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Crash course in 35mm film scanners/scanning techniques?

Discussion in 'Film Camera Forum' started by nickthetasmaniac, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Hi folk!

    Well, I've had the first few rolls back from the M2, and while I'm stoked with the camera and the 35mm Color Skopar, the lab scans are making me sad, not to mention poor... So, the next step in my film adventure seems to be exploring the various scanning options...

    Any thoughts? Can anyone recommend an affordable dedicated 35mm scanner, or something older that's worth looking out for second hand? What should I look for that makes a good scanner good? Does anyone have any advice on alternative methods (using a dslr/mirrorless rig as a pseudo-scanner etc...)?

    I'd like to focus on film for the next while, so I suspect being able to scan my own stuff will pay for itself in the end.

    Cheers, Nick
     
  2. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Hey Nick, decent scanners needn't break the bank these days. I have this model http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...YfW1CLm4e0u6m1xoCJHTw_wcB&Q=&is=REG&A=details and is plenty good for daily work. If I had any that I were planning on printing large, I may pay to have it scanned by a "big boy" machine. But when I was dipping my toes into medium format film, I did a few scans with it to see how it compared to the $10 a roll scans the lab were doing and mine were better. So obviously it would pay for itself pretty quickly.
     
  3. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    A lot of people are buying Pakon scanners, which are ex-lab Kodak scanners that will do an entire roll in minutes. They were designed with fast turnaround in mind. The benefit is that the workflow is very fast and the results are good enough for general use, almost right out of the machine. They are also relatively inexpensive, under a thousand dollars for something that is minilab equipment. The drawback is that they only run on a Windows XP machine - many people buy a cheap XP machine, or have an old one lying around that they can use as a dedicated operator for the scanner.

    I've read a lot of good things about the Plustek Opticfilm units, particularly the 8200i. The image quality looks very decent. The drawbacks are the usual suspects of film scanning: loading scans strip by strip, manually, and having to do a lot of tweaking with your scan software to get a decent image.

    Flatbeds like the Epson V770 are purportedly good for general use, and have the benefit of being able to handle multiple strips of five negs at once, but flatbeds pose their own issues, too. The neg holders that come with the unit are supposedly not as good as they could be, and you have to position the strips carefully to make sure they are as flat as possible. Flatbeds generally lack in image quality of dedicated neg scanners, too.

    Another alternative is to use your DSLR/mirrorless camera with a macro lens, slide holder and light table. Quite a few people use this method, inverting the image in Photoshop and using a series of operations to produce a good scan. This method can yield great images, particularly from black and white film, and the image quality is usually better than flatbed scanners.
     
  4. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    The software that comes with most scanners is pretty basic. Newer models come with infrared scratch and dust removal that can save hours of PP.

    Some 10 years back I invested in VueScan as a replacement software. It is still updated regularly and is universal. Silver Fast is the other main 3rd party software but it is scanner specific.
     
  5. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    There's a good Flickr group "I Shoot Film Scanner Group" where some good advice can be had,

    When I first started scanning film, the amount of exquisitely complicated and conflicting advice I read on forums was overwhelming. I also found Vuescan and Silverfast horrible, the former looking like a relic from Windows 3.1 and the latter bearing no relationship to good UI design whatsoever.

    I couldn't believe it should all be so bloody difficult, so I researched and found a very straightforward approach, which I describe in an article here: http://www.apug.org/forums/groups/h...ithout-adjustment-workflow-using-negfix8.html

    Don't forget, however, that film was not designed to be scanned, it was designed to be put in an enlarger or contact frame for printing - literally designed only for that purpose. Scanning then inkjet printing film images doesn't do very much for the image thanks to grain aliasing amongst other things, and "hybrid workflow" includes compromises as well as advantages,


    chacun à son goût
    applies, of course.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Only for film which doesn't have silver in the final image: C41 colour negative, E6 transparencies or the two remaining C41 monochrome films, Ilford XP2 Super and Fuji Neopan400CN.

    IR scratch & dust removal will not work properly if at all on ordinary silver-bearing films.
     
