View Full Version : Best 8x10 scanner and Labs for 8x10 Color Enlargements

16-Jul-2004, 21:45
I've done a bit of searching through the archives here and elsewhere, but I'd appreciate clarification on a couple of questions as I get past the baby steps with 8x10 and start shooting more of those (pricey) sheets of film, and getting them printed and enlarged.

So far I've been doing contact prints with the color enlargers at the local photography school, but I'd like to eventually scan the negatives, and work with a lab to get larger prints -- from 11x14 to 20 x24 and higher.

1) For 8x10 it looks like my best choice for personal scanning is the Epson 1680, with the Microtek i900 a dark horse...is this correct? I hear a lot about the Epson consumer scanners' abilities with 4x5, but I don't hear much about 8x10. I'd like to use any scanner I purchase to get images up on the web and print well at "smaller" sizes (8x10, 11x14). I'll be scanning mostly color negative (Portra 400NC) and black and white (HP5), with slides every so often (Provia, as well as a bunch of expired Kodak Ektachrome that was given to me by a pro who shoots only digital now)

2) I'm also currently working on a project with a goal of getting 6 to 9 larger enlargements in the next two months, using color negative film. Here, I figure I will use a lab to get 20x24 or 24x30 prints, maybe even a bit larger -- is it reasonable to assume that the better labs in the Boston area (where I am) can produce great enlargements from the contact prints I give them as a reference, or should I send it out to a "reputable" lab in New York City or elsewhere? Do people here have labs they'd recommend for this type of work?

I have a small lab (with a reasonable commercial clientele) close to where I live in the suburbs that I use for my color processing and some basic color printing work from 35mm and 120, but to be honest, I think their color printing is functional and not much more than that. What I do like about them is that, since they scan everything they print (no color enlargers, just digital printing), you can buy the scan very cheaply from them if you have something printed...so for a 16x20 print, I can have the scan for an extra $5. But like I said, the print would basically be a throwaway, because they don't print the way I would, even when I tell them to match something.

Anyway, sorry for the long ramble, but any recommendations/confirmations on a scanner, and a lab for doing good to superb C-prints in larger sizes from 8x10 film, would be great.

Brian Ellis
17-Jul-2004, 07:15
If you can find a used Heidelberg Linoscan 1400 it does an excellent job with my 8x10 black and white negatives. The relatively low maximum ppi of 1200 is unimportant with 8x10 negatives and the motor, optics, etc. seem to be excellent. It was relatively expensive when new three or so years ago, about $1,000, but surely could be bought used for $500 or less today. There was some sort of incompatability between the Newcolor 5000 software that came it and my operating system so I switched to Vuescan and everything has worked fine since.

Abe Slamowitz
17-Jul-2004, 08:19
Robert: I can print your 8x10 negatives and guarantee to do a beautiful job, as long as they are good. Contact me at: Austin Photo Labs, 222 Merrick Road, Rockville Centre, N.Y. 11570 516 536-3200. From 8x10 negatives, everything is custom. 8x10--$5, 11x14--$15, 16x20--$20, 20x24--$38, 24x30--$50 and 30x40--$65. The lab is a professional lab for professional photographers. Get in touch with me. Thanks, Abe

mark blackman
17-Jul-2004, 12:25
Robert, you can scan10x8 film on an Epson 2450 if you do it in strips and stitch them back together in photoshop. The key is to ensure each strip is parallel. Once you've got you film in digital format you can choose any printer worldwide to do your job

17-Jul-2004, 13:11
There is a gentleman from Northern CA that sells refurbished UMAX scanners with a 1 year warrenty. I bought a Mirage II tabloid size scanner with 700 dpi across the 11 inch bed and 1400 over the middle 6 inches. Complete with SCSI kit, software, film holders, tax, and shipping, it was $320 and change. I've used Acer (1240ut, 1220st) and Epson (4870) scanners. This by far provides the best scans.

Email me direct if you have any questions or want to contact the sellar.

17-Jul-2004, 13:32
Should be 700 dpi across 12 inch bed and it's 17 inches long.

17-Jul-2004, 22:04
Thanks everyone, for the interesting suggestions. I've since found that the Microtek 1800f should also merit serious consideration, with at least a couple of people claiming that it trumps all of the Epsons. I'm reluctant to deal with discontinued equipment that's no longer supported and that uses SCSI...I have enough SCSI horror stories from the past that I require Firewire or USB 2.0 for any interface. Also, Mark's suggestion is great, but I find scanning enough of a black art without having to deal with stitching on top of it. I'm a lazy jerk, I know, but I'd prefer to spend the money to get something that produces scans of reliable and predictable quality, even if they're not top of the line drum scans.

I'd really, really prefer to spend less for a scanner, but experience tells me that you get what you pay for, and my experience with the lower priced flatbeds has been OK but not great (especially with shadow detail). So I will probably go with one of the $1000 scanners, the Epson 1680 or the Microtek 1800, unless the word-of-mouth on the i900 bears out that it really is as good as it promises.

