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Negative scanner


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any thoughts on a decent negative scanner please?
I have like others I’m sure a significant number of negatives that I would like to scan and then electronically store. Storage can either be via Windows or Apple
Many thanks

that is actually a very good question. I know that in the "old tiems", Nikon made very good scanners for sliedes and negative film. They were called ED4000 for 35mm and ED9000 or 8000 for medium format. But they are no longer in production and buying used is a risk if it can not be repaired anymore.

I have no experience with other scanners. Depending on the volume it might make more sense to go to a professional service and let them scan in all your films?
Wow ! This is a problem today. Old film scanners are still available on eBay but good ones will cost you an leg an an arm. I have a Knonica-Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV but it's over one decade old.
Plustek still makes for 35mm and medium format like the 8200 Ai for 35mm and the Opticfilm 120 for medium format. They are not cheap but they're the best option today by far in terms of quality.

Flatbed scanners like the Epson V-600/700 are just ok, believe me. The don't get even close of the output quality of a dedicated one. Their film holders are horrible and usually not atthe proper focal point. There are third party holders like the onde made by Betterscan and they're expensive.

I wrote two articles on my blog about this kind of subject that may help you.



It's very easy to write long essays on this subject, for me at least, particularly if you give all the reasoning behind the comment. If you have specific questions I can try and answer. What follows is a few comments from my own perspective and experience.

The two "leading" brands for dedicated scanners were Nikon and Konica-Minolta. Both produced models in amateur and pro models. Above them you had very expensive options like the Flextights that bridged between excellent desktop scanners and the drum scanners. Typically with all these models you provide the man power to feed the frames as the holders typically take just one-six frames. Although some had extras that allowed you to load a bunch of mounted slides for batch scanners. This is fine when you are only scanning a few prized pictures in a session, but can be very daunting if you wish to archive a collection of hundreds or thousands of frames. If the latter is what you really need to do then you need to have a very honest discussion with yourself around what base quality you must have, what price you put on your time and what your budget is. From there you can then look at ways of achieving that. That's where the Q&A comes in. You might buy a Braun for example with a slide loader for example, or just out source it.

Personally when I did my research - many years ago now - I wanted the better quality of a dedicated scanner over a photo specific flat bed from the likes of Epson. There was a clear quality advantage from the good quality dedicated scanners. Part of my requirements was the scanning of double 35mm Xpan frames, which brings its own challenges. I also mostly shoot slide. I had first an amateur 35mm scanner. I can't remember the brand a Canon I think. It was ok, stil better than a flat bed but it had mid-level dynamic range and resolution compared to a market leader like the Minolta Scan Elite 5400. I learnt about the process of scanning. All scanners will get you a large part of the way there by just scanning on defaults, but the best have manual controls that let you extract the best from an image. Exposure controls for example to recover an incorrectly exposed slide frame for example. That said don't think you will need to spend months learning things to get good results. You will get them day one, but just like photography itself some knowledge of the tool will improve your craft.

I learnt one important lesson specific to scanners and mentioned by afshalders. Holder quality is important and will have a big impact on the scan quality. I thought the canon holders were fine until I scanned xpan frames in two parts. One scan might come out a little blurred whilst the other was good. The cause was the holder not keeping the frame absolutely flat. If you were only scanning 35mm neg you might not ever realise that the occasionally blurry frame was the scanner holder not your photo skills. As I was all about the Xpan it was this (and a very favourable $ to £ exchange rate) that eventually lead me to medium format scanners. I brought a Minolta Scan Multi Pro. Cheaper than the equivalent Nikon and equal in quality as far as I could see. I never looked back. Greater holders including glass holders to keep the frame absolutely flat. Good software. Firewire as well as SCSI to avoid the messing about with SCSI. Great scan quality and scanning of xpan frames in one shot. Result!

So generally I would say, good holders are a must. If the holder does not hold the frame flat results will be random. Software does play a part from both quality and useability/productivity perspective - particularly if you scan neg and you ask the s/w to do the conversion. Go for the best dynamic range/dmax, colour depth and resolution you can afford. In lesser manufacturers those figures can be misleading but in the good ones they do have meaning. Digital ICE is useful. Buying a really good scanner will save you a lot of money in personal time due to less post-production.

Assuming you don't mind second hand, new options are limited, for 35mm I would find a well loved Minolta Scan Elite 5400 which was the top of the minolta range or the Nikon equivalent. I suspect the Minolta might be cheaper. There is one on ebay at the moment for 186 euro and if I recall correctly they were something like £300-500 new. I've never used one so can't comment on the holders but I would imagine Minolta would have cared about their quality. Or buy a "quality" scanner that you can get third-party holders for. Check there is still a supply of replacement bulbs if you are worried about longevity.

