Scanning medium format film

Discussion in 'Scanning and Scanners' started by anthonylg, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. anthonylg

    anthonylg Member

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    Hello,

    I currently use an Epson v700 to scan my medium format films but I'm looking for something a bit better with better details, dynamic range and more accurate colors. Well, I don't have the budget for an imacon but is there an alternative to the Nikon Coolscan ? I've heard good things about the Minolta Multi Pro but it is very difficult to find...
    Is there other scanners or brand that can deliver great quality scans ? Mostly for 120 films, both negatives and positives.
    Thanks for your help,
    Anthony
     
  2. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Member

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    The Minolta Dimage Scan Multi is a nice scanner ... I have the non-Pro and it does a pretty good job but you definitely will want the higher resolution of the Pro so skip the II version.
     
  3. Saganich

    Saganich Subscriber

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    BRAUN FS-120. I think they still make them.
     
  4. saman13

    saman13 Subscriber

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    I know this doesn't answer your question but...

    Do you wet print? I've found that it is much easier and quicker to get a good looking scan from a print I've made (from 35mm or MF) than scanning negatives. Plus, if I like an image enough to scan it, I will be printing it anyways (which is enjoyable in its own right) so it is not any extra work.

    This way, you're scanning a much larger image so you don't need a "top of the line" scanner.

    Just something else to think about.
     
  5. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  6. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    You may find some test reports here
    https://scandig.com/filmscanner/index.html
    Medium format scanners are coming in the effective 3050 -3200 dpi range, better than the 2300 dpi of the Epson V700 but not matching the old Coolscans it appears.
     
  7. nbagno

    nbagno Subscriber

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    I've never used the Coolscan, but I do use the Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro and a ICG 365 Drum Scanner. Also have a Pakon for 35mm. One thing I learned is that in most cases it's not really the scanner that seems to matter, it's the photograph. For images that I want to print either for myself or others, I typically just use the Minolta unless it's 4x5 then I don't have a choice.
     
  8. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Member

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    I use a Plustek OpticFilm 120 and it is MUCH better than a flatbed. This is most definately an alternative to a Nikon Coolscan. The film holders for the Plustek are superb. The best I have ever seen. The ONLY downside to the OpticFilm 120 is that it cannot scan 6 X 17 negatives. I dearly with that it could as panorama photography is something I am very interested in.

    I can highly recommend the Plustek OpticFilm 120. I've had one for about 3 years now. Excellent 35mm film results too, worlds better than a flatbed.
     
  9. mijosc

    mijosc Subscriber

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    Just out of curiosity, what scanning software do you use with your OpticFIlm 120?
     
  10. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Member

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    I use SilverFast SE, which is what the scanner came with. Abysmal software, but it works. Vuescan is also an option with this scanner.
     
  11. Alan Edward Klein

    Alan Edward Klein Member

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    What do you mean it's not the scanner but the photo?
     
  12. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    Try a Hasselblad Flextight.
    Not cheap. But neither is quality when you want it.

    I surmise that is means if a photograph is very contrasty is will not necessarily scan well.
    But more usually it is the scanner and operator experience/inexperience that determines the outcome.
     
  13. nbagno

    nbagno Subscriber

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    I find that when I look at my photographs I find myself working on and printing the best photograph, not the photograph from the best scanner. For me, the emphasis is to worry less about the hardware I'm using. There's nothing wrong with wanting the best hardware you can get, but don't let that stop you from creating beautiful images. I know, a little righteous on my part :-|
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
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    anthonylg

    anthonylg Member

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    Hi Everyone !

    Sorry for answering only now and thank you all for your answers.
    Didn't know the Braun FS-120, thanks for the reference. It's always a serious brand so it's worth a look.

    I do not wet scan... Actually I found pretty good results and resolution with my scans and the black and whites look often great. The issue is mostly with colors and to get accurate ones. Especially from the Portra line and transparencies, that why I'm look for something a bit better than my V700.

    I though about it, but very difficult to find a used one on the market. And for the same price I prefer to find a used Coolscan 9000 than a new Plustek 120, I think. But that's a possibility too, the results I have seen from it where excellent.
     
