Please suggest a good film scanner

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by arka_sanyal, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. I'm using 35mm B/W film(Kodak Tri-X) for almost ten years and developing my own film for last three years. I used to get my negatives scanned from a local lab but since last december quality of scanning is deteriorating and price is getting hiked every month. Now, I think it is good time to get a scanner of my own to continue my film work. For exhibitions, I print in my darkroom but if I buy a scanner then I would like to scan my films in such a way that 20 inch by 30 inch prints could be obtained from the image files.
    One of my photographer friend suggested Plustek Optikfilm 7600i SE scanner and vuescan software. But then others told me to buy Nikon Super COOLSCAN LS-5000 ED. So, I'm very confused and need some help.
    Thanks in advance for your feedbacks.
    P.S - Now-a-days I use Nikon D700 for my colour work but have some old colour slides and negatives which I also want to scan.
  2. First, you study exotic science
    and develop your own time machine.
    You have two choices
    1-go way back buy Gold and resell it in 2011
    2-go back ten years and but a dedicated film scanner
    there is a real life option
    go to the epson site and buy an expson perfection V500 600 700 flatbed that does film.
    there si not much else left.
    for some mysterious reason deditated fil scanner manufacturers
    decided to get out of the business
    Nikon MAY or MAY NOT still make them
    but you may be able to swap your NICE car for one.
    ( muscle car convertibles preferred)
  3. Hi Arka, I own the Plustek 7500i and use vuescan, for b/w scan's I'm extremely satisfied with this setup. I also demo'd the Silverfast SE software that came with my plustek and found the interface and stability of the program to be very bad. Unfortunatly I would also say that I think it uses the scanner h/w better than vuescan and if you can master it I liked the output quite a bit.
    I'm not familiar with any other dedicated slide scanner's so I can't compare the Nikon but just like digital camera's it seems like you get what you pay for, in the Plustek for under $400 you get a pretty capable setup in my opinion.
    For color and slide scanning I have not been as happy, Fuji Velvia for example is my white whale of scanning... I just can't get it to hold shadow detail and natural colors with my setup. The new portra 400, and the fuji/kodak 200 cheap films do alright. If you are looking for some samples check out my FILM COLLECTION on Flickr, most are with the plustek though some are commercially scanned.
  4. For BW negatives, the best scanner ever made was the Minolta 5400 I. It uses a diffusion panel between the light source and the film, so that grain is reduced, yet the image is still tack sharp. LED light source scanners cast "grain shadows" as they use very concentrated point light sources, which is not good for BW film scanning. Find a 5400 I, they can be had for around $500 used now.
    Beware that the 5400II, as well as the Coolscans, use harsh LED light sources that will pick up and magnify every scratch and blemish in the negative, as well as exaggerate the grain. They then use software filters to try to blur this away. They are great scanners for color film, but not for BW.
  5. Well, I have an ancient (in computer years) Canoscan FS4000 which is very good in terms of the quality of the scans, but very slow (fast SCSI and USB1 are the choices). If you have an old computer with fast SCSI to run it, it does OK.
    Seriously, I wish (and have wished many times in the past years) that I had gone ahead and got the much faster Nikon dedicated scanners - the top, fast ones.
    If you can still find them, they're the best. Some of the best and latest of the multifunction scanners like the top-end Canoscans these days, do fine, but not so well as the Nikon actual film scanners, from what I have seen of them.
    Oh, if you build that time machine, just go back and give your earlier self a nice digital camera and supporting equipment.
  6. I have, and don't use very often, the earlier model Plustex 7500i scanner. When I do use it, I like the Silverfast software. I use most often a Nikon Coolscan 9000, also with Silverfast. The Coolscan is by far the best for color, but I will concede that the softer light on the Plustek is better for silver images. The problem with the Plustek is not the scan quality, which is quite good, but I prefer the automatic slide/frame feed on the Nikon that doesn't keep me at the computer "watching the grass grow". This can be a real factor.
    On the other hand, scanning old film just to get it cataloged digitally is really time consuming no matter what the scanner. I started using Scan Cafe instead of doing it myself. My new work, mostly medium format, is primarily done on the Coolscan 9000 with whole 120 rolls scanned on an Epson flatbed as 8x10 images for cataloging. The flatbed just isn't good enough for enlargements from 35mm. It is barely adequate for web presentation from medium format.
