2nd Thoughts on Silverfast Scan Software
Old 05-17-2017   #1
roscoetuff
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2nd Thoughts on Silverfast Scan Software

FWIW, I have a Plustek 8200i unit and have been using the Vuescan software 'cause I got the impression it was "better". Okay. Maybe not.

Comparing notes with a UK fellow on APUG using much of the same gear I am, same process (HC-110) and HP5 in 35mm, his results convinced me to give Silverfast a whirl. Came with the unit. Loaded it up, gave it a shot and hey, for my money, it's no comparison. Does better work. Here on RFF, there seem to be more Vuescan users and they, too, are turning out great work.

My results were less inspiring. I dug up Chris Crawford's notes and tried to use his settings. This helped, but not much. But when I re-ran the same scans with Silverfast, I have to say, I guess I'm not as bad a photographer as I thought I was. The improvement was visible right off the bat.

To be fair to all those whose experiences with Silverfast have left them uninspired, maybe (and in some cases definitely!) that was some years back. This is now, and viva le difference? Simply shows that somethings may be worth a 2nd look. The different experiences may also be attributable to using different hardware. I think for example that Chris uses a flatbed. Mileage will vary. But give it a try. Wish I'd done that BEFORE spending the dough on Vuescan.

Good news for me is that the quest to find a better scanner than the Plustek 8200i no longer seems a burning issue. Attests that the role of the user is material to the results.

But let me suggest another thing. The common recommendation I see everywhere is to NOT use any of the image manipulation in the scanner software but save that for the post processing software. I beginning to wonder if this isn't out of date advice, too. Yes, some setttings SHOULD be turned off or not utilized. On the other hand, post processing software like Capture One that I use is increasingly oriented towards a digital only workflow. I suspect that film and hybrid workflows are increasingly rare and accordingly there may be certain film processes (scratch and dust removal) which are just easier in the scanning software and (at least with Capture One) a bit more bothersome or not nearly as evident in post processing software. Mileage may vary here, and your preferences, too, but this part of the advice from years back may be less relevant as well. More experience with this workflow may change my mind back to the old wisdom, but for now... this has me at least more open to seeing what the software is capable of doing.

So those are two thoughts from a nobody, noname amateur and relative newby. Whatever works for you works. Stick with it. But if you're feeling your negatives are unloved, maybe it's worth a 2nd look at Silverfast. In Silverfast, I'm scanning at "lower res" and getting better results. I like being able to set the film to what I'm actually using rather than just XP2... and though the choices of EI are still limited to box speed, it's closer to what's happening than before.

And of course this is not a rigid test of my working assumption, so if you've got the time and really do put these two pieces of software through the wringer, maybe you'll have different results. Love to know and learn how to get better at this myself, if you care to share it here.
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Old 05-17-2017   #2
ptpdprinter
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My scanner came with Silverfast 8. The interface is a little wonky but the scans are great so I didn't feel it was worth spending another $80 on Vuescan, whose interface isn't all that great either.
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Old 05-17-2017   #3
lawrence
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For my Minolta Elite 5400 Mk1 I moved from the Minolta software to Vuescan and finally to Silverfast and prefer the quality I get from SF to either of the other software. This is particularly true of the shadow areas where previously I could never overcome some posterisation. I also prefer the interface, though none of them are particularly wonderful.

It's worth mentioning that I previously had a rather negative impression of SF as I'd judged it by the bundled version that came with my other scanner, an Epson Perfection V750 for which I am sticking to the Epson software.
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Old 05-17-2017   #4
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I have yet to "see" or better... "USE" photo software that is easy to use. At the start of any post workflow - if you're new to it as I was two or three years ago... the pain and agony is substantial. But if you invest, the learning curves do flatten a bit. Scanners simply add another layer. I'm just wondering whether Vuescan isn't increasingly the red headed step child, while Silverfast's marketing bundles have provided the funds necessary to improve? Don't care per se other than to note that no matter how things were earlier, Silverfast seems to be getting it done today. Maybe there's an edge that favors the trend? Dunno. Just a heads up.
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Old 05-17-2017   #5
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Purchased separately, Silverfast, depending on the version, can be very expensive, and Vuescan is less expensive. Vuescan seems to be the software of choice for older (but still good) scanners where the original software has been lost or is no longer available or won't run on current operating systems.
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Old 05-18-2017   #6
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I think Vuescan was $80 (per above). Silverfast's website lists their software at $49 for the "full version". From what I can tell, both support older scanners like the Nikon Coolscans (that at times I wish I had). FWIW though, I tend to find the hawking of software a bit misleading. If I pay more, what do I really get? When I bought my Plustek, I intentionally made sure I wasn't paying extra for software. Lot of smoke there.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawrence View Post
For my Minolta Elite 5400 Mk1 I moved from the Minolta software to Vuescan and finally to Silverfast and prefer the quality I get from SF to either of the other software. This is particularly true of the shadow areas where previously I could never overcome some posterisation. I also prefer the interface, though none of them are particularly wonderful.

