Best Film Scanner for under $500? Under $1000?
Old 11-24-2018   #1
sheins1928
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Best Film Scanner for under $500? Under $1000?

Hi RFF! I'm looking to purchase a scanner this winter to scan my own negatives, instead of relying on my nearby lab. I realize the sky is basically the limit when it comes to resolution options and everyone's got a different approach, so here's my situation...

---I currently get my film processed and scanned at Chelsea Photo Services in NYC. They charge $8 for processing a roll of either 35mm or 120mm in C-41 (About 70% of what I shoot is Portra).

---Charge for scanning that yields 6MB negatives is $24. 18MB negatives is $28, and 30MB negs is a cool $40.

--I usually go with the 6MB option for economy's sake and the fact that most of my film work just gets posted online to social media for friends and family to check out. That means all told, getting a roll out of the canister and onto my HD costs $32 plus tax. That being said, I am definitely compromising what I really would prefer in terms of resolution quality.

I began thinking about the idea of doing my own scans when I got back these two images from Chelsea Photo's lab. They were shot back to back on the same roll, same camera, same spot (in Oran, Algeria), just a couple minutes apart. The difference in tint astonished me and made me think that I might be better off scanning on my own and taking full control of how my negatives come out.






So the question is a simple one--what would you all say is my best home scanner option for 35mm + 120mm, both in the $1-500 range, and $500-1000 range?

Thanks all!
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Old 11-24-2018   #2
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Flatbed Epson for 120 and Plustek for 135 will be well under 1K in total. They are the best because they are sold new and supported by current OS on current PC.

Most likely someone will toss in Nikon scanners and lens adapters. Check Nikon 120 film scanner prices and Nikon lens adapter doesn't seems to have 120 film frame.
But here is some DIY version of scanning with digital cameras available. Gives very pleasing results as long as film is clean.
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Old 11-24-2018   #3
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On the cheap end a old Epson 4490 is still a capable machine.

You could easily get the scanner and 120 holder for around 100$

I still have mine and prefer it to my newer Epson V300.

Have not had any compatibility issues with it either, just plug and play.


IMHO I would start here.
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Old 11-24-2018   #4
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I think most people go for the Epson flatbed scanners for 120 film. A somewhat tedious process but it gets easier.

For 35mm film I wouldn't touch a scanner that doesn't eat a whole roll in one go. At one point it felt like I was spending more time scanning than shooting.

Save up for a Pakon F135 or better yet a Noritsu LS-600.
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Old 11-24-2018   #5
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Would it be insane for me to save up and get this guy?

https://epson.com/For-Work/Scanners/...r/p/B11B224201
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Old 11-24-2018   #6
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very pleased with my coolscan V. a coolscan 5000 with full roll mod would also be a legit scanner.
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Old 11-24-2018   #7
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I use an old Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV under Vuescan and I'm happy with it.
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Old 11-24-2018   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheins1928 View Post
Would it be insane for me to save up and get this guy?

https://epson.com/For-Work/Scanners/...r/p/B11B224201
I have the V850 but I really don't see any difference in quality from the V750. If I remember correctly its main advantage was start up time and marginally faster scanning speed. I would wait for a used V750 and get the film holders from betterscanning
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Old 11-24-2018   #9
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I use an old Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV under Vuescan and I'm happy with it.
Same here.
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Old 11-24-2018   #10
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On the cheap end a old Epson 4490 is still a capable machine.

You could easily get the scanner and 120 holder for around 100$

I still have mine and prefer it to my newer Epson V300.

Have not had any compatibility issues with it either, just plug and play.


IMHO I would start here.
My 4490 died recently and I'm looking at a V550 for medium format.
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Old 11-24-2018   #11
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I recommend getting an Epson V750 or V850.
Done correctly, the V750 is capable of very good scans even with 35mm. I have a V750 and a Nikon Coolscan V, and I still use the V750 for most of my 35mm scanning. I have made 12x18 prints from 35mm scans that came from the V750 and, while that's definitely pushing the limits of what the scanner is capable, the prints came out quite well.
I find that Epson software allows for the most control of output too.
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Old 11-24-2018   #12
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Those Plusteks for 35mm are a hassle to use and do emphasize grain. I have seen very good results from Epson flatbeds. Not very good when zoomed in at pixel level but that´s not how anyone presents images on the web.

