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paulsydaus

Film Scanners

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It seems film is having a slight resurgence. But can the same be said of scanners?

What are currently the best available film scanners at a reasonable (I.e. Not flextight) level price?

 

 

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Slight? Welcome to the party... seems you might be a tad late. Film is enjoying a real revival in some sectors. My observation is that 35mm is very popular amongst the youth. Several new emulsions released recently. Camera prices seem to be on the up too. But there are those who dislike 35mm, I love it.

 

I use a Kodak Pakon F135 scanner.

 

 

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The Coolscan 5000 units (long discontinued) blow away anything Plustek is currently offering. That said, know what you're getting into. These are old and Nikon no longer services, so it's a bit like keeping vintage cars running. I've been working for a month now to track down a rock solid 5000; the first one I found had banding issues. The second has problems with the film feeder I'm still trying to sort out. 

 

It is frustrating, because the technology is there -- and hypothetically could greatly surpass what Nikon was doing in the middle 2000s -- but the demand is too niche for any of the big manufacturers to get back in the game.

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The Coolscan 5000 units (long discontinued) blow away anything Plustek is currently offering.

 

 

I haven't used one, but based on price it should. The Nikon 5000 was over US$1100 almost 15 years ago and only scanned 35mm, whereas the most expensive Plustek 35mm scanner is US$490 today. The Nikon was a premium product, at a time when that product was required. Now film users are  hobbyists in which case the Plustek (35mm) or Epson Flatbeds (120 and up) are very competent. The few who those aren't good enough can step up the professional drum scanners. Unfortunately there just isn't any middle ground at the moment, but it is slowly returning (the Plustek 120 for instance it aiming at the Coolscan market).

 

To the OP, the Plustek scanners are very competent and are modern and they are releasing new models steadily. There are other companies too with great products, but unlike most camera gear, scanners aren't sexy and don't seem to get upgraded very often.

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I use a Canoscan 8800.

 

Cheap and cheerful with LEDlighting.

 

Takes 135 or medium format...adequate for www. Even did a large print which i was happy with, from an M8.

 

I suppose it comes down to what you perceive, vs what you read on the web.

 

...

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I use Nikon Coolscan 5000 and 8000 for 35mm and 120 respectively. I read where other cheaper and newer scanners are 'raved' about, but has anyone done a side by side comparison, other that comments like 'I'm very happy with the results' which tell me nothing in reality, other than 'you' are happy.

 

A parallel issue is that a number of posters are taking to using the BEOON with a camera, they claim very successfully. Now is that any better than using an old enlarger stand with camera attached? I am interested in a technical answer.

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I hear you Erl.

 

For many, including me, actual results, are "good enough"...the price of perfection is high indeed.

And exactly what is "perfection" anyway.

 

I'm also suprised by the BEOON takeoff.

 

I've done some pretty good copies with a Nikon 55mm micro lens as well.

 

Trying to find a good copy stand, any ideas? Maybe an enlarger...?

 

...cheers, all best..

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Sometime, I will experiment with the M10 on an old enlarger stand, minus the enlarger head. I have a multi joint/swivel device that will connect the two. Currently I have my left hand in plaster so won't be doing anything adventurous for awhile. The rear lighting for film copy, I think, will be the greatest challenge, but not insurmountable. Getting a good colour temperature may be the issue.

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The Plustek 120 takes you to within spitting distance of a drum scan, and has the advantage of being able to do medium format (up to 6x12cm) as well so you can fully exploit the qualities of film.

 

For good quality large format (4x5), medium format, and 35mm thumbnails an Epson V700/V800.

 

For 35 mm scans any current Plustek 35mm scanner does good quality scans.

 

A stress free setup would be a Plustek 35mm scanner together with a V800 for fast 35mm thumbnails plus its general flexibility.

 

In searching you ideally want to choose a scanner that can still be serviced, is readily available, doesn't need older operating systems to run, and can use Vuescan as the software.

Edited by 250swb

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but has anyone done a side by side comparison, other that comments like 'I'm very happy with the results' which tell me nothing in reality, other than 'you' are happy.

 

 

That's all that really matters though IMO. One of the problems in the internet age is that too much time and energy is spent comparing stuff. Too much worrying about what else is or might be "better".

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...A parallel issue is that a number of posters are taking to using the BEOON with a camera, they claim very successfully. Now is that any better than using an old enlarger stand with camera attached? I am interested in a technical answer.

I'm also suprised by the BEOON takeoff...I've done some pretty good copies with a Nikon 55mm micro lens as well.

Trying to find a good copy stand, any ideas? Maybe an enlarger...?

Sometime, I will experiment with the M10 on an old enlarger stand, minus the enlarger head. I have a multi joint/swivel device that will connect the two...The rear lighting for film copy, I think, will be the greatest challenge, but not insurmountable. Getting a good colour temperature may be the issue.

