Whats The "Best" 35mm Scanner for Home Use ?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by jon_kobeck|1, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. Last year I bought a Nkon Coolscan ED Scanner for my 35mm work. I no longer own that or any scanner. I want to get back into scanning and I want to know if the Coolscan is still considered the best for home work on 35mm film. I use an Epson 3800 to print and I like to print large 17 x 25. thanks
  2. The best is probably some truly professional slide scanner, if price is no object.
    The Nikon scanners are good. The current crop of high-end Canoscans are good, especially if you're doing larger negatives.
    More info on what you're scanning (only 35mm or different formats), how much you want to spend, etc. Would be good. 17x25 (inches?) is big, and suggests you need scans that are at the very least 4000 ppi and probably bigger would be better. I don't think that the scans from the flatbed film scanners are actually as high image quality as the 4000 ppi scans from dedicated film scanners, but they can produce very large files.
    Time is another variable, some very good scanners are also very slow scanners.... This may work if you are only doing a few scans, but can be a real bottleneck if you're doing hundreds or thousands of slides, for example. I did thousands on a slow scanner and I would gladly pay $8-10,000 rather than do that again.
  3. I was just looking at ebay for some options on the coolscan. Right now I am only shooting 35mm, but possibly might want to do medium format later. It looks like the coolscan 9000 would be great for 35mm and med format, yes?
    It seems those are about $2000.00 new.
    the scanner I owned before for a short time was the V ED but I bought it used.
  4. I have an LS-4000 and LS-8000, but I suspect these observations would be valid for the LS-5000 vs the LS-9000 as well. The newer scanners are faster, have a higher DMax and are 16 bit vs 14 bit. They seem to be the same optically and mechanically, and take the same accessories.
    The LS-8000 does nearly as well with 35mm as the LS-4000, but is slower to load. The LS-8000 holds two strips of 6 or less of 35mm film, and you must be careful to support the ends of the first and last frame unless the film is absolutely flat. That may require you to turn the film around for the last frame. The LS-5000 holds the film flatter and can take a whole roll (40 frames) at once. Typically I scan the entire roll before cutting it into strips. This saves a LOT of time.
    The light in the LS-8000 is somewhat more diffuse than in the LS-5000. This does not seem to affect sharpness, but greatly reduces the effect of scratches and dust. I seldom need to spot negatives scanned in the LS-8000 (using ICE, of course).
    It is absolutely necessary to use a glass holder with roll film if you want scans to be consistently sharp from corner to corner. There is probably a way to use the non-rotating holder with 35mm film too, but I haven't tried it. There is also a rotating holder, which allows fine adjustments to the film alignment. However, you must use coded masks (optional with the non-rotating holder) and can scan only one frame at a time. I see no justifiable need for the rotating feature. You can easily align film by tapping the edge of the holder, then scan multiple frames before reloading.
  5. I also notice the coolscan 9000 is sold out everywhere online
  6. I have the Minolta Scan Elite 5400 (first version) and the Nikon Coolscan V, both out of production now. The V is obviously second fiddle to the 5000 (which is still in production), but in the same "ballpark".
    Anyway, of my two scanners, I'd vote for the 5400, for ultimate quality. But the V is faster (and the 5000 faster yet). It also to seems to work better with Vuescan when scanning color negatives, for color balance. But the 5400's more diffuse light source is much less likely to find each-and-every scratch, delivers better (negative) highlight detail, and is higher resolution. OTOH, the 5400's depth of focus is much more finicky than the V's. The 5400's OEM software is useable, whereas I've yet to fathom NIkonScan, and really lost interest, just run the V with Vuescan.
    So for me, there is no clear winner. This is not that uncommon in my experience: competing products invariably have strengths and weaknesses.
  7. Jon
    As far as I know, there has been very little development in the scanner area. I use a Nikon LS-4000 and believe that it is very good. As Mendel observes the Scan Elite 5400 is also a very capable scanner. Software also makes a difference and while I have tried many iterations of softwares (vuescan since 7.x silverfast) I keep going back to just the Nikon twain drivers and driving the negative scan in the positive area within Photoshop (inverting and post processing later with actions)
    arugments about which of the two (Nikon vs Minolta) go on, but either is good. If you wish to have automated feeds (I do) then the Minolta will not provide that. There are sites showing you how to convert an SA-21 to be able to handle 40 image strips in batch and one can easily fabricate a system to deal with the film each end. This again is helpful for doing more than one or two frames at a time.
    This page is a good start.
  8. I use an Epson 3800 to print and I like to print large 17 x 25.​
    Wow, that's really pushing 135. I don't normally print larger than 6x9 myself.
    In any case, the Nikon 5000 is still the best of what can be bought new. It's leagues better than the higher end consumer flatbeds. At the print sizes you mention, the image quality difference will immediately noticeable and obvious.
  9. I have posted the following several times here about scanner flares and usage. Some links may be old and broken.
    On flares:
    Before making a decision, check the following links. Some Nikon users reported flares in their scans, but no Minolta users had reported this problem. I own many Nikon equipment, and would have gotten a Nikon scanner if not for the flares.
