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Film Scanner Recommendations? (Still Photo)


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#1 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 02:44 AM

I'd rather own my own film scanner than spend a lifetime paying $2 per frame at my local lab.

Can anyone recommend a good scanner at a reasonable price...perhaps under $400 or so. And of course, one that's Mac OSX compatible.

Thanks!
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#2 James Baker

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 04:45 AM

I'd rather own my own film scanner than spend a lifetime paying $2 per frame at my local lab.

Can anyone recommend a good scanner at a reasonable price...perhaps under $400 or so. And of course, one that's Mac OSX compatible.

Thanks!



1) What kind of output are you needing? Web and video? 8x10 Inkjet prints? Or large exhibition LightJet or Inkjet prints?
2) What size film format? 35mm? 120? 4x5?

I"m guessing 35mm and only web and video, or 8x10 or maybe 11x14 prints since you mentioned "under $400 or so." If that's the case, your best bet is a Nikon Coolscan V. Nikon also offer the 5000 and 9000 models for more expense (the difference being the 5000 is faster with autofeed options and the 9000 scans film up to 6x9 cm.)

Do not bother with a flatbed (unless you are doing only web work or small prints.) You are really much, much better off with a dedicated CCD film scanner. I say this realizing quality is subjective (I've been doing this for a long time and was trained on a $60,000 PMT drum scanner, and so I imagine I'm very spoiled.) However, the Nikon Coolscan series do a decent job at a very reasonable cost. You'll get big enough files for larger output but the limiting factor on consumer scanners is the dynamic range.

I also feel that the time you're going to spend scanning shouldn't go to waste on poor scans, so I'd get the best you can afford.

If you ever need larger files for exhibition work you can always get high quality drum scans done at a service bureau.

Nikon's software is OS X ready (the Coolscan V is USB 2 only; no FW) But I personally dislike Nikon's software and would recommend buying SilverFast Ai instead. SilverFast has a lot more flexibility in producing more manageable scans for stretching around in PS.

Whew, that was a bit long-winded. Sorry.....
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 05:02 AM

Whew, that was a bit long-winded. Sorry.....


Ha ha, no worries James, thanks for the input! I was actually already looking into the CoolScan V. Looks like they appear on eBay quite regularly, so hopefully I can get a deal!
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#4 Matt Irwin

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 03:38 PM

Jonathan,

I've got an Epson 4990 Photo-- it's a flatbed with neg trays. I use it for 35mm and medium format negs and I really like it. Very sharp and very accurate once it's been calibrated. Great for personal work, web delivery, and 11x14 or smaller prints. I think Epson just came out with a bigger and better version of the 4990 for around $400.

I went flatbed because I needed to scan opaques and odd-size negs, but as James said-- if you're scanning film only, a good neg scanner is a better option.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 07:32 PM

Jonathan,

I've got an Epson 4990 Photo-- it's a flatbed with neg trays.


This was going to be my suggestion. Refurb ones can be had right from epson for 250-300. They'll scan up to 8x10 film or opaques.
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#6 John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 07:35 PM

I did a lot of research on this about half a year ago when I bought my own film scanner. I was in the same price-range as you, and my conclusion was that there were basically two options:

1. Nikon Coolscan V
2. Epson Perfection 4990

If you only do 35mm, go for the Coolscan. If you want/need the ability to scan bigger negatives, go for the Epson. The dedicated CCD of the Coolscan will always produce better results on your 35mm, while the Epson will produce more than acceptable results on a wider range of formats.

Personally I went for the Coolscan, and I've been very satisfied. Here are some photos I have scanned with it and mildly retouched (I guess you can't really judge quality from these resized web versions, but they were already up there).

Hope this helps :)
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 11:47 PM

Those look great John, even though they're tiny you can tell how clean the scan is. I've been thinking of shooting some larger format stuff too, so I may consider the Epson.

thanks all!
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#8 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 01:04 AM

Just looked at the CanoScan, and am wondering if anybody else has had success with it. It's incredibly cheap and reviews seem to be alright for it. As always, you get what you pay for, but I was just curious if it exceeded anyone's expectations.

:)
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#9 David Auner aac

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 04:43 AM

Hi Jonathan,

I have just bought an Epson V750 Pro flatbed which really surprised me quality wise when scanning film. It came with calibration target for both transparencies and opaques and SilverfastAI IT8. Silverfast is a scanning software that is said to get the most out of every compatible scanner... You can even scan 8x10" transparencies with this baby!

Cheers, Dave

PS: I know it's a little more than 400 bucks, I mentioned it for reference though.
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#10 timHealy

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 11:02 AM

One always has to make a compromise when using a flatbed scanner for doing negatives. So you have to ask yourself what are you using the photos for? And how big you want to make them.

