Film Scanners - About reached their peak ?

Discussion in 'Scanners' started by Folklore, Sep 30, 2003.

  1. Folklore

    Folklore Guest

    Have consumer level film scanners pretty much come near their peak and
    improvements moving forward will be fairly minor from a quality
    standpoint with speed and ease of use being the primary improvements?

    EG, is now a good time (like with the Elite 5400) to begin digitizing
    years of film (for viewing on PC/HDTV, mid-quality cost effective
    prints, archiving) or are there improvements coming in the next few
    years, particularly from an image quality standpoint, that recommend


    Folklore, Sep 30, 2003
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  2. Folklore

    Alan Browne Guest

    I would debate that as the price is, if not cheap, well in range of many

    Alan Browne, Sep 30, 2003
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  3. Folklore

    Alan Browne Guest

    As usual, whenever something is at the limits of performance we say,
    that's it, don't need no more.

    Drum scanners do a little better than film scanners with models up to
    8000 dpi and at least one at 12,000 dpi, and of course a wet process.
    Somebody recently mentioned a 64,000 dpi scanner ???!!!

    So, yes, scanners might get even *better*.

    See this photo: by Simon
    Stanmore (using my and his images) and look at the detail on the metal
    part near the water (on the lower left crop in the image of the boys

    That is the 5400 at work without sharpenning or grain reduction.
    Actually could have been better, it is a way off centre sample from a
    dirty lens with a 2X on it. From that full frame image I could print a
    24 x 16 that would only show grain if you stepped up to it.

    The 5400 might not be the "last scanner" but it is certainly up near the
    limits of what can be extracted from a slide or negative on your desktop
    at home without a wet process and under $1,000.00.

    Alan Browne, Sep 30, 2003
  4. Folklore

    Folklore Guest

    Thanks Jim. My plan is definately selective scan. I'd likely go
    through scanning my favs and then as time allows add to the digitized
    collection. What I'd hate is to start doing this now and then a year
    from now some major improvement comes along. I know some improvements
    will come, but I can sleep OK as long as they're not significant (if
    you get my drift).

    Your good comments on the 5400 are very welcomed.

    Now, in thinking about your math and the task before me I think I'll
    have a Guiness.
    Folklore, Sep 30, 2003
  5. Folklore

    Folklore Guest

    Thanks Alan. Great site!
    That's exactly the warm fuzzy info I'm looking for.
    Folklore, Sep 30, 2003
  6. Folklore

    Bowser Guest

    Film scanners have a long way to go. I use a Nikon 8000ED, and while it does
    a good job, anyone can see, simply by examining the film, that it leaves
    much detail behind, and loses a lot of sharpness. I have seen a couple of
    scans from an Imacon 8000dpi model, and the difference is incredible. That
    level of resolution will make it's way down to consumer products,
    eventually. Film, despite the onslaught of digital, is still an excellent
    medium on which to store images. I have some 50 year old transparencies
    taken by my father, and they still look great, and are very usable. I
    suspect that the chromes I shoot today will have a similar life. And, as
    scanning technology improves, so will the printed results from those films.
    Bowser, Oct 1, 2003
  7. Folklore

    Bowser Guest


    I think if you saw the results of a comparison between a typical 4000dpi
    scanner and the Imacon 8000dpi model, you'd change your mind. For some
    films, 4000 is enough. But for modern fine-grained chromes, 8000 makes a
    huge difference.
    Bowser, Oct 1, 2003
  8. I got pretty good results by simply photographing a slide in an old slide
    viewer: Slide vs Photographed.htm

    Cheap and fast. I could also buy a $70 adapter for my camera that would
    make it even simpler.
    Tony Whitaker, Oct 1, 2003
  9. No, but it continues to get older.

    Also, the hundreds of hours I've already spent scanning a tiny
    percentage of my own photos is not an amount of time I can casually
    spend *again*.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Oct 1, 2003
  10. Careful, I've got plenty of 30 to 40 year old transparencies that have
    faded considerably, in "ordinary" storage (decent materials, in a
    lived-in room; but not a climate-controlled archival vault).
    David Dyer-Bennet, Oct 1, 2003
  11. Folklore

    Rafe B. Guest

    You've got some responses claiming that there's still
    a lot of room left for improvement, that 4000 dpi still leaves
    a lot of detail unresolved.

    I say baloney. Or at the very least: unless you've got
    the very best optics, shooting on very slow, fine grained
    film, with a tripod, etc etc -- you're getting 98% of what's
    there at 4000 dpi, with the current generation of film

    I'm on my fourth film scanner (Nikon LS-8000) and it will
    be my last, unless it dies catastrophically in the near future.

    As I see it, there's not enough of a market in high-end film
    scanners to finance further R&D in this area. I mean, how
    many LS-8000s and Imacon Flextights have been sold
    since their inception?

    There may yet be a small market for those who have been
    holding out to archive large collections of slides and
    negatives. But time is running out for those folks, and
    in any case, speed (ie., high-volume scanning) isn't
    terribly compatible with the need for higher quality.