It's worth mentioning that I previously had a rather negative impression of SF as I'd judged it by the bundled version that came with my other scanner, an Epson Perfection V750 for which I am sticking to the Epson software.
Ditto.
The Silverfast SE which was bundled with my V700 put me off their products for life—having (naïvely) tried to use it a few times, I always assumed that was actually its primary purpose.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarcophilus Harrisii View Post
Ditto.
The Silverfast SE which was bundled with my V700 put me off their products for life—having (naïvely) tried to use it a few times, I always assumed that was actually its primary purpose.
Not the only software where the bundled version gives the full product a bad rap. Comparing the Silkypix bundled with FujiFilm cameras with the full version give a similar impression yet I find the full version very usable.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #9
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Silver Fast is better, but 5x the cost. It is scanner specific and I have an old KM Elite 1. All I have to do break a holder or a bulb go bad, and I am out $500.

Post in photoshop or elsewhere. Just get a decent histogram and color bal and call it good.

I may set up a film scanner for Nikon D800E.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #10
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So, of the $50 SE version does not cut it, is the $120 SE PLUS version adequate, or is the praise in the comments above limited to the $300 Ai version?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #11
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I prefer to optimize images from scans outside of the scanning software using LR, PS and, or the NIK Collection.

With Vuescan I use raw TIFF or raw DNG files.

So with the current version of Silverfast, what is involved to create a flat (linear) TIFF or DNG file. I'm interested in a scan file that contains all the original information recorded by the Plustek OpticFilm CMOS sensor.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roscoetuff View Post
My results were less inspiring. I dug up Chris Crawford's notes and tried to use his settings. This helped, but not much. But when I re-ran the same scans with Silverfast, I have to say, I guess I'm not as bad a photographer as I thought I was. The improvement was visible right off the bat.

To be fair to all those whose experiences with Silverfast have left them uninspired, maybe (and in some cases definitely!) that was some years back. This is now, and viva le difference? Simply shows that somethings may be worth a 2nd look. The different experiences may also be attributable to using different hardware. I think for example that Chris uses a flatbed. Mileage will vary. But give it a try. Wish I'd done that BEFORE spending the dough on Vuescan.
I don't use a flatbed; they're worthless for professional work. I have a Nikon LS-8000ED, a dedicated film scanner that does both 35mm and 120 film.

What, exactly, is wrong with the images you get with Vuescan?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #13
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Vuescan is inexpensive and works with every scanner I ever had or will ever buy (I bought the lifetime version) I bought Silverfast once for what ever scanner I had at the time. All my tweaking in done in Lightroom or ViewNX2. Vuescan is quick and easy. Silverfast was a headache that was obsolete the first time i changed scanners. 'nough said.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #14
brbo
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All this talk and not a single scan as an example of what we are missing?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #15
mani
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All this talk and not a single scan as an example of what we are missing?
Often a lot of the input on RFF tends to be in the style of "You're doing it wrong", and that general tone (in my experience) has led to fewer and fewer people being willing to post actual visual examples of their findings. That could be the reason.

Anyways, I also recently bought Silverfast for my Coolscan9000. I had some teething problems with my initial test files which I discussed on the forum, but SilverFast's customer care emailed me a very prompt and helpful response to my problem, and now I'm really pleased with the outcome.

I find Silverfast's output to be better and faster than Vuescan. My workflow has always been to output a flat, linear, negative scan with no pre-processing from the software, but as Lawrence in this thread stated, I've always been frustrated by Vuescan posterizing shadow areas. Silverfast exposes detail in those areas.

It also somehow exports a 'cleaner' negative - I'm not sure why this is - but in my experience if I open the negative file scanned from the same image from each software in Colorperfect and just try exporting the default output (without any film profiles), then the Silverfast file is always much closer to my intended result than the Vuescan file.

Having said all this, I still hate the interface for SilverFast, but I'm getting used to it. And a lot of the steps can be automated once a workflow is established.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mani View Post
Often a lot of the input on RFF tends to be in the style of "You're doing it wrong", and that general tone (in my experience) has led to fewer and fewer people being willing to post actual visual examples of their findings. That could be the reason.
Yes, we are all snowflakes...