    The real problem with the Nikons is finding them, particularly new since Nikon seems to have discontinued all scanner production and new ones are selling for as much as twice the original price when you can find them.
  7. jdm the PCI adaptech cards work well in newer pc's and if you can adapt the
    small scsi posrt to the usual large scsi connectors on old scanners it will work.
    we did this until my wife bought a USB scanner.
    support for older pci and isa scsi "pnp" cards died when windows 2000 was introduced.
    I agree that the older scanners work well the older nikon 400 and the Minolta 5400
    But where to find one that has not either has not been abused or is on it's last legs.
    the other brands now available
    plustec and pacific Image
    have not been Discussed on PN.
    I wish they had.
  8. Nikon scanners are hella expensive now. Plustek is a reasonable alternative if you want to buy new. For used, I think
    the smart money is in Minolta - 90% of the Nikon performance for 10-20% of the price. Since you're talking about
    B&W, ICE is useless so a Minolta Dual IV would do well.
  9. Nothing is so expensive as a slow scanner, don't ask me how I know or I will tell you.
    Walter, thanks, but the only machine I have that will take PCI cards is the older computer that already has a fast SCSI card in it. Still, I will probably be buying another tower machine sometime in the future. I usually do it about every 10 years or so. I don't know how I could get SCSI on my new iMac, alas, but my office set up has the iMac now in front of me, and the old tower Mac behind me, so I just spin around in my chair when the 4000 scanner beeps that it has finished a batch, reload and repeat...("Step by step he scanned, slowly he turned.... --about 38,000 Kodachromes, ~160 GB).
  10. The best price/performance ratio I've found was with a Minolta Dimage Elite I purchased recently for $65 plus shipping. It is "only" 2800 ppi, but that gives me 8 MP scans from 35mm. It has Digital ICE which is a necessity for old slides that constitute much of my work. The major catch--you need a computer with a SCSI port. My G3 Mac is still plugging along.
  11. I have the KM dimag IV. It's fine for color negative and slides. It's not good enought for B&W. I think you're better off continue making your own prints in the darkroom.
  12. I found an Epson v750 on the Bay from a office liquidator company. I use it with Vuescan, and I absolutely love it. Mine came without trays, software, or the scanning targets, but I have made-do and was happy for the deal. (I mount my negs on anti-glare glass as a tray work-around)
    I whole-heatedly endorse the v700/v750 from Epson.
  13. I've recently made a switch back to film. I don't shoot professionally, and I don't do this for profit so take this what it's worth. I use an EOS 2000 or an AE-1Program for all my film. Sure, it doesn't have the amazing features of a new pro film SLR, but both of them expose accurately and get the shot. I shoot Neopan Pro 400, HP5, and Pan F 50 for B&W and Velvia 50, Velvia 100, and Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400 for color work.
    I process all my negatives and slides at a local shop and scan my own negatives to post. I use a Canon 5600F. It has a "back light" in the lid to light up the negatives and slides and scans from there. I scan at 1200 dpi for most of what I post online, 2400 or 4800 dpi for stuff I want to print out larger. These dpi settings are in Canon's software. I do notice that grain on old film is amplified a little but the newer B&W and color films have no major issues. Sometimes if a hair is on the negative/slide or if there is larger dust on the platen it'll show up in the scan but I'm not going for perfect myself. I wanna know this is film. Anyway ... my 5600F cost me $89 or so and shipping was free with Amazon Prime. It's compatible with a Mac and PC and has given me no trouble. It fits my needs. While it isn't dedicated or anything it does a decent job. I suppose it all depends on what you're trying to get out of the film when you scan it.
    Oh, before I forget, I import into Lightroom, tweak the TIFF file a little, and export full quality JPG's for the web and such.
  14. I shoot with the AE-1 Program and the EOS 1v and a few digital cameras. I scan all those hand developed negatives and Slides on the Canon 8800F flatbed with negative scanning abilities. For my 127 film I use Vue Scan Pro to scan those using the 8800F. The only thing I don't process at home are slides. B&W and C-41 I hand tank them.
