120 Film Scanner

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by chughtai, May 4, 2010.

  1. Hi,

    I am looking for recommendation for medium format film scanner. My requirement is to scan 6x12 frame of negatives and color transparencies, I came across Epson v500 which (as per specifications) does the job but got mixed reviews of quality and also been suggested to look for a dedicated film scanner rather than a flatbed.

    So I have two part question, first are the new flatbeds (like v500) really mediocre when compared to dedicated film scanners? Keep in mind I would like to print too (mostly large landscape books 13x11 size). Second, if I have to go for dedicated film scanners for medium format (which should support 6x12 frame size) what are my options?

    Any thoughts, recommendation, ideas? :)

  2. Flatbeds really are inferior to dedicated film scanners, no question. One of the best dedicated film scanners is the Nikon 9000, not cheap but compares favorably in quality to a drum scanner. The Epson V7xx are likely better than the V500 though I do not know the details of the V500. I am not sure there are many options besides the Epsons at the lower end, possibly the Microtek M1 in the middle, and the Nikon 9000. After that there are Imacons and drums. In my view, the best bang for the buck is the Nikon. I have one and use it for 6x6 and 6x7, have not tried 6x12. You might need to stitch.
    Good luck.
  3. You will need to stitch with the Nikon 9000, since it only scans up to 6x9 at a time. The better flatbeds are good for up to 6x enlargements or so, so the Epson V500 would probably be fine for your use and the V700 or V750 most certainly would be. You'll need the MF film holder + anti-Newton glass from betterscanning.com to get the best from the scanner. Also, I'd recommend using Vuescan. (Some people prefer Silverfast, though.) I've had nasty artifacts with Epson's ICE (but not Nikon's), but find Vuescan's IR cleaning function to work fine with the V700.
    Also, the 9000 is a special-order item here in Japan, and may be hard to find elsewhere.
  4. "are the new flatbeds (like v500) really mediocre when compared to dedicated film scanners?"

    In a word, definitely. I owned an Epson V700 and it was not until I used a friend of mine's Nikon Super Coolscan LS-8000 ED, that I realized just HOW inferior they really were. If the biggest enlargment you are likely to do is 8 x 10, I doubt you will see much difference. But 11 x 14 and larger, especially 16 x 20 and 24 x 30, the differences is like night and day.
    I would strongly recommend you save your money and not bother with flatbeds altogether. Try and find a used LS-8000 or LS-9000 on Fleabay. The extra money you will spend will pay dividends in higher image quality.
  5. Imacon/Hasselblad
  6. The LS-9000 ED can not scan the 6x12 frames as per the Nikon product specification page, which is my main reason to get the film scanner.
  7. I have had a couple of Imacon's (last purchased right after Hasselblad took it over) and I think they are the only film scanners out there for larger film sizes--all the way up to 6x17. I do mostly 4x5 and they are excellent. I have heard good things about the Epson V750(?-I think that is the model), but you are still shooting through glass, which just adds some loss of resolution by definition, but might serve your purposes without busting the bank, as it were!
  8. This question has been on several thousand threads over the last 10 to 12 years; it probably be asked tomorrow too.
    A flatbed today is WAY BETTER than the 3000 buck pro flatbeds a service bureau like me bought in the early 1990's; that were only 800, 1200 dpi devices; or later 1600. Once pro flatbeds hit the 1200 to 1600 dpi levels; it radically reduced the farming out drum scans; yes DRUM scans. Many drum scans of say 4x5 back then were only at the 800 to 1200 level; and one paid 1 to 2 bucks per megabyte of scan; today that is like equal to 2 to 4 bucks.
    The reason amateurs constantly are totally confused about scanning is they have no goals; no client with an actual job. Thus there is NO logical way to say if a scan is good enough. Drum scans at just 800 and flatbeds at 1200 have been used for a huge amount of pro work; magazine covers; but often it is with 4x5 stuff long ago.
    If money is no object then buy a real film scanner like a 9000. If the enlargement is small a flatbed is totally ok.
    The real sad thing is a flatbed today costs 1/5 to 1/10 what a pro 1200 dpi flatbed cost in the early 1990's; it has a vastly better dynamic range; scans way quicker; is way sharper too. Since modern flatbeds are hawked to amateurs; BIG DPI sells; even if the numbers are fibs. Thus modern flatbeds are more hawked to folks who like 5 horsepower shop vacs; 200 watt dinky coke can speakers; ie BS sells.
    Unless you know the real world application; one cannot say if a pair of sissors or a knife is sharp enough. Are you cutting butter or doing surgery?
    Like any tool; you need to understand its limits. Flatbeds pull out a lot of info; but not the entire thing with a real sharp one. If the stuff to be scanned is 1950's box camera 6x6cm stuff; the old Epson 1200U here at 1200dpi is overkill. It is not for a Hasselblad shot at F11 with panatomic-x with a camera connected to a granite block; it requires a 9000 or a drum scan.
    A consumer flatbed is like a kids knife or kids sissiors ; it might not be the sharpest thing. One will find RADICALLY different results with flatbeds too; thus there is not a common resolution these things clock in at; but a horrible swarm of mixed results.
  9. Well said
  10. FWIW, I came across this old article on LL on drum scans, interesting final thoughts regarding flatbed comparison, what I have gathered so far, and feel free to correct me if I am wrong: Drum Scanners for professional quality but there is no options available in a so-called "normal" price range (less than $5k). Imacon is the closest ($12k) drum scanner that can handle 6x12 negatives and transparencies. Other options Howatek Grand or ICG, are completely out of question since I am not planning to set up a lab.

