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Thread: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

  1. #1

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    Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    I am starting this thread in response to lennys statements about the Eversmart Supreme in comparison to drum scanners and the Aztek plateau.

    I want to know if lenny has actually see scans from the Plateau and Eversmart Supreme? I know that he likes to support Aztek but they arenít even selling these things anymore. I donít see how a 14k flatbed would beat one that originally sold for 55k. From the stats, components, and my personal experiences I would think the out of all the flatbeds that the Supreme I & II canít be beat.

    A while back Kodak purchased Creo-Scitex and they currently sell and support the Eversmart line of scanners. Most of the new machines go to colleges and governments for high-end scientific research purposes. Kodak still releases software updates (the last one was a few months ago) and they are committed to their customers, and improving their products. I am sure that they plan to support the machine for many more years to come. Of course, it helps that there have been thousand of Eversmart scanners that were sold. Where as, I would be surprised if Aztek has sold more then 150 film scanners. Creo-Scitex, and Kodak are/were multiple billion dollar companyís, to my knowledge Aztek currently has about 4 employees. When Creo-Scitex developed the Eversmart line of Scanners the market for film scanners was a great deal larger, they spent about a decade and who knows how many millions of dollars on improving and expanding the line of scanners. The Eversmart Supreme was their newest, most expensive, and technologically advanced flatbed ever. I donít see how a small company with limited resources such as Aztek would be able produces a superior machine, especially at a fraction of the price? I am not sure that they could even afford anything but off the shelf parts.

    I have seen Aztekís statements about the Eversmart supreme and vs the Aztek plateau, and I do not believe they are accurate. I have one of these machines and I have done max resolution scans of microfilm, the apparent resolution is much higher then what is shown on Philís scanner comparison. My guess is that the scan was flawed (inexperienced operator, focusing error, old bulb, or dirty lens?) and not optimized for maximum quality (no max DR, or non oil mounted). It certainly would not be fair to compare a non oilmounted scan done on the fast settings with one that was oil mounted and done on the highest settings. This may be why the findings were removed from Aztekís ďscannerforoumĒ site. One more, possible origin for the flawed scan is the settings will default from time to time when you change resolution or start up the software. With a 5,600 PPI scans the default settings are set to produce large amount of unsharpening (the default method is optical defocusing, however the scanner can be set to digitally unsharpened) to remove film grain (this is ideal for a prepress work), for non-press work one really should turn off the unsharpening.

    My opinion is based on the actual microfilm scans that I have produced on the Eversmart Supreme. From these scans anyone could see that this scanner truly achieves its stated 5,600 PPI resolution. Every pixel was sharp and contained valuable detail, no pixels were wasted and the image looked fantastic even when I set Photoshop to zoom into the ďactual pixelsĒ or beyond. Flare or pixel spill over was 100% non evident, the scan was oil mounted done at 5,600 PPI with the Max DR function turned on. Itís truly amazing that any scanner is able to sample a 4.6-micron spot of film but this scanner can do it. (See http://graphics1.kodak.com/gc/produc...ific_research). Maybe someday I will purchase my own ortho microfilm test target so that I conduct my own tests.

    The 45k asking price on the supreme is due to more expensive and higher quality components. The Aztek has the cheaper 10600 lines CCD, while the Eversmart uses a thermoelectrically cooled version of the Kodak anti-bloom, 8000-line tri-linear sensor (the same that Betterlight uses except theirs is not actively cooled). The thermoelectric cooling greatly improves the quality of the scan in regards to dynamic range and CCD noise. U belive the betterlight company states that this sensor has a superior dynamic range and more sensitivity then black and white film. The 8000-line Kodak sensor is regarded as the best on the market, the 10600-line sensor has smaller diameter sensors. With CDDís you want an array with larger sensors because they have less noise, and more dynamic range. Scanner Resolution is
    a factor of the magnification ratio, CCD density, and resolving power of the lens. A company like Creo-Scitex can afford to have the best possible lens custom manufactured for them so they donít need to relay on a higher density CCD. By using the 10600 pixel CCD Aztek is sacrificing image quality for a more economically resolution. Even with the higher density CCD the eversmart Supremeís 5,600 optical PPI is a substantial improvement overís the plateauís 4000PPI.

