Polaroid Sprintscan 45 Ultras for cheap...

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by audidudi, Jul 23, 2003.

  1. The following is a public service announcement for anyone wishing to
    scan 4x5s at home without spending a lot of money...

    Polaroid has discontinued their line of scanners and as a result, you
    can buy a new-in-the-box Sprintscan 45 Ultra, which is a multi-format
    film scanner capable of scanning 4x5 at 2571ppi as well as MF and
    35mm, on eBay and elsewhere for as little as $600 plus shipping. This
    is a fraction of its original list price ($7495), ~30% of what they
    were selling for a year ago, and ~50% of what they were selling for
    just a few months ago.

    Expensive though it once was, this scanner is not perfect, but it's
    been my
    experience that with careful setup, it'll outperform any other scanner
    in this price range. If you're considering buying an Epson 3200 or
    some such in the near future, then you might want to check out this
    scanner before they're all gone...
  2. Right now there's only one on sale, and it's $700.
  3. In the past week, 8 new-in-the-box Sprintscan 45Us have been sold on eBay by various sellers: 1 @ $699.95; 1 @ $690.00; 1 @ $650.00; 3 @ $639.95, and 2 @ $600.00. The one that Bill refers is offered by the same outfit I bought mine (for $600.00) and if my experience dealing with them holds true, they might be willing to end the auction early and sell it for $650.00 instead of their buy-it-now-price of $700 ... at least that's what happened in my case (and it was they who approached me, not vice-versa).
  4. I've looked up most of the threads on both printers, but am puzzled why someone would choose the Polaroid over the Epson 3200? The dMax (which people seem to grab onto) isn't that different (3.4 v 3.8), and the Epson has higher dpi. I don't know much about scanners - I have scanned text and photos, only a few 35mm negs - so am curious why people prefer this to the Epson.
    Most of the threads discussing the Polaroid are pre-Epson 3200.
  5. Specs aren't everything, Richard, and especially not the specs claimed by scanner manufacturers. Although perhaps not as optimistic as the specs claimed by manufacturers of car stereo amplifiers back in the '80s, they're not very far behind...

    As for comparing the performance of the Sprintscan 45 Ultra with that of the Epson 3200, I'm afraid I can't help you there because I have no experience with the newest Epson. However, I can say that when I compared 6x6 scans from the Epson 2450 to those from my Minolta Scan-Multi (using Vuescan software), there was no comparison ... except for file size, the Minolta scans were superior in every respect.

    Regarding the Sprintscan's low profile, I suspect a lot of that has to do with its price -- as I pointed out, the original list was $7495 -- and Polaroid's failure to achieve a significant presence in the high-end CCD film scanner marketplace rather than the actual performance of the scanners. That said, the original unit -- Sprintscan 45 -- _was_ pretty much a dog and while its replacement -- Sprintscan 45i -- was much better in many respects, it still had more noise in the shadow areas than most of its competitors and (IMO) lacked the last little bit of resolution. Although I have only minimal experience with the latest and final version -- Sprintscan 45 Ultra -- it appears to perform significantly better than the 45i that I'm replacing. However, it's still too much too early for me to offer any definitive opinions about its performance.

    If you shoot 4x5, your scanner budget reaches only to $600 (or $700, as per Bill's comments above), you don't want to buy a used scanner, and you're not scared away by the Sprintscan 45 Ultra's discontinued status, then you might wish to consider it along with the handful of other scanners in this price range. However, if some or all of the above caveats aren't true for you, then perhaps you'd do better to buy some other scanner instead...
  6. There's a preoccupation in judging equipment by its pixel count and forgetting about other factors such as optics and focussing ability. The cheap epsons will not have the optics of the polaroid. I use a 1680 pro and even oil mounting on the platen it is still too soft for me. Less pixels than the cheaper epsons but better optics/noise. I get sharper scans on my 35mm film scanner than I do scanning mf of the epson. A sharp 2500ppi scan is of more use than a soft 3200ppi scan IMO
  7. There's an article in this month's view camera by George DeWolfe on scanners which, among others, compares the Polaroid 45 Ultra and the Epson 3200 for scanning 4x5. The direct comparison between these two isn't really that detailed, but my take on his bottom line is that, although the Polaroid is somewhat sharper, the difference in practical terms is pretty small.
  8. I bought one 3 or 4 years ago for $7000. Ouch!
  9. Does it come with negative holders for the different film sizes, or do they have to be bought extra? (I note that B&H has a glass one for the 4x5 listed at about $250.)
  10. All kinds of SCSI scanners are cheap these days. A rebuilt Leafscan can be had for $1500 from leafstuff.com (less for an unrebuilt one on eBay, but shipping isn't cheap).

