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scanned film vs digital


william brown
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<p>YEs, there is a difference. try scanning a high ISO film and watch in horror how the grain is over-emphasized! The other factor is the time and skill it takes to scan film - both color and B&W. You cold outsource the scanning part, but if you want results that rival DSLRs you would have to pay quite a bit. Does this sound like I would never scan film? Fact is that I own a Nikon 9000 scanner and scan quite a number of rolls - but it is important for you to understand the issues with that approach. WIth a DSLR you download the pics to your computer and see the results right away. Tweaking the pics must be doen with both - scanned and digital capture.<br>

DSLR high-ISO performance is amazing - I use a 5D and I never hesitate to go up to ISO1600 or even 3200 - film would show tennis ball sized grain:-)</p>

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<p>scanning is a complex craft. it is not impossible but requires patience and investment in good equipment. i use film and digital. i scan a lot of films, however, i do so because i get some enjoyment out of the process of scanning films, sometimes months after, they have been exposed. even with my meagre equipment, digital files tends to be sharper than my very good quality 35mm film equipment.</p>
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<p>I've scanned a lot of film from decades back, and have had a few digital single lens reflex cameras to date: I wouldn't even consider going back to shooting film and scanning, for anything new. There might be slight edge to fine grain film for detail in certain situations, and exposure latitude is better, and you've got a physical piece of film to fall back on, but it's just not worth the hassle, in my opinion.</p>
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<p>I've never understood the amount of attention scanning gets in this forum. Two of the reasons I'm drawn to film is (a) film is its own best archival medium and (b) I prefer slides and small optical prints to flickering images on a computer monitor. I suppose if I ever take a great photograph I'll have it scanned professionally and printed large digitally, and occasionally I scan at a kiosk to share pictures over the internet, but otherwise scanning seems more bother than it's worth. To me. Of course, if you enjoy scanning, then that's the best reason to do it.</p>
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<p>Scanned Leica negs have a presence I can`t get digitally. They show more grain than a Nikon D700 does noise so you have to deal with that. Lessor camera show noise faster. Film grain from the best low ISO films is about one stop more than APS C senors and two stops from full frame noise. 400 ISO film is like 1600 to 3200 iso on the Nikon D700. Digi has come a long way.<br>

<br />So you need to develope the film, make quick scans at low rez to pick the best frames, then scan the best at higher rez. I think there is more PS work with scanned film than my Nikon D700.</p>

<p>In the end, the average view will never see any difference.</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>Yes, I think there is a difference. It can show up in the errors, for instance. </p>

<p>How about plain old exposure problems during scanning? Scanning a film may seem like the best of both worlds, but it would require proficiency with both processes. There will be pros and cons with either method, but scanning would require that both systems would be lined up just right. For example, I can fire up a typical desktop scanner and make a decent scan of a print with little trouble. It won't be pro quality, but it'll be easily recognizable. If I attempt to use the same procedure with transparencies, I'll have a high failure rate. Failure to the point that easily observable details in the transparency will not be visible in the scan. I know that there are other people who do a great job of scanning transparencies every day; but, I think my failures show that it's just like any other applied art. It'll take some know-how in order to get things to work right. </p>

<p>Many labs offer digital scan CDs along with or in lieu of prints. I have never tried this, but I think the quality might be geared more toward typical consumer use of the images. You're not going to hit the cover of Vogue or something with stuff pumped through a minilab at the big box store. But, those same images might do well with the family snapshots. If you are going to want higher quality scans, you might need to hunt around some among the various vendors to hit on the right flavor of services. </p>

<p>Not impossible; but, I found when I was having some 16mm movie film digitized, that there was a lot of "bickering" between vendors over who was best; and, little industry standard telling me about what goods and services different processes would render. Ultimately, I was disappointed in commercial digital services and just ended up printing the stuff myself. It takes longer, but I didn't spend $50 at a time going through someone else's failures. The failures were with prints. And, I've never had such a pricetag come along with repeated commercial failures in anything else I've ever bought. Ever. </p>

<p>I flunked college Latin repeatedly. Still, retail digital printing services failed at a faster and more expensive rate. If your failure pricetag rolls up faster and more expensive than my knuckleheadedness in college Latin class; there's no way I could send someone else, like OP, a glowing recommendation about industry standards and services. So, buyer beware. </p>

<p>I've only dared to spend on one company to digitize anything for me (one short strip of movie film), and they were a pretty good small outfit out of California. Spectra Film and Video. They did okay. I'm sure there are others, but my budget ran out before I found them. Good luck. J.</p>

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<p>"For example, I can fire up a typical desktop scanner and make a decent scan of a print with little trouble. It won't be pro quality, but it'll be easily recognizable. If I attempt to use the same procedure with transparencies, I'll have a high failure rate. Failure to the point that easily observable details in the transparency will not be visible in the scan."</p>

<p>Sounds like either an equipment or a workflow problem. You should be able to get consistently excellent results scanning transparencies.</p>

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<p>Scanning is an art. You have to learn to balance the time you shoot with the time you put into scanning. Not everything in life is a quick as pumping out a million digital photographs the secret is to shoot the few you thought out with film and then scan them take time life may not be forever but it still allows you time to do things right.</p>