    When it comes to the lens I am sure that Scitex, Creo, and Kodak use the best possible lens. After all, the Supreme was meant to be the best flatbed scanner without regards to cost. More advanced (and costly) lens designs incorporate moving elements to change the focal length of the lens. You see this a lot with 35mm and medium format lenses. For large format the depth of field is so short that people are required to use smaller apertures which limits the maximum theatrical resolution which makes it impossible to increase resolution past a certain point regardless of lens design. That, along with cost is why you donít see 13 element zoom lenses for large format. I suspect that the reason why the plateau uses 4 fixed focal point lenses is that there were available as an off the shelf component, and that Aztek did not have enough capital or large enough production plans to have the best possible lens custom made for them. Scitex, Creo, and Kodak have all spent millions of dollars in developing the Eversmart supreme.

    Another feature of the Eversmart supreme is what they call MaxDr; basically this is multisampling where you scan the film multiple times at different exposures to create an image with exceptionally low noise and high dynamic range. Both the Aztek and Eversmart use a technology known as XY stitch where the different portions of the film are scanned individually and combined digitally to create one large film.

    In terms of dynamic range the Eversmart stats a higher dynamic range then the Aztek Premier (drum scanner). I know that the dynamic range surpasses chrome films such as provia by a great degree because I have done some scans where I could see a part of the image where the mask overlapped with the black edge of the film, there was a bit of gaffers tape that was used on top of that and I could see the difference from the gaffers tape + mask + film edge and just mask and film edge.

    So basically with the Eversmart Supreme your negative or chrome is scanned hundreds or even thousands of times with a betterlight back using the best lens with perfect lighting and focusing calculated to the micron (BTW their scientific software allows you to control focus to the individual micron)

    One advantage of the Aztek is that it is very fast; much faster then the Eversmart supreme. I have done scans my Eversmart that took almost 24 hours to complete (I only use the scanner on its highest quality Max DR mode). To me the Plareau sounds like a good option for a return on investment minded individual. But I donít think itís the answer for ultimate quality in a flatbed.

    Anyway that is my current opinion on the Eversmart supreme vs Aztek plateau. If anyone has one of these Plateau scanners I would like to engage in a head to head comparison, it would be interesting to see how a 45k scanner compares to a 14k one.

    BTW I donít have a problem with Aztek, in fact, I am in the process of purchasing one of their drum scanners and they seem like very good people to me. I just feel that there is a lot of misinformation out there about their plateau line of scanners in comparison to the Eversmart and about the Eversmart line of scanners in general.

  2. #2
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    Sounds to me like you are trying desperately to talk yourself into something. I'm not sure what.

    The bottom line with scanners is you should pick the scanner that offers you sufficient quality for what you are trying to accomplish, while at the same time offering you a workflow with which you are comfortable. I suggest that rather than invest much of yourself in marketing hype, you do some real world testing with your own film. Get the best scans you can (same pixel dimensions of course to help with an apples-to-apples comparison) from various machines/operators, make prints from the scans, and compare prints side-by-side under real world lighting.

    Then, make your choice and go on your way. What do you care what anyone else thinks about your choices? They can't effect you in any way, unless you let them.

    Bruce Watson

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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    I think the answer here is to request that Aztek scan something for you as a comparison on their Plateau. They are usually more than happy to do this, or at least have been in the past.

    I can't really answer these questions as I don't have a Plateau. If you want to buy some test film I will scan it for you on my Premier.

    Unless one also wants to scan flat art or glass negs, with the kind of money either one costs, I see no reason for a flatbed when drum scanners are available. Certainly not if things are going to take 24 hours to scan. The Premier is rated at almost 8,000 ppi, way higher than the Eversmarts. If you are looking for the ultimate quality, why bother buying something from Kodak? I have heard multiple reports, however unsubstantiated, that they are discontinuing, down to 6 people at the factory, etc. It appears these may all be false, but it is clear that it is not Kodak's intention to make a big splash selling scanners.

    I don't like working with Kodak as a company. It's like working with any large company like Microsoft or Apple. I would rather work with a smaller company who might have your interests at heart. Many labs bought Tango's - because of the reputation Heidelberg had in the printing industry. The scanner wasn't as good, was limited in its aperture settings and whatnot and in the end they closed up shop. They would have been better working with some of the other choices.

