$80,000 scanner vs. $3000 scanner

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by Josh, Mar 17, 2005.

  1. Josh

    Josh Guest

    Hello all,

    I currently am not happy with my latest scanning solution. My local lab
    has a digital workflow that includes a Noritsu scanner that can scan at
    4000 dpi and costs about $80,000. Clearly nothing I can afford or would
    ever buy. I cuurently shoot a lot of color negative and TMX/TMY 6x7
    negatives as well as 35mm Portra negs and have him scan them. Obviously
    the guy who owns the scanner speaks highly of its incredible quality.
    He charges me very little - if I batch about 100 negatives together he
    will scan them as TIFF's onto DVD for about $3 per scan. But I find
    that often the edges of the histogram are not where I want them. My
    latest project is to scan all of my own wedding negatives - negs I have
    printed wet and I know there is wonderful detail in the dress, but I
    get the entire dress in about 250-255 on the curve on his scans.

    My question is that if I get the Nikon 9000 would I notice a
    significant decrease in quality. There's got to be some reason why that
    scanner cost $80,000. But I feel I'd be more in control of the process
    since I'd be doing it. And for example I could try and try again to
    tweak a difficult scan and get more out of it myself, rather than
    having someone else do it - someone who would never really spend the
    time to get it right no matter what I paid since he is busy (and it's
    not his stuff).

    Obviously $3000 is nothing to shake a stick at, but since I'm pretty
    committed to go the digital darkroom route (starting with film still)
    I'm willing to sell my Jobo and enlarger etc. to help fund it.

    Any advice.

    Josh, Mar 17, 2005
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  2. Josh

    Eric Gill Guest

    Sounds like something to talk to him about. Ever thought of using 16-bit?
    The ability to scan 550 slides an hour versus 1 slide every 40 seconds
    (if you add a slide feeder, three minutes each if you use all the
    enclosed software) springs to mind.
    It's also about $1,000 over B & H price. Does that help your decision?
    Eric Gill, Mar 17, 2005
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  3. Josh

    jjs Guest

    Go to rec.photo.equipment.medium.format and ask. There is a scanner guru who
    has some definitive tests with scanned, real-life outcomes from MF.
    jjs, Mar 17, 2005
  4. Josh

    Josh Guest

    I asked him if he could make 16 bit scans but he stated that the
    machine is set up to make 8 bit scans and possibly some large change
    would have to be done that would disturb his workflow otherwise. I'm
    sure his machine makes 16 bit scans. HIs printer prints at 8 bits so he
    has no need for the extra data.

    As to the price being somewhat based on the speed, that makes me feel
    better as speed makes no difference to me if I have a few slides to

    I'll look at B&H but I thought the price was recently $3000 for the
    Nikon 9000 but possibly it has fallen as of late.


    Josh, Mar 17, 2005
  5. Josh

    Bill Hilton Guest

    I get the Nikon 9000 would I notice a
    I've used a Nikon 8000 for several years for medium format film, same
    basic scanner as the 9000. I think it does a good job on slide film
    but I don't like it that well for negative film. I also had maybe a
    dozen or so films drum scanned and have compared the files carefully
    with what my scanner produces. There's no doubt the drum scans are a
    bit better but you'll probably find the difference is not *that*
    noticeable, especially in mid-tones and highlights for prints up to say
    16x20" (with medium format). The drum (mine were done with a Tango)
    does pick up more shadow detail.

    What I'd suggest is that you have a representative sample scanned by
    someone with the 9000 and with the drum ($3 per scan is amazingly cheap
    BTW, the drum scans I got cost $50 each) and compare them directly to
    see if it's worth the hassle of doing it yourself. I know that since
    I've moved mostly to digital I absolutely *hate* firing up the 8000 now
    and doing film scans, compared to the simplicity of RAW conversions :)
    But at any rate there is no subsititute for directly comparing the same
    film scanned with both systems since the differences are important to
    some and inconsequential to others. You need to judge for yourself.

    Bill Hilton, Mar 17, 2005
  6. Josh

    Josh Guest

    Thanks for your advice. The Noritsu scanner sits on a tabletop and is
    about the size of two microwave ovens. I've only seen it from a
    distance the few times I've been allowed in the "back" of the store but
    I do not think it's a drum scanner because I think they sit on the
    floor. The scan that got me hooked on scanning was an underdeveloped
    negative I had made in the British Virgin Islands of a sailboat. It was
    a bear to print wet as it needed a 5.5 multigrade filter and a ton of
    manipulation and still it wasn't perfect, and this is after the neg was
    selenium intensfied. I had him make me a scan ($10 since it was a
    single frame) and I was amazed at how much information the scanner
    picked up. I've since printed it at 20 x 24 via Mpix.com and am
    thrilled - this showed me that I can shoot film and be digital from
    there. It's all the other scans I'm unhappy with. I'm sure he could do
    a perfect scan every time but not without a lot of effort and therefore
    a lot of cost (i.e. surely not $3, I'm sure he "batches" them now thus
    the diferent curves based on different exposures.) Also I'm
    disappointed to not be a part of that pert of the process. I figure if
    I had some areas that I would normaly burn in because they are dense I
    could do a second scan for the denser areas and then use both scans in
    photoshop in layers and use the parts from each I want. Perfect example
    is a wedding dress (my wife didn't like the 18% gray dress I had picked
    out for her, just kidding).