I'd love to be shown how much 'cleaner' Silverfast output is. Yet, nobody will show me.

But, I promise to show here (when I get home from work) that I get identical output from Vuescan and Silverfast when inverted with Colorperfect (there could be minimal difference in color balance since it's impossible to click the same neutral pixel in Colorperfect on both scans). That surely must provoke somebody to prove me wrong. Or that I'm doing it wrong. I hope!
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #17
mani
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Yes, we are all snowflakes...
Not really, but the persistent sneering tone, and the general effort to 'prove the other guy wrong' tends to have an effect in the end.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing your comparisons. I can only speak for my own experience - and have absolutely no incentive whatsoever to state my preference - but after years of using Vuescan, and consistently disparaging Silverfast for the pricing model, I'm totally converted to SF, and really happy with it.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #18
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Gang,

If someone has the time and is willing to, I would love to hear what settings you use in SF and what version of it you have, that you believe produces better image quality than VS.

I got the bundled version of SF with my Plustek, spent about a week with it in total frustration almost pulling my hair out, before I bought VS and followed a tutorial I found online (probably some member here?) of how to scan non-adjusted raw files and do the color conversion in Color Perfect. I'm happy with this way of doing it, but every photo definitely takes quite a bit of editing after the Color Perfect conversion.

Mostly I'm just curious of what I may be missing out on. A get a feeling of anxiety just thinking about opening up SF again, but it may be worth a try if someone could give me rather exact steps to follow.

Many thanks,
M
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #19
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If someone has the time and is willing to, I would love to hear what settings you use in SF and what version of it you have, that you believe produces better image quality than VS.
Hi Maximilian

I pretty much followed the settings laid out on this page:
http://www.colorperfect.com/scanning...rFast-8/SE/Ai/

Where I use the 48bitHDR settings, and also include the multipass option (scans twice) for greater DR.
I guess a few people will chime in and say that this is 'doing it wrong', but the output is really great in my opinion.

When using Vuescan I was following the advice for output from the same website, that is the settings shown on this page:
http://www.colorperfect.com/scanning...tware/VueScan/
but not using the dust-removal setting.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #20
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Thanks a lot Mani, I'll have a look at them this weekend! By the way, I'm in Stockholm too!
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #21
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Thanks a lot Mani, I'll have a look at them this weekend! By the way, I'm in Stockholm too!
Cool! Hope you're outside in the warm evening! (Just got back from Hagaparken with the kids).

Which Plustek scanner are you using?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #22
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Quote:
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Cool! Hope you're outside in the warm evening! (Just got back from Hagaparken with the kids).

Which Plustek scanner are you using?
Yes very much. Did similar, out barbecuing with the kids and friends.

I have the 8200i SE which has the more basic version of SilverFast I believe. It's the SilverFast 8 I have. Not really sure what it's lacking that the other versions have.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #23
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have the 8200i SE which has the more basic version of SilverFast I believe. It's the SilverFast 8 I have. Not really sure what it's lacking that the other versions have.
OK - I'm not certain myself, but annoyingly Lasersoft disable some of the features in the bundled Silverfast versions. I would suggest checking their website, but it's hard to tell even looking at the information there.

This blogger also has a few posts about Silverfast:
http://www.sebastian-schlueter.com/b...-silverfast-88
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #24
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So... I could make this a blind test, but since the files are so similar there is no point. Lets see who can come up with the best reason why the Silverfast files are the 'cleanest' (I can't and I looked hard).

Silverfast "raw" (it's not really raw as Silverfast manipulates the raw output + it's multi-exposure scan):



Vuescan "raw" (to basically match what Silverfast does to a raw scan, but it's not multi-exposure and no multi-sample, took about 1/3 of a time that Silverfast needed for previous scan):



Vuescan true raw (separate RGB channel exposures set so that the orange mask is removed at scan time (makes inverting without Colorperfect quite easy), no multi-exposure, no multi-sampling):




Inversions in Colorperfect (no post-processing after that except dust removal)...

SF:



VS (from "raw"):



VS (from true raw):




Do we have a clear favourite? Can you see the benefits of using multi-exposure with negative film?