Although flatbed scanners get better every day, they are not as good as using a pure negative scanner for negatives. if your making negative scans for small prints or for the web you can certainly use a flatbed scanner. But then it will also depend on how anal you are with your scans.

Best

Tim
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#11 David Auner aac

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 08:29 AM

I agree, problem is that a true film scanner I'd buy would be an Imacon, which would run around 6k Euro. The cheaper film scanner only do 135 and 120 at most, and I need 4x5" or 6x12cm quite often.

Cheers, Dave
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#12 Joe Taylor

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 10:15 AM

Since you have the $400 in your budget, go with a dedicated 35mm scanner. I've been using a Minolta for going on 5 years now with great results. 5 years is a long time so I can only imagine that a scanner for the same price will give you even better results.
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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 01:05 PM

Since you have the $400 in your budget, go with a dedicated 35mm scanner.


True. Now I gotta hunt down a deal :)

thanks!
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#14 gordon liron

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 01:34 AM

Hey Remmy,


Long time no speak!

I actually own an EPSON v700 which is typically the same as the 750 except it does not include the wetscan mount and the better software. It does come with silverfast but if you want to batch scan...then you need to upgrade which is what I'm gonna do...i think its like an additional $60. I got it to scan my 120 film for my new (used) Hasselblad which I just picked up a few months ago....WOOOHOOOO. Plus there is another company out there that sells the wetmount for a pretty good price. forget their name but I can find it. In the mean time, you can always send me some neg homey.


Leehyphen
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#15 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 03:55 AM

Thanks Hyphen!

Always good to hear from ya :)

We'll see if I can put some of these Christmas gift certificates to good use
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#16 David Auner aac

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 02:19 PM

Plus there is another company out there that sells the wetmount for a pretty good price. forget their name but I can find it.


since I am a proud owner of a v750 please do find the info!

Cheers, Dave
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#17 James Baker

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 11:57 PM

since I am a proud owner of a v750 please do find the info!

Cheers, Dave


Aztek is the company we dealt with when I was doing high-end scanning work at: http://www.lumiere-i...m/homepage.html

http://www.aztek.com/ Aztek Inc., in Irvine, CA. They are the distributor for Kami mounting fluids. Very nice people (the father passed on a while ago and the son has taken over.) If you scroll down on the left side of the front page you can download a QT tutorial on wet mounting with the Epson V750. And they are very kind in giving out technical advice to just about anyone who asks.

The Epson is fine if you can't afford a Cruse (http://www.crusedigital.com/) or a Mesa flatbed ;) Or, one of Aztek's drum scanners (http://www.aztek.com/premier.html) Aztek took over the Howtek and wrote their own software.

Kami is a German company and so you should easily find their products. But Aztek can provide you with technical advice on mounting.

Proper scanning is a true skill and with the right software the results can be extraordinary. But keep in mind that all consumer scanners lack the dynamic range and D-Max of professional scanners. Sometimes it's simply better to use a service bureau. In LA, I recommend Studio P and, of course, my former place of employment, Lumiere Editions. In NYC, I would use Philippe Laumont.
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#18 Filip Plesha

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 06:30 PM

I'm actually upgrading to a new scanner myself, because my old one can't scan 120 film.
I need it only for having a nice collection to look at on my PC (so I don't have to drag out slides every time, and so I can experiment a little in PS before I order pro scans)

I've been looking at the cheaper models (around $200), for that job, and found myself choosing between
the new Canon 8800F and HP G4050

Canon actually outperforms the HP optically by visible margin , but
Canon is more noisy (as all Canon flatbeds I've seen have this signiture Canon noise)
and has poorer dynamic range.

HP is a bit soft, but makes everything look SO sweet. It has a way of making colors on slides
look full and warm without oversaturating. You could probably match the two in photoshop, but
HP makes it look great out of the box, and seems to be more linear, while Canon
crushes shadows.
Here is what I mean, you can pretty much figure out which one is which from above description
Posted Image

Posted Image


HP makes it look like the film has purer dyes. The neg is the same , but
the Canon seems to lack color fidelity, and dynamic range in my opinion.

So I'm going for the fuzzier HP since I won't print from it.

I think paying 400 dollars for a flatbed is that boarder price where it just isn't worth it anymore, and
it's better to go either to a lower price, or to a dedicated scanner (like a cheap minolta, unless you need 120)
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#19 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 07:32 PM

...and found myself choosing between the new Canon 8800F and HP G4050


Just got a Canon 8800F and I'm loving it so far. Thanks!
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