Best Scanner for Medium/Large Format Film?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by timlayton, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. Hi, I need your help. With the ever-changing world of technology and gadgets, I wanted to check with everyone here about a new scanner or improved scanner software.
    I currently scan my 6x45, 6x7 and 4x5 film and slides on an Epson V750-M scanner and I typically use Silverfast AI 6 as my software for scanning. I wanted to check with everyone here to see if there was anything newer on the market that supposedly produces higher quality results.
    Is there a new scanner or new software that will produce better results for MF and LF films/transparencies than the Epson V750-M and Silverfast AI combo? I fully understand "better" is a highly subjective term.
    Thanks for your time,
  2. Most people would agree "better" means more resolution, dynamic range and DMax. If you mean "affordable", then read no further.
    For 4x5 and smaller, you would look at Imacon, Scitex (flat bed) or a drum scanner. For medium format and smaller, a Nikon LS-9000 is an option. A new Imacon is in the $20K class. You can find an used Scitex flatbed for about $12K. The Nikon, if you can find one, is about $2300 with an optional (but necessary) glass holder.
  3. I guess it is safe to write this below Edward's "then read no further". ;-)
    One of the Imacon (now known as Hasselblad) scanners. They will do all formats up to and including 4x5", and are the best you can get.
    Very expensive...
  4. Agree with all previous advise.
    And now for a word of caution: like anyone, I would love to get my hands on even a 2nd hand Imacon and behold - I found one on the fleebay at the very very reasonable initial price of US$2.200. Person was registered in Sweden, where also I was born, so I asked a few questions in Swedish about the scanner. The seller replied in what looked like "google translation" and then offered me to buy it for US$1.100 only - outside of the bay...Even saying that it would be promptly delivered from China (not Sweden) as soon as payment was received. I turned and ran of course.
    "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is..." Beware...
  5. Scanner development has now been abandoned by most manufacturers, so unfortunately the dreaded Epson has little competition in the "affordable" category.
    Just an idea: It's quite possible to get high-resolution digitisation by re-photographing your slides or negatives using a modern digital camera. A 5x4 can be reproduced by stitching several digital frames together. This way you can circumvent the 10K pixel TWAIN limit and probably do a "scan" in far less time than a flatbed takes. You'll need a bright and consistent lightbox and a decent digital camera with a low-distortion macro lens (Total cost new ~ $2500 US). You could even extend the dynamic range by altering the exposure of one set of digital dupes and then use HDR software to do exposure stacking.
  6. Thank you for all of your responses and suggestions so far. To give you a little more background in my thinking. I pondered the differences between film and digital as it relates to the final product. I have found in my own tests that unless I am shooting college sports and some wildlife I find myself going back to my medium and large format cameras for a superior final product. My initial tests with the Epson V750M and the Silverfast AI software has given me good results. I am looking for great results and it seems like the manufacturing world is pushing us another direction. For a lot of my work I don't mind the much slower work pace and the added step of scanning to get the image into my digital workflow. I am most concerned about the final product and controlling costs. I could easily invest $20k or more on a number of medium format digital cameras that will be outdated in a year or two. I was thinking that if I made the investment in the scanning technology instead of the next wiz bang digital camera I can keep using my medium and large format film cameras year after year and by updating my digital workflow (i.e., scanner software, Lightroom, Photoshop) . I think about the RZ67 Pro II that I bought new over a decade ago that still produces stunning images within its intended target. I think about my Nikon D3S and how it will be outdated in the near future and that is why I am going down this path of exploring these options. Rodeo Joe mentioned using a light box and a macro lens on a DSLR. I've thought about that but wouldn't I be limited to the capabilities of that DSLR and then I would lose effective pixels because of the aspect ratio differences that would force me to crop? For example, If I used my Nikon D3S and one of my top end Zeiss Macro lenses I would end up with a 12MP image, where as if I scanned that same negative or slide I would end up with a 100MP or more image depending on the scanning DPI. I just want to make sure I am not missing something before I don't pursue that option. Thank you and I look forward to more thoughts and suggestions. Tim
  7. Rather than seeking advice, you are trying to revive the pointless "film v digital" debate. You're preaching to the choir, but what's new about that?
    (1) Digital cameras do not become obsolete after two years unless your competition has something to offer your present equipment can't match.
    (2) Not all pixels are equal. Roughly speaking, direct digital pixels are worth three off the film. A 6x7 negative yields approximately 90 MP, which would be matched or exceeded in every practical aspect (except USAF resolution targets) by a 30+ MP digital back.
    (3) There are several MF digital backs with more than 30 MP selling for $13K new (the H4D-31 a complete camera for that price), and used backs are becoming more available as they are supplanted by 60MP backs.
    (4) There haven't been any new scanners for nearly 5 years, and far fewer being produced than ever before. It is likely that Nikon is simply selling off existing inventory of the LS-9000, and perhaps Hasselblad as well.
    (5) For me, a digital back gave new life to my Hasselblad equipment, making it a professionably viable tool, whereas scanned film is strictly for personal use (artisan photography, if you prefer) due to the time required, incremental cost and general inconvenience.
  8. 1) You state that you could easily invest 20K in MF Digital.
    I'm not sure if that means, what you would have to pay for your needs, or what you are willing to pay/afford?
    2) You state that you want to control costs.
    3) You want the best quality results.
    The following has been said here, and in many other sites and forums.
    If you want the best quality film scans from MF and LF, go with drum scans.
    You have to decide, based on your volume of printable images, or keepers, if owning a (possible) 20K scanner is in your budget.
    If not, then you continue to use your Epson for preview scanning, and send your keepers to a lab with a drum scanner.
    Only you, know the best answer.
  9. Edward and Marc thank you for your responses. I really was not trying to stir up a film vs digital debate. I am just going through this journey and struggle at this point and time and I am sure many have come before me that I know nothing about. Maybe I did not say it very well, but what I was trying to say was: I could invest $20k in a new H system (e.g., H4D-31 and a couple lenses) or I could potentially invest a similar amount if some scanning technology and continue to use my film equipment to get similar results while leveraging this solution over a much longer period time lowering my total cost of ownership over the same time horizon. What I didn't realize and learned from this thread was the abandonment of the scanner technology by manufacturers. I also did not know that the film and digital pixels were not equal as Edward pointed out. Marc had an excellent point about continuing to use the Epson as my "preview" and for my fine art large prints send out for drum scans. I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge and I come away from this with some very good input and new knowledge. Thank you. Tim
  10. stp


    Tim, I can appreciate your dilemma, because I was in the same situation but chose a different solution. I was using medium and large (4x5)format film, and I scanned the medium format on a Nikon 8000 and the large format on an Epson V-750. But it seemed as if I was squeezing all that 4x5 information through a very narrow bottleneck and getting relatively little of the full potential out the other end. I had enough 4x5 keepers that sending transparencies in for a professional scan felt cost-prohibitive. In the end, I decided to give up large format, because I was unwilling to invest in and learn darkroom printing. I've since added a Hasselblad 501cm system to my camera bag, and I enjoy it immensely. Fortunately, I can get excellent scans from its output on my Nikon 8000. However, I'm slowly coming around to thinking about a medium format back for the Hasselblad, and I'll seriously consider the Pentax 645D for all of my 645NII lenses. I enjoy film, I like to scan, but some of my favorite films appear to be in jeopardy, and I've never been one to see a strong difference between film and digital: both can be spectacular. Any of these solutions will be expensive, but for what I get out of photography, it will be well worth the cost.
  11. I gave up on 35mm film a long time ago, as DSLR quality was far superior to what I could get out of such a small format from a scanner. However, I have hung on to my 645 and 6x8 film systems. I spent the past 3 years in the digital desert myself before finally coming to grips with reality and separating out the hype and myths. The reality of film, at least for the hobbyist, is that 35mm is not worth the time, and 4x5 may not be worth the cost. However, the photographers at Architectural Digest may think differently. To get the real goody out of 4x5 you will definitely need a high quality drum scan. Scanning a 4x5 on a mass consumer market flatbed is not much different than photographing a Victoria Secret model with a Holga. Not to slam the Holga, but you get the point.
    As for MF, the best possible non-megabuck scanner out there is the Nikon LS-9000. It has current software support through either Silverfast or Vuescan. In addition, it's an LED (as opposed to white florescent light) scanner which gives it excellent and predictable results that don't drift and shift over time. In addition to the rgb LEDs, it also has has an infrared LED for dust detection. Both Silverfast and Vuescan can make use of this capability. And while 4000 dpi may be beyond the resolution of a 35mm lens, I can do 4000dpi all the out to 6x8 with excellent results. Though such a scan takes a considerable amount of time, especially with multi-sampling noise reduction enabled. You can sill find new ones online for around $2400 dollars. But suppliers typically have inventory levels down to one or two units. When they are gone they will probably be gone forever.
    Oh, and the myths vs reality... there is no doubt that all commercial photography, now and in the future, be an all digital work flow, time is money. However, photography that intends to document the existence of one's life and that of his family for the benefit of many generations yet to come, should be done on film. I use a Mamiya 645 AFD-II for family gatherings and special events, and a Fuji GX680-III for more studied subjects. Both of these systems can record Date & Time data directly in the margin of each film frame. A viewer of my images 120 years from now will be able to see my analog world as I saw it. In addition, he'll be able to see it with light and his own eyes, no obsolete electronics required. This, by the way, is why I only shot transparencies.
  12. "The reality of film, at least for the hobbyist, is that 35mm is not worth the time..."
    Hold on--you should add "....for high-detail scenic photography! For many other applications, it's artistically perfect.
  13. Barry, you had a great point about long term image preservation. I always make prints of my personal family images the moment I capture them as to not let them get lost in the digital shuffle. I like your point about the transparencies and the image data printed on the outer edge of the film and being able to view these 100 years from now via natural light. For film I shoot with the RZ67 Pro II in the studio mostly and the Pentax 645N in the field as well as a Mamiya 7 Rangefinder that I love and yes I still use my F100 Nikon since I have a full lineup of glass for my D3S and D3X digital cameras. For family and candid stuff I love my little F100. Putting the brand new 85mm f/1.4 lens on that camera produces fabulous portraits/candids of my family and while I don't use 35mm for anything professional, I suspect based on my results that I could get exceptional 8x10's with that camera and my top end glass. I recently shot some Adox CMS 50 b/w super fine grain film and loved the results.