  7. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    Coincidentally, I've recently starting shooting film with an M myself so I've been researching film scanning/digitizing as well. So far, about all I've been able to reliably ascertain is that every method of digitizing a negative has drawbacks in workflow, quality, or both :D

    For the moment, I'm going the "slide duplicating" route, since I happen to already own a D800 and a 105mm macro lens. I've only done two rolls of film that way so far so I've got a little more experimentation to do before I figure out if I'll continue that route or invest in some form of scanner.

    I used a cheap video light and some white plastic as a diffuser to make a 'light table' and put the D800 on a tripod overhead. The negs were held down with a couple CF cards I had handy, but I realized later I need a carrier to prevent light leak/flare around the edges of the frame. These are first attempts in the realm of a proof of concept but I think at least for now it'll work for my purposes.

    15597231042_5b371090cb_c.
    Portra 400 by jloden, on Flickr


    15596365265_9fb9518f12_c.
    Portra 400 by jloden, on Flickr


    15596383655_4b1798a2f0_c.
    Portra 400 by jloden, on Flickr

    Example of the light bleed effect I think is coming from not having used a frame or carrier:

    15410284658_dc9afcf5c9_c.
    Portra 400 by jloden, on Flickr
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Thanks for all the responses! Anyone had any experience with an Epson V600?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    No personal experience, but I know (online) many many people who use them and they are all very happy with them.

    One further piece of advice: If you are developing your own film, and there is the smallest possibility that you will print your negatives in a darkroom at some stage, remember that a scan tells you very little that's useful about how well a negative will print, and indeed all the adjustments that can be made to a digitised negative will cover a multitude of developing sins.

    So overly thin and overly dense negatives can be rescued very easily by digital post-processing, but take greater skill to rescue in the darkroom.

    If you only ever intend to print via digital means, you can be a lot less consistent and careful in your developing regime(s), although a negative that prints easily will probably scan well too.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  10. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    That's the model I use, yeah. The software isn't incredibly user-friendly, but it offers you a LOT of tweaks. I've really only bothered to scratch the surface, as it were.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    I was considering the Epson V370 - mixed user reviews for their cheapest film flat bed & looked for image samples but wasn't too impressed, then found this guy's photo scans

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/xexe/with/9625492028/

    I'm convinced this will suit my purpose
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    What's your purpose? Web sharing and small lo-res prints only? Probably fine.

    But I've learned to distrust using web images as a guide to "image quality" for any imaging device
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    my um & ah centres around should I buy a flat bed or film scanner or even get a better secondhand camera & do it manually ( recent trials with X10 make this sort of feasible but it is restricted to 28mm in macro) budget is £100 max preferably much cheaper

    I don't see myself doing a ton & from a roll of 24 I'm very lucky to get 6 fair to middling pinholes - any really pleasing shots can be done professionally so this scanner is intended as a quick proving ground
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    A friend of mine produced really excellent digitisations of some 120 film using her Ricoh GX100 handheld over a light table, quite good enough for web sharing.

    I've given up worrying too much about how my scans turn out, nobody ever notices on FLickr how ever badly I've scanned them :smile:

    plus, for whatever Flickr "favorites" are worth, my most viewed and "favorited" picture there is a slightly fuzzy jiggled picture on film where I also photgraphed the negative (badly) on a light table.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    can't disagree except to clarify my recent X10 captures left a lot to be desired & required a lot more post process work & cropping - all to get a poor result
     
  16. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
  17. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    would be lovely to work with that but budget is critical

    35mm 24exp costs me £1 from poundland & £1 developing from tesco
     
  18. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    • Like Like x 2
  19. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I was only teasing Roger
     
  20. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Update - My son got me a scanner for Xmas I mentioned the V370 but he got me the V550 instead which also allows 120 film scans so there is now a huge backlog of photos to be scanned from family archives

    Just rigged it up & scanned some slides in full auto mode at 300 dpi. Basic scan without bothering with scratch dust removal - I could not be more pleased

    I now need to try the other modes but this is pure delight in its basic mode
     
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