    Nikon LS-9000, though we have big followers here, is not capable of scanning 6x12 frames (for new readers: if you have missed my last comment, see the nikon specification for LS-9000)

    So, I am guessing, for my hobby needs, latest Epson flatbeds are way to go since they can handle 6x12 and resolution, though not ideal for billboards, is decent enough for printing.
  11. You can scan slides/negatives larger than 6x9 on a Nikon 8000/9000. But not in one go.
    You just put the film in the holder, and set up the scanner to scan the first bit.
    After that, without removing the holder from the scanner, you move the start offset in the scanning software, and then scan the second part.
    That way, you can scan negatives/slides almost 200 mm long.
    Easy. And because nothing changes except the part that is scanned, you do not even need stitching software to join the two parts.
  12. Yep they are worse than film scanners, but it would be even more worrying if the v500 was as good as Nikon Coolscan 9000. For the price of a v500 it does not have to be as good. What really matters is whether it will do the job for you. If you can make prints the size you want make and be happy with them then it does not matter if there is something better for more money.
    Some V500 scans for you from medium format film.
  13. Here is the old Epson 1200U scanner from about 10 to 11 years ago; a 1200 dpi unit; with a 6x6cm transparency scan: [​IMG]
  14. I was thinking as I looked at your scan Kelly, soon we will be talking about the cool effects we used to be able to get with those old scanners just like we do (well some do) about the old view camera lenses. There is something nice about that old scan!
  15. You also could consider getting a upgraded holder from http://www.betterscanning.com/ for use with the flatbed. If the film being scanned has any curvature to it, there will be a dropoff in sharpness.
  16. Excellent scans from the V500, Stuart. What scanning software were you using?
  17. Epson scan with the regular epson film holders. I don't usually try to make huge scans with the V500 I think that is when alot of people become dissapointed.
  18. Unless you are going to be scanning 6X9s 24/7, I would save my money and send the film to be scanned by a service bureau.
  19. Some of us service bureaus just use the same scanners as you guys do;
    we might scan sharper stuff with better scanners
    we really have no idea what images are important; ie no clues at all.
    thus what you are paying me for is to arrange your sock drawer; cut your yard; scan your shoe box full of 1950's negatives ; change the float on you toilet bowl; taking out your garbage; washing your clothes .
    I have really two options; you pay me for my labor and equipment costs; or I send the films overseas to get the labor cost down. Your stuff gets mailed to a 3rd world county with many low buck scan places; this has gone on for about 15 years now. Or it is done in the states as filler work; ie we we have nothing else to do.
    There is really no magical scanner that can magically drop the labor cost down with scanning the typical shoe box full of moldly; bent; dusty; stuck together assortment of 110, 126, 6x6cm and 35mm slide; 35mm negative stuff.
    It usually cheaper to wash your own bluejeans or scan your own stuff too.
    *YOU* know what is important; *I* do not.
    Thus the crummy 126 faded blured Instamatic 104 magicube flash shot slide of you with the the head cheerleader on Prom Night with dads AMC Pacer might be the *MOST* important image in the shoe box.
    A technically sharp 6x9 cm panatomic-X negative might be of a still hated old girlfriend; that I might think should be drum scanned; but you really might want to burn it; ie NO scan at all.
    The issue is that most folks think a scanning service is a rip off. If you spend a nano second with grouping your shoeboxes stuff; you get a better return; ie we will not be high end scanning images you do not want.