    I do have a question for you. I am not familiar with the Fuji GXxxx MF lineup. A quick search revealed several models ranging from 6x45 to 6x7, 6x8 and even 6x9. Since you own one any tips on models to consider or to stay away from? I am always inclined to go with the bigger negative so unless there is a reason, I would likely lean towards the 6x9 since I already have the RZ67 Pro II. I searched on and they seem to have several to pick from. Anywhere else to look for a reliable used camera that you would suggest?
  14. It is hard for me now as I reach advanced middle age to chase the best result. It now seems kind of neurotic. There are a million vendors out there that have the latest and greatest improvement, even if it's 2%.
    An Epson to proof 4x5 seems like a good idea, but what about a light table and a loupe? Less work a lot less time and money.
    A Nikon 9000 may be what you need for MF, they're showing up used for about $1600+. There are used refurbished drum scanners on the market also if your 4x5 volume and sales can justify those prices. Maybe it's time for you to just skip the scanning step and go with a MF digital back? An 8x10 shooter laughed and call 4x5 a snapshot camera, so where does the quest for higher quality end?
  15. Hi Tim! A number of suggestions for upgrades have been made but there is one you can try for free! Although the my Epson gave good results out of the box it was soon clear to me that the resolution through a good loupe was rather better than I was getting from the scan. I found that there was a considerable improvement to be had by tweaking with shims the height of the carrier (the adjustment available on the holders is very coarse). Obviously one at all times ensures that the film is loaded with the correct side up!
    I also found that ensuring that MF transparencies were flat by inserting them (in their sleeves!)for a couple of days between the leaves of large heavy books helped a great deal especially if one removes the stressed area where the films have been joined to others by the processor. I am sure that the holders supplied by other manufacturers which incorporate inter frame supports will help. It is such a nuisance that with 6x7 trannies from the RZ the Epson holder will only accommodate two frames leaving the ends of the film totally unsupported and Epson have not supplied a means of overcoming this.
  16. Tim, I have the Fuji GX680-III camera. It's a 6x8 with an electronic/motor back that automatically advances the film, time/date/exposure stamps the margin, and even automatically sets the correct ISO from the bar code on the film leader (for Fujifilm only). The body has bellows focusing on an extendable rail system. This camera is also know as being the only MF camera with full lens movements by design (not as an add-on). Although there is an "S" model with no movements that is cheaper. While the movements aren't as ranging as a LF camera, you definitely have a reasonable degree of rise/fall/tilt/swing of the lens board. All these movements are fully independent, so it's possible to apply any three of them in the same shot. Just be aware that there is the original GX-680, with later -II and -III versions. Most early accessories work equally well with the -I and -II. However, the -III is sufficiently different that its accessories (backs, finders, etc.) are unique. The -III can use any GX680 lens, while the -I and -II can't use the newer lenses for the -III. Here is a link to Danny Burks review: Most people have a love/hate relationship with this camera. I truly enjoy shooting with it, but it's somewhat heavy and the lenses are aren't cheap. Also, be aware that these cameras are no longer in production. But every now and then a NIB one comes up on eBay.
  17. Reading Gareth's post, I realized that he has hit on an important fact--scan flatness. There are two solutions to this problem available for the Nikon 9000. One is a anti-newton glass holder that works really well and is made by Nikon for this scanner, but must be purchased as an accessory item ( The other solution is a third-party kit that allows for wet mounting your film ( This kit no doubt yields the superior result, but it's considerably more effort than dry scanning with the Nikon glass holder.
  18. It amazes me how there are so many people on the web telling folks what they need in order to do whatever... and have very little in terms of photographic work to substantiate their authority. People read the various photographic websites and parrot the most popular. "So and so says... and that guy said..." ad infinitum.
    Unfortunately, many of us take this as gospel. Even more unfortunate, it is a load of crap.
    Fact is, 35mm is still (after more than half a decade) worth the time... but only if you have enough talent to make compelling images in the first place.
    And 6x6, let alone 6x9, can be made to shine, in big prints, using some very good "consumer" flatbed scanners. At least, nobody complains about the quality of my prints... except maybe a gearhead or two...
  19. Correction...
    there are many who talk about what you shoud and shoud not use, yet provide no examples of how their respective choices are substatially superior...
  20. It amazes me how there are so many people on the web telling folks what they need in order to do whatever... and have very little in terms of photographic work to substantiate their authority.
    Judge the responses in context, not based on some arbitrary criteria. Not all of us have work we are free to share, or don't have the need for constant approbation. Sometimes it is enough reward to know you have helped someone. It is usually obvious whether someone has been there and done that, or merely read what someone else said on the internet.
  21. Thanks everyone for commenting and sharing your thoughts and knowledge. I did want to mention that Gareth had a great point about needing to have the film or transparencies be flat when you scan them. His common sense solution is solid advice and I do use that method. One challenge that I have struggled with is the film holders that ship with the Epson V750-M scanner don't easily hold the film really flat in all cases. I suppose this is a design issue with the plastic holders. I found a third party after market MF and LF holders that are well made and absolutely makes the film lay flat. I will include the link below in case anyone is interested in researching for yourself. I will tell you up front the web site seems a little strange and not exactly modern, but I did not have any problems with the ordering process and the product is definitely a huge improvement over the Epson stock holders.
    Also, I would be interested in how you load your film on the flatbed scanner? The instructions with the Epson tell you to ensure the emulsion side of the film is up and for transparencies to lay them face down as if you were viewing them. I have read several other posts on various forums here and via google searches and since I don't have a lot of experience here, I would like to get some feedback from people that do it one way or the other and why? I've tried both ways and don't notice much of a difference, but I would like to use the method that yields the best results.
  22. Edward:
    If it is about helping someone, we should be responsible enough not to propose what we opine as irrefutable fact.
    The FACT is that only working with the materials first hand can determine what is appropriate for one's purpose. The rest is opinion, and, like an armpit, most of us have one or two.
    As for constant approbation, many artists are guilty of wanting/needing this; I make no apologies. I have beautiful images to share with the world, as do many artists.
    On the other hand, there are those who try to redefine the purpose of image making in terms of resolution/sharpness contests.
    I am an artist. Which one, if any, are you?
  23. Most of the questions on are technical, rather than artistic in nature, including the present thread. It is fact, not opinion, that a Nikon LS-9000 is sharper than an Epson V-750. It is my opinion that the V750 is not sharp enough, whereas an L-9000 (L-8000 actually) suits me to a "T". It is a fact that film flatness is an important issue when scanning on either machine. It is an opinion that the best way to assure flatness is between two pieces of glass (rather than pressing the film for months between books).
    One would have to say that all artistic questions are opinion. That's my opinion, anyway ;-)
  24. Emulsion side up (or down)?
    I prefer to put the emulsion side down, on a flatbed or in a glass holder for my LS-8000. The reason is, film is more likely to cup so that the emulsion side is high in the center. Hence it is less likely to touch the glass, even in an holder, causing Newton's Rings. If it is flat, the emulsion side is less glossy than the back, which also help avoid Newton's Rings. In an high-resolution scanner, the lens focuses on the nearest side, and the thickness of the film may be enough to reduce sharpness. Some film has a matte coating on the back (e.g., Kodak Ektar) to reduce cupping and add resistance to scratching, which may reduce sharpness if the emulsion is scanned through the back.
    The computer doesn't care if the pixels are inverted left-to-right, and there is no penalty to pay for changing that direction.
  25. I generally always put the emulsion side toward the detector, which is typically down for most scanners. If you are looking at your film on a light box (or using a window as a light box) and the film's brand name in the margin reads correctly (not mirrored) then you are looking through the base toward the emulsion, which is away from you.
  26. I have used the dreaded Epson scanners for a decade- everything on my web site as example- and none of my clients from corporate to individuals have ever registered any dissatisfaction-and I keep working.
  27. The Epson is not dreaded, just a distant second place to the Nikon scanner. From my perspective, it is equivalent to getting 35mm performance from medium format film.
    We have all used flatbed scanners for film. Sometimes good enough is, well, good enough. However, if you or have never used or seen the results from anything better, you don't know what you're missing.
  28. What Edward said.
  29. While not wishing to get into digital vs film you can get better results with large MF film cameras and a good scanner than digital. However it takes a lot more time and effort and most audiences will not see it. If I compare my Fuji GX680 images scanned on a Nikon 9000 to the best images I can get form my Canon 5DII and the best Canon glass - the scanned film has more detail. I think the issue is that the 35mm glass is getting pushed very hard with the 21MP sensor - this is confirmed by my 7D where the resolution falls a lot as the pixel density of the 7D sensor is much higher and thus resolves well beyond the capability of the lenses (you can see this in the DXOmark and similar lens+sensor test results).
    For medium format the Nikon 9000 is a great investment if you do not want to change system and shoot MF only as a hobby / cash source on the side. If you shoot MF professionally get a digital MF system. If you what to stay with LF than you are probably best sending out for scan or working with a wet darkroom - I still do my B&W the wet way and used darkroom equipment (even big enlargers like the Omega XL5) is very cheap on eBay etc...
    I owned an Epson scanner (700) and found it was very difficult to get a really good scan - the Nikon 9000 makes a great scan relatively easy although it is still very time consuming.
    If you want to spend $20K then go with a digital back solution - I think you will regret spending $20K on a scanner. At $50 for a top quality scan you would need to do 400 to pay for the scanner - assuming you get two good images (you need scanned) from each 120 film this equates to 200 rolls of 120 - another $1000 in film costs and $1000 to $2000 in processing. Finally a top scan of a larger MF image is anywhere from 300 - 600 MB (my Fuji GX680 16 bit 4000dpi Tiff files are 500 - 600 MB each) so you need lots of processing power and storage to handle them.
    In my own experience 645 film images scanned on a Nikon 9000 are about the same quality as my 5DII images although I personally prefer the Mamiya 645 images.
  30. I find it hard to believe that the V750 is not good enough for nearly everyone's 4X5 needs. At 2000 DPI you should get a pretty nice 80MP image. Even for MF are you actually making prints and seeing the limitations of the scan - or scanning at 6400 DPI, looking at them on the screen at 100%, and wondering what's wrong? This is a serious question as I'm seriously considering a V700 in the near future.
  31. The thing with 4x5" is that the only other (and yes: better) options for scanning the stuff are very expensive. So for most people a flatbed, quite simply, must do.
    As Edward said earlier, not all pixels are created equal. The quality of a scan, even at the same resolution, is considerably better using one of the dedicated (and more expensive) film scanners.
    But that does not automatically mean a flatbed cannot be good enough. it depends on what you need the scan for and/or what will be good enough for you.
    And it certainly does not mean that flatbed scanners are no good at all. On the contrary!
