Flatbed scanners
Old 03-02-2008   #1
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Flatbed scanners

Can anyone give me their opinions on flatbed scanners for film negatives and slides? My current photo budget doesn't extend to the Coolscans, but I've found a few Canon flatbeds at very reasonable prices. If they don't do a good job, I'll save my $$ and jump into scanner when I can afford a Coolscan.
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Old 03-02-2008   #2
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If you're only doing 35mm, continue to save your money. The better flatbeds do a fairly nice job on medium and large formats, but loose a little sharpness on 35. Also the Coolscans have more dynamic range than any of the flatbeds, which is also a major consideration. There are those who will argue with me, but for 35, a filmscanner is best.
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Old 03-02-2008   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoyle
If you're only doing 35mm, continue to save your money. The better flatbeds do a fairly nice job on medium and large formats, but loose a little sharpness on 35.
I agree with this. . . here's a 35mm scan with my epson 3170 and as you can see the quality is limited, there again I bought it used and it's an old machine so my expectations were not very high.


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Old 03-02-2008   #4
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I would prefer a dedicated film scanner to a flatbed for 35mm, as the others have said.

I would add to that - if I could not afford a Nikon, I might consider a Plustek (if I ran Windows, which I do not - and there is no driver for Linux, unfortunately).

If you have no choice financially but a flatbed, I'd go with an Epson before a Canon. Just my opinion, I feel Epson makes much better flatbed scanners for scanning film.

I use a Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual IV and an Epson 4490. I prefer the Scan Dual IV for most 35mm, and the flatbed for medium format. However, when scanning some VERY OLD 35mm negatives recently that were quite scratched up, the Epson was superior, due to Digital ICE removing most of the scratches and saving me hours of tedious hand-work if I had used the Scan Dual IV. I also am slowly working my way through thousands of old 110 negatives - the flatbed is the only solution I have found for that.
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Old 03-02-2008   #5
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Go for a second hand Polaroid sprintscan 35plus. 2700 dpi, very good image quality especially for b/w. They go for under $50 in the US!
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Old 03-02-2008   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallace
Go for a second hand Polaroid sprintscan 35plus. 2700 dpi, very good image quality especially for b/w. They go for under $50 in the US!
I'm sure the quality is fine, but it uses a SCSI card, not USB, and it requires a driver, which Polaroid no longer updates. I'd pass on that one, unless one enjoys learning the finer points of hardware hacking - and one does, cool.

If I had to look for a very low price, dedicated film scanner, I'd survey the market for the ones that at the very least have a USB interface and a company that was still in business at perhaps willing to keep the driver updated for a few more OS releases. Failing that - one that was supported by VueScan sans special driver software.

Just my 2 cents - nothing against the scanner, which I'm sure is fine.
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Old 03-02-2008   #7
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If scanning 35mm with a flatbed, you'll do much better to print the neg/chrome first and then flatbed scan that. Or save your money for a Nikon.

I use an Epson flatbed for MF and LF stuff and it is fine. For 35mm, nah. I mean, it's okay for web stuff from 35mm... but I wind up severely overscanning and then sharpening and still don't get satisfaction.

I used to have an old dimage for 35mm and that was much better than a flatbed.
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Old 03-02-2008   #8
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Cost considerations made me opt for an Epson V100. The film holder is fiddly, but I haven't yet found a real reason to grumble.
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Old 03-02-2008   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock
I'm sure the quality is fine, but it uses a SCSI card, not USB, and it requires a driver, which Polaroid no longer updates. I'd pass on that one, unless one enjoys learning the finer points of hardware hacking - and one does, cool.

If I had to look for a very low price, dedicated film scanner, I'd survey the market for the ones that at the very least have a USB interface and a company that was still in business at perhaps willing to keep the driver updated for a few more OS releases. Failing that - one that was supported by VueScan sans special driver software.

