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Epson 4870


Well-Known Member
I bought the Epson 4870 and several problems:

Quite a few mis scans, if the film holder is not "just right" on the glass.

At 3200 dpi, the scan for a 645 neg is about 100 megs. Does anybody know when the optical part "cuts out".?

There is no 645 film holder. You have to use a dif holder and can only fit two images per row. What a hassle.

I'm using the Siverfast lite (AE?) interface. Kind of clumsy. I don't really see a decent way to easily batch scan. Each image takes about 10 minutes with a USB interface. What a drag if you are trying to scan 32 frames!

Still playing w/ the dozens of settings. Any hints on the "best" for 645. I'd like to end up with a file at least big enough for a 16x20 print.


Hi Michael. What was the nature of the mis-scans? I've been using the same scanner for awhile now and haven't had one mis-scan so far.

The optical max on the 4870 Photo is 16 bit, 4800 dpi. @ 3.8 D-Max

I don't understand your problem concerning scanning 645 films. The film holder is designed to hold 3 strips of MF film (9 frames of 6X6, or 12 frames of 645. You can scan a contact sheet, or individual frames, or ( if you have the computing power) scan the entire thing high resolution (lengthy scan and huge file). So batch scanning 12 at a time at maximum optical resolution is entirely possible IF you have enough RAM.

I also don't understand the "just right on the glass" comment. you cannot put the film holder in wrong. It fits the scanning window exactly.

To do a 16" X 20"print from a 645 frame of film you just do the math. A 16 bit, 16X20 file @ 300 dpi is approx 170 megs. If you print at 240 dpi it's approx. 110 meg. So you do a preview scan, crop it to 16X20 proportions, and set it to scan at that size @ 300 dpi, OR set it to 4800 dpi for a maximum scan of the original neg size if you want to archive the best scan possible from this scanner, then crop and resize in PS. (which is what I always do).

I just finished assembling a s&le wedding album using some re-scanned Contax 645 film negs from the Epson 4870 Photo. No mis-scans using the Epson scan program. The images were printed to max size on my Epson 2200 ( approx. 12.5" X 17 prints). I could have easily done a 16X20 from the resulting Max resolution scans, but I'm limited by my printer. Here's on shot taken with the Zeiss 35/3.5 on the Contax 645 :


I'm sure part of the problem is my learning curve, but for the miscans that seems to be a problem. My research of other users complained that about 1 in 10 scans were wrong, the main problem being that if you do not have the film holder in excactly right up to the up/right corner ... if it has moved even a bit, that the scanner misreads the type of film hoder.

Also, with the Silverfast s/w, if you have an active window area, and then do another scan w/ the film holder partially loaded, then the whole scan appears "white". I inadvertantly clicked on another good area, and the prescan popped up w/ the image. It was just showing "white" until I changed the position of the "hidden" window. I am using the lite version.

I understand that the Pro version has the ability to batch. I guess I could just scan the entire 8x10 frame, but at 3200 dpi the scan would probably be about 4 gigibytes! And then I woudl have to go in later and cut out the valid photos. This problem could have been easily solved by Epson by including a 6 x 4.5 film holder that has a portrait orientation instead of an horz orientation in the scanning glass area!

My complaint against the film holder, is that all my negs from previous years are cut 4 or 5 to a strip. The holder as you mentioned will hold three. This leaves one or two frames hanging over. Of course, everytime you "slide" the neg over for to get to the negs hanging over, you risk thumbprints and more dust/scratches. It does seem a hassle, compared to how the ND spoils you w/o any need for a scan!

When you scan, do you always tell it the output size? My first scans, were just at 3200 DPI of the original with the image size at 6x4.5 cm. I then resized it in Photoshop after the fact. Is this a poor way of doing the scan.

And, finally ... that is a great wedding shot you scanned!

Sorry, I still don't understand the problem. I've never worried about lining up anything concerning the film holder. I just throw it on and scan. It's a flat bed, it doesn't have a clue what is in the window bay. You just set the software for film, trans or neg, set the resolution and scan. I do not have the Pro version which is exactly the same scanner with some 3rd party software that's unnecessary.

When I have films developed, I don't have them cut it. That way I can cut strips to fit.

Hmm, I'll bet if you got a nice piece of clean glass, you could fill the widow bay with film put the glass over it to hold it in place drop the top and scan the whole works.

Believe me, you wouldn't scan an entire roll with any dedicated MF film scanner either. The way I do a zillion wedding shots is to organize my work flow into sections. I scan the first shot, then when the second one is scanning I work on the first one in PS and send it to the printer, and so on. I don't think you could possibly be scanning more stuff than I am (see current project below ; -)

Also, if I might add, the ND is a great camera (love mine), but in no way are it's images even near what you can get from a Contax 645 transparency scanned @ 4800 dpi.

As far as scanning to size, that's the short cut, but I do not recommend it for archived work. I recommend scanning at maximum resolution. When I've done 3200 dpi it was for specific jobs.

Just to make sure we're talking about the same scanner and film holder here's mine fresh from scanning.

You DO have to put the film holder in the way it's shown here ... lift tab bottom left, arrow top right. There's a slot at the top of the holder to provide a opening for the scanner to read the light or something, but it's the same on every format film holder and has nothing to do with telling the scanner what kind of film size you're using. It's a Flat Bed, it's as dumb as a bag of hammers until you tell it what to do.

How does a Contax 645 transparency scanned at 4800 dpi compare with a digital file shot with the Contax 645 and the Kodak Pro back ? I am very curious.
I have both those digital solutions Dan and I dearly wish that were true.

I paid a lot of money for the 1DsMKII in the hopes it would do more of the studio work I pump out. Unfortunately, it is being employed for none of that work because the C645 absolutely murders it in terms of image quality. Someone at LL is smoking the drapes, or has a bad s&le of the C645, is all I can say.

Before you ask, yes, I'm using top end L glass. Yes, I tried more than one of the 1DsMKIIs (my wedding partner has 2 also).

The Kodak back may be the same meg count but the sensor is larger... and it is a CCD... AND, most importantly is a true 16 bit sensor to Canons 12 bit. Then there are the Zeiss lenses verses the Canon ... again, no contest.

The Kodak back has a wider latitude, and handles spectral highlights much better than the 1DsMKII. Shooting jewelry is the acid test IMO, and the Kodak wins hands down... in fact I periodically try the 1DsMKII on different kinds of jobs, and every time I revert to the Kodak back.

The 1DsMKII is strictly my wedding camera now, but even there I go for the Hasselblad when I want that beautiful film look.

I wish I had my $8,000. back.
John, that's a hard question. I love both. And both are different looking. I wouldn't give up either.

Remember, when you scan a transparency it becomes digital, but retains the look of film. The exact same image, at any give size, at a printing resolution like 300 dpi, would make the file size the same. So the difference is the look of digital verses the look of film.