  32. Rob - my personal problem with the Epson 700 was that it took a lot of time to get a result I was happy with. Setting up and scanning with the Nikon when using 35mm or 120 film is a fairly quick and easy process (for the 120 film you need the glass holder which is a $300 extra). With the Epson I found that it took lots of failed scans and that I had to get into a wet scanning process with after market holders to get an image I was happy with. this is a personal view but I found that I can get the results I want with a Nikon 9000 very quickly. For someone who has time the Epson 700 / 750 is a great bargain - since I am perpetually short of time paying more for the Nikon 9000 is not something I regret.
    With large format the Epson is the only real alternative to commercial scanning. The bigger negative should not cause the same difficulties as the 35mm and MF films create.
  33. I find it hard to believe that the V750 is not good enough for nearly everyone's 4x5 needs.​
    You find it hard to believe because it simply is not true. There are many who simply believe the more money you throw at a problem, the better and more completely it is solved. Otherwise, I am sure the local photographer I talked with recently would have to adjust his $1000 a pop fee for corporate architectural photography gigs. Then again, he was only using a 4990 last time I talked with him. The enlargements from 4x5 looked pretty good to me.
    I recently viewed some images first hand (i.e., not on the web) made with a Rollei 6006 and 16 mp digital back. The images were detailed, very nice actually. But they were clearly inferior to what I and others have been able to yield using 120 film, good lenses, and Epson scanners. I truly believe that most people who drop upwards of 10k on a piece of photo equipment want it to be superior so badly that they convince themselves of the same. You can use whatever charts or graphs you want; my eyesight is slightly better than 20-20, and I know what I see. Is the Nikon 9000 a better scanner for MF than the 4990/v700/v750? Yes. Significantly better...? Not really. And yes, I've owned not one, but three Nikon 9000 scanners in the past. Got some really good Zeiss glass with some of the money I got when I sold it...
  34. My concept of "good glass" is "of wine"
    Paul -> did you kwow I was french ?
  35. MicroTek still make and sell film scanners.
    I would consider them to be one step above the Epson, because they allow you to scan film glasslessly (is that a word?) Scanning glassless renders moot the question of wet mount or oil mounting the negative on glass in order to reduce the number of glass/air interface points. Of course, it is potentially not as flat.
    I would be curious to hear if anyone has compared the newer Epson V7xx scanners to the Microtek units. I have a Microtel Artixscan 1800F which I like, but haven't compared it directly to the newer Epsons.
  36. Just curious. I only scan MF 120 and 35mm. I have a V600. Would I really find any advantage of going to a V700 or V750? Thanks. Alan
  37. F Ph - as someone who has owned an Epson 700 and has two Nikons (a 5000 and a 9000) I find that the difference between the Epson and the Canon is not truly the quality (at least with 6x7 or 6x8 - although with 6x4.5 I could see a clear Nikon advantage). The big difference for me is the time it takes to get the result. Once you have the Nikon glass holder the process always took me between 1/2 and 1/3 of the time with the Nikon. This for me makes it worth 3x the price as I can earn the difference in the price very quickly.
    I am not sure which Rollei digital back you used but in my experience the H3Ds and newer PhaseOne backs produce results that are better than my Fuji Gx680 scanned on a Nikon 9000. They are not a lot better but considering the lenses are all Fuji and the GX680 has almost 2.5 times the image area the H3 is very impressive.
    It may be that the back on the Rollei 6006 you used was based on the old Kodak 37mm x37mm chip (this was 16MP) and thus it was a small image area and a faily primitive device (CCD and 12 bit colour I think). Take a look at the current generation of Digital backs - they are getting very impressive. As I said earlier my EOS 5DII produces 645 film quality results so it is only a matter of time and money before larger MF film resolution is well below MF digital. It is also possible that the Rollei solution (like my GX680) never produced good results with digital.
  38. Philip:
    The back and the Rollei belong to a friend, and it was his pictures I looked at. And yes, it was the 16mp back, the one which requires the image bank for shooting.
  39. The only thing wrong with using a flatbed for 4x5 is that you only get medium format quality for all your time and effort. That's no small consideration. On the other hand, a 4x5 camera can do a lot of things not practical on a medium format camera. If you don't need anything larger than a 16x20 inch print, a flatbed may be all you need. As Q.G. says, a scanner with capacity for 4x5 film at LS-9000 quality exceeds $22K. You can get a lot of drum scans for that kind of money.
    Is there a difference between 2000 ppi on a flatbed and 4000 ppi on an LS-9000 - you doggone bet there is! If you can't see a difference, you aren't being very careful taking the picture, or not very demanding of the results. Selling an LS-9000 to buy better MF glass seems like a variation on an O'Henry story ;-)
    (q.v., "Gift of the Maji")
  40. I got the LS-9000- and it gives great performance with a glass carrier for medium format. A friend uses the V-700 and does well too.... I've made beautiful 10 inch prints from a few of his scans. Not sure if it blocks up the shadows more than the Nikon; it would be interesting to see the same negatives scanned on each.
  41. I've owned a Nikon LS9000 (actually two of them, and one LS8000), An Epson 4990 and my current scanner is a Howtek HiResolve 8000. In addition I have free access to an Epson V750 and I've had Imacon scans done at a local pro lab.
    It's true people tend to get defensive about gear they own, but this holds true for Epson flatbeds as well as Nikons, Imacons and Drum scanners.
    I'm a documentary photographer. As well as doing scans for my agency and for offset repro, I do large exhibition prints (40x50in. or bigger). I've been shooting mostly 6x7cm. negs, though I'm starting to shoot 4x5 as well.
    I recently did a rather unscientific comparison between a 6x7 negative (shot with a Mamiya 7II and 80mm lens) and a 4x5 negative (shot with a modern Apo-Sironar lens and Arca Swiss camera). The 6x7 was scanned on my LS9000 and the 4x5 on the Epson V750. The results were interesting. The Epson/4x5 scan was less grainy but also less sharp. The LS9000 scan resolved the film grain clumps sharply and resolved more total detail. The epson could simply not resolve the grain. Since the neg was so big you could pull a decent print from the Epson scan at moderate sizes, but the scan clearly wasn't recording as much detail as the LS900 scan was.
    Now I'm not saying that shooting 4x5 and scanning on an epson is not a good way to work. For many uses it's fine. I'm just starting to shoot 4x5 again and I think the Epson scans would be good enough for many uses, even some commercial uses. But there's no way it captures the true potential detail in a piece of film.
    The LS9000 is probably the best deal going for the price. It comes very close to drum-scan quality, though the dynamic range is lacking somewhat, and even with the glass carrier the negs aren't perfectly flat.
    Now that I've switched to the drum scanner I've been doing some test scans. The dynamic range is better than with the Nikon or Epson, and the results are truly sharp from edge to edge. Perhaps most importantly, a drum scanner allows you to change the scanning aperture to control the look of the grain. The workflow also suits my needs, since I can load up 9 negs on the drum and let it batch scan unattended.
    If you're making 16x20in. prints from 4x5, then perhaps an epson is good enough. But if you're really pushing your films to the limit then there is a huge difference between a consumer flatbed and a dedicated film scanner, and even more difference when you step up to a drum scanner. That doesn't mean the Epson isn't good enough for a particular use. Many photographers never print above 16x20 and their work is mostly seen online. The epsons are perfect for small prints and web scans.
    Before I got the drum scanner, I did look into going digital with an MF back. I made test prints and came to the conclusion that I'd need to go with the P45+ or better to get what I was looking for. The P45+ files, when processed carefully, are very good and can easily be printed at large sizes. But I still prefer the process of working with film, as well as the color I can get from the Portra films. The digital setup would have easily run $25k or more. That would give me no backup system which is a problem. And it's a lot of kit to be carrying to the rough corners of the world where I often work. For less than half of that price I got a Mamiya 7II kit (two bodies and four lenses), a 4x5 kit (Wista vx) and the drum scanner.
  42. Noah, thank you for your detailed reply. This is exactly the type of input I was hoping to get when I started this thread.
    I am currently doing some 4000 dpi scans on the Epson V750 from my 6x7 slides and negatives from my RZ67 Pro II and Mamiya 7. The TIFF files are HUGE... around 700-800mb with the options I have selected. My plan is to soft proof a couple of these images and then send them to my printer/lab for printing. The printers max effective pixels on either side of the image is 10,000 so I have to keep that in mind when selecting scan resolutions. My plan is to make several different size prints starting a 8" and working my up to about 34" or so, so that I can see the differences with my own eyes. I am going to shoot the same subject with my Nikon D3S DSLR and see how the prints compare. For this type of work I am doing floral and botanical macro images in a controlled studio setting so it will be interesting to view the comparisons.
    Thanks again for your input and feedback.
  43. Tim--No problem. If I get around to it perhaps I'll post some tests here. I have some 4x5 test films at the lab. When I get them back I can scan them on the Howtek and Epson scanners and perhaps cut the neg and stuff it in the Nikon.
    When you do your test prints, which I advice strongly instead of judging based on screen viewing, you don't need to pay for a large prints. You can just print smaller, at-size sections to see what a larger print will look like. At least for preliminary testing, this is a great way to save ink (or money). Just be sure to type the details (scanner, resolution, print size, etc.) into the image so you know the details for how each print was made.
    I don't think anyone has ever tested the Epson or Nikon scanners to provide anything near their stated resolution. The Nikon is said to be about 2500-2700dpi and the epsons are lower than that. So sometimes bigger scans don't get you much more in terms of detail. Just something to keep in mind as you do your testing.
    Whatever you do, the only test that matters is if you can get the print quality you're looking for at the size you want to print (or at the size you may want to print in the future).
  44. Just to add my grain of "silver" salt :
    I am an amateur and do not worry to get superlatively best results, neither to scan too "slowly" ; and I used Epson "dreaded" flatbed scanners for a long time.
    Some years ago, I was rather simultaneously buying a 150mm/2.8 lens for my Pentax 6x7 and switching my 2450 scanner for a 4990. So I decided to test first what I could optimally get with my 150mm lens hand-held and second, to compare outputs from my 2450 and 4990 in that context.
    On my test film with the 150mm, there was a picture with a distant street plate that seemed very sharp (circled by a black ellipse on the almost uncropped big picture at the left). I scanned this detail both with my 2450 at 2400PPI and with my 4990 at 4800PPI and the results are shown respectively in the upper right and lower right vignettes.
    But then, to check what was really on the neg, I put it under a microscope with a digital camera attached : there (in the middle right vignette) you can see the "real" silver grains.
