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07-23-2010, 01:57 PM   #1
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35mm Scanning

Apologies friends if this has been covered before. I searched the forum and couldn't find exactly what I was after, and of everyone on here, I assume you guys would be the ones in the know.

Recently, many of the labs in town have traded in their older printing/scanning systems for "Dry Lab" technology, which includes ink-based printing. Now, regardless of the merit of said printing technology, my concern is with the scanning. With the new equipment came new software and a new operator's desk/scanning unit, which produces absolutely abhorrent amounts of noise when scanning negatives, and reduces soft gradual tones to pixelated mush. So suffice it to say, I can shoot and develop my negatives, but cannot get them turned into digital files.

I'm narrowing down options for scanning machines. I've pored over testing examples, crops, resolution charts, etc for weeks now. The cheapest option with halfway decent quality seems to be a CanoScan 8800F. Not great, but livable, and still better than what I get at local labs. A much better option looks like the Epson V700, not only in physical specs (two lenses and 6400dpi, anyone?), but also in supplied software (it comes with SilverFast, which I'm told is a much better tool than the included EpsonScan, or CanoScan if we're talking about the Canon). The Canon can be had for around $200, the Epson will be $350 more. I've also kept an eye out, and almost had the chance to buy, a dedicated film scanner, but suffice it to say I've just about given up on that elusive dream. New machines are tremendously expensive, used machines are of questionable history and do not lend themselves well to shipping, and Nikon isn't listing the Coolscan 5000 on their website anymore, only the 9000, and the 5000 was the only one that could have possibly ever been in my price range with a lot of scrimping, saving, and patience.

I was wondering if anyone could offer guidance on the techniques they use, or some examples. I've been around the internet looking for examples, but couldn't find all that much. Also, does anyone have any experience with SilverFast, and does it make THAT much of a difference? Also, as an aside, I'm working with an iMac G4 at present, and an iBook field machine, both of which are on in years and lack USB2.0. Anyone happen to know if the Canon works with USB1.1? I've been able to pretty much guarantee that the Epson will do this, based on it's age and OS support.

Thanks in advance everyone for your help.

07-23-2010, 02:07 PM   #2
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Amazon has the Epson V500 for $145 right now, free shipping to USA. I see you are in BC, I don't know how badly that affects things. But for my money, the V500 is the right combination of quality and value. It has Digital-ICE so dust isn't a big deal. It can fit two rows of 6 negatives so it isn't as laborious as small scanners. It will do medium format films too, albeit 1-2 at a time (depending on how good you are with a razor blade).

It doesn't have great software like SilverFast. But I haven't missed it. And for myself, I sold the included copy of Photoshop Elements 6 for $25 on craigslist, which made the price smokin hot.
07-23-2010, 02:44 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aegon Quote
Amazon has the Epson V500 for $145 right now, free shipping to USA. I see you are in BC, I don't know how badly that affects things. But for my money, the V500 is the right combination of quality and value. It has Digital-ICE so dust isn't a big deal. It can fit two rows of 6 negatives so it isn't as laborious as small scanners. It will do medium format films too, albeit 1-2 at a time (depending on how good you are with a razor blade).

It doesn't have great software like SilverFast. But I haven't missed it. And for myself, I sold the included copy of Photoshop Elements 6 for $25 on craigslist, which made the price smokin hot.
How does the V500 compare to the 4490? My previous foray into do-it-yourself scanning involved this machine, and I don't know if it was me or the machine, but the images I got were very soft. I was using Advanced mode in the EpsonScan software, 3200dpi scanning resolution, with Digital ICE on low. We sell the V500, V600, and V700 at work, so my price with discount would be very close to what you paid.

Do you have any examples?
07-23-2010, 02:50 PM   #4
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Hi Drew,

I was recently faced with your dilema. In my case I couldn't afford a V700 but the V500 was within my budget. I obviously couldn't afford something like a Nikon coolscan but I could afford one of the Plustek 35mm film scanners.

I kinda wanted the V500 because it could batch scan strips of negative where the Plustek would only scan one frame at a time. Also, the V500 would be able to scan larger negs if/when I make the leap to MF.

The downside of a flatbed scanner like the V500 was the problem of curly negs affecting the focus of the scanner. This seems to be a widespread (but not insurmountable) problem.

In the end, I went for the Plustek 7500 which is slightly more expensive than the V500. I'm quite happy with it although I'm still learning to use the Silverfast software properly.

