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Thread: Best cheap large format negative scanner

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    A 4990 refurb would be excellent value for not too much money.

    Prepare a time budget for the project. Think about how much time it will take you to do each scan - not just the scan acquisition, but also any negative handling and any post-processing needed. Think also about overhead for developing and implementing a labeling and filing system so that somebody else can actually find them, realize what they are, and make good use of them at whatever point in the indefinite future.

    You say there are hundreds of negatives. Are you prepared for the project to take a few hundred hours? Spread over how much time? If not, is there a way of prioritizing a subset of negatives that are especially worth the trouble?

    If you think it through at the start, the odds are higher that you'll scale it in a way that's practical and complete something coherent and useful, rather than running out of steam in the middle with a partial set of scans.

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    To make a decent scan for online viewing I still need 10-15 minutes per image even for something mediocre. I've tried to rush it faster and it doesn't work out - and I have been scanning, sometimes professionally, for 20 years. I'm probably several times faster than you are....

    So do the math before offering more than you can do.

    If you really want to preserve a treasured image, the ultimate thing you could do is to photograph it properly with 4x5 or 8x10 film.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    Epson 4990 or HP 4890, used or refurbished. 10-15 mins per scan sounds about right.

  4. #14
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    Phillip, If I had to do such a job with a minimum of time and equipment (and quality!) I'd improvise a light table and use my old Canon PowerShot A590 (or comparable camera) that focuses close enough for 4x5 subjects and produces fairly decent 2400x3200 pixel images. You could record the entire lot of negatives in the time it takes to do a few of them right. Maybe in the future someone with a proper setup and lots of time can do the job better.

  5. #15

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    Quote Originally Posted by Nokorola View Post
    Hello everyone, I'm new to this forum, but I hope to stick around for many years.

    I am looking for a cheap way to scan hundreds of 5x7 and 8x10 negatives as an act of goodwill for my local library. These negatives are a range of ages, but mostly from the late 20s until the late 50s. I have been putting this project off for about two years, and now that I've started I've come to realize just how difficult a process it is. I have an Epson Perfection 2400 Photo scanner that I was given, and while it works, as several of you may know, it is made to scan slides and 35mm. I have tackled this issue as much as possible, even improvising a holder, but the fact that the b&w negative setting only scans an image roughly two inches wide is seemingly insurmountable. For some test scans and some particularly important negatives I've traveled down copy and paste road and pieced the negatives together from multiple scans. This gives a mostly effective negative (see attached), but is very slow, and is therefore no way to tackle the remaining several hundred negatives.

    So anyway... I was curious if anyone knows of an inexpensive scanner that I could use, as the few I've researched are nice(such as the Epson Perfection V700), but bottom out at about $500, a hefty price tag for a small-town public library and/ or a college student.

    Any help with my predicament would be greatly appreciated, and until then, I'll keep grinding along with what I have.

    Thank you sincerely for any help,

    I was toying with the idea of taking an older/free scanner and cutting/disconnecting the portion of the cable that illuminates the scanner head, and then lighting the bed from above. Is this even worth attempting, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

    Attachment 76698
    I have to say this is pretty sad.

    You mean to tell me there isn't enough civic pride in your town to come up with a measly $500 for decent new scanner, when you are volunteering to do the work??

    And these are historical 90 -60 year old negatives, at least of some value for the local town. That is not the US of A I know!!

    If you can guarantee me your not shaking us down for your own project, pm me with your address and I'll send you $50 to start with and then bring your hat to the next town council meeting.... there maybe some other fools around here willing to take the bait too....

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    Points well made.

    Have a friend who uses an Epson 4990 and the Epson software. He's tried the V750 and sold it to recommission his 4990. Occasionally found "refurb" on Epson site. Don't mistake the 4490 for scanning. Medium Format only for 4490.

    Agree on HUNDREDS of hour at 4 scans per hour for LF. If you plan ANY editing change to summary of 30 minutes per scan.

    Job from HELL!!! at a church nontheless. So many more productive things you could volunteer at your church to help people in need.

    The images are probably more secure and archival now in their current format. They will necessitate more care as digitized files in the future.

    Do not archive them to CD or DVD, until you fully understand how optical media is starting to fail. Search and read internet articles on CD ROT and DVD ROT. Once the images are digital, they will reguire future transition to newer media as it develops. Don't save them to the "Cloud". Sites fail and discontinue operation.

    Who is going to be responsive for the security of digital files after you digitize the archive. By default... YOU!!!!

    NO matter what course is taken here... Do NOT destroy the original media. It may be the only means by which the original images may be recoverable in the future. If the purpose of all this is to eliminate the originals...huge mistake.

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Atlanta, Georgia USA

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post

    I once owned an Acer 1200UT flatbed, and I used it for making many scans of medium and large format negatives printed up to about a 2 or 3x enlargement, and it did okay. It lacked the dynamic range for slides, but for negatives it was acceptable. I'm still displaying some of those images on the web. It was $99 when I bought it (ca. 1999) and I doubt something like that would get more than 20 or 30 bucks now. For 5x7 and 8x10, the quality would be acceptable for many purposes.

    Hey, Rick... I still own one of those Acer scanners. It has been storage for over 10 years. I may drag it out to scan some of my 4x5" negatives. Oh, golly, I hope the film holders are still in the box!!

    Any tips or tricks that would be useful with the Acer?

    What third party software would be best to use with the Acer and Windows 7?

    Thank you.


  8. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern Virginia

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    My answer to your question is also my tip: Vuescan.

    Rick “who hasn’t had that scanner in operation in forever” Denney

  9. #19

    Join Date
    May 2018
    Somewhere between SoCal & Norway

    Re: Best cheap large format negative scanner

    One last point to the OP, regardless of what you get, you can always sell it when the project is done, probably for about what you bought it for. So you might view it as a temporary expenditure.

    I had a Canon 9550F some years ago, the lens is optimized for flat field as I recall, and together with VueScan it did a pretty decent job on 6x6 negatives. It was painfully slow though...

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