    I recently bought an Agfa Duoscan (flatbed) to scan 8x10" negs & transparencies for the web for $100.

    In fact, anything SCSI is cheap on eBay. I recently added two 2Gb Jaz drives for $30 each and was able to find new Jaz disks in the original shrink wrap for $10 or less.
  11. I hate the thought of spending $700 on E-bay, and since I have zero E-bay transactions, I'm sure an honest dealer hates the thought of selling a $700 item to me. Are there any "real" stores (online or otherwise) that sell the Polaroid scanner at significant discounts? It does sound intriguing.
  12. Brian, in digital darkroom forum there is a post on how to get cheap Microtek counterpart.
  13. Yes, Bill, it comes with film holders: 35mm, 6x6, 6x7 and 4x5. As I understand it, the optional glass-carrier comes with masks that allow you to scan a few other formats as well, although I don't know which ones. If you need to scan 6x9, it wouldn't be too difficult to modify either the 6x6 or 6x7 holder accordingly but the modifications would be permanent (you'll need to enlarge the opening) and will prevent you from using the modified holder to scan the original format. I don't know whether Polaroid will sell you just one of the film holders these days but I do know that when a friend tried to buy one a few years ago, Polaroid would only sell him a complete set of holders for something like $200.

    And David, you're right about SCSI devices selling for pennies-on-the-dollar these days. Insofar as Leaf scanners are concerned, though, I believe that for Windows users, the Leafscan 45 uses a GPIB connection and only delivers 8-bit files, both of which are pretty serious limitations. Not to mention the fact that they're incredibly slow (Still, if you're scanning only B&W negs, they have some useful features not found on so-called "modern" scanners).

    One other nice thing about the Sprintscan 45 series scanners is that they're all supported by Vuescan, which means I haven't had to learn how to use any new software in the past three years, despite changing scanner brands/models three times. Since knowing how to optimally tweak the software is, IMO, responsible for at least half the quality of the final scan, this is another big plus in the Sprintscan 45 Ultra's favor. :^)
  14. The GBIP Leafscan 45 was replaced by a SCSI version that works in Windows as long as you have a SCSI card. I'd be surprised if it doesn't support 16-bit files, but if true, that would be a serious limitation.
  15. Sorry, David, but there was no SCSI driver ever written for the Windows version, just GPIB. While the Mac versions could output 16-bit files, the Windows version a friend owned several years ago would output only 8-bit files. :^(
  16. Hi,

    the offered sprintscan ultra's come only with Polaroid's software, is there a way to get Silverfast at reasonable cost, or is Vuescan a suitable alternative ?

    Sorry for my beginner's question.


  17. Jeffrey--I checked back at leafstuff.com, and it looks like you're right. Nonetheless, it might be worth picking up a used mac just to run the scanner at that price.
  18. Joerg, I know nothing about Silverfast -- well, actually, I tried it a few years ago and found it more complicated than I wanted to learn and more expensive than I was willing to pay -- but one advantage Vuescan has over other software, particularly Silverfast, is that one version fits all. In other words, so long as your new scanner is supported, then it will work with the Vuescan software you've already installed. In my case, this means that I have been able to use the same software with my Microtek 35t+, Minolta Scan-Multi, and Polaroid Sprintscan 45i.

