film vs. flatbed scanners

Discussion in 'Scanners' started by Mike - EMAIL IGNORED, Apr 7, 2006.

  1. I am planning to buy a scanner for 35mm
    negatives and slides for under $1000.
    Consumer Reports says the new flatbeds
    are pretty good. High resolution and
    detail are important to me. Any opinions?
    Thanks for your advice.
    Mike - EMAIL IGNORED, Apr 7, 2006
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    Mike Guest

    No. If you want to scan 35mm film for high-quality prints, get a
    dedicated film scanner.

    I have a flatbed-- the Epson 4990. I bought it to scan a wide variety of
    formats, including 4x5. I've found I can make a passable 8x10" print from
    a 35mm scan, but I wouldn't go any higher.

    If you want to scan 35mm film for the screen viewing, or small prints,
    then a flatbed like the Epson 4990 is fine.
    Mike, Apr 7, 2006
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  3. Flatbeds of the consumer kind are not useful for making serious scans
    of 35mm (or smaller) film. And while I'm a big fan of Consumer
    REports -- only for consumer items, which film scanners very
    definitely are not.

    But for $1000 you can get the top-of-the line Nikon 5000 ED; or for
    $500 you can get the Nikon Coolscan V, which is no slouch.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Apr 7, 2006

    bmoag Guest

    The best results are from dedicated film scanners. Having used high end
    dedicated film and flat bed scanners I have no doubt about the accuracy of
    that statement.
    If you want the best results, are knowledgeable about how to use Photoshop,
    color management, high end printing (or are willing to learn) get a
    dedicated film scanner before they are no longer available.
    That being said, if you have never used dedicated film scanners and are not
    familiar with high end digital image processing you will likely be very
    satisfied with results from a high end flat bed scanner. These scanners can
    do pretty good with 35mm materials but they are just not as good as properly
    used film scanners, no matter what you read in reviews-particularly Consumer
    Consumer Reports rates a Prius higher than a BMW because it is less
    expensive and more fuel efficient. Which car, all things being equal, would
    you rather drive? I have both these cars and, believe me, I know the answer
    to that one.
    Most people never print larger than 8.5x11 and do not pursue high end image
    processing with Photoshop apart from minor fiddling. The results you get
    scanning negatives and transparencies with a high end flat bed machine,
    compared to scanning prints, is incomparably superior.
    bmoag, Apr 7, 2006

    Ric Trexell Guest

    Mike: I have only used my Epson 2450 flatbed scanner which is old now. It
    is great for me and actually scans negatives and slides pretty good.
    However, a flat bed will not get the range of colors as a dedicated scanner.
    The important thing is and the reason I wrote this post is that you can't
    compare the scanners at places like Best Buy and Office Max to the top of
    the line flat bed scanners. Those cheapys are for scanning your bank
    account and for sending a picture to gramma. If you are going to sell your
    pictures for something like stock or have them enlarged, then a dedicated
    scanner will be the answer. A flat bed is handy though for everything else.
    Just get the best of whatever to get and you won't be disappointed. Ric in
    Ric Trexell, Apr 7, 2006
  6. I think you might get some good use out of a flatbed for cataloging
    purposes....They are capable of scanning a dozen or more 35 mm slides/frames
    at once, so you could use them to give yourself some idea of what you've
    got....To find a particular image quickly. Then, once you have found what
    you are looking for, you can do a good scan with a dedicated film
    scanner....IOW, I think having both would be a good idea, if you can afford
    William Graham, Apr 7, 2006