If medium format is a requirement then I can recommend the Minolta Scan Multi Pro from personal experience.

If batch scanning is more important than quality then other options are available...

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any thoughts on a decent negative scanner please?
I have like others I’m sure a significant number of negatives that I would like to scan and then electronically store. Storage can either be via Windows or Apple
Many thanks
The first question is: do you want to scan just to store the images electronically, or do you plan to print these images from the digital files?
The second question is: if you do plan to make digital prints, what is the largest size print that you will make?
The reason I ask is that I have a cheap $45 scanner for 35mm negatives and slides.
It's a stand-alone scanner (saving images to an SD card) or it connects to my PC.
It's great for quick viewing and storage, but the quality of printed images beyond 5x7 is not that good.
If I see an image that's worth printing to a large size, then I have that done by my lab.
any thoughts on a decent negative scanner please?
I have like others I’m sure a significant number of negatives that I would like to scan and then electronically store. Storage can either be via Windows or Apple
Many thanks
I used to use a Nikon 8000ED, but found that the Nikon 9000ED gave much better results, but it requires the Nikon software which needs a SCSI interface and an old mac that uses SCSI. Unless you use Silverfast software which can use USB and therefore you can use one of the latest Macs and macOS.
I have also used the Epson Perfection V750, which although it is great for large format film and is pretty useless for 35mm or 120mm film.
I have access to Hasselblad scanners, and I love them very easy to use. But our photographic department swear by the Plustek scanners, but only because of the bundled Silverfast software.
If you have 35mm film, I can recommend the Nikon 5000ED scanner with bulk film adaptor that gives results on a par with the 9000ED and with the bulk film adaptor it makes very short work of batch scanning.
Many people love the VueScan scanner software, but I find it very cumbersome.
You may want to consider how long it will take for you to scan in your negatives and then pay someone else to scan them for you - but first find out what scanner the have.
Commercial labs can do fast high quality scans very quickly or some of allow you to use their equipment with access to a technician if you get stuck.

Roy Webster
Macro lens, copy stand, light box — problem solved!

In particular, recent Olympus OM-D bodies use their sensor-shift mastery to merge eight stability-assisted exposures into one image with four times the pixels. I think Panasonic now has something similar; don't know about other camera manufacturers.

This means I can "scan" my 4"x5" trannies into 80 megapixel images — not the 250 megapixels I was getting out my Optronics ColorGetter Falcon when I was doing a lot of drum scanning, but a lot faster, and for most things, "good enough."

BTW: I'm getting ready to sell a Nikon Coolscan 4000. PM me if interested.
I have given up on trying to find a decent, well made modern film scanner. I have in the past bought an Epson Perfection V750 and a Plustek Opticfilm. Neither of these produced really sharp scans. The problem lies in the absence of any focus device on these scanners, like the better older film scanners used to have, so you are dependant on the manufacturer of the scanner and usually flimsy, cheap film holder being in absolutely perfect register in relation to the scanning lens and sensor. Manufacturing tolerances can result in your having a satisfactory scanner or as in my case, not. I then thought about buying one of the excellent Nikon Coolscan Film Scanners but these are getting old. Even though there are experienced service engineers who will service/repair them, you are at the total mercy of Nikon continuing to provide spare parts. I have already suffered problems with the absence of spare parts for cameras (circuit board for Leica M6TTL), so am not willing to rely on Nikon's willingness to continue with spare parts for their obsolete scanners. I also looked at an older Hasselblad-Imacon scanner but these use the SCSI interface, which is obsolete. The available SCSI to say Firewire/USB3/Thunderbolt convertors are far from satisfactory in my experience and the last maker of a chipset for the conversion, Ratoc, has now ceased production.

What is the solution then? I have gone back to an earlier technique, which is future-proof. I am using a Leitz BEOON film copying device with a Schneider Kreuznach 50mm Componon S enlarging lens (high resolution and very flat field), a Leica 24MP SL camera and an LED light panel to scan films, mainly black and white and colour reversal. The focus and sharpness is completely under user control and you end up with high quality DNG 24MP/45MB scans, which can easy be handled by Capture One or ACR/Photoshop. I have even found this is quicker, once you are set up, than using a traditional film scanner. I can scan 36 x 135 images in around 3 to 4 minutes.

to scan films, mainly black and white and colour reversal
How do you deal with the orange mask? Do you have specialized presets for it?

I submitted an enhancement request that Olympus add a "negative view" art filter to their cameras, which could double as a orange mask removal filter for those who want to shoot colour negatives.

(Oh wait… I see you said "reversal." I didn't see "slides" and made an assumption.)