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05-16-2020, 08:12 PM   #1
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Drum scanning services?

Hello,

Just curious, any drum scanning service recommendation? I understand it is expensive and file size are HUGE but I'd like to consider it to see how far I can take a 35mm negative or a 6x6 image.

Thanks,
Ismael

05-16-2020, 09:26 PM   #2
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I have never used a drum scan service, but it is hard to say how comparisons might work for 35mm vs. 6x6. There used to be a service local to me that published a list of available resolutions for the various formats. IIRC, there is a paradoxical relationship between scan dpi and format size with higher resolutions not being available for larger formats. Other considerations might be the nature of the fluid used for the required wet mount and the brand/model of scanners used. What processing is done to the scan might also be important.

Addendum Virtual drum scans using Imacon/Hasselblad scanners, while quite excellent, are not the same as a real drum scan. The difference is CCD vs. photomultiplier detectors with dynamic range being better with the latter.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-16-2020 at 09:54 PM.
05-17-2020, 06:41 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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Am not sure this will buy you anything for negatives.
Drum scanners range from a few hundred dots-per-inch (DPI) to several thousand (eg 4000, 10000 DPI) depending on the vintage and technology.

Some use a single or 3-4 monochrome Linear CCDs with filters; PMT ones were low resolution and gone bye-bye.
They were used mostly for scanning prints, eg images on paper,artwork, not negatives / transparencies.


Secondly, IMHO, there's really no point in scanning a negative beyond the resolution of the film grain. eg somewhere between 2000 and 4000dpi is probably good enough. A desktop scanner like the Epson Perfection V850 is 6400dpi and 3x16bit colour.
A "modern" high resolution black&white film like Kodak Alaris TMAX has a best-case resolution of 200 lines / mm (= 200x25.4 = 5080 DPI). Nyquist limit probably applies here.
05-17-2020, 08:26 AM - 1 Like   #4
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When I scan my 35 mm B&W negatives with a Pentax K-70 I have a resolution of about 4200 dpi (sensor 6000 px wide, frame 36 mm wide). However, when pixel shift is used I still see an improvement of the definition of the grain. So I assume a resolution 4500 .. 5000 dpi is optimal.

The opinions on this differ, how far you must go, but I think an essential property of film is the grain, and it should be reproduced in a scan.

05-17-2020, 09:07 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ProfessorBuzz Quote
Am not sure this will buy you anything for negatives.
Drum scanners range from a few hundred dots-per-inch (DPI) to several thousand (eg 4000, 10000 DPI) depending on the vintage and technology.

Some use a single or 3-4 monochrome Linear CCDs with filters; PMT ones were low resolution and gone bye-bye.
They were used mostly for scanning prints, eg images on paper,artwork, not negatives / transparencies.


Secondly, IMHO, there's really no point in scanning a negative beyond the resolution of the film grain. eg somewhere between 2000 and 4000dpi is probably good enough. A desktop scanner like the Epson Perfection V850 is 6400dpi and 3x16bit colour.
A "modern" high resolution black&white film like Kodak Alaris TMAX has a best-case resolution of 200 lines / mm (= 200x25.4 = 5080 DPI). Nyquist limit probably applies here.
This is an interesting set of assertions, many of which I find debatable. There are a few members here with service bureau experience and perhaps they will chime in.

I will caution that those who expect 6400 ppi resolution from a V850 or any other consumer-grade flatbed scanner will be disappointed.

With respect...

Steve
05-17-2020, 10:05 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
This is an interesting set of assertions, many of which I find debatable. There are a few members here with service bureau experience and perhaps they will chime in.

I will caution that those who expect 6400 ppi resolution from a V850 or any other consumer-grade flatbed scanner will be disappointed.

With respect...

Steve
Steve, as far as commercial reproduction for large format printing I haven't needed drum scanning for close to a decade. Between very good flatbed scanning equipment at reasonable prices, appropriate software use, and the inherent limitations of the print process itself I don't see it even as an occasional need. Others mileage might vary.
05-17-2020, 10:08 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
I'd like to consider it to see how far I can take a 35mm negative or a 6x6 image
There are endless discussions regarding whether scanning above 4000 ppi makes any sense, regardless of format size. The usual arguments center around film resolution or lack thereof and usually there is a dash of misinformation thrown in for the sake of flavor. That said, a larger consideration might be the matter of technique and quality of optics. My personal experience has been that even scanned at close to 4000 ppi real world resolution, things like camera motion, lens limitation, and missed focus are readily observed. To be honest, the same is usually visible on the light table with an 8x or 10x loupe. That said, I do have negatives where those elements are less prevalent and where the scan does not reflect detail visible through the loupe or projected through my enlarger.


Steve
05-17-2020, 11:24 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
Steve, as far as commercial reproduction for large format printing I haven't needed drum scanning for close to a decade. Between very good flatbed scanning equipment at reasonable prices, appropriate software use, and the inherent limitations of the print process itself I don't see it even as an occasional need. Others mileage might vary.
Good points, all. The need for a drum scan of a 35mm negative at 6000 ppi might be compared to the need for a 72 Mpx FF digital capture. While the best that the good folk at scandig were able to squeeze from their V800 and V850 tests was 2600 ppi,* that figure that is not inadequate for most printing at normal viewing distances using appropriate post processing and with attention to print process.


