Advice on a dedicated 35mm film scanner.

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by william_p, Nov 22, 2015.

  1. Hi, I'm just looking to get a dedicated 35mm film scanner and want some help. I will research any scanners people recommend, the only reason I've started a new post is because all my searches are bring back results from the past 5 years. Surely the hardware has came on since there? so the posts I'm finding are irrelevant? I only shoot B&W (usually HP5). I've had a canon 9000f the past 5 years, but I've decided to sell my MF gear on, so I'm looking for something that will speed up my workflow. I'm looking to spend around £120, so not too much, I know I won't be able to get the best of the best, but something that will allow me to get a good amount of detail and good tonality from the negatives will be good enough for me. I shoot photography for fun, not professionally. What's most important to me is the amount of detail the scanner can resolve from the negative, followed by scan speed (I don't shoot film on a regular basis, so I'm not sat at my PC each weekend scanning negatives). Also, I'm not sure if it's at all possible with B&W film, but some sort of automatic dust removal would be nice? I'd also like the ability to tweak around with scan settings before scanning, exposure, curves, etc.
    Thank for the help,
    Gareth.
     
  2. SCL

    SCL

    I'll leave others to comment on 35 scanners, I'm personally still using mine from over 10 years ago...IMHO not much has happened re 35mm scanners since then...except that the used Pakon units became available about a year ago and seem to have soared in price since then...drawback-require Windows XP to run them. I've found that Vuescan provides the software flexibility I need for my old scanner, and since it works with so many, when you do choose a scanner, think about using Vuescan as your scanning software component.
     
  3. Thanks Stephen, I was expecting people to comment hardware and software recommendation lol. I've tried vuescan in the past but couldn't get the hang of it haha
     
  4. Progress in scanner-land is slower than many other areas of digital imaging; it's a relatively niche product, so not a lot of money going around for research and development.
    I've got a Reflecta ProScan 7200 (in the US sold as Pacific Images PrimeFilm 7200), that works fine for me. There is a newer, higher resolution model. According to the one test that exists, it does actually deliver quite a bit more resolution, and the rest of the specs are decent. The bundled software is mediocre, so getting the hang of VueScan is very much worth it. Alternative scanners are the Plustek models; if you'll only do B&W, their cheapest model could be interesting (it lacks the infrared scan for dust/scratch cleaning that doesn't work at all with B&W).
    These scanners are not as good as the older higher end options, like the Nikon Coolscan models. But they cost a lot less, can be bought new with warranty and aren't too far off. Your budget might be tight, but with a bit of bargain hunting, maybe it can just be done.
     
  5. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    Dedicated film scanner development has taken a back seat to other digital darkroom endeavors. The same Coolscan IV that cost $800 10 years ago is no longer made--and still routinely sells used for that amount.
    Much of the later consumer development (post 2005) has been around the 'all in one' flatbed system. Some nice options were made by Epson really beginning with the V700--but successive "improvements" have soured the recipe. That said, the market for used, flatbeds that identified themselves as solid negative scanners has driven the used price up. Again, on a par with the price when new and in some models, far beyond. But you already have such a solution...
    Plustek, Wolverine, and Pacific Image all offer intro scanner options that deliver as well as a flatbed--in the 9-20Mpx range. Depending on your needs, this might just be your answer. If you intend on doing a LOT of 35mm work in the future--you may want to look at investing in one of the higher end Plustek scanners--or a used Nikon Coolscan. With the latter though--as others have stated--you will need Viewscan or similar third party driver interface.
     
  6. The best 35 mm film scanner is arguably a digital camera with 24 MP or more and a 1:1 macro lens and a slide/negative holder. I have a Nikon LS-4000 film scanner, but the results using a Sony A7ii with a PK-13 extension tube, Nikon 55/2.8 Micro and Nikon ES-1 slide holder are better and 10x as fast to use.
    The last Nikon scanner drivers were written for Windows XP, and are not compatible with any newer O/S. Silverfast and Vuescan work under Windows 7 (and probably newer), but do not utilize all the features of the LS-4000.
     
  7. "The last Nikon scanner drivers were written for Windows XP, and are not compatible with any newer O/S. Silverfast and Vuescan work under Windows 7 (and probably newer), but do not utilize all the features of the LS-4000."

    There is a 'fix' that works. I use Nikon Scan 4 on windows 7. I still have to try if it still works after upgrading to Windows 10, but the GWX app hasn't 'flagged' an incompatibility.
     
