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plasticman

The unthinkable?: switching from Vuescan to Silverfast

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I have just re-downloaded the latest version of Vuescan, as I have a new (old stock) Plustek Opticfilm 7400 on order. I have always loathed Silverfast, right from the days it was bundled with some digital camera (maybe the Digilux 2). Its interface just does not seem logical to me, whereas Vuescan could not be simpler. Ed Hamrick also is pretty good on the technical help, if sometimes a tad abrupt. Given that I first bought Vuescan in 2002/3 to use on my Polaroid Artixscan 4000, it is pretty amazing I am still getting free updates. 

 

I also have an Epson V700 flatbed film scanner but that has gone down to France, as Canon decided they could not be bothered to provide a Yosemite/Sierra driver for the LIDE 600F I had there (or the LIDE 35 my wife used in the UK). I actually found that Epson's own software for slide scanning on the V700 worked better than the bundled Silverfast. 

 

The major downside of Vuescan, which others have mentioned, is that it is quite slow to use. However I will mainly be using the Plustek for B&W scanning, so maybe it will be a bit faster on that. 

 

Wilson

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I stumbled on this topic by chance just looking for recent discussion of SilverFast and thought SilverFast deserves an essentially satisfied post from a fairly experienced amateur user.

 

In Jan 2015 I bought an Epson V800 scanner which came with a basic version of SilverFast with the immediate objective of scanning about 400 35mm colour slides of surveying in Nepal during 1982-85.

 

 www.facebook.com/HighTrigNepal/photos/?tab=albums

 

I very soon upgraded to the fullest version of SilverFast AI and the HDR package plus I got VueScan. My background is a lifelong amateur photographer and computer user with 8 years experience of UK university lecturing on basic IT and and introduction to digital image manipulation between 1998-2006. Busy building a new home in Thailand after retiring from university lecturing - and not keeping up to date with image processing developments - I was amazed in 2015 how much things had changed and I had a steep learning curve to catch up.

 

I got better results from the start with SilverFast than with Vuescan and my results improved with practice and experience, plus many useful sources of advice from the www - by now I've scanned over 3000 images. I bought the SilverFast book and overall I justified the costs as an affordable luxury for a retirement project archiving and resurrecting many thousands of film and slide images taken over 40 years. Overall my experience has been:

 

1. Yes SilverFast is expensive and the 100% repeat cost for replacing the software if you change or have a 2nd scanner would be unacceptable for most people

 

2. The lack of a decent user manual and documentation is further badly served by the hotch-potch series of SilverFast video tutorials BUT I found loads of useful independently produced advice on the www and youtube

 

3. SilverFast was and still is at times quirky and buggy (?) and the SilverFast online support is seldom inspiring BUT usually restarting the software after a glitch gets things working again

 

4. The SilverFast user interface isn't intuitive - but neither is VueScan for me - and I've seen many worse software packages and overall it is a lot simpler than Photoshop to learn and use

 

5. So far with version 8 I've had free upgrades to my full SilverFast Ai and HDR package but there is an implied threat that at some point in time a major upgrade might cost serious money

 

6. For colour and b&w film and Kodak colour slides my results have been very satisfying for an amateur user - don't do much reflective scanning at all so not commenting on that

 

7. Most important thing I learnt - you need at least 2 film negative and slide holders when batch scanning - the preparation, dust removal, loading etc takes more time than the actual scans

 

8. My own experimentation and results place SilverFast ahead of VueScan by a short head or maybe a neck and from a purely financial standpoint I can understand that the cost might not be justified for many people

 

9. The cost can be somewhat reduced if as with my Epson V800 you get a starter version of SilverFast included as a bundle

 

9. Would I buy SilverFast again - yes - but with my limited scope of ONE major archiving project and knowing that I'm not ever likely to own a 2nd scanner

 

10. Owning multiple scanners or operating systems and or expecting to acquire new scanners then VueScan would be a much more affordable software solution with nearly comparable results

 

The memories and images I've "rescued" from a tin trunk have certainly justified for me what the scanner and software cost, so I guess that makes me a happy and satisfied SilverFast user!

 

Zed

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I stumbled on this topic by chance just looking for recent discussion of SilverFast and thought SilverFast deserves an essentially satisfied post from a fairly experienced amateur user.

