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Thread: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

  1. #1

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    Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    I'm sure similar questions have been asked numerous times before, but always worth rehashing an important problem. Typically I use a Flextight X1 in a co-op where I pay an hourly rate to scan, however because of the pandemic I cannot use it and have not been able to for sometime. I'm sitting on a larger library of negs now and I really like to be able to see and edit them at this point. So here come the options and alternative questions. Looking to scan 120 mm and 4x5 with the option of making very large prints if need be.

    Obviously, the X5 is a better scanner than any Epson flatbed. The X1 does not stand out quite as far above, but still offers many advantage, especially at the 120mm level. No option is as good as a high quality drum scan done well, but I DO NOT have the budget for that whatsoever, sadly. I did find a Tango on sale for $1000, but also have nowhere to keep the behemoth and it broke my heart to see it go. This leaves the question what can I use at home that is budget friendly and will give me satisfactory results. I'm looking to post content to my site, while retaining the ability to make medium-large prints from my files.

    I can purchase a refurb Epson V850 for $700 which sits comfortably in what I can afford. I've used these before and they're definitely not bad, but I have never made prints from their scans. Would it be worth my time looking at a Creo Eversmart, or Screen Cezanne at all? I don't know much about them or their respective price tags. They are older equipment and I therefore wonder about tech issues and compatibility with my Windows 10 comp.

    Finally of course, there's the option of digital camera scans. Normally, I wouldn't see the value of using something with less resolving power to capture a MF or LF neg, like my Sony A7RII, however with stitching techniques I figure its possible to achieve very high MP images using this process. One possibility I've been wondering about is suing the Pixelshift feature for the Fuji GFX 100/100s. Has anyone seen, or heard of this being used for negative scans? Theoretically, if done right, it could yield better results than any scanner (outside of drum perhaps) at 400 megapixel output. I've been considering waiting for a good use GFX 100s to come up. If I could use it both as a working camera and high quality scanning solution that would certainly justify the price.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts Thanks!
    Last edited by nebd; 19-Mar-2021 at 18:29.

  2. #2

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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    Would be helpful to know just how large you want to print your images. Lately I have been printing no larger than 9"x12", so single exposures with a Nikon D850 with either a 65mm Macro Nikkor f/4.5 or a 12cm Macro Nikkor f/6.3 (lenses from a Nikon Multiphot) work our fine for me.

  3. #3
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    I'm a dedicated Creo Eversmart/IQ Smart user, they're just fantastic machines and I cannot recommend them enough. The quality of their scans is up there with drum scans.
    There is currently someone (Michael Streeter) who takes care of sales and service on all of these machines, and they're quite reliable. https://www.scansolutionsonline.com
    The downside is the cost. You're looking at $2500 for an Eversmart Pro, and more for more recent machines. EBay sometimes has a Creo for sale for less, but you don't know what you're getting. Spare parts can be more expensive than buying a complete, working machine.

    So if your question is "What can I use at home that is budget friendly and will give me satisfactory results?" I'd have to say an Epson V7xx or V8xx, or even a 4990.
    For the price, they're pretty good scanners.

  4. #4

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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    As I'm sure you're aware, digitizing for online content does not demand high quality scans. Second, I'm thinking that the solutions you might consider will correlate directly to what you define as medium to large-scale prints. For me, I consider a 13x19" print to be "large scale" and the results from my Epson flatbed with LF film is acceptable to me. MF film is pushing it with the flatbed and forget 35mm. For 35mm, I use a Konica/Minolta Scan Elite 5400II dedicated film scanner.

    The issue with a Creo et al is that they're old equipment, as you already mentioned. If a unit requires repair, what are you options? Camera scanning is certainly a viable option, but IMO it requires higher end equipment to get really good results. Personally, I'd start with your Sony A7RII and evaluate the results. If not acceptable, move on to those higher megapixel options you mentioned.

    Good luck!

