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New to film - question about scanned image quality


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23 minutes ago, OThomas said:

@roelandinho yep I agree, I just said it was Plustek rated  @ 7200 dpi. I’ve seen reviews that mention there is no difference in quality between a lower dpi and the 7200 dpi. Out  of interest what dpi do you use for the Plustek?

For the Plustek I use 3600 dpi, because that setting does deliver more detail than lower settings and keeps the file sizes manageable. 

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On 7/31/2022 at 11:19 PM, neonvoid said:

I just started with film photography after shooting with digital for many years.
Since I have little idea what to expect from scanned film, I need some opinion from those of you who scan film regularly.

One thing I would suggest is to look into the cost and quality of having scanning done at the time of processing. In the right hands, the this can yield better results than most domestic scanners, and will obviously save a lot of time, so it's worth making some comparisons before you shoot a lot of film. The tricky bit is to find someone who is prepared to scan it the way you want (e.g. at high resolution with sharpening turned off) for a reasonable price. Here in the UK, I use a company called FilmDev that has pretty good pricing for processing and scanning, done with professional Noritsu and Fuji machines. They have downloadable samples of their output at a range of resolutions so you can see what to expect.

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I've done this a few times with different vendors.  Results were mixed for B&W scans.  The Darkroom is consistent but $12 for the large scans is a little pricy.  

BTW, when I get the negatives I always scan them at home and compare to the professional scans and the results are acceptably similar.  

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, RayD28 said:

I've done this a few times with different vendors.  Results were mixed for B&W scans.  The Darkroom is consistent but $12 for the large scans is a little pricy.  

BTW, when I get the negatives I always scan them at home and compare to the professional scans and the results are acceptably similar.  

I’ve found this to be true, decent quality scans quadruple the cost of processing. £4.49 just to process 1 roll of B&W film, up to £18.49 (£14.00 for high quality jpegs)

Edited by OThomas
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Posted (edited)

The other thing we are not really talking about here is that modern 40mp+ full frame digital cameras will give you a distorted perception of what kind of resolution you should expect out of 35mm film. 35mm was designed as a "small format". It was and remains more or less the minimum size format that was regularly used. There of course half frame cameras and Minox cameras, but in general 35mm was the smallest format in common professional use. Things you might forget about in the digital age, is that film needed to physically occupy the camera, and with 35mm you could get a roll with 36 or 37 frames inside the camera and shoot it continuously until it was finished. Medium format tended to be 10-16 shots, or 20-32, depending on whether you used 120 format or 220, which was mostly used by wedding photographers. Of course 4x5 and 8x10 were single shot affairs, or at best, 6 shots in a grafmatic. 35mm was a trade off: smaller negative size in exchange for much smaller cameras and lenses, while also giving you multiple shots, easy loading faster and more reliable motor drives and flatter film. Most film can easily tolerate a 10-15x enlargement. For 35mm, that is only a 11x14 or 16x20. You can go larger than that, but grain and softness become very visible. That does not always diminish a photo, but it is noticeable. Film's magic trick is that you can just use more of it...6x7cm film is more than 4 times the size of 35mm, so it can usually be enlarged 4 times as much with the same quality. When you get to 4x5 and 8x10, there is simply so much film area that even 100-150mp digital has a hard time keeping up when it comes to sheer detail and tonal information.

But for 35mm...if you are used to digital, you are going to find 35mm film very soft no matter how you scan it. Below is a comparison I made a long time ago...I was curious so I shot my Leica M9 with 75mm Summicron against my M7 with the same lens using one of the last rolls of Kodachrome 64. There are a few films with finer grain and higher sharpness, but in general this was a sharp, low grain film. I work as a lab tech and scanned this with an X5, which is probably the best 35mm scanner ever made (it scans at 8000dpi with a focusing Rodenstock scanner lens...way ahead of any of the consumer scanners like the Plustek or Epson etc). So this is your best case scenario of 35mm film vs 18mp digital. If you are talking 47mp digital...60mp digital etc...game over when it comes to detail. Character is of course another matter, and that is more to taste.

(P.S. You may see that the film scan is at 50%...this is to match the size to the digital, but as you can see, going to 100% would just be zooming in closer to the fuzz...most film does not have much detail to be found after about 4000dpi with a good lens.)

 

Edited by Stuart Richardson
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2 hours ago, Anbaric said:

One thing I would suggest is to look into the cost and quality of having scanning done at the time of processing. In the right hands, the this can yield better results than most domestic scanners, and will obviously save a lot of time, so it's worth making some comparisons before you shoot a lot of film. The tricky bit is to find someone who is prepared to scan it the way you want (e.g. at high resolution with sharpening turned off) for a reasonable price. Here in the UK, I use a company called FilmDev that has pretty good pricing for processing and scanning, done with professional Noritsu and Fuji machines. They have downloadable samples of their output at a range of resolutions so you can see what to expect.

Do you have any recommendations for companies (preferably independent) in London area?