As a bonus, I also did a scan in SF with NegaFix profile for Portra 160NC (the film is actually Vision3 500T) that gives quite a nice job with just a few tweaks:



My normal post processing (the raw scan from VS inverted in Colorperfect) using only Lightroom would look something like this:



Using only Photoshop (no Colorperfect) on VS true raw:




My conclusions:
- multi-exposure is not needed with negative film, could help with scanners that have more noise (but multi-sampling is better at that, too bad Silverfast got rid of multi-sampling in v8)
- Silverfast is not faster
- Silverfast does not produce better files
- if Silverfast profiles work (consistently) for you (they don't for me) and you like them they can save you quite a bit of time; I do like them from time to time - for this test I think the Portra 160NC profile did very very well so I tried another film and all profiles were totally off (reminded me why I gave up on Silverfast for quick hassle free scanning software that you could set on "autopilot"; and no, Vuescan can't be used like that either)
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #25
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brbo, how did you get Vuescan to remove orange mask? I thought I knew the correct procedure, but could never get it to work.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #26
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brbo - thanks for taking the time and effort for your comparisons. Very interesting. I'm also curious about the orange mask removal in Vuescan - I'm assuming it's not just through the analog gain inputs?

In any case, it looks like your experience with Vuescan and Silverfast is different to mine.
As I said, I'm just using the settings suggested on the links I pointed to - no color profiles and no conscious image-manipulation from within the scanner software, with the exception of multi-sampling in SilverFast, which I've found helps with my (intentionally) over-exposed negatives.

In my case, the output from SilverFast takes a fraction of the time taken by Vuescan. The final image is easier to work with and the quality is better - in my own experience. Your experience appears to be different and I'm sure you can teach us a lot about the processes you use to get to the final image. I'm gonna leave it at that from my side though, as I haven't found that people discussing these matters with you in the past have really got beyond "you're doing it wrong".
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS7444 View Post
brbo, how did you get Vuescan to remove orange mask? I thought I knew the correct procedure, but could never get it to work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mani View Post
brbo - thanks for taking the time and effort for your comparisons. Very interesting. I'm also curious about the orange mask removal in Vuescan - I'm assuming it's not just through the analog gain inputs?
No, it's not just by using analog "gain" (it's not really gain, but individual RGB exposure). You can also remove orange mask on scanners that don't have individual RGB exposure capability.

In 'Input' tab select 'Media' = 'Image' or 'Slide', in 'Color' tab set 'Color balance' to 'None'. Make a selection of a part of the negative that is not exposed, Preview, check Lock exposure in Input tab (I usually lower the exposure that Vuescan suggests), Preview again. In the 'Image' menu set the 'Graph raw'.

If you have scanner that is capable of setting individual RGB exposure, change the individual R, G, B analog gain values and do previews until the graph shows that individual RBG channels overlap.



If your scanner can't set individual RBG exposures, right click somewhere inside your selection of clear part of the negative. This will set the orange mask as neutral grey. Look in the Color tab. Color balance is now set to 'Manual'. I'd suggest lowering the Brightness from 1 to 0.5 to give you some cushion in the shadows.



Or you could set the Media type to 'Slide', preview unexposed part of the negative, Lock exposure, Preview, Lock film base color, Lock image color. (Note that result will be different than what you get when you set grey point)



Remember that if your scanner can't set individual RGB exposures, your true raw file will still have the orange mask. You have to save to Tiff in your 'Output' tab. This is then your "raw" file with orange mask removed. Tiff is processed by Vuescan, so possibly every option you have enabled or set in 'Filter' and 'Color' tab will have effect on the result.

Quote:
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In my case, the output from SilverFast takes a fraction of the time taken by Vuescan. The final image is easier to work with and the quality is better - in my own experience. Your experience appears to be different and I'm sure you can teach us a lot about the processes you use to get to the final image. I'm gonna leave it at that from my side though, as I haven't found that people discussing these matters with you in the past have really got beyond "you're doing it wrong".
If it's of any consolation I'm often using Colorperfect the "wrong way", too (and I explained that to you in the other thread). And the "wrong" comes from Colorperfect guys. Since it's their software maybe they know what they are talking about?!

As for the lack of my contribution in scanning threads that don't go past "you're doing it wrong"... that's just ridiculous.

Now, would you consider doing a similar comparison of Silverfast raw (ME vs non-ME) and VS raw on your Coolscan? I'm curious what Silverfast can do with a Coolscan that it can't with my scanners.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #28
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Thanks for the detailed description for removing the orange mask - this is a much better description than the one I tried before, which was some blog post from a few years back. My problem was always that each image - even on the same roll - seemed to need tweaking again for the orange mask - but your way seems more robust. If I can't use ColorPerfect (for whatever reason) in the future, then I'll try this technique, because I'm never completely happy with other ways of removing the mask in post-processing.
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