  5. #5

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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    Another happy Creo user here - I have the IQsmart 2 and it's excellent. Upside - great results, built like a tank, perfectly capable of running 24/7. Downside - humongous., heavy, not so cheap, and SLOW. Did I mention that it's like watching grass grow? On the other hand I've started doing 3D printing lately and that makes the Creo look speedy. The way I usually work is to load it up during the day and let it run all night so I have scans in the AM. It's fine for 35mm and 120 (I get 2 1/2 rolls on the bed) - not super for Minox (which I do use.) If I were doing a lot of MInox I would have sprung for the IQsmart 3. But as it is I'm happy with it for almost everything I do. I have a friend who shoots 14 x 17 and he has to run it in two passes because the bed width is 12 x 18. The scanning bed is open on three sides so you could scan 20 x24 in multiple stitched passes if you were so inclined. I opted for the big flatbed over a drum scanner because I want to do larger film someday and the mounting process is more fiddly than I want to deal with.

    Software - no problem. The Intel Mac mini is perfect - I used an old MacBook for years until it gave up the ghost. Maybe the best thing is Michael Streeter. I give him an A+++++ for outstanding support. I've gotten hosed up a couple of times and he's been able to log in remotely and fix things for me.

    Price - I paid somewhere close to $5k for a fully refurbed unit including around $600 shipping. It came with all the software and the proper calibration target. And Michael was truly outstanding with support and helping me get going with it.

    Having said all that I've scanned a lot of stuff with the Epson 750 wet mounted and it's perfectly fine for making 16 x 20 prints from 4 x 5. I made a couple of 30 X 40 canvas wraps from 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 negs scanned on the Epson and they're more than quite acceptable - for the money the 850 would be hard to beat for LF. Not so impressed with MF, though - I used a Nikon 8000 for MF until it died but now that I have the Crea(Kodak) I'm getting quite good results from MF - and reasonably nice 4 x 6's to 5 x 7's from the Minox.

  6. #6

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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    Definitely bigger than that. My last show was mainly 24x30 and I hope to make prints at least twice that size in the future.

  7. #7

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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    Thanks! Do Creos work with modern computers or to I have to find an old unit to be compatible as is sometimes the case for older printers/scanners? What size prints can you comfortably make from the scans? IS there a particular model you recommend?

  8. #8

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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    Cheers! To me a large print is 24x30 and up. Right now the images will be mainly for online, but that is more a factor of the pandemic than anything and I would prefer not to have to scan again in order to get good print quality.

  9. #9

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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    Very interesting. My fear with the Creos is the tech issues. If anything happens I imagine it could be a nightmare to resolve.

  10. #10

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    Re: Scanner Options & Comparisons. Which to choose?

    If cost is a factor (also for workflow reasons) I think that you may want to consider an Epson V850 using Silverfast and use it for most of your work. When you find single images that you really want to print larger then pay someone to drum scan those few photographs. In the long run that may give you a lot of versatility by having the Epson without the cost of something larger.

    This is a huge issue for most of us. Meaning how much money we want or can invest in this portion of our workflow. It is critical to get right because having a mediocre scan is like having an underexposed negative, the image is there but there could have been a lot more information in it. Drum scanning is slow and laborious but yields the best results. The Creo scanners mentioned are great options if you can afford them. They are almost as good as a drum scanner and a lot easier to use, but still very expensive. Many people are experimenting with using their digital cameras as scanners with good results. I think the biggest question you need to ask yourself is how important is it to your personal craft to control this part of your workflow? Many photographers have spent their entire lives exhibiting and never printing their own work. They prefer to photograph and then have someone else do the rest. Are you o.k. with someone else producing your scans? If you are then I would given serious consideration to the Epson V850/pay for drum scans option I previously mentioned. If you feel it's part of your craft that you need to control then find a scanner that will be in a price range that you can afford and still get the results you want, understanding that will be in the thousands.

    I am struggling with the same issue myself. I am on the fence regarding buying a drum scanner, Creo (Kodak?) Supreme II or building an automated rig to use a digital camera and a macro lens to "scan" my film and stitch it together as a panorama. But this part of the process is very important to me to control myself so I am willing to make the investment.

    -Joshua

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