Which scanner to buy and lightroom software

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by john_ciccone, Jun 7, 2014.

  1. I have decided to start using some of my old film cameras again. I will shoot B&W and color, process the B&W myself but send the color stuff out. 2 questions
    1. I'm looking at two 35mm film scanners, the Pacific Imaging Prime Film XA and the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai Film scanner .
    Has anyone of you used the Pacific Imaging XA, it is new and a search of the internet has not come up with any user/purchaser reviews.
    OR can you suggest a good quality 35mm scanner for up to $600?
    2. If you digitally scan a film negative and import it into Light room, can one edit the image as a raw file, or is that a really silly question. (If it is, please explain, why...or suggest an article to read, I'm new to this sort of business.
    Thanks, and best regards, John Ciccone
  2. The quality (and thus the cost) of a scanner will depend heavily on what you intend to do with the scanned images. If you intend to just view the images on your computer monitor, or post them on the web, almost any scanner will suffice (including flat bed types). If you intend to make large prints (e.g. 12"x18" or larger) the scanners you mention may be problematic.
  3. I can only answer question 2: LR reads RAW, JPG, TIFF, PSD and perhaps a few other formats. Even if the Pacific Imaging or Plustek can produce RAW files, it is doubfull whether LR will support them (check Adobe's website), in that case choose TIFF (or JPG). You'll have fewer options - mainly with regard to white balance if memory serves me well - but you can easily edit the files as usual.
    A few remarks: (1) the TIFF files will be huge and (2) even if the scanner supports RAW it may just be a TIFF file. The latter is the case with my Nikon Coolscan V. It has a RAW option but that just seems to be a TIFF.
  4. Here, yet again, are a slew of fairly recent discussions of scanners and alternatives:
    Start by reading the following, not in any order.


    Items that will never be settled include how many slides you need to scan before a scanner becomes preferable to a macro copying setup, for just one example.

    Short answer - Canoscan 9000F and its kin from other makers at around $200 do an OK job of scanning, expecially for web use.
    For high quality scanning, you need really much better equipment, and not much of that is being made nowadays.
  5. 1. I don' know the XA, but by the looks of it it's an improved 7250Pro3 / Reflecta RPS 7200, which can attain about
    3800dpi, which will be better than the Plustek, which is fixed focus. Also it can batch process entire strips of 35mm in
    batch mode, whereas the Plustek has no batch mode. So I'd go for the XA. But you may consider an Epson v700, which
    has worse IQ and resolution, but is much handier for batch scanning and can do almost any format. Notice the XA is
    limited to 1 slide at a time, if it is like its predecessor; that's not that much a disadvantage relative to the Plustek, which is
    manual anyway.

    2. Raw scan files are not the same as raw camera files. The latter are the sensor's unprocessed data, they do not even
    have pixels as such. The former are tiff files in linear colour space, they're called raw because they are unprocessed as
    well. You'll need the program that created them in order to correctly use them, in most cases. A nice workflow is to scan
    everything in batch to raw, and then batch process everything to a positive as many times as you like in. Order to get the
    right colours.
  6. Oh, I second the recommendation of the Canoscans - since a flatbed will never be stellar anyway, the Canoscans are
    about the best value for money you can find. Their scanning area is restricted to 2 35mm strips, however.

    I would never recommend a digitise-by-shooting approach because it has no infrared cleaning, which is all the more
    important with slides. Infrared is helpless with non-chromogenic B/W, tho.
  7. 2. As Antonio said, there is no such thing as a Raw file in the digital camera sense. However, you should input the scan to LR as a TIFF. You want to have no compression to both archive and to start editing.
  8. I have a Plustek 7200 with Silverfast SE. Silverfast AI has a lot more adjustments than SE but you may not need them.
    Looking at the specifications for both scanners you ask about the dmax of the Pacific Image gives it an edge BUT the input resolution being twice the output resolution raises a Red Flag.
    Both use LED light sources which is better than the cold cathode fluorescent of previous models.
    My 7200 will produce a scan @ full optical resolution capable of being printed at 16 x 20 gallery quality.
    NO flatbed praised in the previous posts will come close bar the Epson V700/750 which might but they are a cold cathode fluorescent light source flatbed.
    Unless you can test both scanners on the same slide/negative go with the Plustek.
  9. The IQ of the Plustek and the XA are comparable. Bear in mind that:

    - the Plustek is fixed focus and that does mean its scans are never fully focused. In most cases that may not be a
    problem, as the fixed focus plane will be very close to your film's and the depth of field of the scanner lens will be able to
    cover it.

