How close (how far) do flat-beds get to (from) film scanners?

Discussion in 'Photoshop' started by Branko Vukelic, Mar 3, 2004.

  1. Now, sorry for the long subject line.

    I'm looking for a way to replace my old Mustek flat-bed, and at the same
    time become able to scan tons of negs that I have here (all of them 35mm).

    I hear that flat-beds can yield decent (?!) results with, say, 6x6 negs and
    slides, but what about 35mm? I'd rather not have to purchase two pieces of

    I would need only small-sized scans (to a max of A4) from my 35mm's and I
    really need great scans from other things that usally go onto a flat-bed
    (photos, illusts, documents, etc).

    Optionally I'd like to be able to scan small 3D objects (especially book
    covers that have holes and such in them) and shiny objects (like aluminum
    foils, silver and gold lettering on book covers, etc). These used to come
    out amazingly poor (and expectedly so) on my $25 Mustek.

    Any suggestions?
    Branko Vukelic, Mar 3, 2004
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  2. Epson 4870
    Someone got up me for claiming it was at the leading edge of flatbed film
    scanners. I'll add ...for consumer hardware.
    I had Epson 3200 I've just sold. I thought that was pretty good but having
    had the 4870 for several weeks, I can tell you this is better than many
    lower cost dedicated film scanners.

    Douglas MacDonald, Mar 3, 2004
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  3. Branko Vukelic

    supchaka Guest

    Scanning transparencies and regular stuff are two different beasts
    Although some flatbeds offer an add-on to do the slides, they aren
    going to be near the quality of the scanner made for the job.

    Flatbeds bounce light off opaque, slide scanners read light densitie
    through the film. The flatbed with a kit will still read the image b
    bouncing light. Maybe you can find some examples somewhere, if they ar
    good enough for what you want then go for it

    supchaka, Mar 3, 2004
  4. What your are saying Supchaka, was relevant in 1998. Recent advents in the
    technology have seriously closed to gap between flatbed film scanning and
    dedicated film scanners.
    If I were to say: 4,800 lpi, 48 bit colour, ICE dust and scratch removal,
    auto colour balance of ANY film. What would you think I was describing? A
    high quality film scanner? Yes, an Epson 4870 PHOTO flatbed scanner. Makes
    the Canon dedicated 35mm film scanner look downright toyish. Doesn't make
    many of the recent Nikon's look too good either.

    Douglas MacDonald, Mar 3, 2004
  5. Branko Vukelic

    Waldo Guest

    Scanning transparencies and regular stuff are two different beasts.
    I agree that dedicated filmscanners give better results (at least in my
    experience), but your second statement is not true for all scanners: the
    Canon 9900F allows you to remove the white background in the lid and behind
    that is a second light, allowing to scan trough the film.

    Still the results are not as close as a dedicated consumer film scanner
    (like the Canon 4000 or Minolta 5400).

    Waldo, Mar 3, 2004
  6. I have a comparison of the Epson 4870 flatbed and the Minolta 5400
    dedicated 35mm scanner on my web site.
    Follow the tips link on the home page to read it.
    Robert D Feinman, Mar 3, 2004
  7. Branko Vukelic

    Bigcat Guest

    Take a look at the Epson 3200 and the newer 4800
    I have seen 35 mm neg scans that where as good as the Nikon 4000 film

    Bigcat, Mar 3, 2004
  8. Branko Vukelic

    ralford Guest

    Another set of examples are at under the scanner
    tests. I am reconfiguring the site, so I apologies for the clutter etc.

    I conclude from Feinman's great example that a dedicated scanner will
    generally beat the flat bed scanner. My results indicate the same, albeit
    with less thoroughness. I recently repeated the test with an new Epson 1670
    (?) and the results are similar although the color fidelity was much
    better - the lack of fine focus on the slide results in the missing "dot" on
    the dial.

    This question goes around and around. It all depends on how you value

    ralford, Mar 3, 2004
  9. Now, I would like to thank y'all for input.