<p> To answer your Question Don't use a lab use yourself. but if you must use a lab get them to scan in RAW....</p>

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<p>The highest quality film scan is with a drum scanner..It is done at a professional type lab and is very expensive..You can also have film scanned at different resolution levels depending on your purpose and willingness to pay for it..You can also have your film scanned at CostCo for about $5.00 a roll give or take a bit. The scans you receive are adequate for up to 8x12 pictures. You do need to tweak them in photoshop afterwards. Scanning at home is very time consuming. You can use a flatbed scanner such as an Epson or buy a dedicated film scanner such as the Nikon model..</p>
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<p>Well it depends. Slides still have more resolution than even the 5dII you just have to have the right scanner. I used the plustek 7200.<br>

http://claytontullos.com/images/slide.jpg<br>

however, negatives are not very good at higher resolutions.<br>

http://claytontullos.com/images/negative.jpg<br>

Noise is an issue. Incidentally, I'm the guy in the texas tech shirt.</p>

<p>Both were shot with 100 speed film... probably fuji. I don't recall much more than that.</p>

<p>I am a digital man now, film was just a huge hassle and expensive.</p>

 

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<p>I should note that I have that negative picture printed at 11x14 and it looks great. Though, I did at one time have the slide picture printed at 16x20 looking flawless.</p>

<p>I edited the slide pic to put the original instead of the fairly processed one as before.</p>

<p>The negative picture has been processed.</p>

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<p>The scan will always be even when made very carefullly by someone who knows what they are doing on the finest of scanners a second generation copy picking up artifacts of both the film and the scanning process.</p>

<p>If you like the look of film, great: keep shooting it, use good labs, edit carefully, and have really high quality (read expensive) scans made of your best frames.</p>

<p>But if Tom had shot with a reasonably good DSLR in raw mode he would not have lost those highlights in the boy's hair and shirt while keeping the overall luminous nature of the photo.</p>

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<p>The difference is that film scanning takes more work to achieve similar quality to direct digital capture. Some people think it's worth it, others do not.</p>

<p>If you do not want to purchase and operate your own scanner I would recommend looking for an individual or small business that offers scanning services, someone who can show good results and that they actually care about the scan quality. They're out there, they're just harder to find. They also cost a bit more.</p>

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<blockquote>

<p>Is there a difference between scanned film and digital?</p>

 

</blockquote>

<p>Yes, they often look different.</p>

<p> </p>

<blockquote>

<p>whats the best way to have film scanned by a lab?</p>

 

</blockquote>

<p>The best way is to have it drum scanned by a lab with highly skilled operators. This is the best way without a doubt, but it is not necessarily what you want, need, or indeed can afford. However you have provided absolutely no information thats going to help anyone understand what to advise for the best. Like what you're stating from, what do you want to achieve and so on. Without that information any advice you get may not be appropriate to your real question.</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>I have been doing <a>a lot of scanning</a> lately for my<a href="http://darktopography.blogspot.com/2008/11/sad-project.html"> Scan-A-Day</a> project. In some ways, it's more similar to the darkroom process than digital is: You're basically making second exposure, as you would be with an enlarger. So I enjoy that. </p>

<p>Bottom line, though, is that a modern DSLR will out-perform 35mm film all day long, except maybe in dynamic range. The "look" of film that everyone talks about is, in my honest opinion, a conjecture based on nostalgia. Yes, it looks different, but it doesn't necessarily look better. We old-schoolers like it because it's what we grew up with. </p>

<p>These days, shooting film is about the process. I like buying film, having film, film canisters, manually cranking the film advance, loading film, developing film. I think scanning 120 film and leaving the rebate on makes the image a million times cooler. I love film cameras, and I love that I can leave a K1000 in my car, and if it gets stolen, I'm out $40 instead of a couple grand. </p>

<p>But . . . none of that means "better." More fun, maybe. But if you're about the results, digital is surpassing film more every day.</p>

<p>For what it's worth, I'm using a Coolscan V and Vuescan. Epson flatbed for 120.</p>

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<p>Keith, people are constantly trying to learn more, discuss and compare experiences.<br>

For the past couple years, trends on film (especially on medium format) have changed. This new trend, where some people who shoot digital have discovered or even switch to film, is the result of constant information sharing. Partly from threads like this. Where inquisitive photographers have gone pass the initial years of single minded awe toward new technology, and began looking at mediums with a more objective scientific eye.</p>

<p>So I'd say no. Not enough has been said for people who question things.</p>

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<p>The real experiment to perform is to take the same image on 35mm film, scan, and then print and compare it to a DSLR shot. The big question is what film to use for comparison. Dye based films will give a very different result than silver based films. I mainly have shot with Tri-X rated at 200 for B&W with Kodachrome for transparencies. <br>

I've been scanning all of my old B&W negatives and slides using a Nikon Coolscan and getting very good results. I have compared resulting inkjet prints to the original silver gelatin prints and they are close. Some of the digital prints do not have quite the depth relative to the traditionally printed images. From my relatively modest experience with a D300, I think the DSLR prints will be much sharper and result in greater enlargements than will film. I've been astounded at some of the digital images (pretty much the point made by Ellis above). <br>

Interesting topic and maybe I will do the experiment mentioned above.</p>

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