 

In Jan 2015 I bought an Epson V800 scanner which came with a basic version of SilverFast with the immediate objective of scanning about 400 35mm colour slides of surveying in Nepal during 1982-85.

 

 

Zed

 

 

Hi Zed,

 

Very nice post.  What do you feel is the big difference between the starter package that came with the V800 VS the full package? 

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While Jeff is correct (I decided for the time being to stick with Vuescan), I didn't mean for the thread to be just about my preferences and experiences, so I very much appreciate tj-zed's informative post, which I think will be useful for a large number of members facing the same issues.

 

Incidentally, I came back to this thread (and the forum) after many months away, because I was yet again googling about a persistent problem I've had with Vuescan (shadow blocking on high-key images), and this thread was near the top of Google's results. So descriptive and informative posts are a useful resource for a wider audience than just the members here.

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Silverfast works great after you figure it out especially the last version.  

 

I did not buy because it is scanner specific, i.e. one only.  My KM5400 might blow a bulb or the dog will step on a film holder,  and I am out $500.  

 

Tried using Silverfast with a plustec scanner and it does not work.

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Silverfast works great after you figure it out especially the last version.  

 

I did not buy because it is scanner specific, i.e. one only.  My KM5400 might blow a bulb or the dog will step on a film holder,  and I am out $500.  

 

Tried using Silverfast with a plustec scanner and it does not work.

It may be that your version of it does not work with a Plustek scanner, Toby. My Plustek 120 came with a copy of Silverfast, and it does work (although I prefer to use Vuescan).

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And adding to Eoin's comment.

My Plustek 8100 came with SilverFast as well.

I use the Plustek with Vuescan as well, both have their strengths and weaknesses.

If I had to grizzle, the fact that SilverFast is "tied" to the scanner is a major put off for me.

Gary

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...I find ColorPerfect, PhotoShop and Lightroom are all better at manipulating color and contrast etc than Vuescan, and I'd prefer to keep the scanning software out of the image-manipulation process, as far as possible.

...What I truly enjoy is the film profiles (NegaFix) in Silverfast which saves me a loooot of time. NegaFix works a lot better for me than ColorPerfect in Photoshop...

 

As plasticman and indegaard have both mentioned ColorPerfect, I hope it's not OT to ask about it in this thread, in which there is a lot of valuable scan processing experience. I've been trying ColorPerfect for processing color negative film from digitalizations using my M9 camera and the BEOON copy stand with a Focotar 2 lens. 

 

While ColorPerfect has none of the cost issues or lack of customer orientation that SilverFast is notorious for, the user interface is not intuitive. Also, the ColorFix video are difficult to follow, as it's hard to keep track of what's being done on the screen while listening to the speaker drone on: I believe ColorPerfect is essentially a one-man operation and the videos are presented by the software developer. Not being sarcastic, but I've fallen asleep twice — in bed with a MacBook on my stomach — watching some of these videos because the tone or speed of the voice doesn't vary. 

 

Because the user interface is so unintuitive, I've been using ColorPerfect to invert my linear TIFF files produced by MakeTIFF. And then all I do is use ColorNeg and choose the relevant film type. After that do color correction and any other processing in Lightroom, in which the view f the file is larger. Am I missing anything by doing this processing in Lightroom rather than ColorPerfect?

 

I've also tried ColorPerfect on B&W film digitalization by the M-Monochrom/BEOON combination. Again, I only do the file inversion in ColorPerfect and then the rest of the processing in Lightroom. I find that sometimes the ColorPerfect B&W file has a highlight separation — although sometimes ColorPerfect blows a highlights a bit, presumably this is because I've only used the default settings. If I learned ColorPerfect properly and did the processing there, would I  gain anything?

_______________

Alone in Bangkok essay on BURN Magazine

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I can't help you on this, Mitch, not having tried ColorPerfect, but I am interested in any answers produced by others.

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Hi Zed,

 

Very nice post.  What do you feel is the big difference between the starter package that came with the V800 VS the full package? 