Again, if anyone has any good lab recommendations for larger prints beyond what's been cited here, it would be appreciated. I'm looking for exhibition quality, as opposed to functional machine prints, even though I'm sure that a "functional" enlargement from a solid 8x10 neg would look quite good.

18-Jul-2004, 04:04
Robert, I have an epson 1680 and it is not up to the job of getting decent negs for exhibition. The optics are soft. Comparing a 1680 scan with a s/h polaroid 5x4 film scanner and they are a world apart difference. You would be better off shooting MF and using an MF film scanner than 5x4 and a flatbed. The polaroid can be got cheap on ebay. Unless you can afford a high end flatbed, you aren't doing your negs a lot of good if you want exhibition prints. having said that when I did tests recently the microtek was sharper than the epsons

Ralph Barker
19-Jul-2004, 19:59
I think you'll run into several factors in looking for an affordable desktop scanner that will handle 8x10 trannies, Robert. Most of these differences are a matter of where the scanner falls in the rapidly evolving technology curve. The Heidelberg Linoscans, in their day, were top-of-the-line in the $2K range, and were sold at the time that SCSI was the fastest interface available. Since then, smaller-format film scanners have advanced tremendously, and desktop flatbeds with adapters have generally been restricted to 4x5 film size. Those advancements appeared first in 35mm film scanners, and migrated to medium-format a year or so later. Note that the Polaroid and Nikon 4x5 film scanners sold for around $10K at the time.

Several years ago, I opted for an Epson Expression Pro 800, which at the time was a good value - a nice balance between optical resolution and D-Max. The Heidelberg was more than I wanted to spend, and (if memory serves) used an internal slot/tray like the current Microtek i900 for film - a design that struck me as risky). The "Expression" line was separate from their consumer models, and aimed more at graphics professionals. The Expression 800 was replaced with the 1600 (higher horizontal resolution, but the same maximum size of scan - about 12000 pixels per side), and that was replaced with the 1680.

The Epson Expression Pro 800 actually does a decent job on 8x10 for smaller print sizes - up to 11x14 on Super B paper. It is certainly not as sharp as the current Epson 3200 (limited to 4x5 film) or the Polaroid SprintScan 120 (since bought by Microtek) that I use for 35mm and medium format. But, for 8x10 negs it's OK for small-ish digital prints.

For more current technology, the Microtek i900 may be a better option - assuming that it will actually scan 8x10 negs - they call it an 8x10 tray, but only show film adapters through 4x5. I've not seen one myself, so I can't really say.

Ken Lee
20-Jul-2004, 05:27
It sounds like you want to be able to enlarge by a factor of 3x. If you want to print at 360 dpi for excellent quality, that means you need a scan at 3 times that, or around 1200 ppi. Since we all know that flatbed scanners only deliver around 2/3 of what they sample (ie 2/3 what they advertize) , that means you ought to scan at 1800 ppi, since 2/3 of that will be around 1200 ppi.. Therefore, I recommend the Microtek 1800.

Keep in mind that files will be rather large, so make sure you have a fast machine with several gigabytes of RAM. I have 2GB, the limit for my machine, but wish I had much more. As many luddites have lamented, what sounded like a lot of memory a few years ago, is peanuts today.

Gary Nylander
20-Jul-2004, 23:26

I just recently bought the Microtek i900 scanner about two weeks ago and I have to say that I think it's a very good scanner. I bought it because I shoot large format up to 8 x 10. I also purchased the Epson 4000 printer, which is also a very good. My intitial reaction to the i900 when I first set it up with the stock Microtek Scan Wizard software was that it was poor in quality, then I got the idea of scanning in my negatives under the 'postive' setting thus getting a 'negative' in photoshop which I invert and this made a world of diffrence and this resulted in very sharp scans, it also came with Silverfast Ai which is also very good, but I still prefer to use the negative scanning method.

The scanner has a seperate tray for doing glassless scanning up to 4 x 5 film and a glass holder for anything bigger. From my darkroom I had made my own horizonal 8 x 10 enlarger and had some specially designed metal neg carriers for 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 film sizes and with a little trimming they just happen to fit in perfectly in the glassless tray, so I am scanning in 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 film, glassless. I can't say what it will do for color negatives as most of my collection is in black and white.

I think for the price ( $800 in Canada ), it's a very good deal, and if anyone is interested , you can check out my website at: http://www.garynylander.com and look under 'New Images' there is a photograph of Spotted Lake that I made recently with my 8 x 10 and scanned in with this scanner, I know its only a website image but at least it will give you an idea of what it can do, also check under 'Techincal Info'.

BTW I have been printing in a traditional darkroom for the past 17 years or so and I am just loving the results I am getting from my scanner and printer !


21-Jul-2004, 08:27
Thanks Julian, Ralph, Ken and Gary for adding very helpfully to this discussion. Julian, I probably didn't express myself well, but I wasn't intending to use the scanner for the exhibition work...just for prints at 8x10 and 11x14 and for the web. Gary, your website is excellent, and I have to admit I'm intrigued again by the i900 based on the examples you have up. The 1800f may still be a better choice, but there's a lot to like about the price and packaging of the i900.