Looking for a high-end 45mm film scanner under $350

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by mohamedelsayyed, May 9, 2016.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I have always been having a problem digitizing film negatives, as I never get satisfying results. I used different types of consumer scanners and they are almost the same with quality.
    Now, I'm looking for a good a high-end film scanner (35mm) which I can depend on professionally. New or used. Up to $350. I usually buy from ebay or local stores in Ohio. So any suggestions?

  2. I'm not sure how much of a professional scanner you are going to get for $350. That is very much a consumer price.
  3. +1. High-end and cheap are a contradiction in terms BUT...
    this one isn't bad (I have the predecessor model 7600i SE).
  4. You can probably find a used Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED for about that price. Check eBay.
  5. If you have a digital camera which takes interchangeable lenses, you might consider using that in lieu of a scanner. A sensor with 24 MP will have enough resolution to digitize film without loss. The macro lens, extension tube and slide holder described below cost about $200 in total from KEH.com.
    For example, I'm using a Sony A7ii (24 MP) or A7Rii (42 MP) with an adapter for Nikon lenses. With that, I'm using a Nikon 55/2.8 Micro Nikkor with a Nikon PK13 extension tube to reach 1:1 magnification. A Nikon ES-1 slide holder screws into the lens (52 mm filter ring) and has a sliding tube to focus and straighten the slide. I use a daylight (5500K) LED desk lamp bulb, bounced off a white card to produce an even light source. Since the camera, lens and slide holder are in a rigid assembly, the shutter speed does not matter. I use ISO 400 and f/5.6 for optimum performance.
    I have a Nikon LS-4000 and LS-8000, but the camera produces better results and is 20x as fast. I have a strip holder for negatives that will fit in the ES-1 and center the film without scratching it. (The holder is currently out of reach, behind a radiator.) Negatives can be "scanned" with a camera by inverting the results in Photoshop and making a few color corrections to remove the excess blue color that remains.
    Color slide - digitized using a Sony A7Rii
  6. Which consumer scanners have you used before, and which software have you used with them?
    The consumer scanners as the Plustek David mentioned, or similar models, can get perfectly fine scans, but typically fare better with good software. And both Silverfast and VueScan do have a bit of a learning curve. And scans do need some post-processing.
    Given that your budget is inadequate to get something that is a real step up from consumer scanners, and that would be reliable enough for professional needs (excluding the big issue of not having any warranty in most cases), I'd look at alternative solutions, and software does have quite some impact.
  7. I'm getting great results from my older Minolta Scan Dual III which is a consumer grade scanner that does I think 2800 ppi. I can get very nice 16x20 prints from 35mm negs. I do use Vuescan pro and pscc for scanning and processing. You can see these images in my 70's folder.
  8. Glenn, thanks for your response. Yeah, the Nikon Coolscan 4000 is on my mind. Even though, It's hard to find one in a good condition. But I'm looking. :)
  9. David, thanks for your suggestion. I never seen that site before. It's interesting. :)
  10. Edward, thanks for your detailed informative response. The scanned picture you posted is great I think. The Sony A7Rii is an amazing camera too. I tried the DSLR scanning before, but it was a little bit complicated especially when scanning tons of negatives.
    I used to buy from KEH a lot. But a couple of years ago I purchased a used lens from them and found a tiny fungus on the rear glass of it. so I turned totally to ebay.
  11. Wouter, thanks for responding. Yeah, I agree with you. The software and the way using and setting it up is an important aspect to consider when scanning. It's not all about the technical ability. I used Vue scan most of the time. But always poor quality, low dynamic range, graininess, color distortion.... And I'm not a big fan of photo-editing. With digital photography I don't like photo manipulation, I think it kills photography. So when it comes to film (the old fashioned photography) I try my best to avoid digital altering. I know that the digitizing process itself has its own dark side with photo manipulation. But it's something I don't have much control over it.
    I think I will have to keep trying different ways/scanners. :)
  12. Steve, thanks for your response. I have just checked out your images. I think the results are great. It looked "classic" to me, good curves/contrast. But I'm not sure how they are gonna look like when enlarged at 100%
    Did you use a noise reduction filter with them? It seems to me like you did. :)
  13. Mohamed, I have Nikon Coolscan IV for sale. Similar to the 4000, but USB not Firewire. You would need to buy Vuescan or Silverfast since Nikon doesn't support scanners anymore