    The three vignettes show the plate at the same scale : this plate is 0.6mm wide on the neg. and the bars of the letters and borders must be under 0.02 mm wide. Viewing it on my computer screen, the plate is 6cm wide, so I see it about 100x enlarged. A print of the whole uncropped neg. should then show me the same sharpness at 5.6mx7.2m ; this satisfies me...
  45. That's very interesting, Paul.
    I just came across this PDF on-line:
    It's an article about scanning 35mm negs with a high res DSLR (16-22MP Canon 1DS) and make the claim at the end ("Centerstage Theater" section) that 24" prints from the DSLR are actually 'more pleasing' than Imacon scans. Pretty interesting.
    I think it's clear that there are higher quality alternatives to the Epson flatbeds, and they all cost quite a bit more. But I think unless you're already seeing the limitations of the flatbed in actual prints you're making from those scans there's no point in spending more money on it. Or as noted you could save quite a bit of time.
  46. Back again! Just to clarify what I meant to convey in my previous post. I believe the Epson to be very good value for money but may well need tweaking in areas of focus and film flatness to deliver of its best. It is certainly possible to spend a lot more to gain a comparatively small improvement but before upgrading check you are getting the best out of what you have got! My Epson was not as good as I had hoped out of the box but a little experimentation showed it was capable of far better and it now meets my requirements- tweaked up it might meet yours too!
  47. Ok here goes. I scanned a 4x5 negative on my Howtek HR 8000 at 4000dpi, 16 micron aperture, 16 bit. I scanned the same negative on a V750 with a custom neg holder, shimmed to the sharpest position, at 4000dpi and also 16 bit. The files were both 1.6GB. If printed at 240dpi, these files would give a native print size of 63x70inches. At my normal 40x50 print size the files give about 360dpi, which is perfect for the Epsons I normally print on, though probably a bit of overkill for large prints.
    I sold my LS9000, and I don't know when or if I'll get a chance to scan this neg on one.
    I printed some test sections to see what the prints would look like at 16x20, 32x40 and 40x50, my normal edition sizes. Prints are a much better way to look at quality than web crops (unless your final output goal is the web, I guess). The quality difference visible in these crops is similar to the difference seen in the prints, at least at larger sizes.
    In terms of resolution, it's really no contest. I suppose the 16x20in. print from the v750 was good enough that I would use it for exhibition. The others sizes were not up to par. And even at the small sizes the drum scans had a crispness that was lacking in the Epson scans.
    The tonality and separation of tones was better with the drum scan. Software was Trident for the howtek and Vuescan for the Epson. This was an easy negative to scan. It was exposed properly, shot under flat light and had relatively low contrast.
    I think what this shows is that the Epson is a very capable machine for large-format scanning, but it's not up to the level of a drum scan (even one done by someone who has only had the drum scanner for a week or two and is far from an expert). This should come as no surprise since the Howtek is a professional machine that cost $30k when new. I would not hesitate to use the Epson for all but the most demanding commercial, editorial and agency uses.
    I've heard there is quite a bit of sample variation in the Epson scanners. I only had access to one V750 to test.
    A used drum scanner with drum and mounting station can be found for a price similar to what the used Imacons are going for. So even for a serious amateur, they're not necessarily out of reach. The OP threw around numbers in the $20k range for a digital system, so spending $3-8k for a used drum scanning system may be a good alternative. Drum scanning is kind of fun. Even though it's digital, it kind of reminds me of the type of hands-on work of my darkroom days (fingerprints and all!). Mounting takes some practice but it's not all that hard. If you shoot several formats, the drum scanner is ideal since it can give you the quality you need to make large prints even from smaller formats but it can also handle larger formats too. You can mix and match, it's no problem to load the drum and batch scan with different formats, different film types, etc.
  48. And..
  49. Hope you don't mind Noah but I had a go at tweeking your Epson scan to get it a but closer to the Howtek.
  50. Noah, how do you find the difference in sharpness between the Mamiya 7 and the Arca with a sironar-s lens? I shoot 6x7 (rz67) and 4x5 (rodenstock lenses) and have found the large format lenses to be softer than the sharpest 6x7 lenses. The Mamiya 7 lenses are alleged to be the sharpest available for the format. 4x5 should have better tonality and less grain (and, importantly, lens movements), but do you find it offers any noticeable resolution advantage?
    Nice scans, btw. Makes me regret missing out on a 4990 this week--even though the drum scan is clearly better.
  51. Stuart--Of course I don't mind. However to be fair you should also tweak the Howtek scan...both my my examples are straight out of the scanning software with no sharpening or tonal adjustments. Both can be improved upon, and for my printed tests I optimized both scans for the way I print.
    In any event there's still quite a difference between your tweaked Epson scan and the untweaked Howtek scan.
    M-dawg--I don't do scientific lens tests. I just make prints and decide if the quality is good enough or not. I'm sure on a given film area the Mamiya 7 lenses are sharper than the Sironar S lenses. But in practice, for a similarly sized output, the 4x5 wins every time. There's no substitute for film area.
    Having said that, the Mamiya 7 lenses are superb and it's probably the closest you can get to large format quality in a 120 system. But again, even a cheap old 4x5 lens can beat a great 6x7 lens due to the large film area (assuming both formats are scanned on the same scanner, of course!).
  52. "Having said that, the Mamiya 7 lenses are superb and it's probably the closest you can get to large format quality in a 120 system. But again, even a cheap old 4x5 lens can beat a great 6x7 lens due to the large film area (assuming both formats are scanned on the same scanner, of course!)"
    I agree Noah but the difference in ease of use between the Mamiya and the 4x5 is like night and day. I tried 4x5 and it was very painful for me. It was not fun. My Mamiya 7 is almost as easy as my 5D II. For B&W the "7" is so much better than the 5D, but that is off the subject.
    BTW, I use a V700 and am very happy with the results. The largest prints I make are the max on the Epson R2880. I figure that I can have a drum scan made if I need larger.
  53. Re: Noah's comparison...
    The scan from the Howtek looks crisper, no doubt. But I cannot possibly be the only one that sees that, although there is a difference,
    it is not very significant, at least in these examples. That seems to be an awful lot of money to spend for such a small increment in scan quality.
    Given a Howtek, I would sell it, buy an Epson, and maybe a Linhof or some nonsense... and still have quite a bit of dough left for an extended trip to
    I started life as a visual artist (painting, drawing, etc.). Perhaps this accounts for my lack of impressionability for such differences in what amounts to
    one dimension of visual expression.
  54. David--I find 4x5 can sometimes be easier to shoot simply because I have more control over the photograph. I can keep vertical lines parallel and use movements to improve my composition. However, they're really different tools for different purposes and in fact I find that they complement each other quite well. The Mamiya 7 is one of my favorite camera systems. It probably offers just about the highest image quality you can get from a handheld portable film camera. As you say, it's just as mobile and fast to shoot with as a DSLR and in some cases it's not any bigger.
    The Phase One P45+/P65+ backs may offer higher quality, but at a high initial cost.
    F Ph--We can agree to disagree on this one. In print (and on my monitor) it's a pretty large difference. The Epson scan looks like it has been interpolated, it's a bit jaggy. But it's straight out of the scanner. I don't know if it's due to differences in x/y resolution or if the machine is using hardware interpolation. But it's very visible, even in the tweaked version posted by stuart.
    The drum scans are just more robust in terms of processing. They can be sharpened, up-resed, whatever you need to do. They behave more like digital camera files in a way. I do most of my scans at 4000dpi. That means for my 40x50 prints, the scans from 6x7 actually need to be upresed a bit. They hold up very well. The epson scans are already jaggy so I wouldn't think of scaling them up.
    Keep in mind though that my normal print sizes are 32x40in. and 40x50in. from 6x7cm and 4x5in. negs. Especially the prints from 6x7 represent a big enlargement factor. Not everyone makes prints that large. And everyone has a different opinion of what is good enough. The OP wanted to know what gear would give him better quality than an Epson...and as I said in my previous post, for larger formats the only real option is a drum scanner. That doesn't discount the quality of an Epson in any way.
    I moved to the drum scanner because I thought there would be an incremental increase in quality as well as other advantages (better software, worflow, etc.). I was surprised at how much of an increase in detail there was, especially in the large prints from the MF negs.
    I got my Howtek system, complete, for around $4k. Sure, it's more than a $700 Epson, but not nearly as much as you imply. New Linhofs are going for around $7k. And, while the quality of a Linhof is first-rate and I'd absolutely love to have a Master Technika 3000, the photos wouldn't be any better than my $500 wista VX. If you are going for the highest quality possible from film in an analog-to-digital workflow, I'd argue that the scanner is one of your most important investments. The beauty of film, however, is that you can shoot it and scan on something like an Epson, which as I said is more than good enough for MOST photographic needs. Then if you occasionally need more quality you can outsource a scan or two...
    Personally, I'll probably average 200-300 high-res agency and archive scans a year. In my city a good drum scan from 6x7 costs $50 and from 4x5 it's $100. So it won't take long for the scanner to save me money.
  55. Yep Epson scans can start to fall apart if pushed around too much I've done that enough times with my V500 scans. I only tweeked the Epson scan is looked much worse than the Howtek to which it was being compared and I figured it could be tweaked a bit closer.
  56. The closer to "right" an image is obtained in the camera, the less the need for tweaking. I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on the rest.
    The difference, although clear, is still not what I would call substantial.
  57. Epson scans are soft compared to most film scanners. Thats not to say they can't do a great job but the scans need work to get the best from them. Personaly I am very happy with my Epson scanner but I would like a Nikon Coolscan 9000 problem is it's just too expensive for me. Heres three scans from a V500.
  58. That is my point...
    The Nikon is better, as I recall. But not enough to justify another 2000+ dollars. For that price, I want an increase in quality like, say the increase one obtains when comparing 35mm to medium format.
  59. I just finished reading through this thread with some interest. You might describe me as a person who has a rather large archive of both 35mm and medium format slides and negatives who wants to digitize them as a means of preserving them from further decay. Many of my earliest shots are already showing color shifting, which for the most part can be corrected with the image processing software I use, so I'm thankful for that, at least. But I'm also a person with somewhat shallow pockets, which has forced me to scrounge around a bit for solutions.
    I guess I'm in the minority amongst the people in this thread at least in that I think 35mm is a very viable film format. It seems to me that the biggest limitation to the resolution of a 35mm slide or neg is the scanner that is being used to digitize it. It would be nice to see scanner technology continue to improve to the point that drum scanner and/or Nikon 9000 resolutions become commonplace and affordable, but it appears that because of the reduction in use of film, this will likely never come to pass. A shame, since there are lots of folks like me who have large archives and who need to digitize them.