    Paying somebody elese to go through your sock drawer or scan your stuff is going to be expensive; we have NO CONNECTION to what is important at all.
  20. Thanks for sharing thoughts and scans guys -- Coming back to the original question, has anyone ever tried scanning 6x12 frame? That's where my need and this question belongs, would love to see your scans and thoughts on scanner you used if you don't mind sharing.
    On a minor note, a few folks were kind enough to raise the issue of emotional importance and negative quality, which i totally agree but believe it is off topic since its a fair assumption that for negatives and transparencies of high value, whether its related to personal, emotional or business, one will take extreme caution and a professional approach and definitely not look toward consumer product and expect miraculous results.
  21. Hameed, I recently posted V500 scans of a 6x9 shot on color negative film. I included links to files I prepared that produce prints at 8x12 and 12x18 that I think are sharp enough for close inspection. You are welcome to take a look and draw your own conclusions.
    Thread: http://www.photo.net/film-and-processing-forum/00W7Rk
    File ready for print at 12x18: http://2under.net/images/100201-Mamiya-100-f28-Cheers-Img6-v500-12x18.jpg
    - Shot with the excellent Mamiya Press 100mm f/2.8 lens, at f/16, on a tripod
    - Ektar 100 film
    - Per other comments, I probably could have applied more sharpening than I did in the above files.
    From this, I agree with David Littleboy's comment that the V500 will produce sharp prints 6x the film dimension. That should give you enough for your intended use.
    If you are looking for the ultimate scan, one that gets "everything that's on the negative..." Well, that's much more difficult.
    Finally, there will be no problem placing a 6x12 film in the Epson standard 120 film holder. Good luck with your project. For the very moderate price, give it a try. I hear the V600 is about the same, and V700/750 a bit better.
  22. Hameed;
    the reason I brought up the emotional part of scanning is that it is a very frustrating thing in commericial scanning. Most ALL pro customers want to dictate non-sense; high; absurd dpi scan levels; ie BS; ie all emotional stuff
    It is almost the *RULE that an amateur or even a seasoned pro wants their beloved image that is just fair to look way better with a Harry Potter Hogwarts scanner. ie the shot that had the best poses and smiles but was slightly out of focus may only "contain" say 1200 dpi worth of actual details. '
    By "contain" I mean the original was out of focus; and if one scans at a higher dpi setting; NO extra details are captured. Thus a pro might have a MF 6x6cm wedding group shot that my Epson 1200 dpi scanner will capture most; my Epson 1600 and 2400 dpi and higher units will capture all.
    The pro watched CSI New York last night and saw a crummy image get sharpened; a totally blured car license plate becomes totally readable; one can read the 1/8 inch high serial numbers on the California renewal tag; and even pick up the fingerprints too. Sadly many pros believe all this too; besides the amateur crowd.
    So what happens is folks; manytimes seasoned pros with digital experience; want their "beloved" negatives scanned at excessive dpi levels. My 21 years of experience means nothing. They get it in their heads that MF holds 100 to 400 megs worth of info; but their blured shot might only holds say 2400x2400 pixels in that 6x6cm original.
    Thus what happens is the expert know it all pro wants their beloved 6x6cm non perfect original scanned at 4000 dpi with my Nikon 9000 film scanner. All it does is make a bloaded file with a mess of useless pixels; ie the scan is 11 times as big as it needs to be.
    Thus one has this delicate situation where a customers ego wants the scanner to do a Harry Potter Hogwarts/CSI New York scan. ie it polishes the fair/crummy/turd image into a totally sharp gem. 20 years ago if one showed a customer the slide was not totally sharp on a light table; they believed you.