    - the plustek can only scan 1 frame, then you have to move the holder so OT can scan the next. That's not good at all.
    The XA needs no holder, it grabs the whole strip, with 36 images if you haven't cut it, and can scan them all without your
    intervention. Yes, there may be glitches, and you do have to care about how to handle the strip before and after it exists
    the scanner, as it only moves it. For 6-frame strips that is hardly a problem.

    - since it has a holder, the plustek may be able to hold the film flatter.

    - it's nothing unusual that when a scanner advertises more than 4000 dpi, it will only get about half of it. It's not marketing
    ploy either, it's just the way it turns out. Exceptions are the Minoltas and the Plustek 120.
    Also, to get the higher resolution, you often need to oversample. So, with the XA's predecessor, you scan at 7200, and
    downsample with the scanning software so that the scab itself when saved is only 3600, but it's razor-sharp 3600. Or you
    scan with 3600, save it as it is, and it will be around 3000...

    - do NOT get Silverfast unless it's impossible not to (I think you can't get any Plustek without it). It is buggy, limited,
    expensive and unfriendly. Vuescan is crude but much more value for money and does everything.
  10. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Digital camera raw files are pixels, just not fully baked to represent RGB data we expect to see. Here's an example:
    Each sesnor site has either a red, green or blue filter and full color is interpolated by using data from adjacent sites. A scanner on the other hand creates a full color image, it has three sensors for each primary color. In terms of 'raw', it is possible the scanner didn't introduce any 'corrections' and it could be linear in data format, although that alone doesn't make it look dark and ugly (most linear captured data has no ICC profile to describe that data capture and so as assumed to be gamma corrected, it appears dark and rather ugly).
    IF you have good scanning software, there's little reason not to use it and skip the 'raw' data mode. If you prefer to render the image in say Photoshop or Lightroom, because the scanning software isnt' as effective, then asking for 'raw' scans makes sense. But it takes more time so generally it's best to get good scanning software what produces global tone and color appearance you desire.
    Bottom line, a raw scan and a raw camera file are not the same. Not at all sure what RAW has to do with either . Isn't that all about wrestling? ;-)
  11. The Pacific Image XA( here in the US it is called XE) is rated at 10,000 dpi hence the name Pacific Image 10000 XE scanner. Where as the previous model was rated at 7200 dpi hence the name Pacific Image 7200u scanner, not to be confused with the Pacific Image Crystal Scan 7200. To add to the confusion the actual name for the Pacific Image 7200u scanner in Europe is the "Reflecta ProScan 7200" both scanners are technically the same with 48 bit depth 3.8Dmax and a maximum resolution of 7200 dpi as far as I know ?
    Both names are a bit misleading in that after some serious testing by the folks at ScanDig(who are known to give no-nonsense reviews) found that the actual resolution for the Reflecta ProScan/7200u is actually about 3250 dpi nominal resolution. The Nikon CoolScans scanners can produce a file of 4000dpi. This does not mean that you can't scan at 7200 dpi but the only thing you will be doing is adding redundant pixels, increasing the scan time and producing Huge mega pixel files.
    The good thing about the Reflecta ProScan is that the manufacturer listed the nominal resolution as being 3600 which is pretty close to the 3250dpi resolution achieved in tests, and which is pretty good for a consumer scanner. The Epson V700/V750 only reached a nominal resolution of around 2000 dpi although claiming a 9600 optical resolution.
    With the XE/XA, I'm not sure if the manufacturer reverted to the "Flim/Flam" over bloated specs used by many scanner manufacturers by claiming a resolution of 10,000 dpi. I searched all over the web and could not find the "Nominal" resolution or the Maximum resolution you will get out of this scanner no matter how high you decide to set it.
    However, if the Pacific Image XE/XA is anything like the Reflecta ProScan 7200/7200u, then maybe we can expect a "nominal" or "Real" resolution of about 4000dpi with a Dmax of 3.9 which brings it pretty close to the Nikon CoolScans !
    Since this scanner is pretty new, not much have been said about. The good folks at ScanDig do not plan to fully review this scanner unit 2015 ! There are some pretty good reviews for the 7200, but a lot of that depends on the software the scanner comes with. The XE/XA is about $75 more expensive than the 7200 which is still cheaper than Plustek 8200i, but with all the confusion with "nominal/optical" resolutions, I'm having a hard time trying to make a decision myself.
    As far as scanning RAW files I'm not sure that you can do that with negatives. You can Import RAW files but not scan them.
  12. Hi Harry,