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2 hours ago, Stuart Richardson said:

The other thing we are not really talking about here is that modern 40mp+ full frame digital cameras will give you a distorted perception of what kind of resolution you should expect out of 35mm film. 35mm was designed as a "small format". It was and remains more or less the minimum size format that was regularly used. There of course half frame cameras and Minox cameras, but in general 35mm was the smallest format in common professional use. Things you might forget about in the digital age, is that film needed to physically occupy the camera, and with 35mm you could get a roll with 36 or 37 frames inside the camera and shoot it continuously until it was finished. Medium format tended to be 10-16 shots, or 20-32, depending on whether you used 120 format or 220, which was mostly used by wedding photographers. Of course 4x5 and 8x10 were single shot affairs, or at best, 6 shots in a grafmatic. 35mm was a trade off: smaller negative size in exchange for much smaller cameras and lenses, while also giving you multiple shots, easy loading faster and more reliable motor drives and flatter film. Most film can easily tolerate a 10-15x enlargement. For 35mm, that is only a 11x14 or 16x20. You can go larger than that, but grain and softness become very visible. That does not always diminish a photo, but it is noticeable. Film's magic trick is that you can just use more of it...6x7cm film is more than 4 times the size of 35mm, so it can usually be enlarged 4 times as much with the same quality. When you get to 4x5 and 8x10, there is simply so much film area that even 100-150mp digital has a hard time keeping up when it comes to sheer detail and tonal information.

But for 35mm...if you are used to digital, you are going to find 35mm film very soft no matter how you scan it. Below is a comparison I made a long time ago...I was curious so I shot my Leica M9 with 75mm Summicron against my M7 with the same lens using one of the last rolls of Kodachrome 64. There are a few films with finer grain and higher sharpness, but in general this was a sharp, low grain film. I work as a lab tech and scanned this with an X5, which is probably the best 35mm scanner ever made (it scans at 8000dpi with a focusing Rodenstock scanner lens...way ahead of any of the consumer scanners like the Plustek or Epson etc). So this is your best case scenario of 35mm film vs 18mp digital. If you are talking 47mp digital...60mp digital etc...game over when it comes to detail. Character is of course another matter, and that is more to taste.

(P.S. You may see that the film scan is at 50%...this is to match the size to the digital, but as you can see, going to 100% would just be zooming in closer to the fuzz...most film does not have much detail to be found after about 4000dpi with a good lens.)

 

@Stuart Richardson this is a brilliant intro into film from the technical perspective, thank you very much.

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Posted (edited)

I agree that you need to adjust expectations of technical qualities like sharpness etc compared to a high resolution digital camera.    

However, I find that film’s imperfections give the images more character that make the images more interesting from an artistic standpoint.  

For scanning I would only use expensive high resolution scans for the images  you plan to print. For online viewing lower resolution scans are fine. I use AG photolab and I request the standard 18Mb jpeg scans which are sent to me by web transfer a day after they receive the film.  The cost is about £10 for develop and scan.

Edited by andrew01
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Posted (edited)
On 8/2/2022 at 2:45 PM, neonvoid said:

Do you have any recommendations for companies (preferably independent) in London area?

I haven't done much scanning at local labs since the days when every branch of Boots had a Fuji Frontier. I've used a couple of branches of Snappy Snaps when I've been in a hurry to test a camera, with variable results - they are a franchise, so individual branches have their own policies about scanning (and levels of skill!). At one branch, the standard scan was something like 1.5 megapixels, similar to the FilmDev 'small' scan. At another, it was 3.5 MP (still not as big as FilmDev's 6 MP 'medium', and more expensive). There was a significant premium for higher resolution. At FilmDev, you can get C41 developing and a 30 MP Noritsu scan for £8.50, though you also have to factor in postage of your film to them at 'small parcel' prices, plus a £1.50 return postage charge per order to get your negatives back, so it makes sense to send them a batch of several films at once.

If cost is no object, you could use one of the well-known pro labs like Bayeux or Metro Imaging, but they'll charge you about £10 just to develop your film before you even talk about scanning. There are a couple of other consumer labs in London with more accessible pricing I haven't yet tried but which have had some decent reviews:

https://www.analoguefilms.co.uk/

https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/stories/eye-culture-photo-lab-mohiuddin-siddique

See also:

https://lenslurker.com/develop-film-in-london/

https://kosmofoto.com/2019/09/kosmo-fotos-guide-to-london-film-processing/

Ask for the pixel dimensions of the scan you'll be getting and compare with the FilmDev samples - 'medium' or 'large' can mean more or less anything depending on the lab. Quotes from labs in megabytes can be confusing because it's not always clear whether they mean compressed or uncompressed, or 8 bit / 16 bit.

Edited by Anbaric
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If you don't already own a film scanner and want to get a feel for how it is working with film scanned to digital, using lab-scans as described above is a very good way to get started. 