    Today *WAY* too many folks know enough to be dangerous; but sadly lack common sense anymore. Thus they want to dictate absurd levels of scanning; this drives up their costs, It is all the dumbing down trend. It is a dice situation. One cannot tell a customer he is a dolt/idiot/stupid/fool/moron; but then one has to deal with them thinking you ripped them off with high scan costs; or that ones Nikon 9000 (4000 dpi) film scanner did not fix their crummy fair originals.
    ****If one could go back 30 years ago to pure optical enlarging; a customer probably would be much smarter; and thus understand that a 500 buck apo enlarging lens is NOT going to make a sharper print from a box camera negative than a 150 buck 6 element Nikkor; or even Perflex 25 buck Triplet.
    Todays average pro is really dumber as far as scanning; for *MANY* folks are fixated that their beloved stuff needs 4000 dpi film scans; when the bulk is often less than what a 1600 dpi flatbed from 12 years ago can capture.
    Thus the customer dealing with has a mess of handholding; dealing with their emotional egos; emotiional thoughts on how muchs info their stuff holds. A good rule of thumb is that these experts want a file that is 10 times bigger than warranted; or about roughly 3 off in dpi requirements. ie they want a 4000 dpi film scan when 1500 is overkill.
    A HUGE part of scanning for the public in pro and amateur stuff is all emotional. Customers who read stuff off the internet are often the worst; they etch in their brains that 35mm holds ABC megabytes; and MF holds XYZ megabytes and DEMAND that one scan at super high dpi levels; for their box camera like images off their Hassleblad. Everybody today is an expert.
  23. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Of course a dedicated film scanner turns out better results than a flatbed. In turn a drum scanner or IMO an Imacon will turn out a better result than you'll get from a Nikon 9000, which you'll see at larger magnifications.
    But if your largest application is to be a 13" wide book page from a 12cm wide transparency, I can't see any reason why you can't get a good result from an Epson V700/V750 and a decent holder to facilitate optimal focus and flatness- such as those made by Betterscan. That will cope witha 6x12 though I'd recommend the use of a AN glass insert to keep the film flat. I've done a number of Blurb books with 6x6 originals enlarged to 10" sq , using a mix of scans ranging from drum, Imacon, Nikon 9000 and V700. At that size, and given the limitations of book printing processes, it's really hard to see any difference between them, and I doubt whether anyone could guess which plates were scanned with which scanner.
    Frankly, after having owned film scanners I now find the most efficient route for me is to own a flatbed for web/viewing on screen/book stuff and to contract out scanning for the limited number of film images from which I need to make prints.
  24. Yet, a well exposed 6x6 will need not much less, if at all, than what the Nikon is capable of in resolution.
    You're right: we mustn't ignore our emotions and forget how they can cloud our judgement.
  25. With amateurs and many semi pros they do not have an actual client yet; or even a target print size; or viewing distance. Thus whether a flatbed will work or not cannot be determined. Thus there is more emotion than 4th greade math; ie "how much is it enlarged"
    with 2x2" off a MF negative; a 10x10" image is only a 5X enlargement; a MF flatbed works here. With a 20x20 print that one places one nose in it; that fine sharp Hasselblad negative becomes more like a box camera; depending on whatbed is used; how if focuses; luck.
  26. Time for flatbed pic I think.
  27. That pic was made for another thread where someone ask about scanner settings. Here are the settings for those interested.
  28. David, Interesting insight on the book printing. +1 for flatbed i suppose.
  29. There's more than resolution though. Dedicated film scanners tend to (!) also produce sharper, and cleaner results, with better shadow detail, than most flatbed scanners.