Steve

* Using SilverFast Ai Studio. Epson Scan results were the same as those for the V700 and V750 (2300 ppi). FWIW, 2600 ppi is ~9 Mpx. Higher resolutions might be possible with wet mount or different film holders.


Last edited by stevebrot; 05-17-2020 at 12:07 PM. Reason: clarity
05-17-2020, 11:54 AM   #9
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Hi,

Thanks for the discussion. Very interesting. Beyond resolution, which of course is a big part of this, my interest is also because I am loosing the battle against dust and the elusive flatness of the film. Granted, my scanner is a very old one but from what I've seen drum scanners are wet mounted forcing the image against the drum. From what I understand that helps with dust as well.
I recently bought a M-50 f4 macro lens. I will try to home brew a rig and see how it goes with the K5II or K-01

Thanks,
05-17-2020, 12:44 PM   #10
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Agree film flatness is quite a limitation on home scanners. I use an Epson 850 as it now has ANR “glass” carriers, but a bowed film like Tri-X will still bulge. I’ve taken to use mainly Fomapan just because it lies quite flat without curl, and does scan sharper. However, very high DPI is limited more by optics and focus, so although the scans I get are fine for most use, I’ve had much sharper results from commercial hi-res scans
05-17-2020, 03:15 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
Hello,

Just curious, any drum scanning service recommendation? I understand it is expensive and file size are HUGE but I'd like to consider it to see how far I can take a 35mm negative or a 6x6 image.

Thanks,
Ismael
A good friend in Boston has the Imacon scanner. At the same time I had a pretty high-end Agfa flatbed scanner (around $5K) that gave me 20MB files from my slides. I needed to print big so I had my friend rescan the same slide and give me an almost 90MB file. Only after the Imacon scan I realized how dusty my slide was. With today's Photoshop the cleanup would take no more than a few minutes. The quality was good enough to print a 24x36 size image. Yes Imacon is not as good as real drum scan but believe me the quality was fantastic. She paid around $13K for her Imacon scanner at the time (late 1990s). That is not exactly cheap nor is it a toy by any means.

If you have a lab that uses the old style chemical processing (Noritsu comes to mind). Most of those printers could also scan the film on to CDs or DVDs. I had a few rolls of film scanned that way back in the late 90s early 2000s. The quality was pretty decent. Good enough for an 8x10 or even an 11x14.
05-17-2020, 03:25 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
Agree film flatness is quite a limitation on home scanners. I use an Epson 850 as it now has ANR ďglassĒ carriers, but a bowed film like Tri-X will still bulge. Iíve taken to use mainly Fomapan just because it lies quite flat without curl, and does scan sharper. However, very high DPI is limited more by optics and focus, so although the scans I get are fine for most use, Iíve had much sharper results from commercial hi-res scans
Good unit, we currently use another version of it for our general scanning needs which over time has become less and less frequent.
FWIW very good film scanners are fairly inexpensive anymore.
Best film scanner | Digital Camera World
05-19-2020, 08:05 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
Granted, my scanner is a very old one but from what I've seen drum scanners are wet mounted forcing the image against the drum. From what I understand that helps with dust as well.
As you may know, the drum is extremely smooth (flat, in its true meaning). The image is taped down and some scanners small tangs lightly grip the rebate taut. The liquid is antistatic and repels dust, but also increases sharpness, in turn increasing detail and picking up in the dynamic range (among myriad other tricks). Drum scans have never been cheap (nor quick), but they are the only way to go if you insist on absolute quality for an outstanding image in the first instance e.g. framed prints for exhibition/sale: don't get drum scans of "also ran" photographs; just the very best you have, and scan and profile for large prints.

Epson scanners are all very good, but they are not a patch on Heidelberg Tango or Hell drum scans. The file sizes (profiled, full colourimetrics and export to lossless .png, .tif) can be huge and intimidating, but usually go through a 'trim' process internally. I have two, 1Tb Seagate storage units for my scans. It is important to invest in storage if you get hooked on the drum scan bandwagon! And also get used to eating baked beans, because it is a brutal blow to the finances...
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With non-drum scanners, most all use a lens of some type or another and that lens is subject to all the evils of a typical lens. It can have aberrations, color issues, and since most try to capture a relatively wide angle, distortion. A drum scanner focuses on a very small section of the film at any given time (much like a micro-densitometer) and the lens used for that can be optimized a lot better than other lens types. It is basically a microscope lens. Since it is only looking at one point, color fringing is impossible and since the film is maintained at exactly the optimum distance from the lens, focus is spot-on for all points in the scanned film. Also, since the mechanics of a drum scanner are so precise, there is extremely little or no distortion in the scanned image relative to the original.

The downsides of drum scanning is the required preparation and execution, and usually considerably more time is involved to scan just that one photo.
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