If you are shooting C41 or ECN-2 stock, a dedicated film scanner will give you advantages such as dust-removal (make sure it has an infrared channel).  Nikon Coolscans IV, V, 4000 or 5000 are very good if you can find one; other scanners are also available.  My advice is to scan at the "native" resolution of the machine.  8-bit is fine for evaluating images or converting to JPeg for web; 16-bit only really makes sense if you plan to print large or do complex post-production in software.  The average 35mm neg should give a very decent 18-25MPixel image (depending on whether the scanner is 3600 or 4000 ppi).

For monochrome (silver) negatives, shooting with a digital camera, macro-lens and light table is a good, fast way to get digital then convert to positive in software.  (Vuescan is good for this purpose.)  I have had good results from a Leica SL with Micro-Nikkor 3.5/55.  With an adapter, this lens can also be used on Sony, Nikon Z etc (some swear by enlarger lenses).  Just need a good tripod or scanning frame (e.g. Leica BEOON) and light table.

It's all hours of fun and you get the shooting experience that only film can offer (take the picture today, look at it on the screen days or weeks later) on lovely mechanical cameras.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/4/2022 at 2:45 PM, Anbaric said:

I haven't done much scanning at local labs since the days when every branch of Boots had a Fuji Frontier. I've used a couple of branches of Snappy Snaps when I've been in a hurry to test a camera, with variable results - they are a franchise, so individual branches have their own policies about scanning (and levels of skill!). At one branch, the standard scan was something like 1.5 megapixels, similar to the FilmDev 'small' scan. At another, it was 3.5 MP (still not as big as FilmDev's 6 MP 'medium', and more expensive). There was a significant premium for higher resolution. At FilmDev, you can get C41 developing and a 30 MP Noritsu scan for £8.50, though you also have to factor in postage of your film to them at 'small parcel' prices, plus a £1.50 return postage charge per order to get your negatives back, so it makes sense to send them a batch of several films at once.

If cost is no object, you could use one of the well-known pro labs like Bayeux or Metro Imaging, but they'll charge you about £10 just to develop your film before you even talk about scanning. There are a couple of other consumer labs in London with more accessible pricing I haven't yet tried but which have had some decent reviews:

https://www.analoguefilms.co.uk/

https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/stories/eye-culture-photo-lab-mohiuddin-siddique

See also:

https://lenslurker.com/develop-film-in-london/

https://kosmofoto.com/2019/09/kosmo-fotos-guide-to-london-film-processing/

Ask for the pixel dimensions of the scan you'll be getting and compare with the FilmDev samples - 'medium' or 'large' can mean more or less anything depending on the lab. Quotes from labs in megabytes can be confusing because it's not always clear whether they mean compressed or uncompressed, or 8 bit / 16 bit.

I followed your recommendation and developed my second roll at Bayeux, and I'm very pleased with the results.

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On 8/1/2022 at 12:23 AM, OThomas said:

Good to know, thanks.  This is the brand of scanner I’m planning to purchase in the near future. The 8300 is soon to be available in the UK so I was waiting for that to do the rounds amongst the reviewers. 

Decided to bite the Bullet and order an 8200 AI. Should get by Tuesday, loads of negatives to scan. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, OThomas said:

Decided to bite the Bullet and order an 8200 AI. Should get by Tuesday, loads of negatives to scan. 

Are you going to use to bundled Silverfast software or try VueScan? The Silverfast can be good but it’s a steep learning curve and you have to be careful with adjustments. It offers “Pilot mode” and takes care of a lot of the basics for you and gives acceptable scans. There is a lot more information and suggestions to be found for VueScan. Mostly, make sure to snap the negative holder closed, don’t let it get too hot and take a break when things get frustrating.

Edited by madNbad
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@madNbad it’s bundled with Silverfast 8, so hopefully it allows me to update to Silverfast 9 for free and I’ll give that and Vuescan a shot on trial. Decide which I prefer. I’m also going to look at Negative Lab Pro on free trial. 

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3 hours ago, OThomas said:

@madNbad it’s bundled with Silverfast 8, so hopefully it allows me to update to Silverfast 9 for free and I’ll give that and Vuescan a shot on trial. Decide which I prefer. I’m also going to look at Negative Lab Pro on free trial. 

Good luck with upgrading for free, the only thing that differentiates 90% of Plustek scanners going way back in time is the version of Silverfast they are bundled with. If you want the next version of Silverfast you'll either have to pay for it independently or buy a new scanner when it comes bundled with that, but it will be the same scanner as your last scanner. This is kind of why I suggested you get an older Plustek scanner on a massive discount and use Vuescan because you'll be getting the same basic scanner either way.

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Posted (edited)

@250swb just checked on Silverfast 8 to 9 upgrade, it seems to be possible. 
https://helpcenter.silverfast.com/hc/en-us/articles/4402146728209-Are-there-free-upgrades-to-SilverFast-9-

i would’ve sent the scanner back if hadn’t have been, after all Silverfast 9 has been out for a while.

Edited by OThomas
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