    It's true that there's confusing info around, but you're adding to it by saying 'nominal' when you mean actual/real. Nominal,
    from Latin nomen, meaning name (and being actually the same word as 'name', from the common ancestor of Latin and
    English and a lot of other languages), is used to mean 'in name', which sometimes will be 'in name only'.

    The numbers in the names of scanners are no guide to their resolution, nor do the manufacturers claim they are. The
    scanner names in which the name was the optical resolution and the real resolution was close to the optical resolution are
    the exception. If you want to know the optical resolution of a scanner, you look at the specification provided by the
    manufacturer, specifically the lower number if there are two (in those cases, the other one will be the theoretical optical
    resolution in the scanning direction, which isn't irrelevant but isn't really 'optical' either). You don't look at the scanner
    name. If you want to know the real resolution, you look at a resolution target, provided you can find someone who posted
    one online.

    Yes, PIE and Reflecta scanners are the same, branded for different markets. Yes, the Proscan is held in good regard
    because it can resolve more then 3000 dpi when scanning at 3600. Other scanners - and the Plustek included - need to
    scan at 7200 in order to get more than 3000 - scanning at 3600 with those will yield less than 3000.

    The Nikons can't get 4000 either. They get about 3800-3900. Of course, that's great. It's just not fair to berate others
    based on their real values and then take the Nikons at face value. BTW, the Nikon 5000 doesn't do 5000 dpi, the 9000
    doesn't do 9000...

    Nor is resolution everything. There is chromatic aberration - scanners are prone to our too, and you won't find tests of that

    Dmax is meaningless. Oh, it's quite important - but the specs on paper are useless. You'll have to look for scans and
    fdecide for yourself. But scanner Dmax is important only for slides...

    Which brings us again to convenience. Having a scanner that can scan many frames without your intervention is worth a
    lot of money in my book. For that, flatbeds, or something with holders that can move them (not the Plusteks, unless its the
    120), or something that can eat whole strips (the XA, judging by its predecessor), is unbeatable.
  13. I have a Prime Film 7250 Pro3 that looks like an older relative of the Pacific Imaging Prime Film XA. I am scanning old film shot by consumer cameras, so image quality has not been such a big issue for me. My big issue with the scanner may remain for the XA. It is that sometimes the individual frames are not properly detected. This gets frustrating at times. It does not seem to relate to the physical quality of the film strips but to their logic for detecting an image. Once the first image is aligned, one would think that all it needs to do is go down 36+mm and make slight adjustments for the remainder of the film. The preview is much too slow for my purposes as it is at 300 dpi. All I want is a rough image so I can determine whether to scan or not. Perhaps this is remedied. Customer service from PIE was good.

    There are several reviews for both scanners, including mine for the 7250, on B&H.
  14. My mistake ! actually the XA is scanner is not a European naming convention it is a totally different scanner than the XE. The XA scanner can scan multiple negatives without user intervention. The Reflecta Pro scan 7200 is the same model as the Pacific Image 7200u sold in the US and both requires user intervention meaning they are totally manual. Antonio, the reason I used "Nominal resolution" is because that is what the folks at ScanDig use to imply "real" resolution. It could be something was lost during the translation, since the actual review was written in German.
    The fact of the matter is that manufacturers would rather list the optical resolution than the real resolution for their scanners. For example right now I am looking at the Manual for my Epson V750 nowhere does it say that resolution is tested 2000 dpi. It list "Maximum Resolution: 12,800 x 12,800 dpi and Hardware Resolution: 4800 x 9600 dpi and Optical Resolution: 4800 dpi and 6400 dpi.
    If that is not misleading then I don't know what is ? On the other hand the Nikon CoolScans clearly state "resolution = 4000 dpi " and although it might not be that high as you state it is pretty close.

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