    So what's a guy like me to do? Well, I started out using an Epson 3170 (3200 ppi max resolution). It did an okay job with 35mm and a good job with medium format, I've felt. But I wanted something better and hopefully something that would scan large format. But I didn't have a lot of money to spend, so both the Epson V700 and V750 were out. Then I came across the HP G4050. It scanned all formats, and best of all was pretty cheap. So I bought one, and found out quickly that, even though it claimed something like 6400 ppi resolution, it actually was worse than my Epson 3170. Much worse. I learned later that its actual optical resolution was something like 1000 ppi. Then at the recommendation of a friend who had been using an Epson 4990 for quite some time, and was very happy with its performance with large format, I bought one second hand. I found that the 4990's resolution was better than the 3170's, but only marginally so.
    So I was frustrated. I mean, the 4990 does a perfectly acceptable job with medium format, I think, for enlargements up to poster size, but it was losing lots of detail with 35mm, which was obvious when I was looking at my slides thrugh a loupe. Then it occurred to me that I might get what I want if I tried using a slide duplicator with my DSLR for my slides. And that led to another string of events. First off, I bought one of the "digital" side duplicators that you see often advertised on the bay, and was using it with a zoom lens on my EOS DSLR. A big improvement, but I could still see that I wasn't getting all the detail that was there. The problem was two-fold: the quality of the zoom lens, and the fact that the duplicator used an inner element to correct for closer focusing. So I ended up cobbling up a duplicator of my own where there was nothing between the slide and the sensor other than a macro lens. I used the "digital" duplicator's tube to which I'd attached a slide/film stage off an old zoom-slide duplicator, which was threaded onto the front of a Micro Nikkor 55mm f/3.5. I then stacked a couple of extension tubes to the rear of the lens to get the right amount of magnification at the right focusing distance. And attached all this to my EOS with a Nikon-EOS lens adapter. At last I was getting dupes as good as I could get with the equipment I had available to me. But my DSLR is "only" a 10.1 megapixel camera, which translates into about 2700 ppi equivalent, and I still think there is more resolution to be gained from my 35mm images.
    But instead of spending such a large amount on a Nikon 9000 or a used drum scanner or whatever, I'd much rather spend that amount on a better DSLR with a much higher pixel count, like a 5D Mk II. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, a 5D Mk II should render images at almost exactly 4000 ppi, same as a Nikon 9000. And price wise, they're about the same. Me, I'd much rather have a camera that can do what a dedicated scanner can do, because I still have the camera that I can use for things like . . . photography!
    As for medium format, I've been giving that some thought, and I don't see why I can't rig up a similar setup for mf slides and negs. I'll no-doubt have to fabricate things, but I have a lathe and a mill and lots of hand tools, so I reckon I'll be able to come up with something that'll work.
    One last point and then I'm done. I don't recall reading anyone commenting about the inflated numbers used by scanner makers about their claimed resolution. I have determined that my "4800 ppi" Epson 4990 is scanning at an actual true optical resolution of about 2000 ppi. On a good day. The Epson V750 has been shown to scan at about 2300 to 2400 ppi. 6400? Fuggedaboudit. Oh, and the plustek 7600 models? About 3600 or so. Pretty good when considering the price. But if one wants the max 3600 ppi resolution and all the other bells and whistles loaded up (e.g., dust reduction, etc.), you're looking at something like one HOUR per scan. Hrmm . . . So, one thing I'd really like to see come to pass is for the scanner makers to quit artificially inflating their resolution numbers. All it does by selecting large resolutions is bulk up the files, but with no further image detail. And it's for this reason that, when I scan medium format images with my Epson 4990, I select 2400 ppi. The image files are smaller but there's no loss in image information.
  60. I've also been experimenting with using my DSLR to digitize my negatives. One possible way to increase the resolution is to shoot multiple frames at greater than 1:1 for 35mm, and stitch (a program called hugin is free). I'm also wondering if this method could potentially get more shadow detail than a scanner, as if you backlight your images with flash you can put quite a bit of light through the negative. The big problem is the time. Even though stitching is pretty easy, it's still kind of a pain.
  61. How's the Epson V600 for 35mm and MF? I realize it doesn't scan LF but I thought you would have some idea how it compares to the others mentioned in this thread for these two formats.
  62. Thanks everyone for all of the information. I have learned a lot from everyone here on this topic both technical and just common sense points so I thought I would give you an update from my end.
    1.) I develop my own b/w so nothing changes here for me.
    2.) When I have my color negatives or positives developed at my local pro lab I have them develop only.
    3.) I view the negatives and positives on my light table and then select which ones I want to pursue for output. The rest go in the archive separated from the "keepers" For me, some of my output is for the web and the other is for various size prints. Depending on my output requirements I will take a different path.
    4.) For web output I feel my Epson V750 is "good enough" and plan to just stick with it. I just got a third party film holder from and my scans look better than the scans I was getting with the original Epson holders so this is very helpful to me. I am using the AI Silverfast software with my Epson.
    The comment from Michael about the V750 peaking at 2400 dpi is something I would like to know more about. If anyone has some technical knowledge about this I would appreciate the help in understand the details. On my V750 at 2400 dpi I get a 16-bit TIFF file that has a pixel ratio of approx. 6600 x 5250 for my 6x7 film and the file is about 190 Mb. Assuming this is a desirable image I calculate that I could get a 22" x 17" print at 300 dpi. I just got back some 30" prints from this scenario that looked good to me and my client was thrilled.
    5.) For print output I put these into two categories: prints that I do myself and those I send out to a pro lab. For the prints I do myself I use a Canon Pro 9500 Mark II for matte and a Canon Pro 9000 Mark II for glossy. I can print up to 13x19 on these printers if needed. My film workflow is simple (develop -> scan in -> Lightroom for catalog and some basic edits -> Photoshop and plugins for detailed edits -> output file for printing).
    6.) For prints that I send out to my lab I could do anything from 5" x 7" to 30" x 45". I base my pixel calculations on a 300 dpi print scenario. When I run short of pixels for the really big prints I have used Genuine Fractals in a few select cases from onOne Software for my DSLR images as well as my scanned film images with very good success so far. I've only done this less than a dozen times over the last year.
    7.) My local pro lab charges $10 for 120 MF 4000 dpi scans. A Nikon 9000 new runs about $2200 so it would only take a couple hundred scans to offset the cost. I am still on the fence about this option for purchase because of the state of scanners and the lack of OSX Snow Leopard support for the Nikon 9000.
    Thanks again for everyone's help, input and comments. I look forward to any observations and suggestions that you might have.
  63. The optics in the epson scanners are not great and usually anything above 2400 ppi with a v700/v750 does not add any real resolution to the files you might on a good day with the wind in the right direction in March see a touch more detail scanning at the higher resolutions but its usually not worth the effort of dealing with the larger bloated files.
    With 6x7 or 6x9 negs or slides you can still make quite large prints scanning with a v700/v750 as you have seen for yourself. The v750 could be all you need. The v700/750 is better than the v500 that tops out around 1800ppi although Epson make claims of 6400ppi. I make quite small scans with my v500 big enough for web uploads and small prints but with B&W films I'm drifting back to darkroom printing for my small B&W print and use the v500 to choose which negs to print.
  64. Here is a site with resolution test results for various consumer scanners:
    Epson V700 at around 2300dpi, Nikon 9000 at almost 4000 dpi, and the Flextight even higher.
  65. Stuart and Rob, very good info, thank you. I am learning a lot here.
    I do have a question about pixels in regards to scanning from film vs. DSLR pixels. I've read more than once that the pixels from the scanned film is not equal to the DSLR pixels. Can someone provide some detail here to the differences?
    Here is what I think I know:
    I shoot 6x7 MF mostly. On a 6x7 film scan at 2400 dpi on the Epson V750 I get a file that is about 6600 pixels by 5250 and about 180Mb based on my scan parameters (multi-pass, etc). The exact number varies a little based on the capture size, but this is good enough for discussion purposes.
    I personally use the 300 dpi rule, meaning that I divide the pixel count by 300 and that tells me the maximum size of the print I can get at that resolution. Using these numbers I could get a print that is about 22" x 17". I could lower the dpi to 250 and effectively get a larger print (26" x 21") and in many cases that is more than "good enough". I personally never try to go below 250, but I have read that some printers will interpolate the 8-bit sRGG file to either make the print bigger or lower the dpi value to achieve a larger print. I want to avoid both of those scenarios if I can at all costs.
    If I multiply the 6600 x 5250 I get 34Mb approximately. Does this mean that by shooting film and scanning it it at 2400 dpi that I effectively have an image that is comparable to a 34 MP digital camera? I've been told that film pixels that are scanned are equal to about 1/3rd of DSLR pixels. I have no idea if that is true or the details behind this. Does anyone know?
    The reason I am trying to understand this and get to the bottom of it is so I can make some decisions about my workflow and simply just work within the limitations of my equipment (film or digital). For example, if the above scenario of scanning my 6x7 film is close to the quality I can get from a 34 MP digital camera then I can live with the slower workflow and hassle factor in some cases vs. the huge expense of buying a 30+ MP digital camera. If it turns out that the 34Mb effective pixels are equivalent to 1/3rd of that value at 11 or 12 MP, then that is okay as long as I know and understand the details. There are times where I need to leverage the capabilities of my DSLR system or maybe I need the fast-paced results of digital, then I will use my Nikon D3S.
    Thanks for your help and I am interested in finally understanding the details between scanned film pixels and DSLR pixels.
  66. Well I would say it will be somewhere in between. Not as good as a 34mp digital back probably not as good as 20mp digital back but likely better than a 12mp DX DSLR.
  67. From what I've seen, color 6x7 scanned on a Nikon 9000 is similar in terms of absolute print quality to full frame digital, but once you get up close the digital lacks detail (it also lacks grain, though, and is to that extent better for wall-sized enlargements).
    You can download a sample image taken from a 5DII or D3x and print it to see if you think it's good enough. My guess is it will be.
  68. In my experience a Nikon 9000 scan of a 645 film (e.g. Velvia 50) produces equivalent quality to my 5DII (same resolution etc...). My Fuji GX680 will blow away my 5DII. However, how much of this is the sensor / film size and how much is the glass is not clear. I believe that the 5DII is at or above the resolution of canon's best lenses and that this has an impact on ultimate resolution and quality. Scanned film obviously looks different to a digital picture and does not look as "clean" when you pixel peep. That said most analysis suggests that a scanned 35mm film has about the resolution of a 6MP to 12 MP digital SLR. This would seem to be in line with my personal experience where the 5DII is about the same as a good 645 scan.I disagree with M Dawg and can provide some scan images to show why.