Just my 2 cents - nothing against the scanner, which I'm sure is fine.
I agree with bmattock. Avoid the SCSI-interfaced scanners and look for one that works with USB. From the auction site, I obtained first a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual II, which works fine for 35mm negs and slides. Later, when I needed to work with some MF and LF negs, I purchased an Epson Perfection 2450 flatbed scanner. Both of these are old, but perfectly functional, and do a good job for me. I have experimented with the Epson and 35mm, and the results, for web postings, are not at all bad. I will try to attach an example of the Epson scans from Leica IIIf/Summitar photo.

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Old 03-02-2008   #10
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I'm running WinXP and use both a Plustek 7200i with Silverfast Ai for 35mm, and an Epson V500 with the native Epson software for MF. For the work I do I am happy enough with the performance of both. I want to compare the two for 35mm but just have not made the time.

I run the two scanners on different computers. I don't believe Microsoft ever fixed the bug in the XP implementation of USB that prevents two imaging devices from living on the same USB bus without conflict. Anyone know if this was fixed in Vista?
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Old 03-02-2008   #11
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I was looking at an Epson V500 for about $300. If it does a good enough job to reflect a well-taken photo to display on the Web, it would serve my needs. I'm not a scanning expert by any means, and would hate to have a good photo appear poor because the scanning was inferior.
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Old 03-02-2008   #12
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What's wrong with SCSI? I hesitated recently and missed out on an Imacon scanner with 35mm, 6x7, 4x5 and maybe more masks for $1,000. It was a SCSI machine so I didn't feel too bad not buying it. Then I found a SCSI to Firewire adapter. Now I'm bummed out that I didn't buy the Imacon.
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Old 03-02-2008   #13
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There is nothing wrong with an Epson 3170 for 35mm, and I'm sure the later ones are even better. It's not all that lacking in sharpness, add it in post in PS or Lightroom. I've been using mine for years, along with various black and white printers - first Epson C84 with MIS inks, now an HP 8450 and Ilford Gallerie Perl. Learn to use Vuescan software, scan it in DNG, sharpen and adjust curves in post. If you want to get get nerdy, do the IT8 thing.

Don't let these knuckleheads talk you into spending more dough than you have or think the quality of a good flatbed that scans negs is unacceptable. You're amongst gear snobs here whether or not they admit to it. They turn their nose up at anything that is reasonably priced or has a high price/performance ratio. I'm not one of them, so listen to me - not them. It might not be "thE best" and if you send and extra - oh, I dunno, another stinkin' grand for that "3.7 DMAX" spec it might be a little better due to the "placebo effect" or a side-by-side comparison blown up 1000X (See?!? There's more detail in that eyelash of the $1200 "dedicated film scanner" compared to your $150 one! S'there.) but something like the 3170 is just fine. It's a little slow at higher resolution, so maybe read a book or do the dishes or something while it scans. The 3170 has a 3.4 DMAX and is capable of 3100 rez. I'm a black and white guy, it's 90% of what I shoot, I print mostly 5x7, scan on a flatbed, and 35mm is fine and medium format is very, very good, almost wet-print quality at 8X8, and sharp.

Note that when you print, the pics will look a lot better - and sharper, than what they look like on your monitor.

Last edited by NickTrop : 03-02-2008 at 11:25.
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Old 03-02-2008   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by venchka
What's wrong with SCSI? I hesitated recently and missed out on an Imacon scanner with 35mm, 6x7, 4x5 and maybe more masks for $1,000. It was a SCSI machine so I didn't feel too bad not buying it. Then I found a SCSI to Firewire adapter. Now I'm bummed out that I didn't buy the Imacon.
I'm an IT software guy, but I was once an IT hardware guy, so I have a lot of experience with SCSI-1 and 2. The problem with them was generally compatibility. Not all SCSI card worked with all SCSI devices. Not all software talked directly to SCSI cards, but generally needed some sort of software driver to address, which was based on the OS and might or might not be available for more modern OS's. I haven't run a SCSI card since Windows 98SE, and believe me, that was a struggle with older SCSI cards. XP was basically right out for some of them, end of life. Now we have Vista - assuming one is a Windows person.

