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Thread: Newb advice on scanners

  1. #1

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    Newb advice on scanners

    Hi,
    I have spent the past week or so searching through the internet for a good drum scanner to scan my good 4x5 b&w negatives. it drove me nuts
    - I intended to print not more that 44X55 inches. viewing distance will be about 20 - 40 inches.
    - I am concerned if a company is out of business or if a certain software doesn't run on reasonably dated OS.
    - I appreciate options that are below USD 10k. if you feel that this is shy from producing good quality then please propose something with higher price.
    - I have questions like is 5000 DPI going to be enough for my needs
    - flatbed scanners are quite good but I would rather get a drum scanner unless price difference is huge.

    could you help me in suggesting brands and models of suitable scanners.

  2. #2
    Joanna Carter's Avatar
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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    Your output requirements are 11x the original size of the neg. Thus, take the output resolution for a typical inkjet printer (240ppi) and multiply by 11, giving you 2640 ppi for scanning resolution, without having to use interpolation in the processing.

    However, for the viewing distances you are talking about, 2400ppi should be plenty and a little interpolation will hardly be noticed.

    You can get a very adequate print from a prosumer flatbed like the Epson V700 for a lot less than $10,000.

    Going to resolutions like 5000ppi is really overkill and will only make for excessively large file sizes. It is doubtful that, if you could achieve such resolutions, anyone would ever notice the difference.

    The jump in price from flatbed to drum scanners is significant, as is the extra room required to accommodate a drum scanner, along with all the fluids, mounts and cleaning requirements.
    Joanna Carter
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  3. #3
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    The other option would be a refurbished Howtek (or Aztek) drum scanner from Aztek, but this will cost many times what V700 would cost. You might try getting a V700, learn to use it, and then make a print at your final output size. Is it acceptable? You could also have a good drum scanner operator, there are many mentioned in various threads, make a drum scan of the same negative. Now do your editing and compare prints. That would put you in the best position to decide if a drum scanner would be a good purchase for you. Even if you decide that it is, the V700 could be useful to have around, or you could sell it.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

  4. #4

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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    People are basically giving away drum scanners... Join the high end scanning group on Yahoo. You can get a drum scanner for $1000.

    The big difference is not price, but workflow. It takes some skill and practice to use a drum scanner correctly, and even when you do, it's very laborious. Wet mounting, scanning and cleaning the negatives really takes some time.

    If I were you, I would get a professional drum scan of a favorite 4x5, then do a 4990/V700/V750 scan of the same negative. Print both at your desired size, then make the decision. No need to torture yourself with drum scanning unless it's really necessary.

  5. #5
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    I'm a drum scanner owner/operator. I use my scanners to scan my own 5x4 film (both color negative and B&W). I've printed a number of image in the size range you state. My biggest so far is 148.5 cm long. About 58.5 inches for the Americans who haven't seen the metric light ;-) IOW, I know what you are trying to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by algarzai View Post
    - I intended to print not more that 44X55 inches. viewing distance will be about 20 - 40 inches.
    Easily done from 5x4 film.

    Quote Originally Posted by algarzai View Post
    - I am concerned if a company is out of business or if a certain software doesn't run on reasonably dated OS.
    There are no "new" drum scanners (OK, you can by a newly manufactured drum scanner (maybe) but the design for said scanner will be a decade old or more). The amount of drum scanner R&D this century has been little to none. Really. No, I'm not kidding. The number of new drum scanners sold in the world every year would be extremely lucky to break into the triple digits. This has of course driven most of the drum scanner makers out of the market. Even Heidelberg is out. There are only three left. Aztek in the USA, ICG in England, and Screen in Japan. If you really have to have current manufacturers, those are your only choices.

    But you'll be passing up some excellent deals. Some of the "orphaned" drum scanners are excellent machines.

    Then again, the software to run these older machines isn't being updated, so you'll need an ancient Mac running OS 9.x or older to run it. This isn't a problem either as old Macs are easy to find. Just dedicate the ancient Mac to run the scanner, and have it store the scan file across your LAN to the machine you want to edit with. Easy and nearly painless.
    Quote Originally Posted by algarzai View Post
    - I appreciate options that are below USD 10k. if you feel that this is shy from producing good quality then please propose something with higher price.
    The problem here is that there are plenty of good quality used drum scanners available in the 1-2K USD range. But not usually from the remaining "big three" manufacturers. That's because guys like you put a premium on still being able to get parts and service from the manufacturer, which of course bids the prices up. And if you want to buy new or factory refurb, you'll be at or over your limit quickly.
    Quote Originally Posted by algarzai View Post
    - I have questions like is 5000 DPI going to be enough for my needs
    There are very few films that need 5000 spi. Of those, it takes an excellent optical system, outstanding conditions, the perfect subject, and excellent capture technique to put enough optical information on the film to justify scanner resolutions that high. IOW, scanning above around 4000 spi is nearly always overkill. For LF, I'll go out on a limb and say it's my opinion that scanning any LF film over 4000 spi is always overkill. LF is nearly always lens limited due to the lens design (think coverage) and the small apertures (think diffraction) used to met photographers' DOF requirements.
    Quote Originally Posted by algarzai View Post
    - flatbed scanners are quite good but I would rather get a drum scanner unless price difference is huge.
    Again, depends on your preference. Older orphaned used drum scanners can be had for much less than used flatbeds. But non-orphaned drum scanners can cost as much or more than used flatbeds.

    Finally, I second another poster's suggestion that you join the Yahoo group "ScanHi-End" Lots of good resources there, and you can mine the group's history and find answers to a lot of your questions. It's almost a certainty that if you have a drum scanner question, it's already been asked and answered (many times) in that group.

