Scanners for Medium Format

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by alex_hoxie, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. I am in need of a new scanner, one good enough to scan medium format film and will give me an image that is good enough for print. Does anyone have any recommendations? I'm currently using the Epson V500, which is crap, no dual lens or anything. Here is an example, I lose a lot of detail:
    I was looking at the Epson V700 which sounds like it could help me with both medium format as well as 35mm and larger negs as well. Has anyone tried this scanner? How does it compare? Is there something better out there?
    I've had my negs scanned at high quality res by local photo houses and got nothing back messy, shoddy work.
  2. stp


    I had and might still recommend a Nikon 8000 or 9000. Now discontinued, they are hard to find, prices are usually high, and they are no longer supported by Nikon (i.e., you may need a computer with an older operating system to run the scanner). Plustek is coming out with a new medium-format scanner (will do 35mm as well), and the specs are reportedly very good; that's certainly something I would look into if I were in your shoes.
  3. Thanks stephen. I'll look into the Plustek! The Nikon sounds nice, but i don't know how much hokey software i'm willing to up with anymore. Epson's software isn't too great as it is, and is present day stuff.
  4. I have a V700 and I have owned the Nikon 9000 ED in the past. Additionally I have had hundreds of MF slides scanned on Imacons and on drum scanners. My opinion is this
    • The V700 does a fine job with the 3rd party film holder and AN glass to make prints up to around 12" sq. If you want notably bigger prints than this, or prints above proof size from 35mm than you're going to need to use a film scanner. Which of the candidates Nikon 8/9000; Imacon; or drum scanner you need to use depends on how big you want the prints to be.
    • But you don't need to own a film scanner unless you need a large volume of bigger prints. For many people- including me- it is much more economic to own something like a V700 which covers a large majority of my scanning volume and then to send out the relatively few that must be better than the V700 can deliver to a scanning service depending on what my size/quality needs are. It can be pretty good value these days to buy in quality scans .
    • Though your experience to date hasn't been good, don't form a view that all externally-made scans are bad. You just have to find competent people using the right scanner, thats all.
    Not particularly relevent given my suggestions, but I never found a problem with Nikon scan or indeed Epson software.
  5. You will find a wealth of scanning info in the 'Digital Darkroom' forum.
  6. mva