  16. JWMster

    JWMster Subscriber

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    FWIW, I acquired a Nikon Coolscan LS8000 last year. This is the same hardware as the LS9000 - almost. Very little difference. It took 3 trips to get it up and running, but the cost of $800 or so for the machine - a good $500 or more less than an LS9000, plus $300 or so of repairs, and the scans are easier than the more contemporary machines (I'd used a Plustek 8200 i for 35mm so can't compare to others) in terms of batch Preview and batch Scans. Epson flatbeds often seem to have this feature, but the Plustek I had did not and you had to baby step every frame. Glad to rid of the whole-day process. Scanning still takes time... plenty of time... but at least the output is worth it. I imagine some with darkrooms would look at this exercise as painful and a comparatively greater time sink - even with batch scanning, but it's what I have available. There are some known issues with Nikon Coolscans and you will find it very important to make sure that whomever you buy from double boxes the scanner for shipping. Otherwise.... UPS and/or Fedex will inevitably bang it within their tolerances, but not without damage to the machine. I ran through two to get one (sent the first one back to the seller). Repairs from shipment even so involved the front face plate which was poorly designed (not my assessment, but the repair fellow's). The door to the scanner is also a weak point as it ties to a servo that must be tripped to enable scanning. Unfortunately, the door is made of plastic and plastic hinges... the latter which will break simply when you look at them. Broken hinges will disable the scanning process, and kill the whole. Thanks to my repair guy, I now have a brass door and brass hinge and that thing is indestructible. What I found is that there is a small cottage industry of repair folks who have found more ways to extend and improve these machines than is commonly recognized. And yet.... the thing is a million years old and scanning pixel by pixel, row by row is incredibly inefficient compared to what could be done today. Yet for the money, these remain among the best on the market. Can't touch a Hasselblad Flex, but that's another multiple in cost.Among the low-end non-flatbed, I'd rank Nikon Coolscan top, Braun next, and then Plustek...and yet all three will definitely produce good scans. The key as nbagno notes is the image you're scanning NOT the scanner. And the best time saver is to review your negatives and cut out the fat before you scan - if you can. BTW, I use Vuescan and find it fills the need just fine.

    All that said, I've seen amazing scans from the Epson 700 and 800 series machines. I don't know about batch scanning, but I'd seriously look at these before committing to our favorite 20-year-old tech. Especially if there's a possibility you might end up with a 4 X 5's in your future. And.... I think one positive for an Epson 800 machine is that you could easily make contact sheets of your negatives, and use those to review and determine which to scan. Bottom line, as much as I like my scanner, the Epson 800 for about the same money or less is one heckuva machine.
     
  17. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I am not sure as to what you mean by better detail but with my ancient 4780 and SilverFast software I get excellent scans of 2 1/4 and 4x5 black and white film. I have printed to 16x20 and maintained equal detail as with analog prints. Maybe I got the lucky unit or my vision is failing.:cry:

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  18. brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    I agree it's a great scanner, though I actually like the film holders since they're so easy to use. I found they work as well as the betterscanning holder, but it may be because I flatten my negatives well and got lucky with the focus zone of my scanner.

    I tried using a CLA'd coolscan 9000 and found the only difference for scanning B&W was the coolscan took much longer to scan and required much less (minimal) adjustments in photoshop compared to the V700. I preferred the workflow of the V700 much more than the coolscan. The end results were nearly identical, so I opted to keep using my V700. I remember seeing a well-done online review that came to the same conclusions--using the V700 with good technique (both in scanning and post-scanning editing) you get nearly the same results as the Nikon. I did not test color scanning.

    I would be interested in trying out the Plustek and seeing how enjoyable it is to use and how results compare to the Epson. If I recall, the Plustek had a lot of reliability issues with it, and it does not have an auto-focusing lens. My understanding was the current crop of medium format scanners weren't on par with the Nikons, which were made at a time when lots of professionals were still using 120 film and needed a professional scanner. I believe many labs use(d) the Coolscan.
     
  19. JWMster

    JWMster Subscriber

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    ditto to brent 8927's comment: Your scanning workflow and process matter. The scan is the start of the process.

    Ditto also to note that the major scanner review/sales outfit online stopped carrying the Plustek 120 because in their words, "reliability issues." Like some car companies where quality control is (or used to be) spotty in terms of reliability, it's a often not across the board on all copies, but more of an irregular problem where there are great and terrible versions that seem to depend on the luck of the draw. Unfortunately the bad copies detract from the over-all quality image of the brand where a good copy can produce wonderful results. The outfit recommends the Braun 120 machine instead. More money, but more reliable.