    Matt Clara Guest

    Matt Clara, Apr 7, 2006

    Matt Clara Guest

    For 35mm film, forget flatbeds, at least for now (the Epson V700 looks
    promising). For $1000 you can purchase a used Nikon 8000 or (maybe), 9000,
    which covers both 35mm and medium format. I believe the 35mm only capable
    Nikon scanners are all less than $1000 new.
    Matt Clara, Apr 7, 2006
  9. Hi.
    Forget flatbeds. Dynamic range is inadequate and noise is excessive.
    Optical (real - if You like - ) resolution is inadequate for something
    so small as a 35 mm film. (for medium format this is another story.)
    Sure, You can make apparently sharp prints up to A4 but You lose
    information all the time. I have tested my own flatbeds; they do not
    capture all the information I have on a 35 mm slide. In a month or two I
    will have a Coolscan. A flatbed is designed to be a ... flatbed and
    they a very good at that. A filmscanner is built to scan film. A
    different concept (and different optics).
    Buy the best filmscanner You can afford.
    If have tested and used several flatbeds and now I will buy a
    filmscanner and live happily ever after:)

    Väinö Louekari
    Väinö Louekari, Apr 7, 2006
  10. These new, high resolution flatbeds (like the V700) would be ideal for large
    format film, as well as scanning prints, so I believe they are a good buy,
    if you've got a good quality 35 mm negative scanner too.
    William Graham, Apr 7, 2006
  11. Last I looked the 5000 was $997 at B&H -- so yes, the top-of-the-line
    35mm scanner is less than $1000 new.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Apr 7, 2006
  12. Mike - EMAIL IGNORED

    Colin D Guest

    Nobody has yet mentioned the Canon 9950F, a flatbed scanner that also
    scans film, 35mm (30 frames at once), slides (12 slides at once), 120
    film in various formats, and 5x4 as well. Available scan definition
    ranges from 1200 dpi to 4800 dpi. It has a rated D.max of 3.9, which is
    pretty good. Not many negatives - or slides - go anywhere near a
    density of 3.9, so the tonal quality from the scan should be good.

    With any scanner, the finer the scan, the bigger is the resulting image
    file, a point frequently overlooked with scanner like the Minolta at
    5,400 dpi. At that, the image file from a 35mm frame will be 39
    megabytes. If you have a largish number of frames to scan, storage may
    be a problem.

    I tend to agree with Scott W, when he says that there is little
    information to be gained by scanning at greater than 2,700 dpi, though
    if you are scanning fast or coarse-grained films, the grain may be
    accentuated by aliasing effects at that dpi, and a finer scan may
    mitigate but not eliminate grain.
    Colin D, Apr 8, 2006
  13. Mike - EMAIL IGNORED

    Colin D Guest


    Dammitall, a math error ...
    The frame will be 39 megaPIXELS; since for an 8-bit image each pixel
    takes three bytes, the file size will be about 117 megabytes - or about
    five images on a CD ...
    Colin D, Apr 8, 2006
  14. Mike - EMAIL IGNORED

    Mike Guest

    The 9950F is comparable to the Epson 4990, but with shittier software.
    200GB hard drive on sale for $70 last week at my local Best Buy

    Wrong. Detail from Velvia increases to about 6000dpi with a drum scanner.
    Of course the return diminishes, but there is plenty from 2700-4000dpi
    and then some more.
    Mike, Apr 8, 2006
  15. Mike - EMAIL IGNORED

    Colin D Guest

    I doubt that, as I have the 9950F, and I wouldn't say the software is
    shitty. I have read a review that claims the software is poor, but
    that's one person's view, and not necessarily an unbiased one. Have you
    actually used the Canon software, or are you quoting a review?
    There's always an exception that proves the rule somewhere. What make
    of drive? Some are better than others. And a 200GB drive will hold all
    of about 1700 tiffs - unless you want to scan at 6,000 dpi and then save
    as jpegs. Note I corrected myself in another post - 39 megapixels is
    actually 117 megabytes for 8-bit images.
    Not wrong. Velvia is an exception. Normal films, and certainly films
    faster than about 100 ISO haven't anywhere near that resolution, and not
    forgetting you need a lens that can resolve down to better than 200
    l/mm, to resolve 6,000 dpi, which is problematical since the overall
    resolving capability of a lens/film combination is less than either
    alone. Then there are slight focus errors and camera shake. In
    reality, a vanishingly small number of slides and negatives can get
    anywhere near 6,000 dpi, or even 4,000 dpi.