Flatbeds also can batch scan several strips of film at once which is a big plus. I second what Fjäll wrote above: At one point it felt like he was spending more time scanning than shooting. This is what you want to avoid.
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Old 11-24-2018   #13
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I'm extremely happy with my Plustek 8100 and vuescan. Gives very high quality results unlike my old Epson V550 (for 35mm) and I prefer the color I get from it over the old Noritsu scans I was getting back from the lab. Vuescan gives very nice color, but the best results I get are from Photoshop Actions by Adrian Gabor.
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Old 11-25-2018   #14
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Originally Posted by sheins1928 View Post
Would it be insane for me to save up and get this guy?

https://epson.com/For-Work/Scanners/...r/p/B11B224201

No it wouldn't be insane at all, have you considered buying refurbished or used? I got my v850 for 320 usd. Just look around on the used forums or kijiji.
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Old 11-25-2018   #15
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If you are thinking of epson, check out their refurbished/clearance. There's a V550 and V800 in there at the moment.
https://epson.com/Clearance-Center/Scanners/c/cc200
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Old 11-25-2018   #16
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"I use an old Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV under Vuescan and I'm happy with it."

I have a friend who has used this scanner for years with great satisfaction. It is not too hard to find and fairly inexpensive. I use a Minolta Scan Elite 5400II, which is about as good as it gets short of drum scans. Both of these are limited to 35mm. On a limited budget, I think you can get by fine with a flatbed (Epson) so long as you are not making huge enlargements.
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Old 11-26-2018   #17
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Another happy user of a Minolta Scan Dual III for my 35mm film. This is an autofocus scanner, and the results are IME superior to the (non-autofocus) Plustek 8100 I briefly tested. I bought the Minolta new about 15 years ago, still going strong and works fine under Windows 7/10 using Vuescan.

For medium format I use an Epson V550 with very good (to me) results.
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Old 11-26-2018   #18
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There is another contender flying under the radar most of the time. Its the Pacific Image PrimeFilm XE aka Reflecta ProScan 10T.

This looks pretty good to me
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosshj...98693/sizes/k/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosshj...80750/sizes/k/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/121582...08337/sizes/k/
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Old 11-26-2018   #19
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There is another contender flying under the radar most of the time. Its the Pacific Image PrimeFilm XE aka Reflecta ProScan 10T.
Then better directly the 10M which scans a whole roll at once (although extremly slow), problem is to find one which works flawlessly, Pacific Image has in my experience a huge problem with quality control. I'm still waiting for some serious tests of the new Pacific Image Powerfilm which scans 10 film stripes at one.

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Old 11-26-2018   #20
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Then better directly the 10M which scans a whole roll at once (although extremly slow), problem is to find one which works flawlessly
"better directly" and "extremely slow" and "problem(atic") ... now what? The 10T looks good, sounds reasonably quick and doesnt have potential issues with the motorized feed.
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Old 11-26-2018   #21
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There is another contender flying under the radar most of the time. Its the Pacific Image PrimeFilm XE aka Reflecta ProScan 10T.
I have been happy with mine. I don't even mind the Silverfast scanning software.
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Old 11-26-2018   #22
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Another happy user of a Minolta Scan Dual III for my 35mm film. ......
I still occasionally print from 15 year old files created by my ScanDual III and never find them lacking. Those older ScanDual III and IV's are great for those of us who only care what our photos look like and not specs.

The only reason I sold the SD III was that I had bought a MultiPro to be able to also scan medium format film. Those III and IV's were going for about $125 back then. If you want great scans from a low cost scanner, those or the Nikon equivalents, certainly are the way to go.
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Old 11-26-2018   #23
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My experience with Plustek and Vuescan has been positive. However, it does take a while to get the most out of these.
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Old 11-26-2018   #24
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I still occasionally print from 15 year old files created by my ScanDual III and never find them lacking. Those older ScanDual III and IV's are great for those of us who only care what our photos look like and not specs.

The only reason I sold the SD III was that I had bought a MultiPro to be able to also scan medium format film. Those III and IV's were going for about $125 back then. If you want great scans from a low cost scanner, those or the Nikon equivalents, certainly are the way to go.
Make sure you get the negative and slide trays when you buy used though. They are very hard to come by and cannot be purchased from Sony (who ended up with the Minolta-Konica business).

I have a III and a IV and one negative, one slide tray between the two, which is fine for me. And since I have them, it makes buying a used one possible, since they typically sell without trays of any kind. But if you're a new user buying used scanners, you really need to be sure you get one with the trays or you're buying a pig in a poke.
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Old 11-26-2018   #25
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My experience with Plustek and Vuescan has been positive. However, it does take a while to get the most out of these.
I really want to try a Plustek, but I only run Linux and unfortunately the Plustek is not supported under Linux. I could faff around with a virtual machine and then buy a copy of Windows, but to be honest, it's too much work for me.
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Old 11-26-2018   #26
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Nikon CoolScan 4000 is easily the best scanner under $500 for 35mm
The 8000 would be good for 120 but they are getting long in the tooth and harder to find.
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Old 11-26-2018   #27
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I really want to try a Plustek, but I only run Linux and unfortunately the Plustek is not supported under Linux. .....
Is the Plustek not supported by Vuescan, which is supported under Linux?