    Bruce Watson

  6. #6

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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    I like the comments above by Joanna. I need to scan 4X5 chromes and negatives for inkjet printing. I'm a digital duffer; have always done analogue work. So last week I went out and bought an Epson V750 Pro scanner thinking that I could at least get a bunch of my stuff on paper and of good enough quality for medium sized prints. I'm a systematic kind of guy so I was curious just what kind of resolution could be obtained from the noisy little machine. At first cut it appeared sort of like the usual consumer junk. But see my results below.

    The following data was obtained using a chrome on glass resolution plate from Toppan Printing Co. Japan. Linewidths on plate range from 20um down to 2 um.
    These are line space pairs running in X and Y so resolution difference as a function of direction can be determined. This is a lot like the USAF target available from Edmund Scientific.

    Where above the glass platen is the point of best focus?
    Turns out I get 2.9 mm. for my machine, but this moves slightly over a 4X5 frame - (about 0.5 mm). I was still within 10um (2540 DPI) resolution from 2.2 to 3.7 mm. above platen. At my measurement extremities - on the platen >20um; 5.1 mm above the platen >20um. 20um is equivalent to 1270 SPI. Don't put your image on the platen if you want the intrinsic resolution of the machine.

    What is the best resolution at point of best focus?
    Point of best focus yields about 7.0 um lines and spaces - (3607 SPI), or in another metric 71 lp/mm. This of course is a judgement call so I printed the target at 50X using PS. Used a levels adjustment to get a black bar with a completely defined white space between. No sharpening in scan or PS. Bicubic sampling for the printout at 300DPI. For me it is the printed image that matters. BTW with some PS sharpening I could squeeze the res. down to 5um lines and spaces (5080 SPI). Predictably the line pairs running in the direction of the scan were a couple of um better than those orthogonal to the scan.

    The Dmax was a bit more disappointing. Using a Stouffer step wedge and a single scan and using a levels adj. (input 0-1.00-255; output 24-227) I could squeeze step 1 to 15 (0.05 to 2.1) onto paper using a crappy HP Deskjet D4260 with Vivera ink.

    I think Joanna has a good point above, although I believe 11X is larger than most here would advise. But there again the detail you are after is a subjective thing.

    Nate Potter, Austin TX.

  7. #7

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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    Joanna
    Peter
    Ben
    Bruce
    Nathan

    thanks guys for your valuable input. It seems I was underestimating the Epson flatbeds. I guess I will try this for a while and concentrate on finding the sweet spot of configs for the film, scanner and printer. I will evaluate the need for a drum scanner then.

  8. #8

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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    Most people seem to think that if you get a drum scanner then you can't own an Epson too. The truth is that I bet most drum scan owners have an Epson (or similar consumer flatbed) kicking around because they will need to scan different size films and prints for editing or quick+dirties, etc.

    So start with an Epson to learn the ropes and do a little tire-kicking with the big stuff.

    In the end it may make more sense to scan your own medium-quality stuff on your $500 Epson and then send out the big stuff to people like Bruce and Lenny for the occasional drum scan. How many giant prints can you afford and is your work even good enough to justify it?

  9. #9

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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    Most people seem to think that if you get a drum scanner then you can't own an Epson too. The truth is that I bet most drum scan owners have an Epson (or similar consumer flatbed) kicking around because they will need to scan different size films and prints for editing or quick+dirties, etc.

    So start with an Epson to learn the ropes and do a little tire-kicking with the big stuff.

    In the end it may make more sense to scan your own medium-quality stuff on your $500 Epson and then send out the big stuff to people like Bruce and Lenny for the occasional drum scan. How many giant prints can you afford and is your work even good enough to justify it?
    Excellent advice. Virtually everyone I know who owns a high end scanner also has an Epson close by do editing.

    Plus, as Nate and others have observed, the Epson V700/V750 is a pretty decent scanner. At the very least you can learn a lot about as digital work flow without a huge expenditure of cash.

    For another test of the Epson V700/V750 see http://www.filmscanner.info/en/Films...tberichte.html
    Their tests show resolution of about 2300 spi, which is what I have observed in my own testing of the V700.

    Sandy King



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  10. #10

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    Re: Newb advice on scanners

    In regards to the real world scan resolution of the V700, my experience is the same as Sandy's and the German scanner review. Things seem to fall apart real fast above 2400 dpi. It sounds like Nathan has done quite a bit of work fine tuning his technique and is getting better results. His message read like he was going to include some photos, but I guess those got left out.

    Here is a link to a side-by-side test I did for the Pentax Forums between the V700 and the Nikon 5000 ED. Sorry that it is 35mm film and not LF, but the principle should be the same when comparing full resolution crops from both scanners. Be sure to look at the follow-up tests as well as the initial images:


    The Nikon is pretty much the gold standard for 35mm consumer grade film scanners and is one of the few that comes close to its advertised resolution. It is often the more expensive option for users considering the Epson V700 and V750 scanners for 35mm work, hence the rational for the comparison. For those not willing to wade through the thread, my conclusion was that film flatness and focus are critical to get the best from the V700. Even with close attention being paid to flatness, at settings above 2400 dpi, the Nikon simply pulled away from the Epson. That being said, I might have had better results with a focusable film holder and mounting to glass or wet mount. There are also a few posts from other users comparing 120 film negatives using the V700 and the Nikon 8000 showing similar results.

    I did some additional inquiry that I did not post on the Pentax Forums thread. It was possible to increase apparent sharpness by adjusting both global and local contrast (clarity) and adding significant sharpening (USM) in PP. This was done at the expense of tonality and increased artifact. The results looked sort of nasty on-screen, but may have been fine when printed. YMMV.


    Steve

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