  15. david_henderson


    Looking at the degree ofenlargement you say you want, a couple of things are clear. First that a consumer flatbed isn't likely to deliver it, and secondly the sorts of scans you get from develop and scan packages at labs aren't likely to do it either. To get that degree of enalrgement you need at minimum a 4000ppi scan on a real film scanner, and maybe more.
    But if you're used to scanning everything you take, you need to take a look at what you're doing with those scans. Most people don't print vast numbers of 20" x 30" prints. Unless you're the exception it might be best to own a flatbed scanner to scan everything at a std ok for screen or web-based applications, or proof prints, and get the smaller quantity where you actually need a 4000ppi or better scan made at a lab. using a Coolscan at minimum, better yet an Imacon or drum to support the degree of enlargement.
  16. The best price/performance ratio I've found was with a Minolta Dimage Elite I purchased recently for $65 plus shipping.​
    I've had that one too (full name for the model is Minolta Dimage Scan Elite F-2900, mine cost me $75 plus $10 for a SCSI card) and liked it quite a bit, but had to abandon it when I moved from an old Pentium 3 with SCSI to a mac mini without. Aside from the legacy connection hardware needed, I'd rate it as being slightly less sharp than the Polaroid SprintScan 35plus I tried before that (cost me $50 to buy used, no ICE & another model from the days of SCSI) and on par with my Canoscan FS4000US = same as JDM's. The latter cost me $200 and has the advantage of USB 1.0 but that's still slow and with mine I've never been able to get good results for some particular fujichrome slides even though they look entirely acceptable to the eye & other slides from the same roll come out fine.
    All of the foregoing use rigid negative/film carriers so you can't run an entire roll through them efficiently, the 35plus has the flimsies holders by far and needs you to manually move the carrier (no batch scan option at all), the F-2900 has motorized transport but requires that you flip the holder around (meaning only 3 images can be batched at a time) and the FS4000 can do the entire holder as a batch (6 images max).
    Because of my lack of success with some slides I've moved up now to a Nikon Coolscan IV aka LS-40 ED that cost me $275 and so far performs more consistently compared to the FS4000; it has a separate film roll loader that saves you some of the hassle & fingerprint hazard of fiddling with film holders (provided the film is not too curved from side to side), it can batch a maximum of 6 images. The film loader is really expensive by itself & the main challenge is to find an LS40 that comes with it while costing you less than $450.
  17. My success with the Canoscan FS4000 US in current use, is with Vuescan software, and it actually works better than it did with its own software. The SCSI is not fast, but much faster than the USB 1, so I just keep my old G4 Tower with a SCSI card for that and other lengthy processes where processor speed as such is not particularly relevant.
    I have mostly done negative film in the last few years, but the Canoscan is one of the best for Kodachrome, which most of my slides were. I spend a lot of time cleaning the slide or negative, and turn off "noise" reduction altogether and hand "spot" what gets through the cleaning. I've tried FARE and ICE and the others, and not found them very satisfactory if the highest image quality is your goal.
  18. Forgot to add: AFAIK the most informative site for film scanner reviews & specs is imaging-resource
  19. If you want to read a review comparing the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i and Nikon Coolscan 5000 you mentioned, you can go to the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i-Ai review at Luminous Landscape and download the full review (which is in PDF format). The reviewer thoroughly compares the Plustek 7600i, Nikon Coolscan 5000, and Epson V750.
    I bought a Plustek 7600i with the Silverfast Ai Studio software and Fujichrome E-6 IT-8 target for calibration. I bought it from B&H for around $430 (after an instant rebate). (Nikon Coolscan 5000s were being sold on Amazon at that time for $3000 or more.) I have been pleased so far with the results I have gotten.
    Another site that has a lot of scanner reviews is website. It is quite good, but I find them to be a bit too critical of Plustek scanners. Also, the Reflecta scanners they review are sold under the Pacific Image brand in North America.
  20. Interesting I found this thread because last week I bought the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite F-2900 from a friend for $50. As far as bang for buck it's the best way to go. It has excellent tonal range, sturdy film holders and ICE dust removal software built in. But as mentioned you're going to need a computer with SCSI card to run it, and SCSI is slow compared to any modern interface. Not to mention quirky; the device (scanner) has to be turned on BEFORE booting up the computer or it won't be recognized.