Remember the Vuescan trial version is free.
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Old 11-26-2018   #28
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Is the Plustek not supported by Vuescan, which is supported under Linux?

Remember the Vuescan trial version is free.
I'm a long-time Vuescan Pro user - I believe I registered mine in 2003 and I still get updates weekly if not more often - now THAT is service!

Vuescan of course does run under Linux which is how I use my ScanDual III, IV, and my Epson PHOTO Perfection 2400 (my 4490 died recently). It's wonderful!

But no, according to Vuescan, they do support the Plustek (and Pacific Image, another I'd like to try) but only under Windows and Apple, not under Linux.
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Old 11-26-2018   #29
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Nikon CoolScan 4000 is easily the best scanner under $500 for 35mm
The 8000 would be good for 120 but they are getting long in the tooth and harder to find.
I am sure you're right about the quality, but I think the prices have escalated well beyond $500. I think you'd have to be very patient to find one for $500, and then you'd need to be sure you could get all the accessories to make it work (trays, etc). Prices I have seen tend to start at $600 USD and that's the dregs, not the good stuff.
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Old 11-26-2018   #30
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I am sure you're right about the quality, but I think the prices have escalated well beyond $500. I think you'd have to be very patient to find one for $500, and then you'd need to be sure you could get all the accessories to make it work (trays, etc). Prices I have seen tend to start at $600 USD and that's the dregs, not the good stuff.
Recently sold a 4000 at work for $450 with the SA-21, was for sale for almost 2 months.

The 8000 does sell for more, $1000 with accessories.
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Old 11-26-2018   #31
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Use a DSLR with a macro lens. Better than all the obsolete scanners that have been mentioned. There are threads here on RFF that will help you get started. I have owned the coolscan 4000 and V750 and my DSLR with dirt cheap macro beats both handily
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Old 11-26-2018   #32
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Use a DSLR with a macro lens. Better than all the obsolete scanners that have been mentioned. There are threads here on RFF that will help you get started. I have owned the coolscan 4000 and V750 and my DSLR with dirt cheap macro beats both handily
Depends on the use case, and requires a reasonable quality DSLR with a wide dynamic range. Not against it - I want to try it - but it's not for everyone.
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Old 11-26-2018   #33
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Recently sold a 4000 at work for $450 with the SA-21, was for sale for almost 2 months.

The 8000 does sell for more, $1000 with accessories.
I don't have access to your employer, but I do have access to eBay, which is where I formed my opinion. But whatever.
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Old 11-26-2018   #34
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Depends on the use case, and requires a reasonable quality DSLR with a wide dynamic range. Not against it - I want to try it - but it's not for everyone.
Any DSLR within the last couple of years can be used. I compared images scanned with a Nikon D7000 (which is what 7 years old now?) against the coolscan and the DSLR was superior. The newer high MP bodies are far ahead of the D7000. All you need is something with live view. m43 cameras are also quite good (small and cheap)
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Old 11-26-2018   #35
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Any DSLR within the last couple of years can be used. I compared images scanned with a Nikon D7000 (which is what 7 years old now?) against the coolscan and the DSLR was superior. The newer high MP bodies are far ahead of the D7000. All you need is something with live view. m43 cameras are also quite good (small and cheap)
This sounds interesting, however

1. how do you ensure perfect parallelism between the film plane and the sensor plane? I assume you use an enlarger stand. Which is good, but then you'll need to factor in the cost for the stand, and the space taken in a room by the setup.

2. Not everybody shooting film has a digital camera anymore. Plenty of people in my age group are ditching dSLRs altogether and taking the odd digital snapshot on their phones.

3. How do you do ICE scratch removal with a dSLR? No problem doing an infrared run with an 'obsolete' scanner, but loads of photoshop work on your dSLR setup if the negative is less than optimal

4. What do you use as a light table? If the answer is a real light table - great, but you need to factor in the cost and space taken by that. If not - let's say you use an ipad on a white page. Suboptimal IME - shoot with a good macro lens with 1:1 factor and you'll see the RGB pixel mesh from the ipad.

So yeah - glad it works for you but I don't think it's for everybody
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Old 12-09-2018   #36
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I have wanted a large format scanner for a while. I shoot mainly 4x5/9x12, but sometimes 5x7 and a bit of 8x10.

After a lot of internet data mining, I just bought a good condition Epson Perfection 4990, and four neg holders for it.

I have a 4490 and it has worked well for 120/70mm. I may sell the 4490 if the 4990 works out well, which I think it will.

I have a Nikon LS2000 which does the job well for me with 35mm.

Epson Perfection 4990 Scanner by Nokton48, on Flickr

Epson 4990 4x5 Film Holder by Nokton48, on Flickr

Epson 4990 8x10 holder by Nokton48, on Flickr
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