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Braun Slide Scan 4000 and alternatives


Well-Known Member
Hello everybody!

Recently I came back from a trip to San Diego. I went to SeaWorld and Wild Animal Park, it was great, I had a lot of fun. Took lots of pictures with my Ikon, 50mm Planar and Fuji Astia 100F. Lighting conditions weren't great though and it's my estimation that vast majority of slides would fall into a 7-stop range. So, when I had them processed and scanned at time of processing I noticed that essentially scans were totally useless. Granted, it was scanned on Frontier, but still, colors were off, obviously lots of detail lost and some were even out of focus.

So, it sort of brings me back to question that I revisit every once in a while - finding a good film scanner. So far all options that I have seen and tried fall short of my expectations. Now I see this Braun scanner is available in US, but aside from one review on adorama.com website - no info on it. Does anyone have any info on it?

Also, question to our friends in Germany. Any idea whether Zeiss will commit themselves into making a really good quality 35mm film scanner? Something priced around $2000 that would be substantially better than anything else on the market would be great. I don't think at this point that medium format market is significant, because they have different requirements and more often than not folks that do medium format either can do professional scan on drum scanner or can even use high quality flatbed scanners. 35mm film market is unique in a sense that Nikon Coolscan V ED and 5000 ED are the only option now.

If Zeiss could partner with Sony and SilverFast to produce such a scanner, I'm sure a lot of "image quality" type of amateurs, semi-pros and pros would be interested (unless of course you're someone who already has drum scanner).

Zeiss obviously is great with optics, Sony is good with electronics (but absolutely clueless when it comes to software) and they manufacture their own CCDs, and SilverFast is great when it comes to software. So this type of partnership would most likely produce a product that would totally beat all existing and old options for desktop scanner.

What do you guys think?

"So far all options that I have seen and tried fall short of my expectations."

What are those expectations Mike?

Have you actually used any dedicated 35mm film scanners like the Nikon 5000? I've seen some Leica M work scanned on that scanner, and it's pretty darn good ... in the right hands, using the right software. So is the discontinued, but still available Minolta 5400 ... especially
when fillted with the diffusion device that's all the rage.

RE: the "partnership" idea: The Sony CCD would most likely be the same as the Nikon one in the 5000. The real need for scanning film is keeping the film flat, which is an advantage of true drum scanners and virtual ones like the Imacon/Hasselblad models. The other is the light source ... which could be an area of improvement over the Nikon 5000 in a new scanner.

But by far the most important aspect of scanning is practice and experience.
>Mike I love slide film, but Why not try one of the the new Kodak negative films, say VC 160 or 400. I do in situations such as you describe. It scans beautifully on my V750.

It actually takes work to screw up a shot beyond repair on photoshop


My expectations are actually fairly simple to understand, not so simple to implement
If you put slide on the light table, view it through the loupe and then scan it only to find out it looks nothing like original - you know what I mean when I say that they fall short of my expectations.

I have not tried Nikon Coolscan 5000 or Minolta Elite 5400 II (and I don't even know what diffusion device you're talking about). Others that I tried either skewed colors, couldn't keep the entire image in focus (it would keep center in focus and there would be some out-of-focus areas the farther away from center you're) or would have too much noise.

I understand your point about practice and experience. This however, in my opinion is also a shortcoming of all existing desktop scanners. Overwhelming majority of people don't want to waste 20 minutes for each scan, especially when it comes to scanning slides - the right image is already there, so hardware and software should be already designed to capture existing image as truthfully as possible without need for much manipulation. If the person chooses so, they can manipulate that image later to their heart's content. In my case however the sole purpose of scanning is archiving and possibly digital prints, therefore capturing image as it is without wasting much time is the ultimate goal.

And that's where Zeiss+Sony+SilverFast partnership could produce something far superior to any other alternatives. Be it by improving light source, designing different system to hold slides/negs in place to keep them flat, purpose-built CCD or optics designed specifically for this purpose - all these little things can potentially add up to produce something that would be really easy to use.

Quick note about Minolta Elite 5400 II. It has the diffuser already installed. I sent to Eric pictures of mine and he confirmed that. This was a surprise for him because previously Minolta declared that Scanhancer is utilized in some models. They kept silence for the Elite II though.
Thanks everyone who responded on this. I did not know about the Scanhancer. Sounds like something that would really be a good thing to have.


Mark Scheberies
MIke, I've been scanning film now for many years ... starting with Polaroid scanner, then to the Minolta then now to an Imacon 949.

Scanning is not unlike good darkroom work. It's a tool that you customize to your specific expectations and creative sensibilities.

A scanner will not know those things, nor any variables in the system, by just taking it out of the box and plugging it in.

All scanners/software must be told what profiles need to be used for what film. But this is just the starting point. You then zero in your preferences and build your custom profiles for future use.

Even this will need tweaking from one batch of film to the next, just like doing clip tests on film batches revels differences in the same film type.

Nothing that Zeiss+Sony+SilverFast could ever do can change that.

In fact, my Imacon 949 has done all the the things you desire: Fab optics, much better light source, keeps film flat, CCD engineered specifically for scanning, and incredibly sophisticated software designed for those specific machines ... but I still have to tell it what to do ... just like I must with any camera I use.