    Just as an Imacon/Hasselblad scanner will be just that little bit better than the Nikons, scanning at the same or lower resolution (at a higher price, of course).
    And that difference you will also see in the smallest of scanned images.
    What is an "Unsharp mask" option doing in the "Professional" mode of a scanning program?
  30. RE "Dedicated film scanners tend to (!) also produce sharper, and cleaner results, with better shadow detail, than most flatbed scanners."
    With our early to mid 1990's *PRO* flatbeds; the scanner glass was removeable; cleanable; replaceable. These were 3 grand units; 800 to 1600 dpi.
    In a consumer flatbed; the glass is often not marketed to be replaced; or even cleaned. too many goobers to goof it all up.
    Thus what happens is the plastics outgas; one gets crud on the glass; contast drops. Thus old Goober buys a new flatbed; and the contrast and dmax is way better.
    With cars folks clean their windshields; they do this on copy machines and commercial scanners too; and it is done way less on office box store flatbeds; ie too many warranty issues.
    Thus with time flatbeds often have a drop in contrast due to plain crud under the glass
  31. There are lots of good arguments for dedicated film scanners but for many it cames down to price. A coolscan 9000 is way to expensive for me and probably many others. The choice for me would be to send my film to another country for cheaper scanning, get them scanned locally and pay the cost or buy the v500 and do it myself. For me the choice was simple buy the v500 accept it for what it is and enjoy being able to scan my films. I don't expect to get perfect scans and I expect to have to adjust the color balance, contrast and density after scannig. I don't make prints above 8x12 very often and I don't have an imaginary client in the back of my mind whispering 4000ppi so it is quite easy to get along with the V500.
  32. Stuart, thanks for v500 info!
  33. Wow... OK, now I am pretty confused.
    I guess I get the part about expectations - that no amount scanning wiz-bang can make a poor negative into something better than it is. Likewise, I understand that for us amateurs, we probably do not need the best, most expensive scanner in the world.
    I have two follow-up questions, then.
    1. I have a 1950's era Rolleicord V with which I shoot mostly BW (and maybe color sometime, too). I won't be shooting thousands of images, but I want to share the ones that I DO take. So, what reasonable quality scanner do you all recommend for making scans and maybe prints to around 8x10? (Specific brands and models would be helpful).
    2. I also have thousands of slides that I would also like to scan and share. Can that be done with the same scanner recommended above, or I am asking about two different scanning demands?
    Thanks! Eric
  34. Wow... OK, now I am pretty confused.
    I guess I get the part about expectations - that no amount scanning wiz-bang can make a poor negative into something better than it is. Likewise, I understand that for us amateurs, we probably do not need the best, most expensive scanner in the world.
    I have two follow-up questions, then.
    1. I have a 1950's era Rolleicord V with which I shoot mostly BW (and maybe color sometime, too). I won't be shooting thousands of images, but I want to share the ones that I DO take. So, what reasonable quality scanner do you all recommend for making scans and maybe prints to around 8x10? (Specific brands and models would be helpful).
    2. I also have thousands of slides that I would also like to scan and share. Can that be done with the same scanner recommended above, or I am asking about two different scanning demands?
    Thanks! Eric
  35. Eric;
    (1) making a 8x10 inch print from 6x6cm negative is only a 4x to 4.5 x enlargement; even the old 1200 dpi Epson 1200U here from 10 years ago does this quality. With bigger enlargements my better flatbeds work better; or about all I use my Nikon 9000 a real film scanner.