Again, nothing wrong with SCSI if one wants to dick around with adapters, drivers, and perhaps even (God help me) interrupts and reserved memory locations. I doubt most computer users are equipped to deal with that kind of nonsense anymore - I know how to do it and I refuse on the principle that it sucks and is not worth my few remaining brain cells anymore.

I haven't tried any SCSI-to-firewire adapters - might be interesting. But it is pure propeller-on-the-head geek stuff. Average person wanting to scan a photo - no way. USB and plug it in. Install drivers from CD and you're good to go. Worth $50 more? Yeah, definitely.
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Old 03-02-2008   #15
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If you use a SCSI card - be sure to read the sticker that says, "Do not smash SCSI card on anyone's head. You will damage the card and void the warranty". It has one of those little stick-man graphics of a stick man smashing his SCSI card on the head a co-worker sitting at a computer, with little stars around the co-worker's head. The graphic has one of those circles with a line through it, so you know it's a no-no.

Don't go smashing your SCSI card on anyone, I know from experience. The manufactures will NOT refund your money.
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Old 03-02-2008   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickTrop
Don't let these knuckleheads talk you into spending more dough than you have or think the quality of a good flatbed that scans negs is unacceptable. You're amongst gear snobs here whether or not they admit to it. They turn their nose up at anything that is reasonably priced or has a high price/performance ratio.
You're funny. I'm the low-cost king. My Epson 4490 was a refurb from Epson - less than $90.
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Old 03-02-2008   #17
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Assuming NickTrop is correct, and I'm not saying that he isn't, then an Epson 4990 seems like the flatbed to have right now. Epson's most recently discontinued. You might find a new one. You might find a refurbished one from Epson.

I used one for about an hour with 4x5 and 6x7 negatives. I don't know Jack about scanning. I printed the 6x7 scans at 11x14. They look good to me.
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Old 03-02-2008   #18
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grinning

Or get a 4490 for $90.
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Old 03-02-2008   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by venchka
Assuming NickTrop is correct, and I'm not saying that he isn't, then an Epson 4990 seems like the flatbed to have right now. Epson's most recently discontinued. You might find a new one. You might find a refurbished one from Epson.

I used one for about an hour with 4x5 and 6x7 negatives. I don't know Jack about scanning. I printed the 6x7 scans at 11x14. They look good to me.
If they look good to you, that's all that matters. They're fine. I'm sure the Epson 4990 is great. I'll use my 3170 till it gives up the ghost. If it sucked, I would certainly save up my rubbles (now worth more that the dollarette) and get a "dedicated film scanner".
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Old 03-02-2008   #20
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I like the Microtek dual loading flatbed scanners for film. Right now, I'm using an i900 I bought second-hand for under $400. It has a regular glass flatbed, and a film tray that slides in under the glass to scan film. This uses several different holders for film from 35mm to 8x10, and with a resolution up to 6400dpi, does a suprisingly good job with 35mm film, though of course it's better for medium and large format films.

The new M1 has an even higher resolution, and does a remarkable job- so much so that if you wanted one scanner for all formats up to 8x10, it would work admirably.

Here's a sample of a 35mm image scanned with my i900, using Silverfast. This was not scanned at full resolution- it was either at 1600 or 3200 dpi- I don't remember which. A full resolution scan would be even better.
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Old 03-02-2008   #21
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drewbarb, that's a great photo! Anywhere we can see more?
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Old 03-02-2008   #22
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You can get the Epson V500 on Amazon for $230. I have one. It scans 35 and medium format negs and slides pretty. It Doesn't do a good job on black and white, though.
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I appreciate all of that
Old 03-02-2008   #23
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Cool I appreciate all of that

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock
I'm an IT software guy, but I was once an IT hardware guy, so I have a lot of experience with SCSI-1 and 2. The problem with them was generally compatibility. Not all SCSI card worked with all SCSI devices. Not all software talked directly to SCSI cards, but generally needed some sort of software driver to address, which was based on the OS and might or might not be available for more modern OS's. I haven't run a SCSI card since Windows 98SE, and believe me, that was a struggle with older SCSI cards. XP was basically right out for some of them, end of life. Now we have Vista - assuming one is a Windows person.