    The future is in digital image capture. My bet is that film
    scanners (or film) aren't going to get much better than
    they are today -- at least not for the consumer/prosumer

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Oct 1, 2003
  12. When the film is critically focussed, it does _very_ well, showing pretty
    much exactly what my 60x microscope does. The problem is that it's nearly
    impossible to get the film flat enough to hold critical focus across the
    whole of a 645 frame. At least on my unit, if the focus is off by 15 units,
    fine detail is lost. With the glass carrier and the film held off the lower
    glass to avoid Newton's rings, I can usually get it to within 10 units, but
    I have to measure several points across the frame.
    Are there any examples on the net? The one page I've seen shows the 8000
    holding its own against a 4000 dpi Tango. The drums, since they mount the
    negs with mounting fluid, don't have the focus problems, though.
    Dunno about that. In addition to the focus problems, the other scanners move
    the film to expose the R G and B channels at each pixel, making registration
    a problem. (The Nikon 8000 uses four monochromatic LEDs (R, G, B, and
    infrared) at each point, so exposes all channels for each pixel at the same

    But film can't be duplicated, so there's no way to archive it reliably.
    Fires, floods, and significant others (or parents or children) on cleaning
    rampages destroy much film every year. Make three sets of CD-Rs, put two in
    bank safe deposit vaults in different towns, and your shots will survive a
    nuclear war.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Oct 1, 2003
  13. OK, but the question wasn't, "how does film compare to digital cameras",
    the question is, "scan now or scan later".
    Constantinople, Oct 1, 2003
  14. Tony Whitaker, Oct 1, 2003
  15. Folklore

    Bowser Guest

    Haven't seen any examples of the Imacon 8000 model on the net; I saw them at
    a dealer demo in Boston. The Imacon uses a different type of mounting
    system, and won't accept mounted slides. The film is set in a flexible
    holder that is bent around a psuedo-drum. The lens pivots rather than
    travelling in a linear motion, which helps focusing. It could handle film up
    to 6x9, I believe.

    True enough about film, but I haven't had a problem in decades, and use a
    fire-proof storage box for the really important stuff. And a lot of the film
    I shoot is MF, and I've yet to see anything digital that can capture what I
    capture in a MF chrome. Well, anything digital I can afford.

    OK, off on a tangent: any idea (rumor) when that Sony 828 is being released?
    If it's as good as it looks, I'm in.
    Bowser, Oct 1, 2003
  16. Folklore

    Bowser Guest

    Have you seen side by side comparisons between a good 8000dpi scanner and a
    4000dpi scanner? The difference is amazing! I use a 4000dpi scanner, and
    even examining the film with a 40X loupe reveals all the detail left behind
    by the scanner. Scanning has a long way to go.
    Bowser, Oct 1, 2003
  17. Folklore

    Rafe B. Guest

    Time will tell. I'm thinking yes.

    I have not observed a rush to buy the Minolta from
    owners / users of late-model 4000 dpi scanners
    (either from Nikon or Canon.) Most of the glowing
    reports of the Minolta 5400 are coming from folks
    that are moving up from 2700 dpi scanners that
    were current around 3 or 4 yeas ago.

    In terms of archiving you're facing conflicting goals.
    The desire to scan thousands of slides/negatives
    is at odds with the technical requirements for
    squeezing every last byte of information from the
    film. Didn't you once tell us you spend half an hour
    setting up one scan?

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Oct 1, 2003
  18. The _only_ comparison I saw that showed any real advantage to the 5400 was a
    test chart. All the normal subject comparisons (even against 2700 dpi scans)
    showed no real difference (although grain is a tad less obnoxious in 5400
    scans, there was no additional detail.) For subjects with normal contrast,
    film simply doesn't record 5400 dpi worth of information. People who like
    test charts will get all hot and bothered, and I suppose someone will come
    along with a licence plate that can be read at 5400 dpi but not 2700 dpi.
    It takes me longer than that. I've got a lot of frames I'd like to scan so I
    can see what I need to do better to get a good shot, but since they are just
    test shots or goofs or ideas that didn't quite work, there's no way I can
    justify spending the time.

    Film's a major pain and incredible sink of time. I'm outta film the instant
    there's an affordable full-frame digital. (Until then, I'm enjoying the wide
    angle and the detail, but as soon as there's an alternative, I'll be there.)
    People still doing 35mm film are completely nuts, unless they're doing wide
    angle stuff.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Oct 1, 2003
  19. I think that this is the most important effect of scanning at very high
    resolutions. Better defined boundaries of grain will make it easier for
    NeatImage-like algorithms to reduce the visibility of grain.
    Philip Homburg, Oct 1, 2003
  20. Using better film or a larger format (or digital, since this difference is
    largely for negative films, which (in 35mm) are worse than dSLR digital
    however you scan them) makes a lot more sense than the tiny improvements
    we're talking about here. We're talking about the difference between
    unacceptably soft and grossly grainy vs. unacceptably soft and unpleasantly

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Oct 1, 2003
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