    Unfortunately, what I can honestly answer is that, in my opinion, below Nikon Coolscans (that are not available as new anymore), there are no decent scanners. I have tried the Epsons, and I know somebody likes them, but I don't.
    I am the lucky owner of a Coolscan 9000, however I am aware that if it broke down, I would have no choice but the too expensive Hasselblad ones :-(
    Many people compare favourably Epson scanners to Nikons in terms of resolution. Their resolution is indeed good. However, the colour reproduction of the Epson is poor, as well as their ICE dust removal (the Coolscan does not introduce artifacts because they do visible and infrared in one pass).
  7. Plustek has set for a September launch of a dedicated film scanner called the OpticFilm 120 that will do up to 6x12 at a scanning resolution of 10K dpi and an output resolution of 5K at 16 bit. Has ICE. Comes with Silverfast. ~$2,000 USD.
  8. Microtek Artixscan M1 Pro - Bronica SQA 6x6, 105mm f3.5 S, Fuji Superia 100
    No unsharp mask
  9. I have to say that whilst I'm clearly aware of the limitations of flatbeds, I have not had difficulty recreating the colours of the original slides with some fairly simple work in Photoshop. I've done two websites and the prints for several (self-published) books using the V700 and the colours are fine. You do lose a little in shadow detail vs a film scanner but I haven't found that ever to be catastrophic. Where you do lose out, quite clearly, is on the ability to make big enlargements.
  10. While there is always the temptation to upgrade from present equipment and maybe yours is truly justified, looking to see if an improvement can be made with what you have may be worth looking into first, possibly just altering a technique or method of scanning.
    I've come across some decent scan samples from an Epson V500 when I was looking to replace a Canon flatbed I have. The link below represents a sampling of V500 scans. Some are better than others, but may give an idea if your V500 is capable of doing better.
  11. I have the V500 and i reconize more les te results of the pictures in the response above, maybe even finer and sharper.
    Altoucht not in the biggest orginal format. Here are some examples of my scans.
    I would try experimenting with differend software or editing technique this could help a greath deal.
  12. I had and might still recommend a Nikon 8000 or 9000. Now discontinued, they are hard to find, prices are usually high, and they are no longer supported by Nikon (i.e., you may need a computer with an older operating system to run the scanner).​
    Most people are using Vuescan now instead of Nikon Scan, that works fine on modern hardware. The Nikons have Firewire ports only, no USB. On the latest Macs that do not have Firewire anymore you can use a "Firewire adaptor". I haven't used this, I am using older hardware with Firewire ports.
  13. Alex,
    After doing a lot of research on "affordable" medium format scanners here is why I chose the Microtek Artixscan M1 Pro - now superceeded by the M2 Pro:
    1. No glass between the film and the sensor.
    3. High speed USB
    4. Comes with SilverFast Ai Studio - arguably the best negative scanning software.
    5. Comes with IT8 calibration target and ICC profiling tools.
    6. Actually capable of delivering both the advertised 4800DPI and advertised 4.4D-range.
    7. Comes with excellent film holders for 35mm, medium format and 4"x5".
    8. Comes with a glass carrier for wet mounting up to 8"x10".
    Far as I know, unless you want to spend ~$3,000 on a used (with no manufacturer support) dedicated MF film scanner like a Nikon or Minolta or even more on an Imacon/Hasselblad the $850 price for the Artixscan M2 Pro is the best deal in town.
    The Epson flatbeds will have you scanning through glass, buying aftermarket adjustable film holders because the Epson doesn't auto focus and comes with fixed height film holders that suck goobers. AND you'll be stuck with Epson customer service - EEK! And I doubt you can get over about 2000DPI real resolving out of an Epson flat bed no matter what the numbers say.
  14. Alex, the V500 has some real limitations, but I think it has practical uses. Especially for its very moderate cost.
    I use a V500 for scanning medium format film. I like a print that's sharp enough, regardless of it's size, so that I can hold it right up close. With my V500, I get prints that satisfy me at a size of 6x the linear dimension of the film. That would be 12x12" for 6x6cm negatives or 12x18" from 6x9cm. This is the same enlargement that David suggests with his V700
    Here is a sample file ready to print at 12x18" from a V500 scan of 6x9cm color negative film. Judge for yourself if something like this matches your criteria for acceptable sharpness.
    From everything I have read, the V700/V750 should be a significant step better resolution than the V500.
    There was another long exchange about these scanners, with other sample files:
    Thanks for the comments on the Microtek scanners. Sounds like an interesting possibility.
  15. I'm currently using the Epson V500, which is crap, no dual lens or anything.​
    It's also <$130 shipped... at least a few months ago when I got mine. Not sure what you were expecting for <$130. None of my lenses or cameras sold for less than $130 new. I use the scanner for proofing purposes and for emailing pictures. I've gotten a few prints from it as well. If used correctly it's not that bad, but it is what it is.
    Here is an example, I lose a lot of detail:
    Well we can't tell how detailed the original was or what your scanning technique or Photoshop technique is. I'm not saying it's not a bad scan. I'm saying I don't know. There are way too many variables. Also what resolution are you scanning at? I've read anything over 3200 dpi is a waste and the only reason to scan at 3200 dpi is to then downsize to the true resolution. Apparently that works better than scanning at the true resolution to begin with. You can also consider an after market film holder with height adjustment and ANR glass. Here are some results from one persons test.
    I've had my negs scanned at high quality res by local photo houses and got nothing back messy, shoddy work.​
    I submit that you did NOT have your photos scanned "at high quality res." That may have been what they said but given what I can accomplish with a lowly V500 I will not pay for any scans that are not done on a Drum scanner or similar.
    I am the lucky owner of a Coolscan 9000, however I am aware that if it broke down, I would have no choice but the too expensive Hasselblad ones :-(
    No, you can look at the Plustek OpticFilm 120 which is supposed to be dropping in the fall. It is supposed to be better than the Coolscan 9000 and costs THOUSANDS less than the Hasselblad scanners. Actually if even 80% of the hype is true the Plustek OpticFilm 120 is going to make a lot of Coolscan 9000 owners cry. Someone just bought a coolscan 9000 on ebay for $4,800!
  16. mva


    I am the lucky owner of a Coolscan 9000, however I am aware that if it broke down, I would have no choice but the too expensive Hasselblad ones :-(
    No, you can look at the Plustek OpticFilm 120 which is supposed to be dropping in the fall. It is supposed to be better than the Coolscan 9000​
    It would be a reassuring thought but at the moment this does not exist, so we can't compare.
    So far I have never seen scanners reproducing properly the colours as well as the coolscan, or not introducing artifacts with ICE in low-contrast high-luminosity areas. I very much hope this is going to change and the Plustek is going to be a winner!
  17. I currently use the Epson V750 for my medium format film and it does a great job up to 8X10. With the wet scanning function you can probably do 11X14, but I got to go with Tom on the Microtech M1/M2. I remember using those when I was in school and they were built like tanks unlike the flimsy Epsons.
    If you want to do allot of scanning and don't have the money for a Nikon, then the microtek is the way to go. This professional wedding photographer who was in my class used that scanner to scann some of her images. Her scanned images were then projected on a silver screen in class and nobody could tell the difference between that and true digital ! The only problem with the microtek is the Cutomer Service which is beyond lousy, or at least it was back then.
  18. I bought my Artixscan M1 on eBay. It was new in a sealed box. Before bidding I called Microtek USA on the phone to ask about having the scanner serviced.
    They don't sell the M1 Pro in the USA due to some kind of licensing restriction, so I wanted to know if they could service the unit if I had a problem. The service rep told me that they had all the parts in stock and trained technicians. When I called, I didn't have to wait on hold to talk to a human. That was a big plus for me. I bought the 3 year Square Trade warranty since I don't get a manufacturer's warranty.
    Good news, the M2 Pro is sold in the USA. I has an LED light source, which is supposed to be better than the fluorescent tube. Other than that I expect the hardware is identical to the M1 Pro.
    Note, you will need considerable table space for this scanner. It has a 15" x 22" footprint. The film drawer pulls out of the front 19".
  19. mva


