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Scanner for Medium Format




I just purchased a used Rollei 6003 professional (sorry the Contax 645 is too expansive 2nd hand).

I am looking now for a good scanner for Medium Format. I have a Nikon LS 4000 ED for 135 and although I have almost nothing scanned yet, I am quite satisfied with handling and the first ouputs without changing anything.

The question is now, whether the bigger Nikon Scanner (LS 8000 ED) is the right - and expensive - choice or is there something from Canon or Minolta et alii out there which is on par but cheaper.

Would you even recommend a flatbed scanner for MF?

Thanks in advance

Well, the Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro has gotten rave reviews, but it isn't any cheaper than the Nikon scanner (better resolution, though). I would go with a flatbed if you can't afford close to $3000 for the dedicated film scanners. Canon is coming out with a new flatbed film scanner, the Canoscan 9900F, that looks pretty sweet to me. 3200 dpi resolution, and only about $400. Until I can afford the Minolta scanner, I am going to get the 9900F to hold me over.

Good luck!


I've been getting very good results scanning 6x7 with a very inexpensive flatbed: the Epson Photo 2450. It will also do 4x5. If you go this route, it is very worthwhile to buy the full Silverfast scanning software.
I do also use the Epson Photo 2450 to scan my transparency films, mostly 4x5. The results are very good for $365. It also can scan 35mm film, but result is less satisfactory comparing to a true 35mm film scanner. But it is good enough for general usage. This scanner has a lot of great reviews from various photo magazines. It comes with Photoshop Element, SilverFast, and Epson easy to use utility program for both PC and Mac. I highly recommend it.
"The results are very good for $365" But will it be still show the advantages of Medium Format over 35mm?

This is what me worries about flatbed scanners. I use for 35mm the Nikon 4000. I am afraid that if I would scan my medium format slides with a flatbed scanner, that the results are inferior then my 35mm scans with the Nikon.

Is this the case or are they still better and therefore worth to use it for medium format. The advantage of the bigger slide of 6x6 is gone, if the quality of the final print (max. A3+, 50cm x70cm or 20 x 27 inches) is not as good as with the Nikon scanner for 35mm.

I do not have the money currently to buy the bigger Nikon scanner for medium format. I have not seen any 2nd hand within the last 18 months neither. I am not a professional, so it will never get payed, but I would love to have great medium format prints hanging on my wall

Has anybody made experience in this direction?

Another point would be slide-projektion, but I will post this in another thread when this decision has to been made. The scanner-headache is currently more important for me.

> Dirk, I saw an add for reconditioned MF scanners recently (up to 6x7) for $499usd in a PC mail order catalog at my Mother-in-laws house. She has a million of these mail order catalogs. I'm going there this evening to help with the xmas tree, so I'll try and remember to look for it. I'll email the info to you.

Dirk, the Epson Photo 2450 does give better result on MF than 35mm. However, it will not be good enough for very large print. After all is a rather cheap flat bed scanner, cheaper than most 35mm film scanner. Having said than, I use it a lot to scan 35mm, 645, and 4x5 for documentation, web-site, and images for promotional post cards. It is an economic way to carry me over this transitional digital period.

While I am playing wait and see game for the ND, or any other D SLR, I decided not to invest any money in expensive film scanner. I rather save that money for my future D SLR.

Like some of my old timer professional photographer friends, they would shoot negative and have the selected images scan by professional lab if clientfs budget allows. The other reason they do than because negatives still give better latitude than digital for certain project. For any critical works, I would have the images scanned by pro lab. It is about $9 to $30 per image (depending on how long you are willing to wait) in the bay area. I was told that the scanner they use costs over a quarter million US dollars. And the result that I have experienced is incredible. IT IS NOT THE BEST WAY TO DO THING. But for a lot of us, it is one of the best options for transitional period.

So Dirk, you may get a cheap flat bed scanner for now, and have the few images that you want to hang on the wall scan by pro lab, until you are ready to invest in a true MF film scanner or D SLR. It may not work for everyone, but sure works for me. I am enjoying my analog photography and take all the time I need before investing in a D SLR.

I scan 6x4.5 and 6x9 slide film. I use Fuji Astia. The results are FAR BETTER than 35mm. The results are easily good enough to hang on the wall. The only exception is when you scan rather "dark" scenes with large black or almost black areas. The flatbed scanner has more noise in the dark areas than a dedicated film scanner. When I look at all your images on the photo gallery here, I can confidently say they would all scan very well on the Epson 2450 from medium format Astia slide film.

I have scanned hundreds of slides by now on the Epson 2450, and I can say without hesitation, BUY ONE, because you WILL be pleased with the results. The only imperfection to be aware of is the noise in the large dark/black parts of an image.

Here are some s&les of images I scanned from 6x9 and 6x4.5 Astia:

I scan 6x9 at 1600dpi and print at 360dpi and get a very nice fit on Super A3 paper. At that scanning resolution there is no visible grain AT ALL in the printed image. The prints are gorgeous. BETTER THAN professional chemical darkroom prints from the same slide -- I compared them, and my inkjet prints from Epson scanned files are better than the darkroom prints. Really. I scan 6x4.5 at 2400dpi and print at 360dpi, and also get a nice fit on the Super A3 paper. The grain is still not visible thanks to the size of the medium format frame, and Astia's beautiful characteristics.

Besides MUCH higher resolution, and absence of grain, the final benefit of the medium format images from this scanner is the creamy smooth skin tone texture that you can see. The gradation of tonality in the image is so smooooth compared to 35mm. Try it Dirk. You won't be disappointed.

My comments apply to scanning Astia film. I found the combination of film and scanner is critical. Provia 100F never turned me on. Astia blew me away in comparison. Astia on Epson is a winning combination.

Hi Craig,

really lovely photos there. This is exactly the information I needed. As you might know I just started with digital darkroom work. Same as you, I compared a year ago the quality of many different labs (also pro stuff) and a good scan of the Nikon 4000 Scanner with epson photo 1290 print. The Epson print was also far better, same as your experience. This is due to the decreasing quality level of the labs over the time IMO.

Currently I even can not really use the quality of the Nikon scanner, since there is a lot of exercising before getting good scan and print results and unfortunately I do not have time for this now (hopefully over new year).

So I was concerned to spend money on MF and another scanner without beeing able to see the difference later on vs. my 35mm.

So if the results with the Epson 2450 scanner, which is obviously not as good as a Nikon 8000 scanner, is still better then my current 35mm solution, I would be very happy.

The worst part in the chain is currently myself, as long as I do not find more time to exercise

So I will look closely at this Epson scanner and the announcements of the new Canon 990F scanner. I hope I can buy one maybe end of January and will then post my experience here.

Thanks again to all comments.

Thanks Dirk.

Good luck with finding time to become a proficient film scanner!

If you do buy the Epson 2450, let me know and I can pass on some tips for quickly establishing an efficient workflow with it.

Kind Regards,