Difficult to remember everything after nearly 2 years but certainly:

 

VLT - Virtual Light Table - for sorting and browsing

 

iSRD for slides and SRDx for reflective scan dust/scratch removal

 

Multiple Exposure scans - sometimes good for recovering data from underexposed photos

 

Batch Processing - once you get into a routine it's such a time saver to set it working and do something else

 

HDR Suite - means faster default HDR scans and then you edit/process later with no need to be connected to the scanner

 

Improved options for Calibration and Printing

 

Also think the full version offered better colour correction and adjustment

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Mitch, I agree that ColorPerfect doesn't have an intuitive interface. In fact, I am very surprised that so much software lacks intuitive interfaces, even Photoshop is stuck in the 80s seemingly. 

 

While I agree the CP videos are less engaging than, say, typical US American YouTube videos on photography, they are extremely accurate and helpful, but one has to take one's time.

 

That said, since they are quite monotonous (though I have a feeling the German version wouldn't be; let's not lose sight of the fact that it is a non-native English speaker, Christoph Oldendorf, who has brought this fairly amazing piece of software to us), it's probably best not to watch them in bed or when tired

Incidentally, Olderndorf is active in the forum on the Flickr ColorPerfect group if you have specific questions.

 

I use CP for my C41 only. After extensive testing the last several years I have concluded that it does not work well with E6. And for b&w I don't see the need because its strength is colour accuracy (though I know the CP site also mentions that one can use it for b&w).

 

I have a script in Photoshop which 1) assigns the sRGB colour space (because this makes it easier in CP), and 2) opens CP.

 

I often forget to set the film type, but if I remember that's the first thing I do in CP. However, I have found that setting the film type rarely increases the accuracy of the colours when I later colour correct in Adobe Camera Raw, which is my preferred editor (as weird as that may sound, see below).

 

Next, I cycle through the several 'presets' using the Restore Settings button. Typically the preview will only vary two or three times between the various presets, usually thus: initial look, other look, same other look, same initial look, same other look, initial look, if that makes sense.

 

I very rarely adjust the image using the black or white sliders and almost never use CP 'click on a neutral grey area' function. The reason is that CP's preview isn't as accurate as it could be. I have asked Oldendorf about this and he says that the way CP's preview looks is limited by what Photoshop allows it to show. For instance, an image will look considerably more grainy in CP's preview than when one OKs out of CP and looks at the image in Photoshop. 

 

This is basically all I do in CP. After exiting CP, I spot the scan in Photoshop to remove dust etc, save the TIFF, and exit Photoshop.

 

Then I open the TIFF in Adobe Camera Raw and adjust the colours, exposure, contrast etc, as well as set an initial sharpness. I find that ACR's highlight recovery is much more competent than CP's equivalent (the black slider and the Highlight Stops pull-down at the top which more easily than ACR's highlight recovery results in greyish highlights). Note that it is possible to set the Range for CP's highlight recovery (the pull-down next to Stops).

 

I also like how one can adjust the black point and shadows separately in ACR, which is very useful for instance to deal with underexposure.

 

I mentioned above that I often don't use CP's film presets. I have found that even if I use such a preset, ACR's White Balance tool will achieve even better colour. Also, I often use films for which CP lacks a preset, or where there are just too many presets, like Portra, meaning CP doesn't really help in achieving a final good colour. 

 

All this to say that I basically use CP in a similar way to you, simply to "develop" a scan from negative to positive. 

 

However, when I began using CP, and I used it extensively for a few years, I noticed that it has lots of tools for very detailed fine-tuning of images. One will have to spend time to understand the many buttons and sliders and how they inter-relate (for instance the undo function is quite complex).

 

Fwiw this is how I use it. 

Br

Philip

 

 

As plasticman and indegaard have both mentioned ColorPerfect, I hope it's not OT to ask about it in this thread, in which there is a lot of valuable scan processing experience. I've been trying ColorPerfect for processing color negative film from digitalizations using my M9 camera and the BEOON copy stand with a Focotar 2 lens. 

 

While ColorPerfect has none of the cost issues or lack of customer orientation that SilverFast is notorious for, the user interface is not intuitive. Also, the ColorFix video are difficult to follow, as it's hard to keep track of what's being done on the screen while listening to the speaker drone on: I believe ColorPerfect is essentially a one-man operation and the videos are presented by the software developer. Not being sarcastic, but I've fallen asleep twice — in bed with a MacBook on my stomach — watching some of these videos because the tone or speed of the voice doesn't vary. 