Again, nothing wrong with SCSI if one wants to dick around with adapters, drivers, and perhaps even (God help me) interrupts and reserved memory locations. I doubt most computer users are equipped to deal with that kind of nonsense anymore - I know how to do it and I refuse on the principle that it sucks and is not worth my few remaining brain cells anymore.

I haven't tried any SCSI-to-firewire adapters - might be interesting. But it is pure propeller-on-the-head geek stuff. Average person wanting to scan a photo - no way. USB and plug it in. Install drivers from CD and you're good to go. Worth $50 more? Yeah, definitely.
Thanks! Maybe somebody somewhere was looking out for me. But, dammnnnnnn, an honest to gosh Imacon scanner, probably $10k or way more new, for $1k! It must have had some life left. It sold in a flash.

No worries. I'll be patient. Since the Imacon scanner that didn't happen, another posible hard copy solution has come to my attention. Stay tuned.
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Old 03-02-2008   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by venchka
Thanks! Maybe somebody somewhere was looking out for me. But, dammnnnnnn, an honest to gosh Imacon scanner, probably $10k or way more new, for $1k! It must have had some life left. It sold in a flash.

No worries. I'll be patient. Since the Imacon scanner that didn't happen, another posible hard copy solution has come to my attention. Stay tuned.
I've seen people buy into older hardware systems to get something difficult to obtain - such as a drum scanner like your Imacon - and then keep a separate (obsolete) PC just to maintain it. We used to do that with old 9-track tape systems using PC cards (Perstor) that would not run on anything newer than an old 286-based AT system. So if it was something you really wanted, it could be done in a worst-case scenario by recreating the hardware standard of the time. But it would most likely not be plug-n-play by today's standards. Just a techie's guess here - I've never used an Imacon.
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Old 03-02-2008   #25
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I had a Nikon Coolscan V ED and swapped it for an V700. The Nikon V ED has a slightly better dynamic range / sharpness but I needed the optional FH-3 holder because the standard holder couldn't handle my slightly curled film strips. If you have plenty of time and only a few films to scan, then the Nikon might be the better choice, quality-wise. The V700's 35mm film-holder is clumsy but works well with the ANR glass inserts from better-scanning.
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Old 03-02-2008   #26
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How many frames of 35mm can you scan in one run? 24? I am thinking about getting a v700 or v500 but it seems like many ppl think the v700 isn't worth the extra 200$ and the quality of the scan from v500 and v700 is similiar to 4490 and 4990 accordingly.
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Old 03-02-2008   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fbf
How many frames of 35mm can you scan in one run? 24? I am thinking about getting a v700 or v500 but it seems like many ppl think the v700 isn't worth the extra 200$ and the quality of the scan from v500 and v700 is similiar to 4490 and 4990 accordingly.
I can get 24 frames in one run and it takes about one hour to scan them in 24 bit color a 4800dpi and saving as jpeg (without ICE). BW is faster (~ 40 minutes in 16 bit grey at 4800 dpi).

Can't judge about the V500 but it should work well, too. As I remember, Sanders here at RFF uses either a 4490 or 4990 for 35mm and his photos are very good.

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Old 03-02-2008   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc
I can get 24 frames in one run and it takes about one hour to scan them in 24 bit color a 4800dpi and saving as jpeg (without ICE). BW is faster (~ 40 minutes in 16 bit grey at 4800 dpi).

Can't judge about the V500 but it should work well, too. As I remember, Sanders here at RFF uses either a 4490 or 4990 for 35mm and his photos are very good.

Cheers,

maddoc

Thanks maddoc, I really like your photos.

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Old 03-02-2008   #29
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