as finding one and getting ervice is difficult to impossible, its a different story in Europe. I don't know enough about the Plateau to say much but I have long suspected it was a rebadged machine made by someone else (possibly a Microtek 4000xy?). The Microtek 4000xy is still sold but only in Asia and a few European markets. They made an agreement with Creo when they sold them rebadged 4000's for Creo to sell as the "Jazz" several years ago. The agreement seems to be a lifetime agreement that prohibits Microtek from ever selling the 4000 in this market, even though the Jazz is long gone. Finally, Purup-Eskofot is still in business and, I think, still making scanners.

    I have made direct comparisons between scans done on a Colorgetter Falcon (drum), a Howtek 8000 (drum), an older Screen drum (forget the model) and the iQSmart3 and Screen Cezanne that I am running and, in all cases I either see no difference in the final results from the scans I did myself are better .... not necessarily anything definitive in those findings though since any of the differences ere marginal and I know what I want from my own images.

    Time, as QT mentioned is very important. Example, I set up a batch scan of 6 4x5 negatives this afternoon in less than 30 minutes total (included mounting the film and evaluating each prescan, making necessary corrections, naming the files and starting the scans). The six scans, each at ~ 2500 spi to produce ~ a 600mb file, took a total of well under an hour to run .... I can't tell you the exact time because I ran my client back to his hotel while the scans were running. Earlier in the day we printed a gorgeous 18x40 print from a scan from the Cezanne.

    Brian and Kirk, thanks for the kind words. It was a combination of performance results, size of the bed and time that convinced me to go the high-end flatbed route over two years ago (then I searched for six months to find the right machine).

    One other important point. If you are buying one of these machines used you have two options (equipment brokers such as Bob Weber and Gensis, etc.) and individual sales, often on eBay. You can get lucky on eBay and you can end up spending several times the original purchase price to get your machine operating. Your best guide to start your research is to read "Pixel Perfect" a Seybold article that was published several years ago. It is no longer available on the web and it is too large to post here so email me if you want a copy (email not pm please). I'm also happy to answer any other more specific questions.

  9. #9

    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    I'd like to have something like the iQsmart for the quality -and- throughput. Being able to lay down a bunch of negatives at once and then scanning my picks without attending the machine would be great. A whole job scanned with maybe two machine loads at very high quality would be wonderful.

    For me its either a great flat bed scanner or maybe one of the new Canon 1DsMkIII bodies. I know that all digital workflow is a faster better commercial solution but 4x5 film and great LF lenses make a mighty powerful tool. The ability to use all my film gear and get great scans is very appealing. More so than having all my eggs in one Canon basket. But I've not seen files from the new body and might change my mind on this. But then its the slightly sucky Canon lenses.

    I'm thinking a great scanner (iQSmart2) or a great digital body cost near the same. After that its not so clear - are the more choices in film gear and great lenses that I own better than another Canon body and one way of working? A way that doesn't really cover my bases without workarounds. Where's the 14mm shift lens or the 20mm shift lens? I'm at a fork in the road, I think.

    Anyway I'd love to hear what everyone thinks about their high end flatbeds.

  10. #10
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Re: Professional flatbed scanners?

    Henry, the road still has a way to go before the available DSLR's and real time backs equal or better top flight scans from4x5 and larger film. They are getting closer and closer but aren't quite there yet.

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