    And yes, the Nikon Coolscans walk and walk and walk their way through scanning. Seems like it takes forever. But the results are generally good and worth the wait. If you couldn't batch scan though, you'd go nuts. For me, this has been the biggest improvement for 35mm over my Plustek 8200, and it can scan 120 format. Truth be told, the Nikon Coolscan also makes enough noise to make one of the trash compactors from the 1970's sound quiet. Sounds like it's gonna bust one day. And it will. When it does, if Frank's not still around to repair it, I'll probably find and Espson... whatever model is current. Again, the V700 with after market holders wet scanned produces great output. Ditto for the V800 - that's supposed to be even "better".
     
  20. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Member

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    Regarding the Plustek OpticFilm 120, the film holders for this scanner are simply amazing. Incredibly easy to use, I can normally load film into them in just 5-10 seconds. The film is held perfectly flat, even if it is heavily curled. It is hard to imagine better film holders than what comes with this scanner.

    I've had no reliability issues with my Plustek 120 and have had it for just about 3 years. The output from this scanner can truly rival a Nikon Coolscan, especially if you are good with the software. That is one area I really need to improve on. The results from 35mm scanning absolutely destroy that of a flatbed. I have never been pleased with flatbed scanning of 35mm negatives. I'm always pleased with the output my Plustek OpticFilm 120 gives me with 35mm film. Yes, it does not have a focusing lens, but it appears to be so well calibrated that it does not matter. The film is kept ultra flat and so there is very little if any variation in the height of the plane of the film.
     
  21. brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    That's good to hear. Someday I'd like to try out the other dedicated MF scanners and see if I like them. I'm always curious to see if I can find something that works better, though I have been quite happy with my V700 since about 2010.

    I agree 35mm on a flatbed makes little sense. I've scanned a few 35mm negatives (I had about 10 images from my HS/early college days that were worth scanning and while they came out ok (on the monitor--I've never printed them), I could tell with the small size of the negative and lower flatbed resolution, as well as the curl of 35mm that is a real pain, that scanning 35mm wasn't going to be an optimal scan.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Saman13 was asking if you print using an enlarger and a darkroom, and if so, recommended that you scan the prints.
     
  23. xtolsniffer

    xtolsniffer Member

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    I can squeeze 48 lp/mm from my Epson V700 (about 2200 ppi). For my 6x7 transparencies (actually 68x57 mm) that's enough to print to 12"x16" at 300 dpi which is big enough for me. One thing I have noticed from slide (and neg) scans is that I have to apply way more sharpening than I would normally feel comfortable with to make a print look like it's high resolution - the resolution is there in the scan but you need to bring it out visually in the sharpening. I'm sure a dedicated MF scanner would be better, but the question is how much are you willing to pay for printing over 12"x16"?
     
  24. bernard_L

    bernard_L Member

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    +1
     
  25. Frank53

    Frank53 Subscriber

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    To show the difference between the V700 and a filmscanner, I made those scans with my V700 and my Imacon Flextight.
    Scanned on 3200dpi, only adjustment was setting black and white points, so no sharpening etc.
    Scan 1 and 2 are Imacon, 3 is Epson. What you can see is that the Imacon shows grain, which the Epson does not, but I think the Epson scan is surprisingly good if you do not plan to go pixel peeping. After postprocessing both may look the same, apart from the finest details (grain).
    If you plan buying a used filmscanner, I bought my Flextight for less than you will pay for a Nikon 9000 today. The biggest challenge is to get and keep it working on an old computer and scsi.
    It’s a lot easier to use the V700.
    Regards,
    Frank
    DA3627A5-B4F8-4129-BDFC-43CC3CDE9CC7.jpeg 5AF9A2F4-F092-4AF4-98F6-02C51E82814C.jpeg A1BE12A5-41FE-4B7D-A817-9AF75FEC0736.jpeg
     
  26. xtolsniffer

    xtolsniffer Member

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    Very interesting comparison, thanks for posting that. On balance I'd have to say that the V700 is pretty damn good for the money.
     
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