The Plustek 120 takes you to within spitting distance of a drum scan, and has the advantage of being able to do medium format (up to 6x12cm) as well so you can fully exploit the qualities of film...For 35 mm scans any current Plustek 35mm scanner does good quality scans...

 

I was surprised how good my combination of BEOON + M10 + Focotar 2 was for digitalizing transparency film: basically I feel that I'm getting quality at least as good as I got with my old Imacon Precision III scanner (6300 true optical resolutions and dMax of 4.2) — with the speed of 5-10 sec per frame. I was also surprised that these files required substantially less post-processing adjustments than the Imacon scans. 
 
There are other solutions for excellent camera scanning. Another thread mentions that the Valloy enlarger, with its copy stand, apparently, is much cheaper these days than the BEOON. Some other enlarger brands have copy stands as well. Also, I wonder whether the BELUN copy stand, for LTM cameras, can be adapted for M-Mount cameras. 
 
The advantage of the BEOON is that it's solid and offers a turn-key solution for digitalizing with cameras that can use an M-Mount. Also, it is fast and easily transportable. The key element of the BEOON setup is to use a good enlarger lens: the corner quality of an enlarger lens (optimized for a flat field) will be better than that of macro lenses (designed for 3-D objects as well).
 
In my case, I don't know the degree to which use of the M10, with it's large dynamic range) is preferable to the M9 — I cannot compare because I sold the M9 before getting the M10. And I never digitalized transparency film with the M9. It is clear, though, that slide film scanning requires greater dynamic range than negative film: because of it’s greater density, slide films requires a dMax of 4.0 or a little more. The Plustek scanners have a maximum dMax of 3.6, and to get an effective resolution of 3,250ppi as well as the maximum dMax requires multi-scanning, which takes about 8 minutes per frame. In another thread a Plustek user reported that the fixed focus of the Plustek was a problem in scanning slides because transparency film is thicker than negative film and, consequently, he experienced softer focus in scanning slides. 
 
The light source for camera scanning is not an issue, using a good LED light pad. The Autograph 920LX that I use has a color temperature of 6,000–6,500K, which is fine.
 
Here are a few examples of Kodachrome digitalizations that, in my view, reproduce the look of the film as opposed to having the look of the M10:
 
 
Leica M3 | Summicorn 50 | Kodachrome 25
 
 
Leica M6 | Summicorn 50 | Agfa Scala
Sop Kai Village , Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai
 
 
Leica M3 | Summicorn 50 | Kodachrome 64
 
 
Leica IIIc | Summitar 50 | Kodachrome II
Northern Uganda (1965) on the way to Karamoja
 
 
Leica IIIc | Summitar 50 | Kodachrome II
Kampala 1965

 

 
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A parallel issue is that a number of posters are taking to using the BEOON with a camera, they claim very successfully. Now is that any better than using an old enlarger stand with camera attached? I am interested in a technical answer.

 

Erl I'm also really curious about the Cult of BEOON. I looked at one locally a couple of years ago - so maybe my opinion is colored by sour grapes, because I decided not to buy the whole kit very cheap, and now I could sell it for 4x the price - but the setup struck me as having a lot of shortcomings compared to enlarger heads that have camera-holding accessories for copying.
 
The things that struck me were:
- I wouldn't be able to use film-strip holders (I have a LOT of spare holders for my Nikon in different sizes) 
- the negatives therefore need to be dragged along either the lightbox surface or some other surface laid over that (and all the dust and scratch issues associated with it)
- I wouldn't be able to use a medium format camera (at the time I was thinking about something like a secondhand ZD)
 
All in all, I couldn't really see the point of the Rube Goldberg BEOON - especially with modern cameras capable of zoomed live-view (or even tethered). 
My feeling now is that it's become desirable because of rarity combined with the Leica label.
Edited by plasticman

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I should add that I'm glad to see more people shooting film and I don't really care how people do it so long as they're happy with the results. 

 

Two particular things have bugged me about the DSLR-scanning trend though: the claims that people seem to feel the need to make for the superiority of the results over film-scanners (for which I haven't seen any evidence so far), and this particular mania for a piece of equipment that's in short supply and becoming expensive (and therefore exclusionary instead of inclusive - which is what we all should be aiming for in the film crowd).

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plasticman - I have made it quite clear that there are alternatives to the BEOON if someone wants to do camera scanning.

 

On comparison to scanning with scanners, I have only compared scanning several B&W negatives at full resolution (6300ppi) on my Imacon Precision III vs. camera scanning with the M-Monochrom, which I no longer have. The results were of equal quality, meaning that the Imacon files were a bit larger, but I couldn't see a difference at 100% in either resolution or dMax. As I didn't keep these tests, I cannot show the results.

 

For scanning transparency film, unfortunately I have to let the results shown above speak for themselves, as I have no direct comparison: all I can say is that I scanned Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides some years ago with the same Imacon and that the full resolution scans took some 12 min because of the SCSI interface, and, as stated above, required substantially more post-processing than my camera scans with the M10. 