    As for the learning curve with Vuescan, as with most programs, it does take some time to master. However, having taken the time to "master" it four years ago, I've had the luxury of only having to learn how to use the occasional new features instead of starting from scratch with each new scanner. Combined with the price -- I bought it when it was being offered with free lifetime upgrades -- it's hard to beat if you put the quality of the scans above ease of use.
  19. its really not a bad scanner, although it has some weak points .you will be able to reach professional results, at least from chromes and 4x5". i was working nearly 2 years with this scanner, finally i replaced it with a drum scanner. i made a lot of comparations to other scanners before i replaced it. the difference to an imacon 646 is not that great as you would imagine if you look at the price of the polaroid. and there is NO comparation to flatbeds as the epson,- the polaroid is a professional scanner in some aspects,- the epson not at all. and the dpi of 3200 of the epson seems to be a pure invention,- the polaroid reachs around 2000 which is not bad for 4x5".....more you wont need mostly. problem are some hi density parts in negatives. the color reproduction is not pure neutral,- but this problem every ccd scanner has if you look serious to neutral grey tones.
  20. Just got the Ultra, beat the sh*t out of epson flatbeds. The deal is so sweet my wife said I LOL even when I was sleeping.
  21. I tried to post this yesterday.... so if it comes up twice... it is because I am new
    to posting... though Aarons note says it all

    I am one of the folks who bought a Polaroid 45ultra on ebay from
    equipme.com and I am very happy with both the machine and the help they
    gave me. I bought two 3200... and sent them back.

    the 3200 is a great general machine... if you want web images, 8x10 prints or
    to use it to proof negatives ect you will be quite happy with it. If you think you
    will get an optical 3200ppi forget about it. I used an USAF 1951 Precision
    Reticle and found that even half that was a generous rating, and the edges
    are always soft with a slight halo effect. When I talked to epson about it not
    quite living up to its specs they had me switch from silverfast to the epson
    program... which was a mistake... the silverfast scans were much cleaner and
    sharper... the noise in smooth tones became quite apparent.

    After having sent back two 3200 I was set to be disappointed with the
    45Ultra... instead I found it met specs... and gave beautiful scans. I’ve only
    used the test version silverfast will they let you down load. So I may be faced
    with the silverfast dilemma... of buying a program that costs more than the

    My goal was to print beautiful 24”x30” prints from 4x5 negatives. I work with
    pyro and other developers and my black and white negs are all over the
    place. My theory was: that I could do as well on a good machine with extra
    time and attention as a technician would do on a better machine... also I
    wanted the pyro stain... which is a spectrum of colors depending on the film
    and how I developed the negs. And I have hundreds of negs I would like to
    try and print.

    I have only just started to work with the scanner ... a babe in the digital
    woods... but I have blown sections of scanned images to the equivalent of 3 ft
    and 6 ft prints and printed them with a 1280... the 3 foot tests are incredible...
    the 6 ft prints will need work/ but have potential... or perhaps exceeded the
    limits for the 45ultra.

    A couple of people have noted that the 45ultra has an aftermarket film
    holder.... this unit is a professional holder... and is much better made than the
    stock unit that comes with it... it has been machine cut rather than punched
    out... it has both glass and metal holders. If you want the 45ultra to perform at
    its optimum it is something you will need to get. Also because there are glass
    holders one has the option of using either the prazio or Kami mounting oils
    which should give a slight improvement of scans.

    Photography is often about limits... limits for equipment... for time... for money.
    Digital printers and programs dump excess information. If you work with small
    prints you would be pressed to see the difference between the 3200 and the
    ultra45 on a 4x5 scan... the 3200 is also faster and easier to use in every
    way, but as your prints became both larger and more refined you would
    begin to see a difference. My bet is I can match a 24”x 36” epson print from
    the 45ultra to a print from a drum scanned negative from a service... a 30"
    X36" print probably not.
  22. Well, it's a good thing I bought mine when I did as it appears the demand for these scanners has driven the eBay prices back up from $600 to $1000, with a buy-it-now price of $1150. While not nearly as great a deal as it was a week ago at $600, it's still a pretty good deal given the scanner's performance...
  23. I got an email or two for folks trying to contact the source for my scanner the
    email address is Equipme@aol.com... he has the scanner that is on ebay
    now... also note his 100% ebay rating... he really was great to deal with
  24. I have just picked up one of the Polaroid 45 ultras that are being dumped on
    Ebay. Unfortunately B&H has sold out of the glass holders. Does anyone
    know of where I might be able to source glass holders for the Ultra. Thanks
  25. What is the differance between a Sprintscan 45 and 45 Ultra?
    I found a Sprintscan 45 in good condition for 500.00, is that to much or would I be better off with a Epson 3200. I plan to do a mix of 35, mf and 4x5. I am on a budget so 500.00 is the max I can spend on a scanner.