    Your are incorrect about Aztek's buying off the shelf components, they also designed the Premier and the Plateau to be the best that could be made, regardless of cost. It was a different time and they invested heavily. I know what it costs to make a Premier in parts. It's unfortunate that it costs so much, but when one knows what is underlying, it makes some sense. They have been a company that has been seriously committed to the scanning industry since it began. Phil Lippincott, who passed away last year was a huge contributor.

    I think if you want to set up tests properly, I, for one, would be all for it. I think you have to lay out the criteria very carefully, both in resolution and in sensitivity. Then you have to utilize expert operators, give them multiple attempts, etc. to get the best results with every machine.

    I'd love to help, but I gotta go make a living...

    Best of luck,

    Lenny
    EigerStudios
    Museum Quality Drum Scanning and Printing

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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    I have been meaning to ask Lenny a couple of technical questions about the Aztek Premier just out of curiosity.

    1. I thought the light source for scanning was a laser with an adjustable aperture. Maybe three lasers for RGB? No LEDs' are used?

    2. I thought no highly corrected lens was involved - maybe just a lens to demagnify the laser beam.

    3. I was under the impression that the detector was a photomultiplier tube - hence capable of great sensitivity so superior DMax capability.

    Am I off the mark Lenny?

    Nate Potter, Austin TX.

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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Potter View Post
    I have been meaning to ask Lenny a couple of technical questions about the Aztek Premier just out of curiosity.

    1. I thought the light source for scanning was a laser with an adjustable aperture. Maybe three lasers for RGB? No LEDs' are used?
    The light source is not a laser, it is a halogen bulb. However, it travels thru a fiber optic tube and then a focus illuminator, thru the film to an element which further collimates the light to a single point. Then it is read by the PMT. One of the main benefits of a drum is that the optics box as well as the illumination mechanism stays still while the film moves. In a flatbed, the film stays still while the sensors move.

    This results in a +- 1 micron margin of error between where the sensor thinks it is reading and where it is actually reading. In a flatbed, you are doing well if this margin of error is within 30 microns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Potter View Post
    I
    2. I thought no highly corrected lens was involved - maybe just a lens to demagnify the laser beam.
    you are correct, no lens. collimator, possibly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Potter View Post
    I
    3. I was under the impression that the detector was a photomultiplier tube - hence capable of great sensitivity so superior DMax capability.
    Yes, they all use a PMT

    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Potter View Post
    I
    Am I off the mark Lenny?
    Nate Potter, Austin TX.
    Nope, you are right on track.

    Lenny
    EigerStudios
    Museum Quality Drum Scanning and Printing

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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    Larry, I visited your web site, I sure appreciate your passion and thoroughness towards your craft. I read this below on your web sit regarding scanning vs. digital...

    > Oh, yeah, the 16,000 x 20,000 pixels of my 4x5 scans multiply out to 320 megapixels. I do my 8x10's at 2666 dpi and end up with 568 megapixels. Which would you want - 22mp or 568mp? Do you think there might be a difference in a large print?


    I am curious, do you feel a 4x5 scan is equal to a single image formed by a 320MP digital back? I see this logic applied often, and I disagree with the premise. But to be honest, in my early days in digtial / scanning, I was often fooled by this.


    To compare digital capture to film/scan is subjective....however, we can draw some very sensible conclusions, as although the images have a different look, we can still compare resolution without much difficulty. To compare digital capture vs film/scan, I think a final print must be made of equal size, both worked over however is deemed best in their respective work flows.


    Since, digital capture is a first generation capture, the recorded pixels represent the basis for the file that will be printed. The combining of the MTF of the lens, combined with the MTF of the sensor (1/R) is a process that is carried out once. As you know, with film capture and then scanning, this is a two step process... so we are combining capture lens MTF with film MTF, then when we scan, scan lens MTF with sensor MTF. Its amazing how much more data is required to grab the original capture info. However, all this added data is not the same as adding more data to the original digital capture method, and this is where the analogy starts falling apart.


    Without turning this into a deep math thread, my position is, in the end, for color trannie LF capture on 4x5 capture, then scan, I would consider the resolution of such to equal about a 60 MP single digital capture. Certainly not 320 MP. Would you agree with this?

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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    I am not Larry, but I sure would like to know where one can get a single image 320MP digital back?

