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10-19-2021, 08:04 PM   #1
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Scanning help -- Pacific Image xas

Just took the plunge on the Pacific Image Primefilm Xas to digitize old family slides and lots of my 35mm slides and have played with this for a few days. Am using silverfast se 9 plus but for the most part other than the two dust removal systems I am not using any of the other features of the software as I figure on getting a flat scan and edit in LR/PS. For family stuff that is simply to preserve memories the scans seem ok -- their soft but so are the originals from the 60s and 70s. However when scanninng at 300 ppi and 5000 dpi for personal work on sharp images I'd like to print large I just dont seem able to get really sharp scans. They look ok until you go to 1:1 and then look incredibly soft. Trying the manual focus or picking a focus point also doesnt improve the image. Importing to Lightroom and sharpening there doesnt help -- in fact I can't really sharpen at all in Lightroom -- by the time it looks sharper the image is an oversharpened mess.

If anyone out there uses this machine and has any experience with it I'd like to hear what you've found -- wondering whether my unit might be defective or if there are any tips or tricks to get better scans with this unit.

Thanks ....

10-20-2021, 03:15 AM - 1 Like   #2
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How are you assessing sharpness on your slides? The best way is to use a loupe on a light table. Perhaps if you post an example scan we can see how big the problem is.
Apologies in advance for asking the dumb question but but are you scanning the right way up?
10-20-2021, 08:06 AM - 1 Like   #3
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When I last scanned film using one of the Pacific Image scanners the images were sharp in that it was clear that the grain was limiting the resolution. That was on fairly new film going back to the early 2000s so I don't know if that affects things or maybe the originals just weren't sharp.

As far as sharpening things I would look to using RawTherapee and play with the sharpening option there and try using RL deconvolution and then playing with the Contrast by Levels sliders in the same general section, if that isn't enough you can go under the advanced tab and enable the wavelet tool and there I would use the contrast by levels as well as sharpening and edge refinement tools.

As far as testing to see if there is a problem I would go and send a modern exposed roll with a shot that has a super sharp image on it taken with a super sharp lens off of a tripod with more than enough light. So basically grab a 50/1.4 stop it down to f/8 use some ISO 100 film, really work to nail the focus off of a tripod during some nice bright mid day sun. If you can't get an image like that sharp then I would say there is an issue with the scanner.
10-20-2021, 08:21 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Adding to what MossyRocks mentioned, are you seeing film grain in your scans? Film grain is a good test of a scanner sharpness and if you aren't seeing it, it could well be a scanner issue with focusing or the lens.

10-20-2021, 06:28 PM   #5
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Thanks all for the responses. I'm not really sure I'm seeing the grain -- I should have some time again this weekend to play around and will definitely look for this. Most of the slides were Kodachrome 25 and 64 and Fuji 50 and Velvia 50 so I'm not sure how easy it will be to see the grain.


I was assessing sharpness with a 4x loupe on a light box. I'll try to post some results this weekend.


On a positive note even though I thought the dust removal tool doesnt work on the Kodachromes Silverfast isrd option has done a really good job removing dust and fungus from the old family slides -- although I have had to crank it pretty high. The SRDx option hasnt been as helpful.

I'll try to post some samples this weekend.
10-21-2021, 06:53 AM - 1 Like   #6
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If it is only "mildly" out of focus or not critically sharp, it most likely will not be obvious with a 4X loupe. To optically fistinguish a true 5000dpi scan, you'll need at least a 40X.



I had to resort to this optical verification when a client was sure his slides were sharp but my scans were not capturing it properly. Unlike a typical loupe (about 4X) or a grain focuser (10X), this will allow you see detail - if it was captured on film, about the same as a true 4000dpi scan.
10-24-2021, 02:07 PM   #7
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I didn't get much time to further explore the focus problem but I have a feeling LesDMess might be right that I need a better loupe to really judge the original slides sharpness. Didn't know they made loupes that powerful.

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