Newb: Scanning negatives question

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by Howard, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Hi all,

    I hope you don't mind me dropping by...

    I just bought a Plustek OpticFilm 7200 to scan all the negatives of our
    family photos from the 80s and 90s. I did this because the prints that
    come back from the photo people don't have any good resolution when
    However when I start scanning the colour negatives I am really
    disappointed with the resolution :-((( I thought they would be really
    high res... and the colour balance is awful...

    Was I dilusional thinking that they would scan well ?

    Howard, Nov 23, 2009
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  2. Howard

    Bruce Guest

    The Plustek isn't a great scanner, and the claimed resolution of
    7200 dpi is something of an illusion.

    Compare slides scanned on the "7200 dpi" Plustek to those scanned on a
    4000 dpi Nikon Coolscan and you will see that the Nikon is clearly far

    Of course it may well be that the family photos were taken with an
    inexpensive lens on cheap film, so even the best scanner might
    struggle to give a good result.

    What you could do is send a small batch of your photos to one of the
    professional scanning services that advertise on eBay UK, and see if
    the results are any better. If so, the Plustek scanner is likely to
    be the limiting factor.
    Bruce, Nov 23, 2009
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  3. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Thanks Bruce... depressed :-((

    Howard, Nov 23, 2009
  4. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Thanks Richard ... I now realise that and I guess I can tackle that.
    The res issue is the one that is upsetting me most ......

    Howard, Nov 23, 2009
  5. Howard

    Bruce Guest

    It isn't just a resolution issue. The Plustek scanners have a very
    disappointing Dmax which means they are incapable of recording a wide
    range of contrast. This would tend to make scanned images look duller
    than the negatives really are.

    There's some software that might help, called VueScan. If it has
    settings for your Plustek scanner it could offer a significant
    improvement in results. VueScan beats the factory software for some
    of the best scanners hands down, so if it supports your scanner you
    could see quite an improvement. I checked and there is support for
    the Plustek 7200 and 7200i.

    You can download and use a trial copy of VueScan for free. It has all
    the features of the paid-for software but adds a watermark to the
    images. Buy the software (about £25) and the watermark is gone. The
    watermark doesn't prevent you from trying the software but does mean
    that any scans you make will have a prominent watermark.

    I have done a lot of scanning with VueScan going back over 11 years
    and recommend it very highly.

    VueScan is produced by Ed Hamrick who is incredibly helpful. Try
    before you buy at:
    Bruce, Nov 23, 2009
  6. Howard

    Howard Guest

    I think this is a difficult thing to descibe. I am scanning at high
    res ... but when I open the resulting image it is fuzzy wven when it
    only fills the screen (iMac 24").
    I now have a 4 megapixel camera and the resolution of the scans is
    appalling in comparison.

    I am now wondering if the negatives could have been poor to start with
    ... though I was alwasy under the impression that negatives would be
    really hi res... :-((

    Howard, Nov 24, 2009
  7. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Thank you for that Bruce. I will definitely try it.

    Howard, Nov 24, 2009
  8. Howard

    Bruce Guest

    "As good as VueScan" is a matter of opinion - an opinion I don't
    happen to share.
    Bruce, Nov 24, 2009
  9. Howard

    Bruce Guest

    What film was used, and what camera/lens combination was used to shoot
    the negatives? I ask because negatives shot on poor quality film
    (supermarket own brand film, low end Kodak film) with a cheap compact
    camera can often be very poor indeed.

    On the other hand, a top quality Fuji or high end Kodak film used in
    an SLR or rangefinder camera with a top quality lens could produce
    outstanding results, better than almost any digital camera. I find it
    a joy to scan my old slides and negatives, ending up with 22 MP images
    that have greater detail, greater dynamic range and superior tonal
    qualities to my Nikon D700 and previous Canon EOS 5D.

    I shoot mostly digital because scanning takes time and film costs
    money, but there's no greater pleasure to be had in photography than
    shooting some film with some of the best lenses ever made then
    scanning the results. It's a joy.
    Bruce, Nov 24, 2009
  10. Howard

    Howard Guest

    It does. This is the software I am using .. in WondowsXP.

    Howard, Nov 24, 2009
  11. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Bruce, I know that for a serious Photography guy like you this is a lot
    of shit stuff.... I used a normal point and shoot, and standard film
    sold by the SPECTRA shops most of time. At that time I had no
    perception of the implications of what i was doing...
    If I could afford a nice SLR I would get it. I use a 6 or 7mp camera
    most of the time and the results are, I have to say, more than
    satisfactory 90% of the time.