    This is the scanned GX 680 shot - very highly compressed as it is a 600 MB file
  69. Here is a crop from the GX680 scan
  70. Crop from 5DII taken at the same time from the same place ( I used it as a polariod) with the 16-35 F2.8 II L series lens. While this lens has some issues it is the best Canon wide angle zoom by far.
  71. Before anyone asks the 5DII was focused and tripod mounted using MLU and a remote release. The issue why this is so bad is that the lens was at 35mm and F2.8 - probably it's worst settings - but even at F8 the shot would not have been in the same league as the GX680. Remember these are extreme crops - the GX 680 scan is 11969x8819 pixels so we are seeing 0.3% of the total image in the crop. Similarly the 5DII shows 0.53% of the final image.
    For those who will claim the 5DII can do better - here is perhaps a best case result for 35mm (different scene). This one is 331x 119 pixels or 0.2% of the full 5DII image. Here we have MLU and tripod mount with wireless release, 5DII ISO 100, 1/50 F8 and 100 F2.8 L IS lens
  72. I could go on but in my experience lenses limit DSLR resolution - as the Moraine Lake 5DII crop shows (this is a $1500 lens) and even in the best case (the 3 Sisters crop is using a $1000 Macro lens) the 5DII can only match 645 film scans. I am sure a Nikon D3X Canon 1DsIII and Sony 900 will all show similar results as the sensor resolution is very similar and these are the best DSLRs for resolution. The 645 scan just shows much more detail. Even with advances in scanner technology I doubt if 35mm will match a scanned 6x8 (or 6x7) film scan as the lenses will limit it's performance. I own the Canon 7D (18MP on APS-C) and just like the DXO Mark tests it's resolution is much lower then the 5DII - limited by the lens resolution. The Fuji GX680 has a film area 5x a full frame DSLR and this is the reason why it performs better.
  73. I have attached two files.
    The red/orange flower is a lilly and was shot with my RZ67 Pro II using a 140mm macro lens at f/32 in natural light at 14 seconds. I scanned with the Epson V750 and used the following settings: 24bit, auto sharpen, image-type standard, mult-pass 4 times. The pixels are 6533 x 5260. The scan took 4 minutes and 21 seconds and the file size was 98 Mb. I did scan it at 48-bit and the file size was 196 Mb with almost no noticeable difference to my eye. The film was FujiChrome Provia 100. If this were real-world condition I would edit this image, but I wanted to upload as is.
    The second flower is a gold calla lilly. It was taken with a Nikon D3X at ISO 100. The pixels are 6048 x 4032 which is the default for a full frame on the D3X. I used the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 macro lens at f/22 and 1/60. I used two studio soft boxes for lighting.
    RZ67 Pro II Scanned with Epson V750
    Nikon D3X
  74. Tim you have a D3x and the V750? What are your conclusions based on what you shoot. Do you find any advantage shootng film and scanning it with the V750 over the D3X. If you have both you are in a great position to compare the two in real world use, shooting what and how you normally shoot. Please let us know what you find and uplaod some examples for us.
  75. Tim, the Nikon 9000 does indeed work very will under Snow Leopard. It's only Nikon's bundled software that stopped working. This is really no big deal as Nikon stopped any new development on Nikon Scan a long time ago because Vuescan and Silverfast were beginning to dominate the market. Either of these can leverage 100% of the 9000's feature set. That said, I did like using Nikon Scan and wish Nikon would have continued its development and support. Unfortunately, Nikon has never been known for its software prowess.
  76. Stuart, you asked for more examples from the D3X and film. If you go to my Flickr stream I have a lot out there. The link is:
    I have separated the film from the rest, but if you look at the file names in the description it is easy to tell the difference between my D3S, D3X and 5D Mark II and 1D Mark IV files. I am getting ready to post a bunch more to the film set very soon because I finally got my scanning workflow where it needs to be. This is the whole reason I started this thread. I have been going through this journey of figuring out the limitations, benefits, etc with scanning my MF film and I think I am finally at a place where I have a good handle on it and can actually leverage it wtihin my digital workflow.
    You asked for my personal conclusions so I will tell you what I think and keep in mind this is just my opinion based on my own circumstances and variables as well as my my own personal biases and possibly limitations.
    I have been a photographer for about 25 years and from the mid 80's till about 2001 I shot MF exclusively. I own 6x45 and 6x7 systems, but almost always shoot 6x7 unless I want to just enjoy my 6x45 rig or know I won't need a big print. For my studio and macro work I use the RZ67 Pro II with a full line up of glass and for urban and some landscape I use the Mamiya 7 Rangefinder. On the digital side I switched over to Nikon a couple years ago and have the D3S and the D3X as well as some old 35mm bodies that still work great and definitely enjoy from time to time, but I just don't use them for professional work. I had owned a Canon 1D Mark IV and a 5D Mark II for a couple years and shot about 25,000 images with those systems.
    Here are my personal observations in random order:
    1.) Now that I know the technical limitations of the Epson V750 and have learned the Silverfast AI tool I can successfully produce extremely sharp and professional images for my customers from my MF transparencies (typically FujiChrome). I concur with others the limitation is about 2400dpi on the Epson V750 which produces a file that is about 6600 pixels by 5250. I've done several tests at 48-bit and 24-bit scans and I effectively can't see a difference in my prints. The largest print I've tested that with has been 24". So, I use the 24-bit and it almost cuts the file size in half to about 94Mb. Using the 300 dpi rule for prints you can easily get 22" prints and in many cases 240dpi is very acceptable and will easily produce 27"+ prints.
    2.) If I need, or think I need, more detail, broader dynamic range and higher resolution I just take to my local pro lab for true 4000dpi scans which produce files well over 10,000 pixels on each side. That will produce 36" prints and larger with no problem. For me the end result is always the quality of the print and if my customer is happy. I've found that it really depends on the image if it really reveals or warrants a 4000dpi scan for the smaller prints or not. My pro lab is about 45 minutes away from me making this a 3 hour process each time I need high res scans so I really make sure I need these because it involved two trips and a lot of time. If I could find a new Nikon 9000ED that wasn't over list price I would probably just buy it and be done with it. My time is worth more to me than the time lost doing these trips. To be honest if I had realized the Nikon 9000 was compatible with Snow Leopard I would have just bought it out of the gate, but in an odd way by starting wit the V750 I have learned a lot of valuable lessons and workflow that will still apply to the Nikon. It turns out that the V750 is capable of producing very good quality in my opinion. By the way I did find out that by using the after market holders and ANR inserts the quality went up. I got them from
    3.) I approach all of this from two perspectives: artistic and utilitarian. Many times a camera is simply a tool to me that helps me create what I have in my mind. Digital or film in some cases does not matter. When I do college sports or wildlife the optimum tool is the D3S with my 300 f/2.8 and set of the TC's. When I do my botanical fine art work in the studio it becomes a matter of preference at this point. For example, if you go look at my Flickr stream you will see a lot of my botanical work. The MF film just "looks" different than the digital images from the D3X and D3S. When I want that look that I can only get from film then I go with it. If I need a very clean and almost sterile look I go with digital. Since I have T/S lenses for my Nikon's I tend to use digital for architecture when needed and if I can use film I will. Almost all of my landscape work is film. I have even recently expanded into 4x5 for landscapes. In my studio and macro work I don't mind the slower pace of film and the added steps for the quality and product that I am able to produce. In fact, I find that it is setting me apart from others because of that different look and feel as opposed to digital.
    As far as one being "better" than the other is not really how I think about it. I have a long history with film and absolutely love the slower pace, more thoughtful approach to photography, and is now becoming a different look from the norm (digital). I couldn't do my job without my DSLR equipment because I couldn't do my college sports or wildlife with my MF gear. When I am riffling off 9 fps with my D3S and have a wild animal squared up in my viewfinder my heart is pounding 100mph. When I produce a piece of custom fine art for my client via my MF systems I feel a sense of pride and happiness that is unparalleled. But the bottom line and what I think you might be looking for, is when I produce a 24" or 30" print or piece of fine art, the quality I get from my D3X or from my MF film systems are both stunning, but in different ways. I recently spent a day shooting a new Hasselblad H4D-40 and the new H4D-31. For my studio and Macro work it definitely produces "cleaner" files than my scanning methods via film, but for a $15k price of admission I find myself very happy with scanning my MF film. Also, because it is digital it has that different look that I talked about, which is not a bad thing at all, just not my personal preference if I have an option. I suspect my next purchase will be a Nikon 9000 so I can eliminate the trips to my pro lab. In the end there are no right or wrong answers, to me if you or your customer is happy then the camera or the workflow is just a process to create your product. I will say that I fully acknowledge the world and workplace is clearly gone digital and that is one reason why I continue to evolve my digital gear, but there is also an independent part of me from the creative side that continues to produce fine art using MF film because I don't have to play by those rules in this scenario.
  77. Tim that was a very thorough answer thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations with us. Very good to hear that you have found a place for both film and digital and that you appreciate the different qualities that they have to offer. Thanks again Tim for taking the time.
  78. Tim, very nice images posted here and on your site.
    First, about images from flatbed scans... I did some testing with a V500. In my tests, I get 1300 ppi on one axis and 2000 ppi on the other. It's better at resolving lines that run parallel to the scan track. See test target scan in this thread:
    So, what can you do with a V500? I recently used V500 scans of a 6x9 shot on color negative film to produce prints at 8x12 and 12x18. I like prints with enough detail to stand up to close inspection, and I judge these as plenty sharp. You are welcome to take a look, print the image or a sample, and draw your own conclusions.
    Large sample file 3600x5400 pixels ready for print at 12x18, shot on 6x9 film and scanned with my V500:
    I have not tested larger prints. My result is consistent with you getting good 20"+ prints from V750 scans of 6x7.
  79. Tim, you asked about digital pixels vs. pixels from scanned film.
    I did several film vs. digital side-by-side comparisons and concluded: In terms of image quality in a print at 12x18", 6x9 scan of Ektar 100 on a v500... is about equal to a good 12MPx DSLR, and about equal toCoolscan V scan of Ektar 35mm. (Tim, I think this is pretty close to your estimate that V750 scans of 6x7 equal a 24MPx DSLR.)