    (2) flatbed will pull out a lot of info in an original; but leaves super fine details; if your original is sharp
    35mm examples

    (a) 35mm sharp original scanned on a 8 year old flatbed

    (b) 35mm poor/blurred original scanned on a high end film scanner

    case (b)
    ****In case (a) the scanner was not as good as the orignal; the wind knob's vertical lines and cameras shutter speeds by "ARGUS" are not as sharp as the tri-x original. This shot was scanned with an Epson 2400 flatbed.

    *****In case (b) the scanner was BETTER than the orignal; the image's focus was not perfect . In fact a flatbed scanner is better than this original. this shot was scanned with a 4000 dpi film scanner; a Canon unit
    The whole problems is like knives; are we cutting butter; some meat loaf ; roast beef; or cutting core or shaving. Flatbeds are like roast beef knifes; not dull; not sharp enough for shaving.
    (3) Here is a MF 6x6cm scan at just 600 dpi with the 10 year old Eposn 1200U scanner: It is good enough for web use. It is at a scan setting that was once fairly high end ; ie about early 1990's. It is all sort of funny; drum scans of 4x5 were often just 800 dpi then
  36. As I just shot a BW test film with a MOSKVA 2 (6x9 pictures through an Industar 4.5/11cm lens), I decided to scan the landscape that I always use for tests with my "Epson Perfection 4990 Photo" flatbed scanner, with different scanning options, to see how they compare.
    What I did not change : same type of scan (BW film, 4800 pix/inch) and same luminosity, contrast, gamma settings of the scanner, same output on TIFF files for IBM/PC with same cropping of 2.6x3.7mm on the neg. giving 500x700 pix frames.
    What I did change : four different scan depth were used
    a/ 48 bits/pix (color)
    b/ 24 bits/pix (color)
    c/ 16 bits/pix (grey scale)
    d/ 8 bits/pix (grey scale)
    As it is sometimes said that scannig in color and max depth and then reducing it to 8 bits grey scale might be better than direct scan at 8bits grey scale ?!
    All four types of images can be stored as TIFFs with their correct depth, but when you load them into PhotoShop, the 48bits (color) and 16bits (grey scale) are immediately and automatically converted to 24bits (color) and 8bits (greyscale).
    The initial TIFF files are too big to show here. I called them c48.tif , c24.tif , n16.tif and n8.tif .
    When I loaded them into PhotoShop, c48.tif immediately became (and was re-stored as) c48c24.tif and n16.tif (as) n16n8.tif. I thus could compare them to c24.tif and n8.tif , but did not see major differences.
    Then I changed with Photoshop the color TIFF files into grey scale files : c48c24.tif became c48c24n8.tif and c24.tif , c24n8.tif . In order to compare them with n16n8.tif and n8.tif . I still did not see major differences either.
    Here, I printed these six final files on Archival Matte Epson paper with my Stylus R2880 Epson Photo printer ; the two "color" files in colors and the four grey scale files in color and grey scale.
    The color files printed in color showed slight blue and magenta fringes, whereas the grey scale files did not, indeed... But I was surprised to notice that my printer used color inks (and not only black and grey inks !) even when directed to print grey scale files in grey scale ?!
    Finally I added luminosity histograms on the pictures and converted them to jpegs (not too destructive) so that I could post them. Here they are so that you may analyse them too : on the histograms there ARE some differences, but they seem hard to interpret ?...
    Anyway, given that the crops show a 2.6x3.7mm portion of the negative, they demonstrate also that the Moskva 2 is a "not so bad" MF folder and that flatbed scanning 6x9 negatives is rather "fair" ?

Share This Page