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08-17-2011, 06:41 PM   #1
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pro-lab scans better than drugstore scans?

I'm relatively new to film photography and am trying to figure out how to best acquire decent quality hi-res digital scans without breaking the bank. Are some shops better than others regarding photoscans (i.e. "picture CD") with film development? Should I expect better results from a pro shop vs drugstore or Walmart? Or is the only option to buy a scanner and do it myself? I'd be curious as to what kind of hybrid workflow you guys/gals are using?

08-17-2011, 07:45 PM   #2
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Most of the processing labs use similar technologies for their "scans". They use the same device for making prints from negatives. The "scan" is a digital photo of the negative that is then processed and written to CD. Usually this is done with default settings for exposure, contrast, color balance, sharpening, and grain reduction. The usual result are large files with poor resolution and tons of artifact.

You can have a custom scan done, but expect the price to be relative to the time it takes to create it ($$$).

The most cost-effective route is with one of the better flatbed scanners or a mid-range dedicated film scanner. The entry ticket is about $200 USD with the value point being somewhat higher than that.

As for what I use:
  • Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED for 35mm
  • Epson V700 for medium and large format
I have used the V700 for 35mm, but the negatives must be FLAT to get good results. When properly dialed in, the V700 provides a good clean 2400 dpi and the appearance of somewhat more with judicious application of sharpening.


Steve
08-17-2011, 08:09 PM   #3
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In my experience, scans done by a pro lab were much better than the equivalent to "drugstore" scans. But even the pro lab scans were lacking, so I bought a scanner and now do it myself. A bit more than a year on, the scanner has already paid itself off and saved me a few hundred dollars. I used to pay about $12 per roll for a basic scan at a pro lab over here.
08-17-2011, 08:11 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
...
I have used the V700 for 35mm, but the negatives must be FLAT to get good results. When properly dialed in, the V700 provides a good clean 2400 dpi and the appearance of somewhat more with judicious application of sharpening.
A definate +1 on those points.
Negative flatness is very important on the V700, which I also use.

08-17-2011, 08:23 PM   #5
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How do I make the negatives totally flat on the V700?
08-17-2011, 09:30 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by sein06231 Quote
How do I make the negatives totally flat on the V700?
Leave them pressed under a big, heavy book for a few days!
You can also get glass inserts for the V700. I haven't tried these but they might help to 'squish' the negatives flat.
08-17-2011, 09:36 PM   #7
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I let the drugstores do most of my developing and scanning for around $5-7 for a 24 exp. roll. But when it's important I take the negatives to a pro lab and pay about $20 a scan per image. It's a much higher-quality scan and easy to tell the difference.

I don't do important ones often enough to make it worth buying my own scanner, (yet).
08-18-2011, 07:17 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by sein06231 Quote
How do I make the negatives totally flat on the V700?
Shoot slide film and you'll never have this issue. Mounted slides are way easier to scan and will always be flat.

Phil.

08-18-2011, 07:31 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
Shoot slide film and you'll never have this issue.

Phil.
At the expense of dynamic range which in the case of BW can be limiting.
08-18-2011, 07:35 AM   #10
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Also, drug stores will vary - I sometimes try a different store just to see how they do. Some scan larger than others, some have more dust, some over sharpen, etc.
08-18-2011, 02:19 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
At the expense of dynamic range which in the case of BW can be limiting.
I have a solution for that, cross process b&w negative film as a positive. If I’m not in a hurry I send my b&w negative rolls to DR5 Chrome for processing. I get back mounted slides which I can happily view on my light table with my photo lupe!

I get the best of both worlds and way easier to scan!

Phil.
08-18-2011, 04:46 PM   #12
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Thanks for all of your comments. I'm going to take 3 rolls of Kodak Gold 100 to our local pro lab to see how their scans compare to Walmart etc. Apparently they will put multiple rolls on the same disc to minimize costs. I might look into a scanner but at the same time I'd hate to invest too much money at this point. Is film here to stay? Getting harder to buy film around here.
08-18-2011, 04:54 PM   #13
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Please report back to us on how the experience turns out, how much lighter your wallet turns out - and post the results too!
08-18-2011, 05:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by goddo31 Quote
A definate +1 on those points.
Negative flatness is very important on the V700, which I also use.
Isn't that the function of AntiNewtonian Ring Glass (Keeping the negative flat)?
08-18-2011, 10:18 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by cali92rs Quote
Isn't that the function of AntiNewtonian Ring Glass (Keeping the negative flat)?
I believe it's Anti Newton Ring (ANR) glass.
Yes I believe the purpose of the ANR glass is to keep the negative flat and reduce any Newton Ring reflections that might occur between the surfaces.
They're not essential on the V700 though, I've never actually tried them. I just try and make sure my negatives are as flat as possible prior to scanning. With some patience this normally works out OK.
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