    As Robert says in his tips article, the Epson is a satisfactory solution to
    most people who are not too picky.

    Robert, your article certainly apeals to my apetite for "perfect" scans...
    However, I really need a decent flat-bed, so I'll definitely go for Epson.
    That is, if I can get a few more things cleared up...

    What's the price range for this scanner?

    What are the system requirements? Will 256Mb RAM suffice for scanning 35mm
    negs at maximum resolution? (Naturally, I wouldn't want to buy something and
    wating for a full PC upgrade before being able to use it... :)

    Branko Vukelic, Mar 3, 2004
  10. Hi Branko...
    You might care to hear what I have to say about high data flow rates on USB.
    before buying something that might be a problem. I still think the 4870 is
    the single best scanner in it's range but there may be problems getting it
    to run properly.

    I just unplugged the old 3200 and plugged in the new one. Then... My PC
    crashed whenever I tried to scan a negative. Epson (don't you love people
    who are always right-Grrrrr) Told me to check out my hardware. I would
    probably find that was faulty, not the scanner. I did. New 450 watt power
    supply got the crashing fixed.

    When I switched off the scanner while the PC was still on, the PC would
    reboot! I still can't use Digital ICE and 48 bit mode at the same time and
    use more than 2400 dpi. I updated the BIOS of my (7 months old) PC and fixed
    the reboot problem.

    I am absolutely positive USB 2.0 as applied by SIS (the chipset makers) is a
    dud under Windows. Even when you apply the (SIS) software patch, there is no
    guarantee it will work properly. Installed a firewire card. - Fixed!

    As to your hardware?
    512 RAM is better but 256 will do.
    Make sure the motherboard does NOT have an SIS or VIA chipset.
    Make sure the power supply Unit (PSU) is over 350 watt capacity.
    Buy a firewire card and cable. Forget USB. It will give you grief.
    Flash up the BIOS on your mother board.

    If this sounds like a lot of trouble... It is. Cost me $200 (AUD) over the
    cost of the scanner to get it working and My PC is only 7 months old!

    Douglas MacDonald, Mar 3, 2004
  11. That does sound like a LOT of trouble over a single piece of equipment,
    doesn't it? My PC is over a year and a half old, and the chipset is VIA. The
    power supply seems to be well under 350W... I don't even have USB 2.0 and,
    frankly, I don't think I'll ever be able to run the Epson on my system (not
    even with those minor hardware upgrades).

    Hmm, what was 3200 like? Any good? Or should I be looking for a complete
    hardware upgrade before I get anything new?

    I inherited the Nikon F from my dad. Also with 35mm F2.0 and 105 F2.5. Those
    lenses are so good I don't think I'll be replacing them for (another) 20
    years. Too bad this philosophy can't be applied to my PC. :p

    Thanks for the tip, Douglas.
    Branko Vukelic, Mar 4, 2004
  12. The 3200 is a really good scanner. It doesn't do colour correction anywhere
    near as accurately ar the 4870 and it only has rudimentry dust control.
    Frankly... I got pissed off using to healing tool of PS to get rid of dust.
    I bought the new one only because it had ICE.

    Don't bother with USB at all except for printing. Use firewire or SCSI
    scanners, preferably firewire. I just installed the 4870 on my wife's
    Celeron 2,4 GHz with Windows 98 and it works properly. She has a VIA chipset
    an an MSI board. 256 Mb of RAM and Corel Photopaint. A 250 watt power supply
    too! It seems to work OK with that lot... Could it be my "top of the range"
    motherboard is a dud or is it Win 2k producing the problems?

    I might load Win98 on a spare drive in my PC and see if it still gives the
    out of memory error. You'd think if it will work on 98 with 256 meg it would
    be OK on 2k with 1 gig... Hmmm. I'll get back on that one. Might not be the
    hardware after all.