    So, I find that 4000 x 6000 pixel scans from film produce images of the same quality, in my subjective appraisal, as 10-12 MPx DSLR images. It seems that digital pixels are better than pixels from scanned film. Why?
    I found a reference that I found interesting, "Sony 24p Technical Seminar #2" about sharpness and resolution of digital vs. film for movies. I would love to hear reactions of others to this.
    The gist of the article is about contrast vs. detail (MTF vs. spatial frequency). Film contrast declines continuously from low detail to extinction (max resolved detail). Digital is different; digital maintains higher contrast up to the ppi where it all falls apart. If we measure both systems in terms of max resolved detail (extinction resolution), then film shows greater ultimate resolution, but digital has higher contrast in the middle.
    Then we need to overlay human vision on top of this technical performance. What gives a human viewer the perception of sharpness? Otto Schade, Sr. at RCA, in research back in the television era, found human viewers call it "sharp" when they see high contrast in medium detail.
    To me this is an explanation that makes sense: Digital images look better for their pixel count than film images because the digital pixels carry higher contrast (MTF) in ranges of detail that matter to human observers.
    If all this is correct, then MTF-50, rather than ultimate resolution, would be a better measure for evaluating imaging systems.
    The Sony paper:
    In case the link breaks, Google "Sony 24p technical seminar 2"
    This is all outside my expertise, but I want to understand it better. Would love to know what experts think? Does anyone know the credentials of the author, Thorpe?
  80. Tim Layton - Before this became another film vs. digital thread Rodeo Joe gave you the best answer you're going to get if you want high quality at low cost: "scan" your film using a DSLR, a good macro lens, and a light box. For larger formats you simply stitch multiple shots, each shot being a subsection of the total film area. Otherwise for MF the Nikon CoolScan 9000 is your best bet.
    As to the thread topic diversion: if you want to shoot digital, shoot digital. If you want to shoot film, shoot film. The resolution comparisons and debates have been done to death. Top tier DSLRs comfortably exceed 35mm in absolute IQ, and are comparable to MF at print sizes up to about 24". A 3 frame stitch from a top tier DSLR will comfortably match or exceed the best 6x7 scans. MF backs are comparable to 4x5 at this point. That gives you a pretty good idea of options and where things stand.
  81. Philip Wilson - there was obviously something wrong with your first 5D2 crop. My gut instinct says vibration. The second one was much better. It would be interesting to see that file properly enlarged to GX680 scan dimensions and compared at 100% and in print. My guess is the GX680 would still show some additional detail, but that in print up to about 24" or maybe 30" the 5D2 would be comparable.
    I do not agree that lenses are the limiting factor in resolution for small format digital. Plenty of lenses can out resolve the 5D2 and even 7D sensors, especially now that manufacturers are updating lenses to meet the demands of modern sensors. At the 7D's pixel density a FF sensor would offer 45 MP. I would love to see such a sensor as it would match or out resolve 6x7 scans.
    I also just can't let the comment about the 7D go. I won't post samples because it's too far off topic, but your statement has been disproven by many people in many places. If your 7D is not performing to within a hair of your 5D2 in terms of IQ, at low to mid ISO, then there is something wrong.
  82. Not sure if this has already been mentioned, but there are 3rd party wet mount adapters with variable height available for Epson 750: - I've seen some examples (not on their web site) which have shown a tremendous improvement. Best value for the buck, IMHO.
  83. Based on Daniel Taylor's feedback I just went and did a simple test.
    The first image was photographed with the RZ67 Pro II and 140mm Macro lens. It was scanned with the Epson V750 at 24bit, 2400dpi.
    This second image I placed the transparency on my light table and used my Nikon D3S with the Nikkor 105mm Macro lens at f/32.
  84. I read main thrust of the Sony paper. They're comparing video vs 35mm film processes to create movies and why resolution and sharpness are different between film and digital. In fact the title of the paper is Sony HD Cam Picture Sharpness - Issues of Image Resolution. I don't see how that proves anything one way or the other since the way we create final prints is a different process. Moving images are observed different by the human eye and brain. Do you know of a study that campares these issues more directly to what we do?
  85. Alan, not trying to prove anything, just looking for explanations for what I see in images. The article is about digital vs. film capture and how to think about image quality, sharpness, and resolution.
    It does promote Sony digital gear, so it's not exactly unbiased.
    In my images, I think that digital compare more favorably to film than the ultimate resolution tests would indicate. I think digital pixels are "better" than scanned film pixels. I'd like to understand why.
  86. This is a 35mm scan from the lowley V700. I usually don't push 35mm past 8x10 but i made an impressive 11x14 from this negative. The film must be flat and the emultion side facing up. I keep my adjusters as close to the glass as possible. I also scan medium format with excellent results. Sometimes I don't think folks who trash this scanner have spent a lot of time with it.
  87. Look at it this way Richard thousands of photographers went over to digital capture. Many photographers gave up Hasselbalds and Bronicas and started using DSLRs and we are not talking 20mp full frame either. There must be a reason beyond just material costs and convenience.
    Most photographers I know care about the quality of their work and how it looks. Most of them did not take lightly to making the change. Many used digital alongside their film cameras and compared the prints and files and drew rather similar conclusions to what you I and many others see.
    I'm not pro film or pro digital I am quite happy to use both. To me does not matter about resolution charts or if I can read all the text on a tiny distant sign when viewing a 100% crop if the prints will never be large enough see the text on the distant sign.
    What does matter is how the prints look though. I do notice that with the smaller prints I make the hand enlarged B&W prints seem to have more details than similar sized digi minilab prints. When we resize or the lab resizes our digital camera files to 6x4 inches at 300ppi we end up with a file around 2mp alot of the pixels were thrown away. Personaly I feel that the smaller B&W hand enlarged 3 1/2 x 5 to 5x7 inch prints have more details and better tonality than the ones I get back from the digilab of couse I am talking about the prints from sharp negs.
  88. Michael nice old Cadilac in that shot. Here's a Buick.
  89. uk


    and here's the back of a Buick Riviera just like that last image.
    This time, a 35mm Tri-X frame scanned on my Imacon 848.
  90. Thanks Gary. Red Mustang from the same show. Film was Agfa Portrait 160, 645 format.
  91. I've been using the Epson V600 for 35mm and 6x7. It doesn't do 4x5's. I'm not a pro but it seems pretty good. The shadows tend to be choked up a litttle especially on 35mm and I do PP to sharpen up the images. I don't process during the scan except for ICE sometimes if the negatives are dirty and I can't blow off the dust enough. It takes a lot longer to scan with ICE.
    You can check my gallery for both 35mm and 6x7's. I tried enlarging the 6x7 lighthouse to 17x22" print (I printed 1/4 of the image onto my Canon 8 1/2x11" printer) and I thought the picture looked pretty good if you didn't get too close to eyeball. The three egret and stream shots were cropped to a 1/4 of the original picture so those should give an idea of equivalent enlargements. Hope these samples help you make a decision. Alan
  92. Hi Stuart -- The car photos are great; I like the red Mustang.
    Replying to your comments on the quality of digital: I was quite happy with the IQ I got from my 6MPx camera (D70). I got a few nice 8x10 prints and many nice screen images from my 1.5MPx camera (Fuji MX-700), which really amazed me. There could be a lot to talk about in here, but following the OP's (Tim's) questions, the one on my mind is why does digital look as good as it does in print? That's why I was interested in the Sony article.
  93. Richard the way that old Agfa portrait did bright reds was really something special. For a film that had a muted color palete it had really great reds. The old optical prints I had from this roll had great reds. I just wish I knew where the prints were.
    I've got some really nice 8x12inch prints from my D70 and D80, at this size you get everything in the print that a 6-10mp DSLR has to offer but you don't really have any grain, the prints are exceptionaly clean, color and saturation is exactly where I want it, there are enough details for the print to look detailed and there is a great appearance of sharpness. With color 35mm neg films that I had been using an 8x12 would just start showing grain and that grain I find adds a texture that is not there in real life the details are likely the same maybe a touch better but I always felt that 8x12 was as big as I wanted to go with 35mm film.
  94. Interesting discussion! When using a DSLR and a macro lens to re-photograph a chrome on a light table, would it be possible to capture different sections of the chrome in separate shots and combine them with stitching techniques? If that would work, resolution and aspect ratio mismatches would no longer be problematic. I'm wondering whether anyone has tried this approach. I have a lot of chromes in my files that are dying to see the light of day.
  95. Adding to the comment above, my concern would be that some distortion would be added since the camera and lens position changes for each section of the chrome. Would that pose a problem or would the stitching software compensate for this?
  96. For what it's worth, the Nikon Coolscan 9000 is suddenly available at J&R Music World, or at least it was five minutes ago. The fact that they have been rather hard to come by lately is the only reason that I announce that here.
    I am not suggesting that it is the best, simply that it is a choice somwhere between the Epson and Imacon in terms of both quality and price.
    I wonder how long they will stay in stock.
  97. Dan, the short answer to your question is yes, however I am not sure how practical that application would be for more than a few images from time to time. To give you a little insight, I use that technique with my Nikon DSLR's and my T/S lens when I need a cosistent DOF across my subject. Typically this is something like three flowers or a similar subject. I setup in manual mode dialing in my exposure and aperture and for the first of three images and don't touch anything again. I shift left to cover the left 1/3rd of the image. Then shift to center overlapping about 1/3rd of the left image and then shift to the right overlapping about 1/3rd again. I do a photo merge in Photoshop CS5 and it works flawlessly. I've never tried this technique with a regular or macro lens probably because the T/S does such a fantastic job.
  98. Michael Ferron:

    Your image from 35mm scanned on the v700 (impressive, by the way) proves an inconvenient point. Notice how many of us would rather keep this ridiculous argument going, despite glaring evidence in favor of the quality the Epson scanner is capable of?
    Again, I can't help but conclude that it is due to two primary facts: many photography enthusiasts want to justify the copious sums of money they spent on big ticket photo gear, and/or they want to substitute empirical data (e.g. lp/mm, etc.) for creativity and talent as the benchmark for the making of compelling (quality) photographs.
    The argument that some "settle" for less quality, which implies that those who don't tremble in the shadow of the Coolscan or Imacon have far lower standards, is bullsh#t. I love how the photograph you posted flies in the face of this.
    The emperor is naked. Some think he should be wearing Armani or nothing at all, when a good pair of Levis will suffice.