  14. Mohamed, I have printed up to 11x14 (inches) from scanned black and white negs, and the results are similar to darkroom prints, which I have been making since the 60's btw. I am testing printing at 16x20 inches, and judging by the quality of the full size images at 100%, I am expecting some very nice prints at that size too. Using Vuescan, you have to make sure you capture the full tonal range in the scan, then you can play with contrast later in ps. I also perform the same adjustments that you would do if using an enlarger, such as dodging and burning local areas, cropping, etc. Just because its scanned doesn't mean they don't require work! In the darkroom most prints need contrast adjustment and local adjustments too. I typically do not use noise reduction. I think I did with one image.
  15. Scanning "tons of negatives" is a job made for using a digital camera (The A7ii does perfectly well too). It is literally 20x as fast as using a dedicated film scanner, including the loading and unloading steps. I can scan five rolls of film in 20 minutes without breaking a sweat, faster yet once I get into the swing of it.
    There is no "Digital ICE" for dust mitigation. The solution is to clean each slide under a strong cross light, with a conductive brush and/or a blower or canned air. I do that for each slide, included in the "load" time described above.
    This is the setup I use...
  16. I'm not a big fan of photo-editing. With digital photography I don't like photo manipulation,...​
    Mohamed, there is a big difference between photo manipulation and editing. Any scan will need some brushing up - to get contrast/curve right, and most certainly a level of sharpening.This is the same kind of "manipulations" as done in the darkroom while printing. It's about getting the best result out of your negative - if you expect the scanner to do all of that for you, or in fact a DSLR, you will be deluded.
    I know that the digitizing process itself has its own dark side with photo manipulation. But it's something I don't have much control over it.​
    You can do a number of things directly in VueScan.If you feel you have no control over it, start learning VueScan a lot better. If you use the method Edward mentions, you will need to edit the raw files you get.
    I think I will have to keep trying different ways/scanners. :)
    You're going to waste a lot of time, effort and money. Not doing any of those things to your scans, they will always keep poor dynamic range, strange colours and so on. Scans need some editing to get them right, no way around it. Also when you get a Nikon or similar.
  17. The point was that you need to do an effort in software - be it the scanning software, be it afterwards - to get the best out of a scan. To the best of my memory (it's been a serious while), NikonScan is no different and does not get colours right all of the time either. I do not dispute the Nikon scanners are better, but if you dismiss consumer scanners because you do not want to use software to get the best out of your scanned negatives, then a better scanner is not going to be a miracle cure.
  18. Steve, getting a high quality 11x14in prints from neg-scanned process similar to darkroom enlargers! That would be more than enough for me. I wish I could achieve it myself. Maybe I am so inexperienced with the digitizing process. :) But what I saw in your 70s folder encourages me to get a scanner like yours.
  19. Edward, It still hard to me, that I have to move it frame-by-frame and hit the shutter. Then take it to computer for adjustments. You know what? I need something like 3in1 thing as possible. Besides I just own two digital cameras none of them as great as yours. Nikon D80 and D7000. They will never produce results like yours. :)
  20. Wouter, yeah. I meant that the editing is not my thing. I use it when necessary but I hate it. I know it's different to digitally alter the image and to fine-tune color/tones.

    I spent a lot of money already. And the best results I got were from a professional lab. And unfortunately, it's no longer available as they quit in 2011.
    I met a guy from Arizona, he made a scanner using a DSLR and added a motor to the negative holder to proceed the film forward automatically every 1/2 seconds after the shutter is released. I didn't see it, he just sent me a message about it. I have no idea if it's what I'm looking for?
  21. Les, yes, the Nikon coolscan 9000. It was in a lab and the results were great.
  22. Yeah, sure I know I have to use editing programs. I hate them but I use them. That's why I prefer to let a scanner do half of the job for me. Dodging and burning are something different to me. Maybe it's if I can call it "wet editing" is the PS grandpa and almost any editing software has its base/concept derived from it, but it's still not like it with pixles and artificial toning. The darkroom editing is natural. I love doing it.

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