    Douglas MacDonald, Mar 4, 2004
  13. Hmmm... My PC's based around a Chaintech version of VIA. Pretty good mb.
    Hasn't let me down so far. But I'm on WinXP, which is pretty much like Win2k
    as far as hardware compatibility goes. However, 2k's been pretty unstable
    unpathced on the same machine... So I guess that, like Win98, WinXP might be
    a better bet than 2k as far as the Epson goes.

    Wow, it's still a bit risky, you know. I really don't have the budget for a
    firewire AND the scanner...

    When you find out more, be sure to post the findings in this thread, please.
    I'm planning on getting *a* scanner in next two or three month.
    Branko Vukelic, Mar 5, 2004
  14. Branko Vukelic

    Hecate Guest

    I just want to emphasize the bit about USB. I'm about to buy a film
    scanner. I'm purchasing the Minolta Dimage 5400 in preference to the
    new Nikon Coolscan V simply because the Minolta is has a firewire
    connection (actually, it has both, but USB was, and still is, IMHO,
    nowhere near as stable as firewire).
    Hecate, Mar 5, 2004
  15. Branko Vukelic

    mono Guest

    Another perspective on the Epson 4870 for you. My own experience with
    this scanner is largely favourable, bearing in mind its multi purpose
    use and its price a combination that surely isn't bettered by any
    other scanner. I have a Nikon Coolscan IV to compare it against for
    35mm scans and I have to say it comes close. It is softer than the
    Nikon, the appearance of a sharpened 4870 scan is similar to an
    unsharpened Nikon scan. Colourwise the Epson is possibly a bit more
    accurate straight from the scan. The trump card for the Epson is its
    touted 3.8 dmax, well I can't quote figures but I can tell you it does
    a damn fine job of revealing detail in its scans, every bit as good as
    the Nikon on shadow detail and less prone to blow out highlights. You
    want recommendations of using the 4870 for 35mm up to A4 size, I'd say
    yes if your originals are up to it and if you always bear in mind it
    is a low priced scanner. If you want to see every last bit of detail
    needle sharp then it will probably disappoint.
    I bought mine for medium format scanning for which it is a better
    choice but if you are wanting to scan 35mm film and prints then it's a
    combination that makes the 4870 a good deal for you too.

    Will it work on your system. Well at the risk of making folks shudder,
    the spec of my computer is likely as low as you'll come across and I
    have had no problem using the scanner. I use it with USB2 as I have no
    firewire, my processor is an AMD K6-2 400mhz I do have 640mb of
    memory, which I'm assuming helps though any large file size scans are
    slowish to handle once in PS. The scanner itself installed flawlessly,
    the biggest problem I've had has been due to running out of space on
    my C drive where my OS and Programs are and I'm loathe to reinstal
    anything at present as I'm waiting for finances to recover so I can
    get my dedicated photoshop machine and relieve this old one of its
    burden. I made a bad partitioning decision some time ago the
    consequences of which I just have to live with for now. If your
    computer is free from these problems I think it should handle the 4870
    alright. One thing though, I haven't used ICE at all and I haven't
    scanned at greater than 3200. Why have a nice new scanner with ICE and
    not use it? I do mostly black and white and ICE doesn't work with
    conventional (i.e. non C41 processed) black and white. It doesn't work
    with Kodachrome either which accounts for a fair bit of my 35mm
    colour. And no higher than 3200? For medium format the file sizes
    would be too big for a dubious improvement by going to 4800 and the
    35mm I've done has been in comparison to my Nikon which scans at 2900.

    I think you asked for price ranges on the 4870. Here in the UK the
    best deal I've seen is from Amazon for £299, or was it £295, with free
    delivery. In the States you'd pay a lot less (surprise, surprise) but
    you won't get Epson Smart Panel (no big loss and certainly not worth
    the extra we have to pay).