  20. Tom,
    I can't find a Mikrotek M2 Pro - do you mean F2 Pro?
    The F/M/1/2/Pro nomenclature is a bit confusing to me...
  21. It appears that in the North American(?) market, the designation is M-1/M-2.
    In Europe...and maybe Asia(?), the designation is F-1/F-2.
    Is the bundled software exactly identical between the two scanners?
    Contact Microtek representatives in your area of the world directly.
  22. It appears that Silverfast Ai Studio does not come with the newer units as it did the M1 Pro and F1 Pro. Could be that the folks at Silverfast have not yet updated their software to work with these units. For Windows I am running Silverfast AI version 6.6r2 on the M1 Pro. The latest version Silverfast 8.? is only available for the Mac platform on the M1 so far.
    A list of Microtek scanners supported by Silverfast
    The Microtek "Scan wizard" software is OK, but not nearly as good at image restoration as Silverfast. I tried downloading and using Vuescan . . . seems designed for people who are computer illiterate and want the software to do the thinking for them. After 30 minutes of frustration I removed the Vuescan software from my system.
    The "Negafix" portion of Silverfast is incredibly granular in the amount of control you have when scanning negatives. For slides you can scan 16bit HDR and get everything that is on the film, then edit your levels, color balance, exposure corrections, etc. in Photoshop.
  23. There is a driver update for the Nikon 9000 and 8000 scanners so they work perfectly using Nikon Scan in Vista and Windows 7. Mac may be a different issue??
  24. mva