    Sandy King


    Quote Originally Posted by bglick View Post

    I am curious, do you feel a 4x5 scan is equal to a single image formed by a 320MP digital back? I see this logic applied often, and I disagree with the premise. But to be honest, in my early days in digtial / scanning, I was often fooled by this.


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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    Sandy, it was hypothetical back, or a stitched digital capture image.

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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    Quote Originally Posted by bglick View Post
    Larry, I visited your web site, I sure appreciate your passion and thoroughness towards your craft. I read this below on your web sit regarding scanning vs. digital...
    It's Lenny. And thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by bglick View Post
    I am curious, do you feel a 4x5 scan is equal to a single image formed by a 320MP digital back? I see this logic applied often, and I disagree with the premise. But to be honest, in my early days in digtial / scanning, I was often fooled by this.
    I think its superior, actually. I think its close in the way you are thinking, as I have a lot of faith in PMT's, as well as the scanners very good specs. However, that said, film has much more dynamic range that digital. I believe the next step in capture software will be the ability to both stitch and do HDR at the same time. I think that will be exciting, and offer many good possibilities, once the price of it comes down.

    Quote Originally Posted by bglick View Post
    To compare digital capture vs film/scan, I think a final print must be made of equal size, both worked over however is deemed best in their respective work flows.
    Of course. I believe both Tyler and Sandy echoed this very same thing in the last discussion we had over this. However, then the problem becomes very subjective. Tyler and I might disagree on what the ultimate print should look like. If I were to guess, not having seen them, I would be closer to a Sandy print. Tyler is an excellent printer, he simply works in a slightly different style, or has a different aim. There are subtleties that are very important to him that I don't focus on, and vice versa. So how do you judge a print?

    Then there are all the beginners and non-photographers who may not even see the difference we focus on. Who gets to say when "it doesn't matter", or that's "good enough?"


    Quote Originally Posted by bglick View Post
    Without turning this into a deep math thread, my position is, in the end, for color trannie LF capture on 4x5 capture, then scan, I would consider the resolution of such to equal about a 60 MP single digital capture. Certainly not 320 MP. Would you agree with this?
    No, I don't agree. Sandy said the other day he thought it was in the 125-150mp range. I honestly don't know. I am certain a better scanner gets you a better result, as I have seen this with my own eyes. The scanner I use has a optical resolution close to its max output of 8,000 ppi. Can it be that good? I think answering the question would take a fair amount of research, and utilize tools (and time) I don't have. I also think there are parts of the question that aren't framed well enough to have an answer.

    Hope that helps.

    Lenny
    EigerStudios
    Museum Quality Drum Scanning and Printing

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    Re: Eversmart vs drum scanners & Aztek plateau

    I want to make it clear that my comment about the effective pixels in a sheet of 4X5 film was meant to refer to practical results. I would be willing to bet a lot of money that very few sheets of exposed 4X5 film have effective resolution of over about 50 lines per millimeter, or 2500 spi. That gives about 125 mp of useful information.

    Bear in mind that LF cameras are typically used at small apertures to get as much depth of field as possible. At f/22 diffraction limits resolution to about 60 lppm, so this is the theoretical maximum resolution possible, regardless of the film and quality of the optics. At f/32 the theoretical maximum drops to 43 lpm.

    I have said this before. If the detail is not on the film you are not going to be able to pull it out, no matter the quality of the scanner or the resolution of the scan. So make your scan, then look at the negative with a microscope at about 20X, which would correspond to a print of 80" X 100", and see if there is detail in the negative not recorded by the scan. If there is, you should scan at a higher resolution, if not you have it.

    It is certainly possible to shoot fine grain film at optimum apertures that will give much more than 125 mp of useful information. I have seen files made with modern Leica cameras and Leitz lenses that had more than 150 lpm of information. That for sure would require a scan of around 8000 spi to pull out all of the information.

    Sandy King


    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny Eiger View Post

    No, I don't agree. Sandy said the other day he thought it was in the 125-150mp range. I honestly don't know. I am certain a better scanner gets you a better result, as I have seen this with my own eyes. The scanner I use has a optical resolution close to its max output of 8,000 ppi. Can it be that good? I think answering the question would take a fair amount of research, and utilize tools (and time) I don't have. I also think there are parts of the question that aren't framed well enough to have an answer.

    Hope that helps.

    Lenny

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