07-23-2010, 03:51 PM   #5
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I don't have first hand knowledge as to how the V500 compares to the 4490. Other sites say they are the same, except that the V500 has the better LED light source for quick startup times and more even light output. So they are probably going to have the same sharpness issues.

I guess I like the V500 primarily for the price because it is good enough. Apparently the V600 supersedes the V500, so I think the low prices are a way to clear out the old stock of V500. I'm not convinced you can touch the scan quality with Digital-ICE against any other scanner at that price (not counting the 4490 which is apparently very similar).

It seems to me that your desired price range will only get you a flatbed scanner. If quality is your first priority then you've got to spend more money on a dedicated film scanner. If you are OK with a decent flatbed, then you should consider the V500.

I'm not convinced that the V600 will be better because I think it is the same as the V500. And I think the only thing the V700 offers is a larger scanning area, which won't affect quality anyway. (I could be mistaken, again no first hand knowledge). Since all of these perform the same, then there isn't much sense in spending the big bucks on the V700.

And as for SilverFast, maybe it is worth the extra dough. But again I'm not qualified to offer an opinion.
07-23-2010, 04:08 PM   #6
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Some labs are better than others. As we discussed in another thread, the minilabs in the drug stores are not a very good option.

I did spring for a Coolscan 9000 early last year. It was the best investment I've made, and it made film fun again. I'm not saying you need to drop $2k on a scanner, but you are asking the right questions. Unless you have the time, space and the volume for wet printing, you will be scanning your film these days, and you do need to put every bit of the effort into getting the right scanner that you put into picking the camera and lens. I'd also err on the side of quality, since this is the filter through which everything you photograph will be seen.

I do wish I could justify wet printing, though. Scanning does change the result no matter how well it is done.
07-23-2010, 04:15 PM   #7
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Anybody know if either the CanoScan 8800f or the V500 have a 64 bit driver available? I've done some cursory searching on the net and all I found for the Canon was a Vista driver (and I'm now running Windows7). From a budget standpoint, these are the two machines I'm looking at, too.

Best,
Kevin
07-23-2010, 04:19 PM   #8
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Hi Drew,
There have been several discussions regarding scanners in the last several months. Here are a few answers to your questions and a few comments:
  • The Epson 4490 is very similar to the V500. Be aware that the V700 has a larger light lid and can do more negatives/slides in batch mode per pass.
  • The specs for the Epson V700 may say 6400 dpi, but real world performance is no better than about 2400 dpi best case
  • The version of Silverfast that is bundled with the V700 is less flexible than Epson Scan or Vue Scan
  • The Coolscan 5000 is an excellent machine. It is no longer available in N. America, though it is still being sold in Japan and other markets. Current price used is outrageous.
  • I would buy a used Minolta ScanElite 5400 if you can find a good one used and don't anticipate doing medium format
For what it is worth, I own both a Coolscan 5000 and a V700 and like them both. I bought the V700 for medium format, but it is pretty competent for 35mm slide and negative scanning. Here are scans (all previously posted on another thread) from both machines that show the real world difference between the Epson and the Nikon:

The full photo (Nikon scanned)...

Tamron 28/2.5 02B, TMax 100 35mm

Full resolution crop at 2400 dpi


Full resolution crop at 4000 dpi
[IMGWIDELEFT]http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4062/4653365304_ae3f74bf9d_o.jpg[/IMGWIDELEFT]

The Epson might give a better showing if the negative height was fine-focused with something like the betterscanning negative carrier. Still though, it does a pretty good job.



Steve


Last edited by stevebrot; 07-23-2010 at 04:32 PM.
07-23-2010, 04:49 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
For what it is worth, I own both a Coolscan 5000 and a V700 and like them both. I bought the V700 for medium format, but it is pretty competent for 35mm slide and negative scanning. Here are scans (all previously posted on another thread) from both machines that show the real world difference between the Epson and the Nikon:

The Epson might give a better showing if the negative height was fine-focused with something like the betterscanning negative carrier. Still though, it does a pretty good job.


Steve
Interesting examples. I'd have been tempted to say the Nikon had blown the Epson away, if I didn't look back and see just how tiny the area in the last example is. In the real world, I doubt that anyone who didn't make a poster of the scan and examine it with a magnifying glass would see the difference.
07-23-2010, 05:00 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Interesting examples. I'd have been tempted to say the Nikon had blown the Epson away, if I didn't look back and see just how tiny the area in the last example is. In the real world, I doubt that anyone who didn't make a poster of the scan and examine it with a magnifying glass would see the difference.
My conclusion too. The two scanners are basically equivalent for output that might be printed using the typical home printer (e.g. 8 x 10"). Where the Nikon really shines is when you need the extra resolution and for the shear convenience of using the strip feed adapter for batch scanning of proofs.