    In the real world, getting detail at 6,000 or 4,000 dpi is pie in the
    sky. Lab tests might do it. Photographers shooting their subjects

    Colin D.
    Colin D, Apr 8, 2006
  16. Yes. That's why I archive my slides with JPEG compression, and get files of
    less than 2 megs. This is adequate for my needs, which are just family type
    pictures that I send to my kids over the internet......
    William Graham, Apr 8, 2006
  17. I have the Canon 8400F flatbed scanner, which, at least on paper has
    almost the same characteristics as the 9950F.

    Compared to my Dimage 5400 film scanner, it is noticeably worse: With
    the flatbed at 3200dpi and the film scanner at (only) 2700 dpi, the
    difference in quality is immediately visible (in favour of the film
    scanner), even at full screen and with no zooming in for details.
    I haven't carried out thorough tests yet, but I suspect that the film
    scanner at 1350dpi will still beat the flatbed at 3200dpi.

    Also the flatbed's colours are nowhere as pure or as saturated.

    That said, it isn't bad for a flatbed. But real quality lies in another
    I suspect some are judging the quality of film based on flatbed scans.
    Reality check: How about 230mb for a 5400dpi 48bit scan...
    I disagree with Scott W and Colin D (both notorious "film is cr$p and
    dead" trolls); at least 5% of my shots benefit from scanning at 5400dpi
    instead of 2700dpi. If I used a tripod more often, it would be more. On
    the other hand, if you mainly/only shoot 400 ISO film, then 5400dpi is
    Chris Loffredo, Apr 8, 2006
  18. Mike - EMAIL IGNORED

    Colin D Guest

    Yep. Read my next post in that thread; I corrected myself to 117 MB -
    39MB x 3.
    Chris, you are not right there, at least in my case. I have never said
    film is crap, or anything like it. Personally I prefer digital, and I
    get better results from digital than I ever got from film, but that's
    not the same as saying film is no good. Saying I prefer one thing does
    not imply that I rubbish the other thing. And I do not troll, FYI.

    You have the 8400 (is it?) Canon scanner? and you find the scans are not
    up to the film scanner standard. I did an interesting test with the
    9950F you might like to try yourself. I scanned a color negative as a
    negative, and the scanner returned a positive image as expected. Then I
    scanned the same negative as a slide, which of course produced a
    negative which I inverted and levelled in Photoshop. To my amazement,
    the image scanned as a slide and inverted was much sharper then when
    scanned as a negative. Without further testing, I concluded that the
    Canon software that handles negatives has some softening effect that is
    not present when handling slides.

    So now I scan my negs as slides and invert in PS, with much better
    Colin D, Apr 8, 2006
  19. Mike - EMAIL IGNORED

    Scott W Guest

    But you are comparing 2700 ppi to 5400 ppi. I was talking about the
    difference between 4000 ppi and 5400ppi.

    I did also say that most scans show very little extra detail when
    scanned at 4000 compared to 2000, which is true.

    In the one scan of your I have seen the difference between the 2700 and
    5400 scan was very slight, surly the difference between 5400 and 4000
    would be nonexistent.

    Scott W, Apr 8, 2006
  20. Heh. In the camera retail business, we used to live in terror of
    Consumer Reports. You never knew what fool thing they'd recommend, and
    people would start asking for; the selection methodology was so bad it
    seemed completely random.

    I remember the year they recommended the Miranda Sensorex over the
    Nikon Ftn, because it was so much MORE RELIABLE. See, they asked people
    who had them how many repairs they had, but NOT how many rolls a year
    they'd shot...

    Oh, and I'll add to the chorus of condemnation of flatbed scanners for
    film. It's a fun feature for very occasional or non-critical use, but
    that's about it.

    You will hear contrary opinions. I have a friend who's a reasonably
    well-known commercial artist (not photographer) who tells everyone that
    a flatbed w/film adapter is "perfect." Turns out he's never seen the
    results from anything else.
    Scott Schuckert, Apr 8, 2006
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