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To scan or not to scan.....

Discussion in 'Everything Film' started by gw8izr, Mar 28, 2018.

  1. gw8izr

    gw8izr Active Member

    So first off, Hello.. my name is Paul and I try to take pictures. Try is an important part of that statement :)

    I've not posted an intro so here it is in a few lines, been doing this 'trying' for many years starting with a Box Brownie, through the heady days of Halina Paulettes, Zenits and Practikas etc, getting a job and having a bit of spare money so being able to move on to Nikon's and eventually after a while moving to DSLR. Now recently retired and back to being able to spend some time trying to take those pictures again.

    So to the point, I still want to use one of my SLR cameras for B&W - I don't really know why but then as my wife always tells me that she has no idea why I do anything, I'm comfortable with that degree of mystery in my life.

    I still have my B&W darkroom kit but I'm sure I wont use that again. Its sad to see the value of old kit but thats life, by the way there are some very odd results if you google for 'enlargers' !

    So should I go down the negative scanning route? I wonder whether the results will faithfully capture the grain structure, If not I suppose I might as well do B&W with my DSLR.

    The spin off benefit is family archives and old negatives that I'm certain will contain superb pictures :) well not really but there may be some stuff that would be nice to see again..

    I haven't bought a scanner and don't really know what to consider. Whilst there are a number of budget / entry level devices on e-bay there are also some older coolscan / dimage type units that were sort of popular at one time. I can't easily justify spending a huge amount on this as it may well be just a distraction from the rest of this pastime.

    Any comments?
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    If it is only 35 mm then a dedicated film scanner is probably your best option. If you want to scan prints as well then there are flat-beds with film adaptors. I get the impression these are more fiddly. I'm toying with the idea myself but for 120 film where flatbed is the only affordable option.
  3. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    I've got a Canon 9000f II. 35mm and 120

    Perhaps not the best, but it works for me.

  4. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    Some scanners are not scanners! The cheap new items are simply a compact camera type of sensor in a box with illumination. Looking at new scanners, Plustek, Pacific Imaging and Reflecta are to all intents and purposes the same. Looking at used units, such as Nikon Coolscan, Minoltas and Canons, the better bet if it is for 35mm is imho a Nikon Coolscan IV, V, 4000 or 5000. There are more of these about, but spares are pretty scarce now. They are good performers, I would suggest if you do buy a used scanner it would be a good idea to buy Vuescan software from Hamrick, easy to use and supports most scanners on both Windows and Mac.

    You can ease the grain in the software or leave it, depending on what you require.
  5. spinno

    spinno Well-Known Member

    Epson scanners are usually ok
  6. William Parker

    William Parker Well-Known Member

    I have a inexpensive scanner that was bought either from Lidl or Aldi, it is actually a 5mp camera but it gave quite good results. I now use a Cannon flat bed scanner with the ability to scan medium format negs, this is more flexible and there are a number of facilitys on it that can be altered .
  7. William Parker

    William Parker Well-Known Member

    Out of interest Steve, what dpi setting do you use?
  8. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    Usually 2400 for 35mm, depending on mood.

    1200 for 120.

    It would help if I had the faintest clue as to what I was doing.

    William Parker, peterba and nimbus like this.
  9. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    We're all like that!

    It comes with practice. I found Nikon Scan hard to use, to the extent the scanner sat on the desk unused, I came to the conclusion that I would have to try something else, I had a version of Silverfast that had come with another scanner, tried it, I found it more difficult than Nikon Scan. I bit the bullet and bought Vuescan, money well spent, easy and intuitive to use, works very well and supports virtually every scanner known to man.
    peterba likes this.
  10. RobertCoombes

    RobertCoombes Well-Known Member

    I use a Coolscan V ED and Nikon scan 4. The results are fine but it is probably slower than the wet process.
  11. William Parker

    William Parker Well-Known Member

    I know the feeling well!
  12. gw8izr

    gw8izr Active Member

    Thank you for the replies so far, I'm particularly interested in the comment by @RobertCoombes regarding the speed of the process, I presume by 'slow' you mean the time taken to scan an individual negative X the number of images processed. I already have a flat bed scanner (part of a printer) which I hope to use for the equivalent of contact prints.

    I'd not considered that to be an issue. Having said that to me its a pastime and speed isn't really important and post processing in CC would mean it would just be absorbed into the rest of my lost time staring at the laptop in the evening :) Really my main issue with a wet darkroom is the space taken up when not in use. Even with vertical tanks, that plus enlarger and baths ends up taking up a huge footprint. Its also going to be a bit more pleasant sitting next to the log burner with my laptop processing images while 'er indoors watches the tv etc rather than potentially being banished to the office and sitting in the dark.

    In addition, we are taking a few rolls of B&W film a year! the time could be considered insignificant in that context unless its maybe ridiculous like a day to process a roll?

    @nimbus thanks for the warning about the cheap negative scanners, I did think that might be a way of testing the water but it would probably just frustrate me.

    You also mention Vuescan, there are some interesting comments on line about supporting the older machines that no longer have native OS support and that might be helpful with my thoughts on an old coolscan but whether they mean old compared to what I consider old is another matter.

    Some of the early units on e-bay use a scssi interface so I'll research that aspect of getting the unit working on a modern OS, I don't particularly want to run this in a VM just to save a couple of hundred quid but as I have the hardware and its sat unused /maybe/ that's something to try. There is a coolscan 3 sitting at about 30 quid just now, I have an adaptek card and the cables already and I could certainly burn up 30 quids worth of entertainment before sending it to landfill.

    Now based on past experience this is how I end up spending lots of time and money and achieving nothing .. but sometimes it turns out fine.

    Regards Paul
  13. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    I've just found this whilst looking for something else:

    Useful tutorial about Vuescan.

  14. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    I would advise you that Coolscan IV is a vastly better scanner with a respectable 2900 dpi output and simply works directly on USB, very nicely with Vuescan, it even scans Kodachrome pretty well.

    BTW if the Coolscan III is the item listed at £30 buy-it-now on Ebay it is not usable and is a Coolscan II, there are no film holders with it, as it stands it is landfill, unless you have holders or can source them at a reasonable price.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  15. gw8izr

    gw8izr Active Member

    Ah thats good to know, if its a IV onward it will make Mac, Linux, Win more practical as well.

    I thought it was a 111 on ebay and it did seem to have holders, in fact I *thought* it had an aps holder which someone mentioned in another thread here but I'm mistaken.. ok I'll look out for something newer.

    My faithful D300s came home from its holiday at Nikon a few minutes ago having just cost me more to repair than a replacement would have been.. to be fair an excellent repair service but better if not needed , I digress :)
  16. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The problem with electronics items that need expert repair and also depreciate quite rapidly.

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