    Another older SCSI scanner I'd recommend is the Canoscan FS2710. Not quite as good as the Minolta, but close. The flatbed option is great for proofing or low rez web scans. But you'll NEVER get a decent 20 X 30 from 35mm negative out of those. The Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED is a beautiful machine and we have one at the College where I teach. However the used cost on those is going up to insane levels since it was discontinued. I guess Walter's idea of a Time Machine isn't so bad! But I think I'd go back to 1930s Germany and buy up early Leica & Contax cameras.....
  21. New scanner is available (although most of these attempts are failures):
  22. I hope Nikon releases a new Coolscan at one point. Maybe 6,000 dpi with usb3?
    They would sell a boatload of them.
  23. I just bought a canonscan 9000F and find it works very well, using the enclosed software which includes photoshop elements.
    Amazon has them for $175 including free shipping.
  24. i might add that, while the older models of canon scanner may have been slow, this is very quick and I like that it can scan 120 and 35, and does 12 frames of 35 at once, and scans each frame of either format individually, so you don't get one frame underexposed because the rest were too dense, or something. The scanner is either automatic or you can set the settings manually.
    Anyway, a HUGE improvement over the minolta product I had before, which was very old anyway.
  25. I use the Epson V700. The negative must be, or made to be, reasonably flat. Therefore, for medium format scans (perhaps 35mm also) I highly recommend the medium format negative carrier and Anti-Newton Ring Glass Insert from There is a thread which demonstrates the Nikon 9000 scanner with and without the ANR glass inserts. I hear/read that the Nikon Coolscan is surperior to the V700 but alas Nikon Coolscan has been discontinued. Attaching example of scanned negative (right panel) and same negative after flattening (left panel)
  26. P.S. The apparent distortion in the image above is an artifact and disappears in photoshop when view in "acutal pixels".
  27. I'm surprised that people are recommending the Plustek as this review clearly shows its inherently low optical resolution (3250dpi). In comparison, the true optical resolution of the Nikon LS-9000 was measured to be 3900dpi while that of the Flextight X5 (at highest resolution 35mm scanning mode) was measured to be 6900dpi. Mauro Franic & I have already shown in the past that even the 3900dpi of Nikon scanners isn't enough to recover all the detail in Velvia film, with a Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 recovering more detail out of the Velvia slide than the Nikon (not to mention the Flextight). If you don't believe there's any advantage to scanning beyond 3900ppi (or less), I would point you to ScanDig's excellent comparison between the Flextight X5 & the LS-9000:
    Note: photo taken from
    Plustek had the right idea in some ways: including the IT8 calibration target is definitely a step in the right direction. But their low optical resolution & most of these scanner's inability to deal with the non-flat nature of film makes all of them suboptimal choices. The Flextights at least solve the film flatness while maintaining high resolution; however, IMHO, their harsh light source leads exaggeration of pepper grain & other film defects. And their prices are outrageous.
    So my best-compromise suggestion is to use a LS-9000 (quite soft light source) with Anti-Newton glass to flatten film. I myself have built modifications to get even better (flatten film + higher resolution than Nikon) scans out of my Minolta DSE 5400 & have toyed with building a new scanner from scratch... perhaps a Kickstarter project is in the near future once I'm finished with school (if there's enough interest).
  28. LOL Arka, just saw we have the same last name. Funny :)
    Seriously, those telling you to build a time machine: no joke. For your purposes the Minolta DSE 5400 I have would really serve you well, as it has a softer CCFL light source which is better for B&W film. And higher resolution than Nikon scanners. So for 35mm, it can't be beat. However, it's depth-of-focus is so poor that you'll shoot yourself trying to get scans in focus from edge to edge. That's why I was suggesting the LS-9000 w/ Anti-Newton glass (you can order from Mike at Focal Point: It's already soft light source helps reduce the texture induced by the AN glass.
    So, like I said before, short of a newer, reasonably priced, scanner being introduced into the market, that's probably your best bet.
  29. Rishi, do you have anything written up on your methods with the Minolta 5400?
    Also, I don't think that Plustek 7600 vs. Nikon LS-9000 is a very fair comparison. The Plustek is a few hundred dollars, the Nikon is a few thousand. 3250 PPI at that price is respectable.
