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Thread: Figital Scanner Solution

  1. #1
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Figital Scanner Solution

    Interesting point of view from Michael Sebastion for a business model for Kodak to make film sales more viable for years to come-make a first rate reasonably priced scanner.

    http://www.michaelsebastian.com/blog/?p=2101
    Thanks,
    Kirk

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  2. #2

    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    Yeah I heard that the other day, but what about us large format guys?I want Kodak to make me a $500.00 drum scanner

  3. #3

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    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Gittings View Post
    Interesting point of view from Michael Sebastion for a business model for Kodak to make film sales more viable for years to come-make a first rate reasonably priced scanner.

    http://www.michaelsebastian.com/blog/?p=2101

    Stephen Schaub makes a good point in that the Achilles heel of film is the scanner and believe he is correct pointing out that Kodak would have much to gain by introducing a high quality inexpensive scanner.

    I disagree with him on one point. Stephen suggests that the answer is not a dual purpose scanner but a dediciated film scananer limited to 35mm and 120. I think he is wrong on that end because that leaves a lot of LF users (4X5, 5X7, 8X10), and even panoramic formats out in the cold.

    My suggestion instead would be that Kodak produce a smaller version of the IQSmart3 flatbed that could scan both transparency and reflective materials up to 8X10" in size with real resolution of about 5000 spi. This could be done by utilizing the XYX stitching technonolgy that Kodak aquired from Scitex, via Creo, and by the use of a high quality focusing lens. Such a scanner could be relatively small, about like the current generation Epson flatbeds that scan up to 8X10.

    The distance from where we are to where we need too be to pull all of the information from a sheet of large format film is not all that great. In fact the Epson V700 V750 is not that far off the target for LF film. I have done some testing that show that it is virtually impossible to get real resolution of more than 2540 spi, or 50 lp/mm on 4X5 and larger film. The V700/750, when adjusted for best plane of focus and using film holder mode with the super high resolution lens, comes spretty close to that figure in my tests, at about 2300 spi real resolution. Using a higher quality lens and XYZ stitching Kodak should be able to at least double the effective resolution of the V700/750.

    Anyway, if Kodak is listening, my opinion is that what is really needed is a high quality flatbed scanner capable of doing up to 5000 spi of real resolution of either trasparency or reflective material. Throw in Dmax of about 4.8 and there would be precious need anymore for drum scanners.

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    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    Bet the Betterlight folks could build a nice 4x5 scanner.

  5. #5
    Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    I think the market for hobbyist scanners is small, pretty much limited to people that develop their own film. If you send your film out for development, why not just have it scanned by the developing service? Especially if the scanning was standardized and high quality and optimized for the specific film. Especially if the developing/scanning service was supported online, where you could access your scans and wouldn't need a disk reader.

    If Kodak and Fuji made a complete service package (film, development system and scanning system) that was economical and convenient and consistently good they would sell more film. Imagine if it was fairly inexpensive and convenient to get 30 or 40 meg high quality images from a $500 (medium format) camera, or 15 meg from 35mm ($100 camera). There would certainly be a film renaissance.

    There will always be a market for those that want control of the process, but I don't see it being a big market.

    ...Mike

  6. #6

    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    I'm not sure I see the point in advancing scanner products for 35mm, this is one area I think capture probably wins on most points. If you want the Selgado / Gibson look, no, but those I know doing that actually are still in the darkroom anyway and not scanning. So Film area real estate is still where film meets the needs of most of us here over digital, and where scanner technology might be better focused. I can see the point in limiting size to 8x10, in order to keep costs in line and marketing more viable. There is the occassional need for larger film scans but that may best be addressed with specialty products.
    More intriguing to me than additional scanners, is new film more suited to our needs. Color films designed for scanning instead of display or C printing, but optimized to capture more scene density range like neg, more sharpness like trannies, and no unnecessary emulsion layers to match C paper color, etc etc..
    Once you disconnect the needs of film from darkroom reproduction, whether color or B&W, a lot of possibilities open up.
    I'm sure criteria for such emulsions could easily be determined and met with today's technology, but I hear no discussion about it at all...
    Tyler
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  7. #7
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson View Post
    If Kodak and Fuji made a complete service package (film, development system and scanning system) that was economical and convenient and consistently good they would sell more film. Imagine if it was fairly inexpensive and convenient to get 30 or 40 meg high quality images from a $500 (medium format) camera, or 15 meg from 35mm ($100 camera). There would certainly be a film renaissance.
    ...Mike
    Your 35mm suggestions reminds me of Kodak Photo-CD.

  8. #8

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    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    I just think its too late for film to rebound in that way. Kodak really blew its opportunity to capture the digital SLR market. Their digital point and shoots create great colors, but they don't have the market penetration of Canon or Sony and at this point, I doubt they'll ever get there. They've tried the home printer market against HP, Canon and Epson, which doesn't seem to be working. They seem to have completely lost interest in their still film business. Without those footers for still photography, they are going to hang on the the remaining movie market as long as it lasts and watch their company slowly decline over time. Digital will eventually overtake film in this market to reduce production costs.