For those who are interested, here is a link to the original thread where these and other images were posted...

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/digital-processing-software-printing/1030...on-images.html (Read the entire thread...there are a lot of good comments in there regarding scanning in general.)


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 07-23-2010 at 05:11 PM.
07-24-2010, 06:28 AM   #11
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Re: 35mm Scanning

I have the Epson V700 and am pleased with my results. It may come up a little short vs. the Nikon 5000 & 9000 but is still very good nonetheless. I scan my 645 negs at 3200dpi and find excellent sharpness in a fairly reasonable file size.

I should also mention that I don't use the Epson or Silverfast software that came with it. I tried both but discovered I much prefer Vuescan.

Buffy
07-24-2010, 07:46 AM   #12
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Thank you very much Steve for the scan comparison! That was exactly what I was after. That's actually pretty astounding that the Epson got that much detail out of the negative. At 2400dpi you'd be hard pressed to tell any difference, and in the 4800dpi scan, the sampled area is tiny! I went looking for scanners on Ebay, and holy Hannah, the 5000 is going for 1.5x more than it was selling for retail. That's definitely not going to happen. Couldn't find the Minolta unit you mentioned, though I suppose I can keep my eye out.

Two more questions, if I may.

I think the V700 is definitely in the cards. However, I did notice at least one person mention the Plustek scanners. As these machines are dedicated scanners, how do they stack up? I'm wary of a brand I've never heard of before, but if they can best the Epson at the same price, it might be worth looking into.

Secondly, there seems to be quite the consensus of VueScan users here. I went to both LaserSoft and VueScan's web pages and, if I'm reading this right and it's not just morning, the full "professional" VueScan that allows raw format scans, IT8 calibration, and I assume multi-exposure as well, is only $80, which is an absolute steal compared to what LaserSoft wants for their product even without those features. I can only surmise that the VueScan software is not only the better deal but the better product as well then, based on the number of you who use it?

I'm off to find something online about the Plustek units. I have to say I'm not tickled pink about the idea of spending $550 on a scanner that I'll have to buy a new film carrier for to get acceptable scans, something the Plustek doesn't require. But I'll be back. Thanks so much for the information thus far guys. It's helping lots.

Last edited by drewdlephone; 07-24-2010 at 07:57 AM.
07-24-2010, 10:20 AM   #13
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Drew,
I think there is at least one Plustek user on the forum. Perhaps they will weigh in. A decent review of the Plustek 7500i can be found here:
Film scanner Plustek OpticFilm 7500i slide-scanner: test report experiences image quality scans, film holder, application, tips, tricks
The negative carrier for the V700 is not bad. I am using the stock holder and considering one from betterscanning.com as a potential future upgrade.

As for the Vuescan vs. Silverfast vs. Epson Scan debate...It depends on your preference for interface. All three are pretty clunky. It took me many hours and several sessions to expose the full feature set for Vuescan. Silverfast is OK, but the bundled versions are lacking unless they are Ai or Ai Studio. Epson Scan in expert mode is my first choice.


Steve
07-24-2010, 02:35 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote

As for the Vuescan vs. Silverfast vs. Epson Scan debate...It depends on your preference for interface. All three are pretty clunky. It took me many hours and several sessions to expose the full feature set for Vuescan.
Steve
I've tried very hard to love Vuescan, but I haven't yet felt that it was able to control the features of the Nikon scanners. In particular, I could not get it past what appears to be its own dust and scratch removal to use the ICE that works with the Nikon hardware. The program seems a little too basic, but I'm probably haven't exposed that feature set.
07-24-2010, 04:03 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
I've tried very hard to love Vuescan, but I haven't yet felt that it was able to control the features of the Nikon scanners. In particular, I could not get it past what appears to be its own dust and scratch removal to use the ICE that works with the Nikon hardware. The program seems a little too basic, but I'm probably haven't exposed that feature set.
I don't have vuescan but my understanding was that it cannot do ICE with Nikon scanners. It has it's own dust removal that may make use of some of the hardware's features, it might not be as effective.

Paul
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