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Thread: Question relative scanner performance

  1. #1

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    Dec 2017
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    Question relative scanner performance

    Please pardon a somewhat vague question, but I'm looking for information and opinions on two scanners relative to each other.

    I own a MicroTek Scanmaker 8700. It's old and slow, but has worked well for a long time. I still have a version of SilverFast that is both supported by WIN10 and drives that scanner. However, I've recently moved back into 4x5 and 5x7, and I'm not at all sure that I'm getting the most from my negatives on this scanner. Visual comparison under a magnifier compared to the digital image just doesn't seem to match up; I'm missing, to my eye, a lot of detail clearly visible in the negative. I wind up with a low contrast (but this is TMAX 400, so not entirely unusual) image that I need to tweak a fair amount in PS.

    I'm looking ahead to where I will be using these two formats a lot more, and I'm wondering if someone can make any comparisons between that scanner and the newer Epson V800/850 machines.

    I have no scanned image immediately at hand for demonstrating what I mean, but if someone has some guidance on general improvement that would also be welcomed.

    Again, I apologize for the very vague nature of this question, but I'm not sure just what to ask.

  2. #2
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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    The Microtek scanner only has half the resolution of the Epson in one direction, which will make some difference.

    Are you using the transparency tray instead of the glass? Large film may be hanging out of focus, so see if the sharpness is different between the center and the edge. I don't know if that was a problem with the Microtek, but I would be surprised if it came with a 5x7 adaptor, so maybe you are using the glass platen instead. As with the Epson, that will cut contrast a bit because of transmission losses and flare.

    My experience is with an Epson 750, which isn't much different from the current 850. It can have focus problems, too, though mine has not displayed it. But even working perfectly, I don't expect the Epson to support much or any more than about a 4x enlargement from the original negative, with an expected true resolution of no better than about 2000 pixels/inch with enough MTF to do any good, and some argue it's not that good. But I get good results with 16x20 prints from 4x5 negatives.

    For roll film, I use a Nikon 9000ED, which is reputed to attain most of its optical resolution, perhaps as good as 3600 pixels/inch. But even that doesn't show the same level of detail as I see looking at the negative under a microscope. Until I see clear grain (and not aliasing pretending to be grain), I expect the scanner to be leaving something behind. That tells me that a 1200x2400 scanner like the Microtek will have a ceiling above which it will simply not go. The Epson will do a little better, but maybe not enough to notice a big difference.

    If you need to update the workflow or the attached computer with the old Microtek, look into Vuescan, which is still the go-to solution for keeping old scanners usable without maintaining a computer museum. It also lets me use one single software package for all my scanners.

    Rick "needing to scan some roll film" Denney

  3. #3

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    Dec 2017
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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    I'm using the internal glass platen, not the top glass, with a piece of museum glass to hold the negative flat. Perhaps my expectations are simply too high, but over and over I seem to see images posted here that appear to show far more detail than what I'm getting. It doesn't sound as though there is any real purpose in my replacing my current scanner. If I have a particular project, I suppose I could always send something off to be drum scanned.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    I had terrible results scanning on the glass on both the i800 (comparable to your 8700) & i900.
    Perhaps if the file was elevated (discussed in this group much) results would be better.
    Using the film holders offers excellent results. just completed a project of 25k in A120s.
    Previously scanned 3k in 4 X 5's.

  5. #5

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    Aug 2013
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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    KMiller, I was referring to the glass platen (lower drawer) and not the reflective (top) glass.
    Try elevating the film with something of slight thickness (discussed here many, many times).

    Don't you have any film holders? 4 x 5's, 120s, 35mm, slides? To be used in the lower drawer with the non-glass platen.

  6. #6

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    Aug 2013
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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    KMiller,
    If you don't have any film holders?
    The holders for the 8700, i800 and i900 are identical although they may be a different color (doesn't matter).
    Somebody is selling film holders on eBay for $20 each (absurd).
    With careful shopping, I've purchased multiple i900's with near-complete accessories (one in original box) for less than $100 to the door. It does take patience, but well worth it IMO.

  7. #7

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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    My i900 still serves me well. I have tried a variety of Epsons and never found one to match the i900.

  8. #8

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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    the i900's were built for professionals and durability.
    Granted they are slower than LED's but they are workhorses,

  9. #9

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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    Wilderness, I do have the original film holders, but they only go up to 4x5 (which works well). Nothing that will accommodate a 5x7.

  10. #10

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    Aug 2013
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    Re: Question relative scanner performance

    KMiller,
    You may purchase some 8 X 10 plastic sheets (approx $15-20) from a machinists supply that are .080 thick (among other thickness').
    If you cut them yourself it'll be messy. Some machinists shops have an oil or water cooled CNC that cuts plastic without breaking or leaving loose shavings. leaving a 1/16-inch border for 5 x 7's (the border shadowed the edges (although it was visible), but I was pleased with the results..
    In the B&W 4 x 5 project I did, about one-third were 3 x 4. I had these custom made (after trying thin cardboard) (using them in the 4x 5 holders) and they maintained their firmness. A friend had it done for me at cost and it wasn't cheap even then.
    A place that makes custom holders has been mentioned in this forum multiple times, don't recall the name.

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