    Digital has pretty much conquered the snapshot-taking consumer public on one end of the user spectrum, and the commercial/editorial/portrait/wedding pros on the other end. For these people, digital is the right choice for many reasons: immediate gratification, ease of image dissemination, film and processing cost, turnaround time, client demand. There’s not much, really, that Kodak or anyone else can do to lead these people back to film. That ship has sailed and it’s not coming back.
    Small groups of people like us know that film capture can provide major advantages over digital capture and welcome alternatives too. But I don't see Kodak going this route.

    As for the comment in the linked article that the scanner should just do 120/35mm. If its done on a flatbed, then it should offer up to 8X10 so people can scan prints and large format film as well. But a major problem in film scanning is keeping the film flat and in focus. They need to come up with a good method for this that does not involve naptha and mylar.

    If Kodak wants to win back market share in film sales and increase use, they need to make a product that is really easy to use and that produces output that surpasses digital capture. That is going to be a MAJOR hurdle and I don't think they have it in them. but many of the suggestions offer in the blog are excellent ideas. Integration with lightroom/aperture would be smart.

  9. #9

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    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    I just bought a very inexpensive flatbed scanner for proofing and archiving. It cost $150 and scans 35mm and MF films, and prints up to 8x10. It's made, I believe, for consumers who want to digitize their family photos. It does this work very well. "Pro" film scanners must surely be approaching the end of their viability as profitable products, with the numbers of potential users shrinking daily. How wise is it to invest in a shrinking, and inevitably disappearing market? I think the idea that a better $500 scanner is going to persuade photographers to use film is ludicrous, when, as has been pointed out, there's already a pretty good $500 scanner on the market. Consider the number of potential buyers for whom the V700/750 is not good enough; surely a tiny fraction of the market. In my opinion, the only thing keeping film in production is the inertia of a century of exclusive use. Most people who shoot film instead of digital, probably do so for one or more of the following reasons:

    They already own a film camera

    They already know how to get satisfying results from film, but not from digital

    They can't afford a digital camera comparable to the film camera they already own

    They don't want to learn a digital workflow

    The above are all aspects of inertia, and once overcome, will yield to the inevitability of digital imaging. The only people still using film beyond the tipping point, will be artists/hobbyists. If we want to anticipate the future of film and related technologies, we should consider the market significance of artist/hobbyists, and what kind of industry they can support.

    Film photography has built up a lot of inertia, and I intend to ride it out, as long as it lasts, ie, as long as I can still buy film for a reasonable price, but I don't delude myself into thinking there's anything that can be done by artist/hobbyists to forestall the advent of digital domination. The hybrid workflow is a transitional one in the evolution of photographic imaging, and has no future (in the evolutionary sense) except the one that leads inexorably to an all-digital workflow.

    What industry will do, is what it's always done; try to anticipate, but mostly respond to the market. What the market is telling industry, is to make better digital cameras, cheaper, which is tantamount to saying; "We don't want to use film". Four guys at the back of the crowd, with their graying/balding heads under a dark cloth are not going to change that message. I'm very pleased to see that the rate of the evolution of digital imaging seems to indicate it will equal or surpass most of the imaging characteristics of film photography before film disappears from the market, except as a niche product for enthusiasts. I think those who embrace a hybrid workflow are the amphibians of photography, and will occupy a special place in the history of our medium.

  10. #10

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    Re: Figital Scanner Solution

    In the good old days there were three broad markets for film - pros, snapshooters, and "serious amateurs." By far the largest in terms of film volume were the snapshooters. Not that they used much film, just that there were so many millions of them. Then there were the pros, not so many of them but big volume users of film, especially in more expensive formats. The smallest in terms of dollar volume was the "serious amateurs."

    Today in developed countries digital has virtually taken over the snapshooter and pro markets, leaving only the "serious amateurs." And even in that group some have abandoned film, others still do everything in darkroom, and others use a pro lab or someone else to do their scanning. So that seems to leave a relatively small sliver of the smallest market as the people who'd be interested in the proposed scanner.

    I have no idea of the costs involved in building such a scanner or the likely profit margin so it's just an uninformed opinion but that seems like too small a market to justify building and marketing a new scanner, especially by a company whose digital products haven't been well-received for the most part. I note that Epson isn't exactly flooding the market with new upgrades for the 700/750 series, which has now been around for six or seven years IIRC, which is like a century in the digital world. That to me says Epson, with all of its experience and knowledge of the scanner business, doesn't see scanning by "serious amateurs" as an area that's worth a lot of R&D or marketing effort.
    Brian Ellis
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