    Oh and I did look it up, I was wrong - the 9000 lists for only $2000
    which makes me feel a lot better!

    Josh, Mar 17, 2005
  7. Josh

    Eastside Guest

    "Josh" wrote in message
    If you go to this link
    you'll see a Kodacolor II negative scanned with a Scitex EverSmart Supreme
    (a $55k flatbed scanner) and an LS-8000. Unfortunately, it had to be
    scanned at a rather low res, but still, IMO, there's a pretty big

    Eastside, Mar 17, 2005
  8. Josh

    Tacit Guest

    Yes, there is. A couple of reasons, really--the ability to gang scan
    images is one, but the most compelling reason, in two words, is: dynamic

    Many people mistakenly believe that you can judge the quality of a
    scanner by its resolution--a fact manufacturers of consumer scanners
    have preyed upon, because increasing a scanner's resolution is easy to

    However, one of the best benchmarks of a scanner's quality is its
    dynamic range--the total range of tones from light to dark the scanner
    can "see." A scanner with a poor dynamic range "sees" everything above a
    certain lightness as pure white and everything below a certain darkness
    as pure black, meaning that subtle detail in hilights and (especially)
    shadows is lost.

    Dynamic range is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 4. Because
    the scale is not linear, a scanner with a dynamic range of, say, 3.9 can
    capture far, far more detail in shadows than a scanner with a dynamic
    range of, for example, 3.7.

    Most people consider a dynamic range of 3.5 to 3.7 to be the bare
    minimum acceptable for professional-quality work. To give you an idea of
    what that means, most consumer scanners have a dynamic range of about 2.
    4. What that means is that most consumer scanners have a really big
    problem with rendition of shadow detail, especially with challenging
    originals, such as underecposed transparencies.

    A very high-end drum scanner, such as a $320,000 Linotype Hell drum
    scanner, has a dynamic range greater than 4.0, which means its dynamic
    range is superior tothat of transparency film; it is capable of
    capturing the entire tonal range of film and then some.

    Now, a home scanner costing a thousand dollars or so, or a transparency
    scanner costing a couple thousand dollars, may give you results that are
    just fine to you much of the time--but the real test is in originals
    with a great deal of shadow detail, such as a transparency that's
    underexposed by a stop or so. With such a challenging original, the high-
    end scanners really shine.
    Tacit, Mar 18, 2005
  9. Josh

    Tacit Guest

    There are tabletop drum scanners.

    The diffeence is that a drum scanner works by taking the original to be
    scanned and mounting it to a glass cylinder, or "drum," which then spins
    at high speed. As it spins, the scanner element--a device called a
    "photomultiplier tube" or "PMT," scans across the surface of the
    spinning drum.

    Flatbed scanners work by mounting the original on a flat sheet of glass
    and running a light source and scanner element beneath it; slide
    scanners work by passing light through a mounted slide and passing a
    scanner element over the other side of the slide. Both of these types of
    scanners use a sensing element called a "charge-coupled device," or "CCD.

    CCDs are cheap and easy to manufacture. They are also not terribly
    sensitive to light, and they have a linear response to light, which
    reduces their effectiveness in low light situations. PMTs are difficult
    and expensive to make, but they are far, far more sensitive to light--
    some PMTs can detect just one single photon!--and they have a
    logarithmic response curve, making them far more sensitive and
    discriminating in low light levels. Much of the extra money in a drum
    scanner is in the PMT, which gives the drum scanner a far wider dynamic
    range, and far superior detail rendition in shadows.

    Compared to an ordinary scan, a drum scan made by a skilled operator is
    crisper and cleaner, with greater detail; the CCD scan by comparison
    looks muddy and flat. However, getting the most out of a drum scanner
    requires a skilled operator--you can't just stick the original on the
    drum, press a button, and get a good scan.
    Tacit, Mar 18, 2005
  10. Josh

    Josh Guest

    Wow! I'm amazed that a flatbed scanner has that type of resolution - I
    know it's an expensive one but I thought there were limitations as to
    the transmission throught the glass and film flatness.

    That website had a great tutorial on bits and noise that helped me a
    lot. I figure with a multiple scan option using Hamrick's VueScan I
    could minimize noise and tweak out a little more usable dynamic range
    if I go with the 9000. I don't mind if it takes me a few hours to get a
    scan right - remember I used to take a single negative and disappear
    into the darkroom for 6 hours and come out with a print if it was a
    difficult one - I just want to be more involved with the process and I
    figure the 9000 will be an adequate tool.

    Josh, Mar 25, 2005
  11. Josh

    Josh Guest

    I've done some research and found out the Noritsu QSS-32 scanner is LED
    based so it's probably just a really good film scanner and not a drum
    scanner. Thanks for your post

    Josh, Mar 25, 2005
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