    I note you don't have USB2 nor did I, but I added a USB2 card for
    about £10 to £15 off ebay some time ago that sorted that, you could do
    the same for USB2 or firewire. By the way the scanner will work on
    plain vanilla USB but will of course be slower. Your 256 mb RAM might
    slow things a little. One way to ease it might be to use the scanner
    as a stand alone rather than from within Photoshop so you don't have
    the pair of them fighting for resources. The Epson isn't as greedy as
    the Nikon in this regard, Nikon and PS open at the same time really
    bogs my computer, mind you it has its moments with Word. Chances are
    you'll find your machine copes okay if mine does. Your memory problem
    will still be a problem with any other scanner you might choose so an
    upgrade might be in order regardless.

    For your print and 3D object scanning this is a lot more scanner than
    you really need but add in your 35mm needs and it is probably made
    "just for you".

    (the other one)
    mono, Mar 6, 2004
  16. Branko Vukelic

    mono Guest

    You might want to check the user reports on the 5400. The firewire
    improvement might be outdone by flaky software and build quality.

    No first hand experience, it's just that I believe everything I read
    Plus I think you really need some Nikon gear somewhere in your life.

    (the other one)
    who wishes he'd got the Coolscan V instead of his IV. Never felt that
    way about the 5400. Conclusive or what?
    mono, Mar 6, 2004
  17. Branko Vukelic

    Hecate Guest

    Thanks Brian. I'd just been going by reviews which were generally
    "they're both just as good but the Nikon software is marginally

    One thing I've found out since I posted this is that the Minolta can't
    batch scan in the way the Nikon can - although the add-ons are
    expensive, the Nikon isn't limited to the 4 slide, 6 tranny/neg
    holders that the Minolta is.

    I'll Google for some user feedback on the Minolta and see what

    BTW, I like some things Nikon. Funnily enough, although I'm a Canon
    user I've always wanted an FM2n since I tried one out in a Grays of
    Westminster (which will only mean something to people from the UK
    Hecate, Mar 7, 2004
  18. Branko Vukelic

    WharfRat Guest

    Have you looked into the AGFA T2000XL

    Large format reflective flatbed (12x18) -
    and non glass transparent (up to 4x5) and glass mount
    transparency scanning to 9x12.
    Batch scanning up to 16 - 35mm transparencies.
    Very high rez and excellent density.
    Versitile solid software, all color managed - etc ... etc.

    WharfRat, Mar 7, 2004
  19. Update on 4870 and out of memory problems..
    I went out and bought a new mainboard last week. I only got around to
    installing it yesterday. The board is a Shuttle AV49PN and has a VIA
    chipset. It was half the price of an identical board with an Intel chipset
    so I thought I'd give it a go because it can use 800 MHz Front Side Bus
    (FSB) as well as 533 (my current processor).

    It would seem that the MSI board with SIS chipset I previously had was the
    cause of the scanner's miss behaviour. I scanned a single 6cm x 9cm negative
    at 4800 dpi in 48 bit colour with ICE enabled. No problem at all. Happy now!

    Batch scanning is one area not previously mentioned in conjunction with the
    Epson scanner. Simply by drawing the selection tool over every one of the 24
    frames in the preview and selecting 'all' before commencing a scan, will
    result in 24 seperate images being cascaded into Photoshop (CS) for
    manipulation or whatever. Between 4 and 9 minutes each scan, depending on
    ICE or no ICE.

    FOr me, this might be a lot slower that the top Minolta or Nikon but I don't
    have to keep changing film strips while it happens. I can go on with other
    chores. I think this is one of the better features of this really good

    Douglas MacDonald, Mar 7, 2004
  20. Okay, thanks. I can manage a USB 2.0. Have just read an article about USB
    2.0 vs. Firewire. It states that Firewire doesn't give you any significant
    advantage if you're not into video... So I guess USB 2.0 will be just fine
    for me.

    I don't need speed. I always take things as they come and I don't try to
    rush things. So speed is really not an issue. As long as the scanner
    Branko Vukelic, Mar 7, 2004
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