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05-28-2010, 10:11 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Scanner Comparison Images

I hesitate to post this since it opens a huge can of worms. As background information, there have been several recent posts regarding dedicated vs. flatbed scanners for various purposes and various formats. I own both a Nikon 5000 ED that I use for 35mm and an Epson V700 that I recently purchased for 120 and 4x5. Up until this evening, I had never compared the two using 35mm film.

Edit:

Don't ignore the comparison photos below, but don't take them at face value before considering the second set of comparisons posted later in this thread.
Scanner Comparison Redux
The short story is that the Epson is not kind to less than flat negatives. If your negs are curved at all, you might as well do your scans on a much cheaper scanner. If your negs are flat, your results will be much, much better.

:End Edit

Here are the details of my quick/dirty setup:
  • 35mm Rollei Retro 100 negative of a lens test setup from several months ago
  • Nikon 5000 ED using FH-3 strip film holder
  • Epson V700 using stock Epson holder with spacers set to + position, emulsion side up
  • Both scanners at 2400 dpi, default exposure, and 16 bit grayscale
  • USM off for both scanners

Here is the full frame image from the Nikon:

Nikon, Full Frame




Here are full resolution center crops from both scanners at 2400 dpi:

Nikon 5000 ED vs. Epson V700 @2400 dpi




And to see if there is some hidden resolution somewhere, here is a repeat with the Epson at 4800 dpi down-sampled to 2400 dpi:

Nikon 5000 ED vs. Epson V700 @4800 dpi (down-sampled to 2400 dpi)



Before I write anything else, I think that it is important to note a few things:
  • I tried both emulsion-side up and emulsion-side down as well as different positions of the "feet" on the Epson
  • The holder did not appear to be doing a very good job holding the film flat. In fact, the bow is visible as distortion from top-to-bottom when comparing the horizontal lines on the two scans.
  • I did the test at 9600 dpi with similar results
Better performance might be possible using a focusable holder such as those from betterscanning.com and/or mounting to glass.

I personally am feeling a little depressed since the V700 was purchased at a bit of a sacrifice. I am generally happy with the results on 120 roll film, but realize that I will have to have any critical scans done professionally (double ouch). With any luck, there might be better performance with flatter film and a focusable carrier.


Steve


Last edited by stevebrot; 05-29-2010 at 06:06 PM.
05-28-2010, 10:35 PM   #2
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If anyone has done similar comparisons between different scanners, feel free to post them here.
05-28-2010, 11:07 PM   #3
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Thank you for taking the time to do this Steve, I'm sure I wont be the only one who appreciates it.
cheers,
05-28-2010, 11:16 PM   #4
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I think there is no secret that dedicated film scanners would just kill any flatbeds on actual performance, and the 5000ED is pretty much the best consumer film scanner money can buy. I would love to get one too if I were still scanning films.

05-29-2010, 12:34 AM   #5
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Thanks for this comparison! The Coolscan has that grain sharpness I'm missing on the V700.

Have you compared a "looking-their-best" test also? Edited and sharpened that is. More like what you would uppload or send of to do prints.

Btw, you get best results with the emulsion side up? I get best results with it down, strange.
05-29-2010, 05:58 AM   #6
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Steve - what software are you using - vendor software in both cases or a third party (Vuescan for instance)?
05-29-2010, 07:34 AM   #7
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Steve,

Thanks for the test. That just reinforced my belief that I made the right choice with my scanners. I think that the V700 should sale for a lot less than it does and it would be a good alternative for MF scanning in addition of a 35mm film scanner as you are using it but without the high price.

Cheers,

Luc
05-29-2010, 08:02 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevewig Quote
Steve - what software are you using - vendor software in both cases or a third party (Vuescan for instance)?
Vendor software in both cases. I have the Viewscan demo and may purchase the product, though I have not noticed that it produces sharper images from either of my scanners.


Steve


Last edited by stevebrot; 05-29-2010 at 08:19 AM.
05-29-2010, 08:05 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
...Btw, you get best results with the emulsion side up? I get best results with it down, strange.

