Drum Scanner - Used - Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by shadows dancing, Jun 22, 2005.

  1. I am getting back into photography after several years of absence.
    I'm very familiar with the digital domain (developed computer
    graphics and 3-D software on the Silicon Graphics platform for 12

    I have over a thousand 4x5 chromes and B/W negatives along with
    hundreds of 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 images that I've taken all over the world
    to digitize/scan. Landscape content primarily.

    Cost of having this done is obviously prohibitive SO I'll just buy a
    PMT drum scanner and do it myself.

    I would appreciate your suggestions and guidance in defining the top
    one or two PMT drum scanners to consider for fine art photo.

    Primary Considerations: Quality of scan - this is paramount as I
    plan to pursue the fine art market with large prints of unmatched
    quality; Ability to keep it operational - service and parts
    available at reasonable cost.

    I have previously written SGI drivers for the Howtek drum scanner,
    Nikon, Sharp and the Leaf scanners and I am seeking a level of
    quality SUBSTANTIALLY above this level of scanners.

    FYI - I have looked at Imacon 848 and found the shadow detail
    lacking and not meeting my needs - concluded that a true PMT scanner
    is essential.

    Scanner will be for my personal use and not as a service bureau.
    Cost level I would like to keep the unit at or below is $12,000 -
    $15,000. The fewer $$'s the better.

    I'm seeing Isomet scanners for under $3,000 but I'm finding that
    parts and service are almost impossible to find.

    I'm also considering a refurb'd ICG or Screen.

    Your guidance and experience are sincerely appreciated.
  2. I had and sold on two seperate occassions ICG scanners. Both
    were as good as the Heidelberg tango. The only problem with
    the tango scanner is that to get service you have to buy a service
    contract on a yearly basis. ICG has a great service tech in PA that
    provides exceptional service, either in your home or via phone.
    Whatever scanner you choose make sure you can get
    reasonablly affordable service and support. I paid $6,000 for and
    ICG 360 scanner and an additional $2,000 for software
    upgrades, in home service and training.. I had little time to use it
    because of my work and sold it, which I now regret. I have a
    nikon coolscan 9000, which does a great job but is very slow
    and limited to 35mm and 6X9 formats. Older drum scanner may
    not work with the new G5 Apple computers, and some won't
    work with Windows operating systems, something else to keep
    in mind.
  3. AFAIK, there are only three makes of drum scanners still in production (including parts and service). Those are Aztek (Howtek), ICG, and Screen. Of these, it's very difficult to tell about Screen, but I've heard they still sell scanners, parts, and service.

    If all you have is trannies, then most any drum scanner will do because all the software can handle trannies. When it comes to negatives, you need software that handles them well. That would point you directly at Aztek (of these three) because of their DPL software.

    If you are willing to take a more risky route (that is, more difficult parts and service), I can vouch for the Optronics ColorGetters. The software is still available from ColorByte (that is, ColorRight Pro 2.0) and it works beautifully for negatives (color and B&W) as well as trannies. But you are going to have to fix it yourself, and search around for parts (but at the going rate, you can buy two and use one for a parts box ;-). Thankfully, they are build like tanks and don't fail very often!

    You can find more answers and some support from this yahoo group:


    For the numbers you are talking, I think your best bet right now would be a refurbed Aztek 6500 and DPL software. Of course, YMMV.

    The reason I wouldn't recommend a Tango (sorry QT, and I already know I'm a heretic ;-) is that its smallest aperture is 11 microns IIRC, and its software makes it difficult to deal with negatives (so I'm told). Since you are going to make "large" prints from medium format negatives, I think you'd want the increased sharpness from a minimum aperture of 6 microns such as a ColorGetter or the mid-range Aztek (assuming you want to maximize print sharpness) and the easier to use software if you are going to do this yourself.
  4. My ICG and all ICG scanner have software that scans negatives.
    I scanned several B+W medium format negatives and the
    results were great. I would avoid aztec scanners. If you could find
    and ICG scanner that would be the one I would recommend. You
    can always talk to the service technician in PA regarding your
    scanning needs and which of the ICG scanners would be best
    for you.
  5. Thanks for the suggestion received to date.
    At this moment, I'm leaning toward a used Screen 1045ai PMT scanner.
    Anyone using this unit, I would certainly appreciate your comments.
  6. I have a Screen 1045ai. I mostly like it. At least some parts are still available (as of about a
    year ago, mine was improperly packed and had some shipping damage). Find out where
    your service provider is located before you buy--paying for 5 hours roundtrip drivetime
    from Ontario to San Diego was NOT my idea of a good time.

    I think I got the Photoshop plug-in to run under 9.2, but the scanner is slow enough one-
    at-a-time was incredibly unappealing.

    The batch utility I'm running on OS 8.1. I've verified that it runs on nothing after that, but
    I'm not sure about 7.5.5 and 8.0. 8.1 is much better as it was the debut of HFS+. OS 8.1
    means you're limited to a beige G3 (266 mhz). The computer limitation isn't that big a deal
    because the scanner is slow enough it's not remotely limited by host CPU speed, and you
    don't want it tying up your main computer anyway.

    The negative kit was an option, but it was just a software item. Inverting and de-masking
    are trivial and work well. The spec resolution is 8000, but even on a Tech Pan res chart
    that I knew resolved more anything past 6000 seemed fruitless.

    The big limitation on this scanner is that it can only scan 16,000 x 16,000 pixels--so if
    you want to go past 3200dpi on 4x5 or 4800dpi on 6x9 you'll need to scan in chunks.
    Which isn't as big a deal as it seems--unlike CCD scanners you don't have registration,
    rotation, edge-of-field lens performance and other vexing issues for stiching. The two or
    four parts slide together effortlessly in Photoshop.

    Given your driver-writing past, I would be very interested if you came up with a break-
    the-16k-barrier fix.

    FWIW I paid $2000ish on ebay, and another $1,000 to fix the shipping damage (they
    hadn't secured the head--although they carefully packed the needed bracket in a separate
    box--and it broke its cable and then flew back and forth taking out the stop and limit
  7. HELLO.



  8. Roger:
    You write that you cannot make the batch function work in OS later than 8.1, I make it run
    on OS 9.2.2 with no problems. What SCSI card are you using? I am using Adaptec 2906,
    the Adaptec 2930 is as far as I know recommended for batch scanning.
    Me too is a bit frustrated over the 16K pixel limit, but some guys in the 1045 Yahoo-
    group has been in contact with Lasersoft to develop a version of Silverfast supporting the
    1045. That would be neat, but I doubt that it will happen.

    If you still dont have the software to your 1045ai, mail me at eirik at f45 dot no and we
    will work it out.

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