Dedicated film scanner for 35mm b&w film_Mac friendly

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by andrew_horodysky|1, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. Hello all,

    Reading online reviews (paid sponsored or otherwise) about currently available 35mm film scanners has created more confusion for me than anything else. I don't know which reviewers are actual users and practitioners, and consumer reviewers are all over the place.

    I primarily photograph with Tri-X 400 (EI 200 to 800) and FP4+. Developers are D76 and XTOL. Computer is MacBook Pro (2016). Usage will be primarily web-based (blogs), and not for print/enlarging purposes. For post-processing fine-tuning and sizing, are either Lightroom or Photoshop preferable? Photoshop seems like overkill, for me.

    I'd like to hear your experiences with and recommendations for scanner and software.

    Thanks much,

  2. Several of us (who are on the Classic Manual Cameras forum) use Epson flatbed scanners with the negative holder. I use the Epson V600. You might look at some of the postings as some of them used Epson scanners. Obviously a dedicated negative scanner is better, but it's difficult to tell from images posted online. Some of the participants might tell if they use Lightroom or Photoshop.
    bgelfand likes this.
  3. Any flat bed film (transparency) scanner will work well enough for publishing on the web. Epson scanners have the best software, IMO, but you can work with HP and others nearly as well.

    If you wan't to print your results, you need something with more resolution. Regardless of their specifications, flatbed scanners seldom do better than 1500 lp/in, about right for a postcard sized print. A Nikon film scanner, LS-4000 or LS-5000, is arguably the best bang for the buck. At 4000 lp/in, you can get a good 12x18 print, or larger depending on the subject. Nikon hasn't made scanners in several years, nor updated their software. You will need third party software in most cases. Vuescan and Silverfast are both good products for both Mac and PC.

    You can get results comparable to a Nikon scanner using a 24 MP digital camera with a 1:1 Macro lens and a Nikon ES-2 film holder. It takes about 2 minutes per frame to scan using an LS-4000, whereas you can scan 5-8 rolls per hour with a digital camera.
    Dave Luttmann likes this.
  4. All dedicated film scanners are slow compared to a flatbed, but the quality is superior.

    I was quite happy with the performance of my Primefilm (Pacific Image) 35mm scanner, but it's now been supplanted by a digital camera copying setup that gets the job done quicker. However, for negatives there's some afterwork to be done unless you import the result into Vuescan.

    The post-processing is what takes the most time anyway, because you rarely get a completely satisfactory picture (as opposed to just an image) from automated software.

    FWIW. Here's a comparison between my Primfilm scanner and a 24 megapixel digital camera copy. From a colour negative.

    Truthfully, I can't remember which is which now. Top is camera copy..... I think.

    I've also got a film-capable Canon flatbed that I only use for medium and large format scanning. For web-size images from 35mm, it would be fine as well.

    Oh, nearly forgot. I use an old - stand alone, non-cloud - version of Photoshop for most of my post-processing. Although the free GIMP can do much the same and with almost no difference in the result.
  5. I’ll second what Ed said here. The most you’ll pull from a V600 and 35mm is around 8mp of info. The grain won’t render that well either. It is fine for possibly and
    8x10 print...but next to the same print side from a Nikon 5000 or even a Plustek 8100 for’ll see the benefits of the extra Rez and dynamic range.
  6. It seems this topic recurs endlessly, but there are always tidbits that add to the community knowledge. I hate to tout dedicated film scanners, because the train passed that station five+ years ago. You have to settle for low quality substitutes or expensive used gear and obsolete software to run them. Moreover film holders for MF scanners are harder to find than the scanners themselves, and nearly as expensive, at least in asking price. I could probably send a grandchild to Harvard for two weeks on the proceeds were I to sell my LS-8000 and complete set of holders.

    Few people are going to invest in equipment and facilities to process color prints (film is easy, if you can find chemicals). To share their work, most will rely in the internet or an inkjet printer, both digital. The good news is that digital rendering of film still looks like film, and possibly better.

    I recommend "scanning" film with a digital camera because it is cheaper than a film scanner, produces better results than a flatbed, and is much faster than either. Furthermore, the same gear can be used for other purposes, to wit, taking digital photos. Ancillary issues include how to hold the film, dealing with film strips, sizes other than 35 mm, and the big bugaboo - how to render negative film convincingly. If it takes a long time to set up equipment and fiddle with alignment, you probably won't do it very often.

    It's all in the details. That's why so many people have taken the time to share their experience in
    Dave Luttmann and Glenn McCreery like this.
  7. Given the requirements and limits you stated in your original post that:

    1) You will be scanning 35mm black and white negatives

    2) The scans are used online only to illustrate Blogs and are not printed.

    I agree with Mike and Ed (above); an Epson V600 would be a very good choice. Not only will you have a means to scan film but also the ability to scan documents, and, coupled with a printer, a copier for everyday use at home. I find that very handy.

    For software Photoshop Elements will more than suffice, since I assume you will mostly be cropping, modifying exposure and contrast, and spotting the finished images. Elements also come with a very nice Organizer for keeping track of images. If you ever do need to move up to Lightroom, Lightroom imports the Organizer data, especially the keywords, into Lightroom Library. No muss, no fuss.
  8. I think there are a few misconceptions about flatbed scanners.

    I have an Epson V-850 PRO which I like very much, even for 35mm films, and even for printing those 35 mm negatives up to 18-20 inches, and more.

    But there are a few things this scanner will NOT do:
    • This scanner will not go back in time and retrospectively put on a tripod the film camera you had at the time of the picture 30 or 40 years ago;
    • This scanner will not go back in time and retrospectively install a 4 or 5 stops stabilizer in the lens or film camera body you had at the time;
    • This scanner will not go back in time and retrospectively install a 45 focusing points in that film camera, of which half of these would have been cross-type focusing points;
    • This scanner will not go back in time and retrospectively put a contrast detection focusing system in that same old camera.
    No, the Epson V850 will not retrospectively do any of these things.

    But with well focused pictures from a sharp negatives or transparencies, the results will be outstanding, let alone for web-bases blogs.

    Mark Segal has done a very thorough review of this scanner and I recommend everyone interested in such a scanner to read his paper, especially his 89 pages analysis.

    Thank you.
  9. Here are a couple of 35mm Tri-X scanned with an Epson V600 which should fit your needs for the web. I use Lightroom for post processing.
    B/W Film 35mm

    If you start using medium format, the V600 would fit your needs as well.
    BW Film - MF

    I use mine with Windows operating system (Dell). Check with others or Epson as to its use with Macbook.

Share This Page