    There is a driver update for the Nikon 9000 and 8000 scanners so they work perfectly using Nikon Scan in Vista and Windows 7.​
    I'd be extremely interested. Where can I find it? I cannot see it on NikonUsa website. :-?
  25. From a quick P-Net 'Digital Darkroom' search.
  26. Sebastian.
    I have only used the Silverfast 6.6 version that came with my M1 Pro. I don't know what improvements have been made to version 8. But in comparison to the Epson Scan software (I have an Epson 4490 scanner), Vuescan (IMHO the worlds worst scanning software), and the Microtek Scan Wizard, Silverfast is a much more serious and complicated tool.
    As such, Silverfast has a steep learning curve BECAUSE it has so much granular control over what you can do with the scanner. However, the help system in silver fast does nothing to explain the functions in detail, which contributes to the steep slope of this learning curve. - SIGH . . . "Help" tells you "what" the menu options are (like you really need a video of somebody clicking on each menu item and reading what it says) - no really it is that stupid.
    Silverfast help and documentation doesn't really "define" what the terminology means. Fortunately there are third party tutorials - though I haven't gotten so desperate to go there yet.
    I've been using it for about 2 hours/day for a month and so far done 579 good scans. While I am certainly no expert in working with digital imaging, I do have significant computer technology formal education and 15 years of experience in the field of Information Technology. So consider that when I say the learning curve is steep, this is coming from my perspective as one who used to be the senior geek among geeks. ;-)
  27. Thanks, Tom. Appreciate the comments. It sounds like Microtek is offering F2 which equals M2 plus Silverfast in the US.
    Have you tried the calibration with the IT8 test targets. From other reading, it sounds like this has potential.
    In my own scanning experience with the the V500, I'm getting pretty good scans, but getting good color from C-41 negatives has been hit-or-miss. The color in my sample image (linked in a previous post above) is OK, but it's still a lot easier to get good color with my DSLR. Would the IT8 calibration help give good color for C-41 scans? Anyone know?
  28. Yes I did the IT8 calibration but that is for positives. IT8 calibration doesn't do anything for negatives as you're really working with a subjective color conversion process. The IT8 calibration is very easy to do in Silverfast once you figure out which direction to load the calibration slide they give you. LOL!
  29. Thanks Tom. I feared that would be the case.
  30. Thanks, Tom. Appreciated. I had been confusing Silverfast's negafix with another product, colorneg. Glad to have this straighten out.
  31. Adorama has the Pacific Image 120 at $1400. Don't know much about this one, but it might be worth googling for reviews.
  32. Pacific Image - the "Holga" of film scanners.
  33. Tom:
    I read your comments on the Microtek F2 with some degree of interest. I currently have a Minolta Scan Multi Pro which I love but it is getting long in the tooth and obvioulsy is no longer supportable. I also have an EPSON 3200 which hasn't been used in years.
    I'm currently considering the Minolta replacment which up until I read this thread was mainly focused on the Plustek 120. Have you tried it with 35mm negs and/or slides? I also scan the occasional 4 x 5 and it should shine there
    Do you really think the Microtek gets ~4000 dpi real resolution and a 4+ DR? If it does, then it is a steal
    I take it you think it is far better than the Epson 750pro. I'm not enamoured of wet scanning.
    Anyway just following up on your thoughts and basically seeking to expand my horizons
  34. Has anyone noticed that the Pacific Image medium format film scanner is no longer listed at BHPhoto? Strange.
  35. The image I posted of the black cat earlier in the thread is from a 35mm negative. The closeup is a crop at full 4800dpi resolution straight from the scanner. Next set of images of the horse I posted were from 6x6cm negative. Again the closeup of the eye is full 4800dpi resolution without any unsharp mask. I have done lower resolution scans at 2400 and 3200 ant then upscaled them in photoshop with bicubic sampling for comparison. The 4800dpi native scans are sharper than the upscaled images. Whether or not it is as sharp as a Nikon at 4000dpi or a Minolta at 5400dpi I have no way to make a comparison. The Microtek does appear to resolve the grain of the film and I've found some rather embarrasing focusing errors in a lot of images that I thought I had gotten it right.
    I also have an Epson 4490 scanner which is rated at 4800dpi native. Trust me, it is NOT 4800 and unless the film is spot on perfectly exposed it won't pick up shadow detail at 3.2D.
    One more example of 4800dpi - cropped. If I printed the whole image at 300dpi it would be 34" x 34" what you see on your screen is representative of a 3" section cropped from what would be that 34" print. Remember your monitor is only displaying something between 72 and 100 dpi so the crop you are viewing is spread out over a larger area than it would be on a 300dpi print.
    What do you think?
  36. The original image down scaled so you can see what I cropped.
  37. In regard to the 4+DR. I can only say if it is on the film this thing will scan it. I've rescued some slides that you can't see any image detail on a light table - like 3 or 4 stops underexposed.
    Here's one that I scanned at 9600dpi and 48bit HDR and then pulled up 3 or 4 stops. The crop is the tip of the horse's left ear at 9600dpi. My Epson 4490 couldn't even get an image of anything but the backlit outline of the horse. It appears that 9600dpi may be a fuzzy stretch, but I can't see a difference when downsampling from 9600 to 4800 vs. 4800 native. I really thing anything over 5000 dpi is pushing the limits of CCD technology, not to mention film and lenses hitting their MTF limits.
  38. Hey Tim,
    How about I send you some film to scan with your Minolta and before sending it I'll scan it with my Microtek and dump the 48bit TIFF file on a CD. I would be really cool to see how the two machines stack up using the exact same piece of film. I can pick something that's badly under exposed - something I'm an expert at doing due to many years of practice.
  39. You guys are all very awesome. Thanks again for all of your help!
  40. I just went through this attempting to scan my 120 negs and transparencies. Tried my Epson 700 and it didn't cut it. Filmholders are usually blamed. I purchased a Better Scanning upgraded film holder but have not used it. Better Scanning makes an excellent quality holder and infinitely height adjustable. Oddly, the Epson seems to do much better with 35mm slides and 4x5 film.
    I discovered a rental photo lab in the Los Angeles (Translight) area that rents a Nikon 9000 for $25 an hour. I scanned several hours worth and got good results. At my production level on 4000 dip scans, net cost was about $3 a scan plus time spent, gas etc.
    Then I found a pro photographer who will do the same scans on his Nikon 8000 for $6 each. Due to time and other constraints I had Morey Milbradt scan a lot of negs and transparencies for me.
    Here is his web site if you decide to to this route. Morey did a good job with fast turn around and it sped up my getting into processing the images quickly. He's located in Phoenix.
    Older Nikon scanners have trouble working with newer operating systems but upgraded scan software is available from Vuescan for a reasonable price and it works with OSx and Windows.
    I guess one option is to buy a Nikon 8000 or 9000, upgrade the software, scan your brains out and sell it when you are done. I've seen them on Ebay. Assuming you have at least a couple hundred images to scan, you could take a hit on the Nikon coolscan resale and still come out ahead.
    All depends on how much trouble and how much cost you want to throw into it. Good Luck

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