Scanning B&W FB prints for the web

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by Jean-Claude, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. Hi,

    My b&w FB prints are handmade with lots of care and I wish to share them with others.

    Since I am totally new on digital techniques... I would like to know what kind of scanner to buy in order to get the top
    quality for a future website. I exclusevely make b&w FB prints.

    A friend scanned a few pictures yesterday but nothing to do with the originals, just nothing!

    Thank you for your precious help.

  2. Not sure what you mean about the scans your friend made. Do you mean that the scans do not resemble the originals?

    Scanning from a print is actually a very good idea because then you don't have to "re-invent" your photo in the digital darkroom!

    However, scanning is not as easy as it looks. You have to experiment with your settings before you'll get the correct result.

    I have an Epson 4870 that I bought a few years ago and I'm very happy with it. I haven't scanned many prints with it, but the ones I did scan came out very well.

    So, even though the 4870 is discontinued, I like the Epson scanners. Maybe you could find a 4990 refurbished, or one of Epson's later ones refurbished, if you don't want to spend the money on a new one. (I bought mine refurbished and it's in perfect condition.)

    I think the software makes a big difference! This scanner is the easiest I've used to get the results I want.
  3. Ralph Gibson used to take his wet prints from the darkroom after washing. He would squeegee them out and slap them on the flat bed still wet. I think that's how he put some of his books together. Prefer'd that method to direct film scanning. Of course that was a few years ago.
  4. any epson scanner should do the job just fine, take one with the higher dmax, i would go depending of your budget with a epson 4490 or a epson v500 photo, but the best will be a epson v700 or 750-m pro, around 550$ / 800$ for the latest one i mention. They are not just good, they are amazing! even for film.
  5. For the web I shoot my carefully illuminated originals with a DSLR, and adjust curves in PS.
  6. "Do you mean that the scans do not resemble the originals? "


    The price is not a deal, I want people to see what I see on the originals, I mean "the closest copy" of the originals. Why spent hours on a nice print if people cannot see the quality of your work.

    I am told (wrongly I understand) that scanning a print with a top scanner (high resolution) is not the big deal because on the web my pictures only will have 72 dpi.

    Where is the truth please?

  7. david_henderson


    I've done this quite happily on an aged Epson 3200 flatbed without loss of shadow detail. IMO the answer to your question lies more in the understanding of scanning and the ability to post process to match as closely as possible your prints, than in the selection of the scanner itself.
  8. David,

    Thanks for your message which tend to say that a normal resolution scanner is fine, the quality of the prints on the web depend on me and only on my skills for scanning properly.

    Am I right? If yes, I must go to some cmlasses !and will go!

    Thank you so much.

  9. david_henderson


    That is what I'm saying. I've rarely seen a scan from any scanner that is perfect straight from the scanner- even when the scanner is well set up for the type of work its copying. I don't know whether it needs classes though- it depends how you learn best. For many people some practice and experiment will do it, with the scanning software and with Photoshop/Elements. Others might prefer a book or an online tutorial such as

    Be careful that the scanner you buy is capable of physically scanning your print. My b&w prints are only 8" sq and there's not much room to spare on my scanner, and the paper on which my prints sit, at 16" x 12", is not all scanned. My biggest concern for you is your expectations. A well made fibre print is indeed a thing of beauty, but the medium on which you view it is a part of that beauty. Its not too hard to get an adequate rendition of your prints for the web, but that last couple of percent, that gives the prints their real character, is elusive when viewed on screen, especially when you consider that screens are different.
  10. David,

    I have a clearer picture now.

    I print on glossy paper, size 30x40 (12x16 inch). I understand that 100 % fidelity is impossible but I want to have maximum beauty like the pictures you see from professionals on the net like Michael KENNA for exampleand many many others. How does he do it?

    Thank you.

  11. david_henderson


    If you want to scan all of 16" x 12" paper you will not be able to do that with the vast majoity of photo quality scanners, most of which will scan an A4 original at maximum. There are flatbed scanners big enough to do this but they are very expensive and I'd imagine you might want to look at labs who offer a scanning service in large flatbeds rather than absorb those costs for web use at least. If your print area is significantly less than the paper size then you are increasing the range of scanners you could use/buy and reducing the cost. As I said above, I scan 8"sq prints with not much room to spare on an A4 scanner, and clearly that would extend in one direction for non-square prints by up to about 3".

    I think Kenna's scans look great because his prints look great. Few of us will have any idea how close his scanned images are to the original print, and having seen and handled a lot of his prints I'm not convinced that the shadow detail in the scans matches that on the prints, but I have no facility to check side-by-side.
  12. David,

    To be precise: my images on a 12x16 paper (30x40 cm) are maximum 28x28 cm (11,2x11,2x inch).

    So, what type of scanner shall I buy ? I read overnoiht that high resolution is meant for big scans, big prints not for the web.

    So, with this size in mind, do I understand that an Epson 3200 for example will do the best job if I learn how to scan propoerly?

    Thank you!

  13. david_henderson


    No. The problem here is physical, not resolution. Most flatbed scanners used by photographers will scan an area
    equivalent to A4, which is 210 x 297mm So if your print area is 280 x 280 an A4 scanner will cut off part of your
    image. You need to use an A3 scanner (which scans a maximum area of 420 x 297mm), or have your work
    scanned at a lab that offers A3 or larger scans. You don't need a particularly high resolution for scanning prints for
    web use. You absolutely do need a scanner that will physically cope with the size of your prints. I have no
    experience of A3 scanners, but there are far fewer to choose from than with A4 scanners, and they are more
    expensive. Depending on how many scans you want, long term. it may be as cost effective to buy scans from a

    It isn't only a question of learning to scan well, you also will need some Photoshop or similar skills to adjust the
    scan to match how you think the photograph should look on screen.
  14. David,

    Thank you so much for all your efforts. Merci mille fois !



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