  8. "I still have to try if it still works after upgrading to Windows 10, but the GWX app hasn't 'flagged' an incompatibility"​
    No problems with Windows 10 it still works.
    Cheers
     
  9. Thanks Anthony. One thing less to worry about.
     
  10. Sometimes you can get old scan software working using
    Vuescan's generic USB driver on a modern system.
     
  11. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    I think that I am about to go seriously RETRO!
    Looking at all of the 3" binders I have around here with negative sleeves--and the fact that I am still shooting 35, 120, and 4x5 film--none of the solutions really get me excited--for reasons of cost, speed, or convenience.
    Once upon a time, I did thousands of slide copies--everything from artwork to kodalith masks for titles. This was for planetarium shows--and we built a copy stand and slide copier that used a dedicated slide copy holder on a macro tube with a dismembered flash for lighting.
    Seems to me that I can do the same thing again. Looking around the net, I see several homebrew systems that use Beseler film carriers. Just so happens I have 2 45MXT enlargers with duplicate goodies for each--including the roller strip 35mm carrier and tensioning carriers for 120 and 4x5. So, I think that I will sketch out a platform, and add a LED light source behind a sufficiently thick light diffuser panel. Something like a Tamron 90mm 1:1 looks pretty enticing--the price is right, and it is useful for other photography.
    This idea makes the camera the scanner. Fast speeds, better resolution, and no issues with drivers, software, or other silliness.
     
  12. I have a Minolta Scan Dual 3 which is a good low cost dedicated 35mm scanner. There's a Scan Dual 4 out too. I've gotten good scans of both negs and slides. Hamrick's Vuescan software is up to date for this scanner too. I use it on windows 7 64 bit.
     
  13. If one was go the digital camera/slide copy route shouldn't they be able to take multiple exposures for shadow and highlight values and use HDR software to get a fairly impressive tonal range in the final combined image?
     
  14. Considering your budget, I'd second Steve J Murray's posting, for both the scanner and the software. Do get the pro version of Vuescan, well except there goes the budget.
     
  15. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    If one was go the digital camera/slide copy route shouldn't they be able to take multiple exposures for shadow and highlight values and use HDR software to get a fairly impressive tonal range in the final combined image?​
    One of the sites I looked at (should have bookmarked, will find again) had an extensive discussion on the adjustment of curves and exposure during the post process of traditional duplication capture. Obviously, these tools in PSCC or Lightroom are available as standard post routine. The idea of multiple brackets is intriguing--the limitation of course is to be found in the quality and range of the original negative.
    Seems to me that this is worthy of experimentation. Just as a 'proof of concept' I took out carriers for all 4 formats I have used--35, 120 (2 1/4X2 1/4 & 6x7), and 4x5. I used the bellows stage of one of the Beselers as a mounting system--the dichro head can also serve as the light source and diffuser. With my existing Sigma 17-70 'macro' lens everything except 35mm has adequate coverage. A dedicated macro with greater magnification (sigma only has .36) would cover 35mm--as would adding a macro ring to the setup.
    This should prove interesting...
     
  16. If one was go the digital camera/slide copy route shouldn't they be able to take multiple exposures for shadow and highlight values and use HDR software to get a fairly impressive tonal range in the final combined image?​


    Creating an HDR composite of a slide using a digital camera is easy enough to do, but largely unnecessary. I use a Sony A7ii (or A7Rii) as the copy camera, which has more than enough dynamic range to capture any useful information in the slide.

    White balance is easy too. I use a desk lamp with a daylight (5600K) LED bulb, and set the camera to a fixed K setting so it's not unduly influenced by the slide itself. LED bulbs have a surprisingly smooth spectrum, with a bump about 400 nm from the blue light used to excite the phosphor, which provided most of the light. I bound the light off a white balance card. That, combined with the thick diffuser on the ES-1 slide holder distributes the light evenly. I set the ISO to 400 at f/8, and let the shutter time vary. Everything is locked together, so there's no vibration issue, even at 1/4 second or longer.

    The A7ii has the same resolution as my LS-4000 scanner, and the A7Rii is overkill. Images are grain-sharp, even with Kodachrome. I haven't tried negative film yet, for lack of time. I did locate a film strip holder which will handle strips of 4 or 6 negative images without damaging the film. It's a simple thing to invert the colors (ctl-I in Photoshop), then touch up the results. It's a subjective process, but that pretty much describes color balance for negative film regardless of the scanning method.
    At least with this method there's hope of scanning my old slides. Life is too short to catch up using a film scanner.
     
  17. My father has been an accomplished photographer since the 50's and has thousands of slides and hundreds of slide shows. I want to do low res scans of the slides from the slide shows so my siblings can have access to them. I have a Coolscan 4000 but need to put a Firewire card in my PC and also bring scanning hardware up to date on my Win 7 machine. A friend was involved in this effort: http://www.dpbestflow.org/camera/camera-scanning and makes a good case for it, especially in dealing with large quantities of slides. Is it worth setting up the Coolscan to offer high res files of individual slides after initial scanning via the above method? Another option is to send the slides out to be scanned by a lab. I would be interested to hear some opinions / experience if others have had a similar situation.
     

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