Drum Scans 101

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by spanky, Apr 21, 2008.

  1. Hi Everyone,

    So tell me 'bout drum scans from negatives please. As I understand, the print
    quality of drum scanned neg cannot be surpassed since unless I'm mistaken, a
    drum scanned print will squeeze out every last bit of detail and resolution in
    a neg. I recall seeing some enormous prints at the Getty in LA that were shot
    on film with a medium format camera so I can only presume they too were drum
    scans given the floor to ceiling size. I have a recent shot on Pan F+ taken
    with my RZ67. It's sharp front to back, corner to corner with great detail. I
    do have a nice 16x20 traditional print I made of this neg, but I started
    thinking about a print several times bigger. So what can I expect quality wise
    and cost wise? I'm just shuddering at the thought of a mat and frame at such a


  2. Marc

    yep ... just take the neg (I assume its neg) to a good reprographics house and pay the $$$ ... that's all you need.

    learning scanning is almost an artisans work, so expect to spend a few months of serious learning
  3. As a drum scanner owner/operator, I would of course agree with your assessment of drum scanning ;-). It's hard to beat the quality of a drum scan, especially with greater than 8-10x enlargements. That said, they will not change the laws of physics for you -- if the detail isn't on the film, or the film isn't sharp, a good drum scan will show it.

    And of course, some drum scanners and their software do better with negatives than others. The much hyped and no longer in production Heidelberg Tango scanner comes to mind. The Tango appears to be fully optimized for tranny work and aimed at the old advertising and magazine markets. I've heard that the software doesn't make it easy to deal with negatives, and that the larger minimum aperture limits the scanner's sharpness and therefore its ability to dig the detail from your film. But it's a real favorite with pre-press houses because it was aimed squarely at them.

    For fine art work you'll be better served IMHO by one of the so called table top scanners like the Howteks, Optronics ColorGetters, ScanMates, Screens, etc. These scanners were designed to handle a larger range of work including negatives, and have smaller minimum apertures making them sharper machines. You'll also want an operator who has the aptitude for scanning negatives.

    To sum up then, I think you'll be best served by getting your film scanned by a working photographer using a scanner and software that was designed with negative scanning in mind. There are a number of these people out there but you'll have to look for them.
  4. Marc, a lot depends on the quality (the lab work..!) of the negs you want to scan... I would not go back to film because of issues involving labs which are not delivering the way they used to... Cost of scanning is relative to where U operate and what kind of access U have to service labs. Other than drum scanners certain Flextights, those with inherent diffusers, will produce excellent results.
  5. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    There are drum scanners, then there are drum scanners (and software) that handle color negs
    well. YMMV. A transparency isn't an issue, a color neg can be depending on the software
    driving the scanner and the skill of the operator.
  6. Here are a couple of places to send you negative for high quality drum scanning. In San
    Diego is Chrome.


    Or the excellent MSP Graphic Services in Cotati, Calif.

  7. Thanks for the input guys. I'll report back if I decide to go this route.

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