 

Because the user interface is so unintuitive, I've been using ColorPerfect to invert my linear TIFF files produced by MakeTIFF. And then all I do is use ColorNeg and choose the relevant film type. After that do color correction and any other processing in Lightroom, in which the view f the file is larger. Am I missing anything by doing this processing in Lightroom rather than ColorPerfect?

 

I've also tried ColorPerfect on B&W film digitalization by the M-Monochrom/BEOON combination. Again, I only do the file inversion in ColorPerfect and then the rest of the processing in Lightroom. I find that sometimes the ColorPerfect B&W file has a highlight separation — although sometimes ColorPerfect blows a highlights a bit, presumably this is because I've only used the default settings. If I learned ColorPerfect properly and did the processing there, would I  gain anything?

_______________

Alone in Bangkok essay on BURN Magazine

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Dear Zed,

 

thank you for the very fair assessment :-)

There is one thing I can read often about the price of SilverFast, you wrote it too…

A second license for a second scanner is not as expensive as a normal license. We have an option called „Crossgrade“ for that in our webshop, so you will get a second license with an attractive discount. Feel free to check it in our webshop :-)

 

I realize my response may be a tad late but I saw it right now ;-)

 

Best

 

LSI_Moeller

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Guest NEIL-D-WILLIAMS

So let me jump in here and give you all a bollocking.

I started using Silverfox with my Plustek 120. It was okay but as a novice I really didn't know any better, I just figured thats what film looks like. I was then asked on the open film thread if I have tried Vuescan so I got it and WOW what a frigging difference. A few months later while scanning with Vuescan it all of a sudden started given me a vertical line right down the middle. two months last and many emails back and forward to Harry..........nothing

Then out of the blue one of the guys on this forum suggested that I did XYZ and bobs your uncle the vertical line went away..............its not all sweet though, sometimes when using viewscan it just starts making this horrendous noise when moving from the first scan to the next, the only way up to now to fix it is buy making a new scan with the silverfox then switch back to the view scan and it starts working properly again.

Ive just bought a Epson V850 for scanning 4 x 5 and  8 x 10 and that scanner comes bundled with silverfox SE V8ii........I might give that a shot if Viewscan doesn't work

 

Neil

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Dear Neil,

 

the Plustek OpticFilm 120 is a great scanner, but when it fails during a scan, you need to switch it off,

unplug everything from the scanner and push the power on button for a few seconds. You can then plug everything back in and should be good to go.

 

SilverFast Ai Studio is hard to handle for a novice, you're right. There's a lot more in it than you'll probably need or can handle in the beginning.

SilverFast covers a lot of different workflows for different materials so that you get lost easily in the possibilites of Ai Studio.

It takes a little while until you realize which tools fit this or that picture; you won't need them all on one image, most likely.

There is a guide covering the first and basic steps in SilverFast, which should help you to find your personal workflow a lot faster.

http://www.silverfast.com/documentation/en.html

 

 

I'd really like to encourage you to give SilverFast another try. If you encounter any specific difficulties that you can't figure out yourself, you can of course ask our email support team for help.

 

Best

 

LSI_Moeller

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A year later and a new update: Vuescan problems have continued to bother me - very long scan times (especially on batch scans, so probably poor memory management in the application), and also disappointing results when trying to scan over-exposed negatives.

 

I'm testing the Silverfast trial again - and this time I decided to just stick with testing for as long as I can bear it. Every time I've tested it before, the interface has given me too many headaches to persist for more than a dozen scans.

 

The short story is that I'll probably be buying Silverfast, after all. The scans are orders of magnitude faster, and the results are simply better straight out of the scanner. There are some small problems I'm debating with myself about, but I'm reluctantly leaning towards the change.

 

In the end the largest drawback is the horrible licensing and hefty price tag - looking back over this thread it seems I decided against buying SF when it cost €340. Now it costs €450. That's not bad for one year's inflation.

 

Thanks all for a good discussion. Still interesting to see the thread high up on the first page of Google results when searching the topic.

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I know your not talking dollars, but man; 110 more in one year?  To me that's outrageous.  Still; if Silverfast can work faster with better results...then I would be all for that!

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I have posted earlier here about Silverfast. In the end I found that I could quickly and reliable get excellent results, unlike with Vuescan where good results continued to elude me.

 

So although I object to the outrageous price, it is not much compared to the cost of my photographic equipment, computer and monitors. 

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