 

On the need for a film strip holder for the BEOON, I don't feel it is necessary. The BEOON base has cutouts for 35mm film of both sides. I find it fast and easy to move from frame to frame and to line up the frame in the 1:1 BEOON masks, which is what I presume you call the Rube Goldberg aspect. The reality, for me, is that the surface of the Artograph  Lightpad that I'm using is so smooth that I have no difficulty moving the film strip nor any risk of scratching it — this surface is also not a dust magnet. Clearly, though, the BEOON is not a solution for medium format film.

 

My experience with the Imacon is a long saga with an unhappy ending. Not having used it since 2005, in December 2016, in three 10-hour days, I managed to get the old OS X 10.6.8 installed on an old Mac PowerBook to run the (legacy) Imacon ColorFlex 4.04 software and got the SCSI-to-FireWire Orange Converter and Granite (power) SCSI Terminator going so that all this works — only to learn, on the third full day of my effort, that this scanner was losing sharpness at the trailing end of the 35mm frame (as the negative is fed into the scanner in portrait orientation).

 
Further research showed that Imacon scanners require periodic maintenance fairly often. After some hours of searching the web, I found out that the cause of the sharpness loss is slippage of the belts that drive the holder mechanism. I had to replace these belts and some springs. Although, apparently, I can buy the belts and springs in the US or the UK at about US$5–10 each, I gave up because these scanners often require belt replacement every six months or so. The belt problem also makes the film frame shift in the holder as it goes into the scanner, so that a small portion of the scan is often cut off. I now remember from ten years ago that I often had this problem, but didn't know there was a solution. By the way, there is no batch feed solution for this scanner — and one full res (6300 ppi) 35mm scan takes 12–15 minutes. 
 
As I didn't want to make a career out of the care and feeding of this Imacon scanner, I decided to dump it. I couldn't sell it with a good conscience. Basically, even if I was prepared spent $14,000 on a new Hasselblad X1 — same 6300dpi resolution as my Imacon but twice the speed — I don’t think it would make sense because I don’t think the drive mechanism on the new scanners has changed. That means, in my view, that these Hasselblad scanners only make sense (beyond the price issue) in a photo lab environment, where they can be serviced and maintained regularly.
 
The choice, then was a Plustek or other scanner still produced, as I didn't wand to get into legacy systems. But the Plustek has a dMax of only 3.6, which wasn't enough for my slides. I had no interest in the Pakon, which is not only was a legacy machine, but also was designed with small prints in mind.
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Edited by Nowhereman

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That's all that really matters though IMO. One of the problems in the internet age is that too much time and energy is spent comparing stuff. Too much worrying about what else is or might be "better".

True, but if one IS in search of something better, for whatever purpose, it would be nice to have a measure available, rather than reinvent the wheel oneself.

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plasticman - I have made it quite clear that there are alternatives to the BEOON if someone wants to do camera scanning...

_________________

 

Mitch - you seem to assume I'm directing all my comments at you, which isn't the case: I've been a bystander of dozens of flamewars on other forums, between zealous adherents of DSLR or conventional scanning. I'm usually an onlooker because I genuinely want to know more, and was actively thinking about switching to DSLR scanning over the last couple years, due to the problems I was having with Vuescan. But I'm more in a wait-and-see phase right now, and frankly not seeing anything that makes me want to hurry to make the change.
 
As for the BEOON, I guess I'm simply tired by the recent feeding-frenzy: I feel I can hardly look at film-images anywhere right now (including threads like 'I like film...' which I previously felt was a refuge from long diatribes about scanning techniques), without needing to scroll through endless posts asking about where to find, or where someone did find, the holy BEOON.
 
And the habit that seems to have spread everywhere of labelling an image with the words 'BEOON scan' - as though that's any more meaningful than me writing something like 'Arne Jacobsen Desk scan'. I see the BEOON description, and cynically wonder whether it's because the poster doesn't want to write "I took a photograph of the negative with my digital camera".

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Slight? Welcome to the party... seems you might be a tad late. Film is enjoying a real revival in some sectors. My observation is that 35mm is very popular amongst the youth. Several new emulsions released recently. Camera prices seem to be on the up too. But there are those who dislike 35mm, I love it.

 

I use a Kodak Pakon F135 scanner.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Not late at all, just had a 2 year hiatus.

The news might be good in some areas, but not if you're a fan of Fuji trannies like Provia, so it's not all roses...

It's also not certain if this is just a fad with the hipsters.

I guess my comment was regarding new scanners, rather than second hand...

There doesn't seam to be any Nikon Coolscan 9000ED quality products around anymore which were still far cheaper than the flextights in their day...

 

 

 

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Edited by paulsydaus

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I use a Nikon 5000 with a roll film adapter. Easy to use and gives high quality images. I also have a Epson V750, but I only use it for larger formats. The only disadvantage of the Nikons scanners is that they renders the grain a bit hars.

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