I tried it both ways and took the one that looked best. Emulsion down wins hands down with 120, however. Up, down, whatever, I think that focus is at least part of the issue here, but I have no way to test that with the stock holders.


Steve
05-29-2010, 08:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
Thanks for this comparison! The Coolscan has that grain sharpness I'm missing on the V700...
Forgot to address this in the previous post...

The "grain sharpness" may be artifact. There is something called "pepper grain" that is present with some negatives from fine-grained films on some scanners and appears as punctate black spots. The actual silver grains are much smaller and beyond the resolution of the scanner. This is one of the things that the scanhancer is supposed to remedy for Minolta scanners.


Steve
05-29-2010, 08:17 AM   #11
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I am sorry, but how do you compare a $5000 scanner to a $500 scanner and then complain that the $500 scanner is not as good? That's like comparing a ferrari to a miata and complaining that the miata just doesn't handle as well...
05-29-2010, 08:29 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
...Have you compared a "looking-their-best" test also? Edited and sharpened that is. More like what you would uppload or send of to do prints...
Boy, am I dull this morning. I keep forgetting to comment on your points in a single message...

The Nikon scan looks pretty good straight. If this was a "looking-their-best" photo, I would probably have nudged the curves a little at scan time with some fine tuning in PP.

I did play with the best of the V700 scans in PP. Lightening the image a little and a boost in contrast helped a lot as did a tiny bit of sharpening. There was still no contest.

In regards to PP...I prefer to do most exposure and curve manipulation at scan time. My experience has been (at least with Lightroom), that scanned B&W images degrade very quickly in PP, mostly in the form of grain artifact. I also avoid USM at both scan time and in PP for the same reason.


Steve
05-29-2010, 08:39 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtroute Quote
I am sorry, but how do you compare a $5000 scanner to a $500 scanner and then complain that the $500 scanner is not as good? That's like comparing a ferrari to a miata and complaining that the miata just doesn't handle as well...
Who owns a $5000 scanner? The Nikon cost less than 2x that of the V700.

I compared two scanners of good reputation at the same scanning resolution using the stock negative carriers for both scanners. If both are capable of scanning at 2400 dpi, I would expect similar results. Sound logical, eh?

Keep in mind that I OWN both scanners and paid full price for both. I would really have loved to have posted a comparison with both images looking the same and including a paragraph trumpeting the high value of the V700. After all, it was my market research that led to the purchase and I would look like a pretty smart guy. Right now, I both look and feel like a pretty dumb guy.

As for the Miata vs. Ferrari analogy...I would expect both to handle about the same at 25 mph. 2400 dpi should not be pushing the limits for a scanner (V700) advertised as supporting 9600 dpi (6400 optical).


Steve

BTW...You are local to me. If you like, I would be pleased to let you see the results in person and even scan the one of your negs if you don't like mine.

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-30-2010 at 08:07 AM.
05-29-2010, 08:48 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by lbenac Quote
Steve,

Thanks for the test. That just reinforced my belief that I made the right choice with my scanners. I think that the V700 should sale for a lot less than it does and it would be a good alternative for MF scanning in addition of a 35mm film scanner as you are using it but without the high price.

Cheers,

Luc

Yes, the V700 is overpriced. The V750 even more so. Both should be in the low to middle $300 range. I also thought that the Nikon 5000 ED was overpriced at just over $1000 while it was still widely available. I guess that means that I am cheap (duh!).


Steve
05-29-2010, 08:56 AM   #15
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Just a small word in defense of the Epson V700...

The scanner is extremely well-built and operates smoothly with relatively little noise. The Nikon 5000 ED, on the other hand, sounds like a bulldozer by comparison. The film holders for the Epson are well-made, if lacking somewhat in design, while the Nikon strip holder is flimsy and extremely fussy to use. May I also mention that the V700 is very handsome? Big, but definitely good looking.

I still think that better results may be available with better film flatness. Most of my recent film images are on the curly Rollei Retro 100, though I believe that I have some TMax 100 negs in the binder. The TMax is dead flat and might make for a better comparison.

Steve
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