    This member apparently was aware of the flares:
    Here's what he ended up with after buying a Nikon:
    On using a scanner:
    Choosing a good scanner is just the beginning, learning how to use it well is the key. Given the less than great native sw and documentations, and the lack of good tutorials/books, the learning curve can be steep. Some would get a third party and/or calibration sw. Scanning introduces another generation of degradation from film to print. Along with it come the additional steps in the workflow, such as getting the correct exposure/color/tone, maintaining sharpness, reducing noise/grain, archiving, etc. Each of these can be non-trivial if done well.
  10. Jon
    I think for 35mm you will find that 17 x 25 is unlikely to be very good. A neg worthy of 16 x 20 inch treatment was rare in the conventional darkroom. I find with Velvia 50 I can manage a 13X19 but it needs careful treatment. I have the Canoscan 4000FS which is basically like the Coolscan but has been discontinued. It is very sharp, but like the Nikons suffers from blooming (flare) on occasion. The Nikons are the only dedicated film scanners of any real quality left for the amateur unless you are buying second hand when the Canon and the Minoltas may be available. The Hasselblad ones are beyond most people's price range.
  11. I have both a Nikon 5000 and 9000. The 5000 has been in continuous use for more than 5 years now. Flare has not been a problem on either model. There is no design flaw in this respect as far as I can see.
    It may not seem the case when looking through articles, but scanning is not some dark, mysterious art, impossible to master art. In the majority of cases, use the manufacturer's bundled software on full automatic and get good results.
    In general, a negative that would have printed well with a traditional enlarger also will digitize well. Where things get tricky is for the difficult negative. Scanning and subsequent post techniques can become involved, and this is what's interesting and this is what people write about. After all, what is there more to say about a workflow that's just load the film and hit scan.
  12. Robin I have no trouble printing 17 X 25 with my 5D- Is 35m film not as good resolution wise?
  13. Jon, it depends a LOT on the subject matter and the look you are after. Film may work for you, I don't know. But, for highly detailed images I always thought most 35mm film maxed out at 11x14. Digital is a lot different, much cleaner and sharper, but not necessarily more ultimate resoution but more usable resolution IMO. You can get a higher sucess rate even going 2 to 3 times larger prints with digital. Mostly because it is pleasing to the eye, where film starts to become less pleasing after 11x14 IMO. Many have style and subjects that allow them to use 35mm film fo ra larger print size, but for highly detailed images IMO 11x14 is kind of the practical limit.
    I vote for the Nikons, you can get Imacon but they are way to expensive for me. I have a Minolta 5400 and it can get a little more resolution, but the tools are better with the Nikon.
  14. I agree with Matt. Scanned 35mm film is not really as "good" as digital (simply stated) although film may actually have greater resolution, but it has other negatives which may require attention (mainly grain, irregular patches, shadow noise etc)(excuse the pun).
  15. Robin I have no trouble printing 17 X 25 with my 5D- Is 35m film not as good resolution wise?
    The largest size I care to print with 35mm color film is 11x14 inches, perhaps slightly larger. Digital (I have a 12.3 MP D2x) is cleaner and sharper*, and makes a good 16x24 inch print with modest resampling. I would expect no less from a 5d. Medium format film is twice as large as 35mm, and can stand proportionally greater enlargement.
    * Resolution is technically better with film, at least for high contrast images (e.g., world maps), extrapolated to zero contrast (MTF). The sharpness (MTF) of film is flat to about 20 lp/mm, but drops off to about half (50%) at 40 lp/mm and 6db/octave thereafter, whereas the D2x is nearly flat to 80 lp/mm, where it drops precipitously to the Nyquist limit (about 96 lp/mm). Even with the cropping factor, you can get a 50% bigger print from a D2x compared to 35mm film, with the same apparent sharpness.
  16. ... 17 X 25 with my 5D- Is 35m film not as good resolution wise?​
    Depends on choice of film. Acros, TMX, Velvia will be better; Tri-X and NPZ will be worse.
    Depends on how sophisticated the post processing. A straight scan is no different from raw digital sensor output. Either can benefit from well executed post; either can be totally screwed over by poorly executed post.
  17. Nikon 5000 scanners are no longer produced. The 9000 "seems" to still be in production but may be produced in batches, as it seemed the 5000 was.
    Go to the B&H web site and find the Nikon 9000 , select "notify when in stock" or call the store to reserve one.
  18. I've printed very nice things at 20 x 30 from black and white film using a Canon FS4000. I agree with the former poster who says that it depends on the look you're after. But I've seen the op's work and know it won't suffer at large sizes. In my experience, it is easier to produce large prints from a digital scan than it is in the darkroom, but again, the look of my photographs doesn't appeal to everyone.
    Beyond all that, I've been using the 5000 at the university where I work and it does seem to do a better job than the old war horse of a Canon I've got at home. Scans simply look crisper, the machine itself tends to be quieter and faster, and you can feed film straight into it without wrestling with one of those tray things.

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