  30. Apologies for the delay in replying, Andy. I don't have anything written up on the Minolta 5400 yet, unfortunately. To make a long story short, though, I built a new holder for it & modified the light source. I intend to make a detailed blog post on this soon...
    I actually believe these desktop scanners (with proper modifications, like AN glass with the LS-9000) to be superior to the Imacon in certain respects because:
    1. IR dust removal is essential to me; scans from a Flextight are gratuitously tedious to clean up.
    2. Since the film is not being bent around a drum, multiple scans are much more easily overlaid to get greater dynamic range (of course, only important for scans of slides). Multiple scans of the same frame of film at different 'Adaptive Light' settings on the Imacon (which doesn't even do that much anyway, IMHO) are pretty hard to overlay, even with good alignment software, due to distortions in the film being different from scan to scan as it is bent around the drum.
    But of course the Imacons do have outstanding resolution, & you don't have to worry about portions of the film not being flat & being scanned out of focus.
  31. I'd be very interested in seeing the mods.
  32. Unfortunately, my Nikon 35mm Coolscan LS-50, after 4 years of exellent results, got broken, and up to now I don't know if the Italian Nikon dealer will be able to fix it because they say it is out of production for a long time, and this will be very bad because I have to scan a large amount of 35mm film stripes (mostly B/W) that sometimes are very old, like 50'-60'. Here in Italy there are almost no chances for reliable used scanners, and therefore I have to go for a new one, if they will tell me that they cannot fix it.
    I have an Epson flatbed V series and worked some trials, but the results are not only far worse than the Coolscan's but also than what I need (I think that no flatbes might meet my needs), and therefore I started to take a look to what might be available on the market.
    After having read comments / suggestions in several forums, it looks to me that the best alternatives (in the price range of <500Euros) might be Plustek 7400/7600i or Reflecta CrystalScan 7200/RPS 7200, where differences might really be in the feeding of the stripes (very often seriously bent) and not "good looking" plastic slide adapters.
    Please, any comment / suggestion is welcome.
    Mauro Caroti
  33. Committing your prized film to the digital domain forever is one of the most important things you will ever do. With proper storage your digital scans can be enjoyed virtually forever by future generations. I invested in a good Nikon scanner and took several years to scan all of my (and my parent's) slides. I now have probably 10,000 scans to pass on to my offspring! I learned a few things along the way. Why oh why would you spend a ton of money on a good camera, pro-level glass, a carbon tripod, the money of film development and then cheap out on the scanning? A flatbed or cheap scanner will never extract all of the information from your film. Pry open the wallet and get a Nikon or better scanner with ICE (very important). Scan using Vuescan at maximum resolution and save uncompressed TIFs to at least two multi-Terrabyte storage devices. Take your time and realize that you are embarking on a long term project. Your time is valuable, do it right, do it once. Oh and when finished you will find that your expensive scanner has held much of its value on eBay!
  34. Oh and when finished you will find that your expensive scanner has held much of its value on eBay!​
    If not increased in value ;)
  35. My fear is that I'll spend all that money on a Nikon Super Coolscan 9000ED, and by the time I finish my project someone will have made one of equal or better quality with usb3 or thunderbolt interface at an equal or better price. Then I will be able to get only half or so of what I paid for it when I resell.
  36. Er, I don't think the film scanner market is exactly rife with opportunity at the current moment. I really don't foresee some company actually coming out with a high end scanner with great new tech, film flatness problems solved, etc., at a great price point, any time soon.
    Although I would absolutely be thrilled to be proven wrong :)
  37. This one, Plustek 120 (for 135 and 120 films), is around the corner, but got delayed again and again:

    The spec. looks good but may fall short of people's expectation comparing to the old great Nikon's. But it's a brand new model, so some hope in the film scanner market.
  38. Yes, I'm curious to see how that model's edge-to-edge performance is given that it is fixed focus. In today's world of high performance dSLRs, anything less than Imacon/Hasseblad-esque performance for maintaining focus across the frame is less than acceptable (imagine a dSLR consistently producing images out of focus on its sides!).
    I'm also curious as to how the scanner will handle dense slide film. We won't know until rigorous dynamic range/Dmax tests are performed.

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