    Howard, Nov 25, 2009
  12. Howard

    Howard Guest

    I am comparing the Silverfast that came with the scanner, with Vuescan
    today. The VueScan scn looked better - but I have just spend a wasted
    hour trying to get Silverfast to give me a positive scan...... no
    matter what I do it ends up a negative :-(

    Howard, Nov 25, 2009
  13. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Well spotted .... I use Bootcamp on my iMac. My son used WindowsXP to
    run his games and I use the MacOS (and my iMac at work) for everything

    I am now using Windows to do the scanning because the Plustek will not
    run under MacOS....

    Howard, Nov 25, 2009
  14. Howard

    Bruce Guest

    Been there, done that too. For about a decade I used nothing better
    than a cheap compact camera and cheap film. Very few of the results
    from those years are worth scanning other than for sentimental value.
    When I started to take photography seriously again, I used slide film
    (as I had before my "lost decade") and also some better quality
    negative film. When I started scanning film in the mid-1990s I
    quickly realised that a top quality low contrast negative film gave
    the best results of all.

    Now I use only top quality cameras and lenses, but that's because I
    need them to make a living.

    I've had some great results from a 4 MP Olympus. I replaced it with a
    10 MP Panasonic but packing 10 MP on to a tiny sensor means that the
    noise is very obtrusive. My partner still uses the Olympus, as does
    her cousin who bought one at the same time - about 5 years ago - and
    the results are more than good enough. Cramming too many MP on to a
    tiny sensor is not a good idea.

    Likewise, with my DSLR, while many of my colleagues use 21 MP Canon
    and 24 MP Nikon DSLRs, I am much happier with "only" 12 MP because I
    can shoot at high ISOs and still get very low noise.

    Back to your scanning problem; the film is likely to be a low grade
    Agfa (German) or GAF (Italian) emulsion, and probably not worth
    spending a lot of time trying to scan. In the 90s, Fuji entered the
    "own brand" film market and their films were only slightly better.

    You might like to choose a few of your better negatives and take them
    to your nearest ASDA, where their Fuji Frontier minilab will probably
    get you some surprisingly good results, and at low cost. Beware,
    though, some ASDA stores have been re-equipped and are digital only.
    Bruce, Nov 25, 2009
  15. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Thanks for all the advice Bruce. Cheers.

    Howard, Nov 25, 2009
  16. Howard

    Bruce Guest

    You're welcome.
    Bruce, Nov 26, 2009
  17. Howard

    Bruce Guest

    Only one red flag, actually. It tells you that the product is aimed
    at the domestic market, that's all.
    Bruce, Nov 26, 2009
  18. Is GAF the same as 3M? (I used to be quite adept at working out the
    origins of own brand film from the country of origin)
    My take on this, is that they tended to be a generation behind the named
    brand films, so a neg or slide shot on Woolworths special from the 90's
    is unlikely to look any worse than Kodak from the 80's, etc.
    Visibly, they'll fall down on colour rendition and grain, neither of
    which were mentioned by the OP, so I'm dubious about this being the problem.

    Something that hasn't been mentioned, is the ease with which we can
    enlarge scanned images on screen. Look closely at a conventionally
    projected slide and you have the entire image to remind you that the
    grainy, blurry corner you're looking at is only a tiny part of the
    whole. But do it on a computer monitor and you have nothing to keep it
    in context. It's far too easy to become disillutioned with an image that
    would be perfectly acceptable in all other circumstances.
    Willy Eckerslyke, Nov 26, 2009
  19. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Not really Michael. The Mac market is a much smaller market. let's face
    it. Also the Mac compatible models were the more expensive ones so
    having Bootcamp I felt I could buy either. I see no logical software
    reason why a Windows based scanning app should be worse than one
    written for the MacOS per se.

    Howard, Nov 26, 2009
  20. Howard

    Howard Guest

    Bruce, I was looking again at the scans and wondering if the problem
    might be focus. But this model does not have a focussing option.

    Then I noticed that the dust particles/marks on the scns were in
    perfect focus .... inferring that the focus is actually correct. Do
    you think I am right in my deduction ?

    Howard, Nov 26, 2009
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