  99. One more from the v500 35mm kodak gold 100.
  100. Just want to say that I shot two frames of a 6x6 neg with my 12MP DSLR and stitched them to get a 16MP image. I wasn't even being very careful and it came out fine. Certainly if you are careful with alignment and film flatness more frames are no problem. The problem is time - how long are you willing to spend per image? And in any case will you actually print them large enough to warrant more than 12MP?
    On the other hand, the article I linked to above, comes to the conclusion that if you have a large collection to scan, scanning with your DSLR (with 1 shot per neg) can be much faster than a flatbed and the quality can be very good.
  101. You're kidding yourself if you're judging the quality of a scanner based on 500X800 pixel images. That's 0.4 megapixels. No matter how good those 0.4 megapixels look (and they look "okay" in that they could be large format, could be a decades-old point and shoot at that resolution) they aren't proving anything. That's a 1x2 inch print at 400dpi! Then again, if 500x800 pixels is enough for your images then don't second-guess your scanner: it's certainly good enough.
    One thing people forget is that most "pros" shooting medium format were printing optically, too. Even good cibachromes look way, way softer (though also more saturated) than digital prints do. So a digital print from a full frame dSLR is almost certainly as good as (and significantly more flexible than) a cibachrome print from roll film. If a medium format cibachrome is your definition of "good enough," then digital is way cheaper, way easier to control, and probably visually even better... A drum scan or Nikon scan of 6x7 might be slightly better in some ways than a full frame dSLR (it might not be) but it's more expensive and turnaround is slower. Full frame digital looks pretty great.
    As for the Sony whitepaper, I haven't read it, but a good measure of sharpness is the Heybacher Integral, the area under the mtf curve. Digital is sharper until extinction, but film resolves finer details (not really: 25mp digital beats velvia in all respects, but for large format and medium format film has the edge due to sensor size), thus digital seems sharper than its extinction limits indicate.
  102. Daniel Lee Taylor - I do not think the first crop has a vibration issue (the same tripod placement and set up was used for both shots and the Fuji Gx680 is a camera that weighs over 10lbs and it's shot is sharp) - it is just an extreme enlargement from towards the edge of the 16-35 F2.8 II at 35mm and F2.8 where it performs at its worst. The issue is merely the size of the enlargement. On my 27 inch iMAC the crop is 10 inches wide by 5.7 inches high. Thus I am looking at an edge crop from a shot that would be 10 feet six inches wide by just over 7 feet high. This link from the Digital Picture test shots shows similar issues at a much lower enlargement.
    In terms of the 7D sensor out resolving lenses this is documented by others including DXO labs. On the DXO mark website you will see that the 85 F1.8 lens (the highest resolution Canon lens they have tested to date) resolves 67 line pairs per mm on the 21MP 1DsIII body but only 47 lp/mm on the 18MP 7D - link provided
    Interestingly the 85 f1.8 resolves 39 lp/mm on the EOS 40D with it's 10 MP sensor. If this does not show that the 7D sensor goes beyond the resolution of the 85F1.8 - the best performing Canon lens they tested) then I would be interested in your explanation.
    As to the 5DIi and 7D performing almost the same at low ISO it depends on what you are looking for - on small prints there is little difference but if you follow the EOS forum you will see a recent series of posts from others who see the same thing (Lots of samples). I own both the 7D and 5DII and have put lots of shots through both of them. If you own a 5DII that performs the same as you 7D at lower ISOs then perhaps you have a 5DII issue I cannot find a lens where the Digital picture has shots with the 5DII and the 7D but here is the 1DsIII vs the 50D and you can see a big difference (the 1DsIII is very close to the 5DII, the 50D is probably not that much worse than the 7D at lower ISO as it has similar MP - I have never owned a 50D however). THe DXO mark instrumented tests show the 5DII achieves significantly higher performance to the 7D with the same lens.
  103. "Notice how many of us would rather keep this ridiculous argument going, despite glaring evidence in favor of the quality the Epson scanner is capable of?"
    Exactly. I am not saying the more expensive scanners can't tweek out a bit more detail but as far as I'm concerned when you bump into the grain you bump into the grain. There is not a lot left after that.
  104. Michael - to me the advantage of the Nikon scanner is time saving for the same (or a better) result.
    Daniel - one final point on the 7D sensor and lens resolution. the 7D sensor has 232 pixels per mm in each direction. Thus at the Nyquist frequency (sensor theoretical limit) it would show 116 line pairs per mm. The best tested lenses can reach up to 130 line pairs per mm at good contrast levels and thus could resolve more than the sensor. In practical applications and lower contrast situations 90 lp/mm is a good lens and is out resolved ny the 7D sensor. The Luminous Landscape carried an interesting article about this (even though it predated the 7D by over a year).
  105. The reality of film, at least for the hobbyist, is that 35mm is not worth the time, and 4x5 may not be worth the cost.​
    No, let's be clear, that is the reality for you. You might just want to speak for yourself.
  106. the 7D sensor has 232 pixels per mm in each direction. Thus at the Nyquist frequency (sensor theoretical limit) it would show 116 line pairs per mm.​
    No, no. That would be 58 line pairs per mm.
    It's only a theoretical limit if you want to avoid aliasing. To help you do that, they put soft focus filters in front of sensors.
    The best tested lenses can reach up to 130 line pairs per mm at good contrast levels and thus could resolve more than the sensor.​
    The best tested lenses resolve over 200 line pairs per mm at normal contrast.
    And even at half of that definitely resolve more than the sensor.
  107. Tim, you ever thought about sending your work out to bureau one that uses a drum scanner for your work. I might save you 20K. Otherwise I really don't see the point of scanning LF or even Medium format negatives unless it's a real necessity since all that does is fill up your hard-drive very quickly . If you are not going to be doing allot of special effects or stiching why not just purchase a 4X5 enlarger which is way cheaper than 20K and develop the film yourself ?
  108. QG are you talking about practical photographic lenses. The UK magazine Amateur Photographer (published for over 125 years) for about 20 years used to show high and low contrast lens charts with masks showing the best ever tested photographic lens and the worst ever tested. The best High contrast was a Minolta 85 F1.4 at 138 lp/mm and for low contrast it was a Leica 35 mm F1.4 at just under 110 lp/mm. These are both centre and F8 - F11 results. While with extreme high contrast trans illuminated targets lenses can be made to reach 200 lp/mm I personally have no interest in shooting them. Thus if the only way for a lens to match a sensors resolution is to shoot these types of test target then not would not call this a useful result.
    Indeed if you check the tests on the DXO Mark website you will find that a good combination 35mm lens and body (say the 1DsIII or 5DII with the 50mm F1.4 lens) achieves the 58 lp/mm figure at an MTF of around 10%. On the 7D this lens only achieves about 50lp/mm at an MTF of 10%.
    As to Nyquist Shannon I apologize for my mistake. Indeed with 232 pixels per mm you need 58 lp/mm of lens resolution. The theory states that you need to sample at twice the original signal frequency to completely resolve the signal. Thus a 232 pixel / mm sensor requires 58 lp/mm lens resolution to completely resolve. At lower resolution the higher frequencies would produce an alias.
  109. Yes, practical photographic lenses in normal circumstances.
    A good lens combined with a good film will be able to 'score' above 20% at frequencies in the 100 - 140 lp/mm range.
    A Rodenstock Imagon softfocus (!) lens drops below 30% at 30 cycles, but still manages more than 10% at 40 lp/mm.
    So something is wrong. And it probably is the test procedure.
    MTF testing is notoriously 'fickle'. You can't really compare tests, not even of one and the same lens, done by two different testers.
    But the figures you quote are definitely too low.
    Zeiss once published a test of films (not lenses, films. They did so, of course, to show that it pays to pay more for their good lenses), and they found that in real-life situations, a good film records well over 100 lp/mm. T-Max 100, for instance, has no problem recording up to 180 lp/m. Portra 160 NC, is capable of recording 140 lp/mm.
    That, using regular (but good) lenses, on regular cameras, focusing the way we all focus. No processing tricks. Just plain old photography.
    Zeiss also published once how their cine lenses resolved well over 400 lp/mm. But that's pushing it a bit. ;-)
  110. The AP testing is very rigorous and I am sure you would have been impressed by the late Geoffrey Crawley (see this link for more info) The test charts they published for lenses were mainly done by him (indeed he pioneered scientific lens and shutter testing) and they did a low and high contrast test at the centre and the edge for over 20 years. A good lens would be one that reached about 130lpmm at high contrast and 90 lpmm at low contrast. GC was a big fan of Leica and Zeiss lenses and many were tested over the years. I still have an archive of over 1000 editions (It is a weekly publication) and I will see if I can determine their exact testing methodology. Later on they moved to MTF charts and still perform very rigorous tests.
    The only Rodenstock lenses I own are the three for my enlarger and they all perform very well. Perhaps the sharpest 35mm lens I own is the Contax G 90mm F2.8 while My Fuji GX680 lenses are very good performers - especially the 180 F3.2. My initial point was simply that scanned 6x8 images produce more resolution than I can with a Canon EOS 5DII and any Canon lens (I own most of there best lenses). I was merely reacting to the statement that an APS-C can produce similar or better results. Since I own all of the systems in question (5DII, 7D 645 and 6x8 plus a Nikon 9000 scanner) I was merely reacting to the posts by Daniel Lee Taylor and providing my own explanation as to why the resolution of the 6x8 is better. There are obviously a multitude of differences between film and digital and between the two workflows. The GX680 by necessity has a very slow workflow and I use a 5DII as a form of simple polaroid as I now the relationship between the Fuji shooting Velvia and the 5DII metering system after a lot of practice. Sometimes I still use a handheld meter but the 5DII does a great job.
    The reason why the 5DII crop looks so soft is that it is towards the edge, at full aperture and (at least on my screen) shown at a size of 12 x7 feet. The 5DII image is perfectly usable and indeed can be blown up to 20x30 with little difficulty. Unfortunately the DSLR lacks some of the magic of the large MF body and people looking at my prints (typical 17x11, 19x13 and at most 20x30) gravitate towards the scanned MF shots - even though they are unaware of the differences in body and process.
  111. I startet my first tests with a Canon 5DII and an Apo-Rodagon-D1x (75mm).
    Hier is a photo made with my Mamiya7. I stitched 4 pictures and combined them with Photoshop. Regards Bruno
  112. Hi Everyone. I found some old threads about scanning 4x5 transparencies with an old Epson 3250. I purchased one on Ebay, but it came without the film holders. From these old threads some people mentioned that the film holders were crap and they just taped the transparencies to the glass. Is this possible? Will the scanner recognize the media without a film holder? If so, where does one tape the transparency? Any help would be appreciated. Luke

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