  26. Daniel: I've searched all over for someone with a glass film holder in stock but have come up empty so far. If you track one down -- or rather, _two_ down, since I presume you'll take the first one -- then please let me know.

    David: The Sprintscan 45 was the first generation version of this scanner and is generally regarded by most people as something of a "dog," performance-wise. The Sprintscan 45i was the second generation version and was much improved compared to the Sprintscan 45 but, IMO, still somewhat less than a stellar performer (specifically, too much noise in the shadows, which is manifested as multi-colored banding ... at least, this is the case with my sample). The third and final version is the Sprintscan 45 Ultra, which was the original subject of this thread. Not only does it scan at 2500ppi versus 2000ppi, its electronics are 14-bit instead of 12-bit (which means there's less padding in the 16-bit files it outputs) and based upon my limited experience with it so far, its performance is head-and-shoulders above the Sprintscan 45i it replaced.

    As far as pricing goes, $500 for the original Sprintscan 45 strikes me as too much. I know of one that sold locally within the past year for just $125 and I paid only $250 for my Sprintscan 45i a few months ago. In other words, if circumstances limit you to the original 45, then you should try to negotiate a better price with the seller; if you have more flexibility, then you should probably look for a 45i instead of a 45, or ideally, buy my 45i before it turns up on eBay in the next few days/weeks!
  27. Jeff

    Thanks for the info, I also just posted this question in digital darkroom forum. I was consdering buying the Epson 3200 until I came across the Polaroid. The seller paid 500.00 on ebay for it and waited 3 months to get and I believ he thought he got ripped off, during this time he purchased another one, most likley the 45u and offer this one to me.

    I would like a 45U but I cannot find any on ebay currently for under 1000.00. I could swing 500-600.00 but that is my budget for now. So I may end up with the 3200 anyway.

    Thanks again
  28. Well, this is going to sound very foolish. I've been looking for some glass
    holders for the Polaroid Ultra, after just purchasing one on Ebay for $725.
    B&H is out of stock, as is Calumet and probably anyone that originaly carried
    this scanner. I got a brain storm after reading that the 45 Ultra is actualy
    manufactured by Microtec, and called them to see if they have compatible
    glass holders. The Rep at first said that the unit would need to be sent in for
    calibration before the holders could be used. He later said that he could not
    help me and recommended that I call Polaroid. Exactly. Polaroid does indeed
    still have the glass holders, and were very happy to ship them out to me. The
    price was probably $20 more than I could have found at retail, but considering
    that there is no retail for the Polaroid 45 Ultra Glass Holders, I did not mind. I
    hope that this is of use to anyone looking.
  29. Well, after reading the above post, I finally gave up on the idea of buying a glass film holder for less than retail and called Polaroid's customer service department today. They transferred me to Jay in the Commercial Digital department and he confirmed that they have just a few of these left ("Five, I think") and further confirmed Polaroid has no plans to order any more once they're gone. The direct-from-Polaroid price was $269.95 plus shipping and tax -- a little over $294.00 total for me here in Arizona -- but as this is probably the last chance I'll ever have to buy one, I decided to "bite the bullet" and order one. Anybody else who's interested in one probably ought to do the same, and do it quickly...
  30. Hello Everyone!
    I am looking for A Polaroid SprintScan 45 Ultra. Does anyone know of one for sale. I have a 1000 - 1200 dollar budget. Any help would be appreciated. My email - SrchrNet@hotmail.com Thanks.
  31. hi guys - hope you see this!
    I've picked up a polaroid sprintscan 45 ultra but without any software or even the film carrier or holders - still it was dirt cheap!!
    Michael Bergman said a couple had mentioned an 'aftermarket film holder ... machine cut... it has both glass and metal holders' - but who is/was it by?? Anyone know where I could get new (cheap!) or used film carrier and film holders for sizes up tp 5x4 - either the original polaroid (came with the scanners) or aftermarket versions. Or if any of you guys decided to go for the glass film holders that were discussed originally perhaps I might be able scrounge some of your unused polaroid film holders!!

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