As far as results, I agree nothing will match viewing a transparency on a light-box which is a 1st generation image. Not many people I know hang a lightbox on their wall with a transparency mounted and a loop dangling from a chain : -)

It's either projected or a print is made. The latter is what people really want.

BTW, if 20 minutes is too much for you, then maybe scanning isn't for you?

But all of this is a pipe dream, therefore a mute point. No one is going to come out with a scanner that does all this for $2,000. There isn't enough business to warrant the R&D and marketing needed ... in fact there's really only one scanner left in that arena ... Nikon. Polaroid, Minolta are both out of the scanning business.
Perhaps they're all out of business precisely because they couldn't produce a product that is simple and effective to use. Imacon as you know, despite outrageously expensive pricing even when they were making those is also not making any new ones anymore. And yet, millions of pictures are still being taken with film. I don't expect a product that would be simple to use to become available overnight, but at the pace high-tech industry evolves, $2000 pricepoint can be reachable within less than 3 years with quality that would rival today's $10,000 monster.

And yes, 20 minutes to scan a frame is too much. 20 minutes to TWEAK it is a different story. If it takes 20 minutes just to get it to look as close to original as possible it's a clear indication of badly designed product - this stuff in a sense is a digital "reproduction" photography, which when properly executed shouldn't take more than couple minutes per frame.

A dedicated film scanner is nothing more than a glorified projector+digicam combined. When properly made it shouldn't be that big of a deal to get it to do exactly what modern digicam would do - take a picture of the scene and keep color as close to reality as possible.

But as someone that works in high-tech industry I have to say that too many times companies simply don't understand what their target customers actually need. And that is the primary reason for products that fail to do their job well while being simple to use.

" ...is also not making any new ones anymore."

A debatable statement. The Hasselblad Flextight X-1 is not exactly the same as any previous Imacon. The X-5 is however identical to the 949 with a new name & cosmetic look ... which is not surprising since it had been the most recently upgraded Imacon. The lamentable aspect is that they discontinued the lower spec, less expensive models completely and removed that "virtual drum" option from serious amateur film shooters.

Plus, you have completely overlooked that the Rodenstock lensed Imacon/Hasselblad scanners are combination 35mm, MF, and 4X5 format scanners ... with the 949/X5 able to scan reflective up to A4 sized copy ... thus their size. To my knowledge, these machines have a sensor larger than any made by Sony.

These so called " monster" scanners are primarily built like a tank for continuous professional use ... a clear indication where the scanner market is: in businesses and institutions that perform many "production" scans, not just a relative few by individuals. It's the individual, home scanner that no one was buying despite millions of film shots being taken.

"Perhaps they're all out of business precisely because they couldn't produce a product that is simple and effective to use."

This is an assumption on your part. Those that have actually used scanners like the Nikon 5000 or Minolta 5400 may have a different opinion ... I for one do. IMO, these are quite effective scanners with many features for the more casual shooter that doesn't need to scan 100+ frames a week. Glass and fluid mounts are available to assist in film flatness BTW. A scanner that has obtained a cult status among medium format users is the Minolta Dual Scan Pro which can be altered to provide a diffused light source ( see scanhancer site above), and now has a web blog of dedicated users of this now discontinued unit.

RE: scan time; anyone with experience using these scanners knows that they can be set to work in the background. Meaning that you set the scanner to working on a high resolution scan, and move on to other tasks ... like tweaking the previous finished scan in PhotoShop. If the going is too slow, it suggests that more computer RAM and a Scratch Disk for PS is needed for your computer ... both of which are relatively inexpensive performance upgrades for the serious scan enthusiasts.

All that said, would I have liked to see further developments in desktop scanners? Absolutely. But I'm a realist. There just isn't enough business to warrant the R&D needed to service such a low volumn product.

Heck, I have a "wish list" with priorities ahead of a $2,000. scanner as described. Like a full frame 16 bit, 22 meg digital rangefinder; or an affordable digital enlarger to allow me to make optical prints in the darkroom from my MF digital files like the DeVere unit costing $20,000.+

What has mistified me is why no one has mentioned using a digital camera on a copy stand to bring film frames into the digital domain. We used to copy slides this way all the time. It seems a well built copy stand with a Canon 5D full frame 12 meg RAW camera with the 1 to 1 L macro would make "scanning" a no brainer. Heck, you could do multiple shots of the same frame in seconds and seconds later HD merge them in PhotoShop for density options of incredible range.

I have the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 -original model - and have been very pleased with it.

The only drawback apart from the fact that it is 35mm only, is the time scanning takes. In fact I upgraded my computer some time ago and then added memory to the new one in order to speed things up and generally enable it to cope with the large 16 bit scans. After that, having investigated other people's experiences and contacting Minolta, I just accepted that high res scanning takes a long time. As Marc says, you can get on with editing previous scans while another is being performed.

I have, however, just discovered VueScan from http://www.hamrick.com
Somebody else had mentioned it in another thread. It is very reasonably priced and works with most scanners.

From my so far brief acquaintance with it, I am very pleased. It produces good colour and detail and light and shade and it can make very large scans. It is very controllable and infra red dust removal is available.

It is also much quicker that the Minolta software which came with the scanner and that is a real bonus and is really the reason I bought it.

I have much more experimenting to do with it but I am looking forward to speeding up my scanning procedures considerably and at minimal cost. I had given up hope of ever being able to complete the scanning of my large archive compiled over many decades.