Plustek OpticFilm 7200dpi (optical resolution) 35mm dedicated film scanner - £170

Discussion in 'Scanners' started by Chris Street, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. Chris Street

    Chris Street Guest

    Has anybody got any thoughts about the Plustek OpticFilm 7200dpi
    scanner? You can crop a 35mm slide to a quarter size and still get A3
    prints. Costs 170 quid!

    Amateur Photographer magazine (7th October) said (I quote): 'a
    groundbreaking 7200dpi optical resolution capable of transforming a
    35mm frame into a 300ppi image measuring 34'x22.5' (86x57cm) - A1 in
    paper sizes - or a small section enlarged to fit an A3 print' has the full 3 page AP review

    Chris Street
    Chris Street, Oct 21, 2004
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  2. Yes, your subtle spam nearly fooled me last time, too. This scanner from
    your shop does appear quite good, but the actual optical resolving
    capability is a disappointing 2900dpi, according to this (German) article:

    which makes your quarter 35mm A3 print 124dpi resolution.

    I decided to give it a miss, as I couldn't find one from any company
    that didn't spam Usenet, and bought a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV from
    Digital First, instead:

    I'm very pleased with it. Resolution is slightly better than the Plustek
    for not a lot more money.
    Mark Tranchant, Oct 22, 2004
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  3. Chris Street

    Phil Hobgen Guest

    I wouldn't sacrifice that much build quality to save money. Especially when
    I'm scanning negatives that often can't be released. It would seem that
    they've made some compromises that other manufacturers aren't prepaerd to,
    simply to achieve high resolution at a low price.
    For a more balanced review you might want to look at Practical Photography
    October 2004, before you commit your cash.
    Phil Hobgen, Oct 22, 2004
  4. Chris Street

    Carrigman Guest

    From a review in Digital Photo/Nov 04:

    ""Where it falls down is on its ability to record highlight and shadow
    detail. With an optical density of 3.4D, the Plustek isn't in the same
    league as the more expensive models..."

    Carrigman, Oct 22, 2004
  5. Chris Street

    Chris Street Guest

    The Amateur Photographer (9th October 2004) review of Plustek
    OpticFilm 7200
    says (I quote) 'with shots (slides, negatives, b/w) that could be
    described as 'average' in terms of exposure or contrast, the OpticFilm
    7200 consistently delivers a full range of tones, sometimes exceeding
    my expectations'

    'OpticFilm 7200 delivered enough information in a 8-bit scan to
    prevent highlights from 'burning out' despite heavy manipulation of
    the contrast. As a result I could extract far more detail than I
    anticipated being able to and achieve the result I was after'

    'With a DMax of 3.4, OpticFilm 7200 shouldn't have too much trouble
    dealing with most negatives. With average exposed transparency film
    (for exposure and contrast) the 7200 consistently delivers a full
    range of tones.'

    Chris Street
    Chris Street, Oct 23, 2004
  6. Chris Street

    Phil Hobgen Guest

    Practical Photography:
    "At 7200dpi the Plustek has the specification to beat any model here, but
    the scans don't quite match the numbers. They can be used at A3 size and the
    detail is impressive for the money. The shadow and highlight details lag
    behind the better models here, though, and there's more noise visible in
    areas of even tone that lets it down."

    The dust removal system as tested in that review "struggled with all
    aspects". It was also very, very slow - but then again so were a couple of
    the other models, but at least they had some effect on the fingerprints,
    dust and scratches.

    I don't know whether my needs are unusual, but I have old family negatives
    to scan so any hint of low build quality on the feed mechanism is worrying.
    These negatives are often already dusty and scratched, so I don't want to
    make things worse.ICE is a big selling point on any film scanner, but it
    needs to work! Also my negatives are often not of average exposure and
    contrast, so a scanner that can deal with negatives that aren't of magazine
    quality is one of my requirements. This would seem to mean a higher DMax,
    which is a better indication of optical quality than a high optical

    I guess my point of view is that I never buy on the basis of a single
    review. Comparative reviews provide a far more sensible basis for assesment
    of what to buy. Technical reviews (such as the german one mentioned by Mark
    Tranchant) on the internet often provide some very interesting detail that
    often doesn't make it into the magazines.

    Like Mark, I'm also concerned about your approach to posting here. Why
    didn't you just state your interest, instead of trying to word your post
    like its from some some enthusiastic potential purchaser that's just found a
    Phil Hobgen, Oct 23, 2004
  7. Chris Street

    Chris Street Guest

    The Plustek OpticFilm 7200 has a manufacturers claimed 7200dpi optical

    According to the German article (section
    translated to English - ) the scanner was
    tested and found to give a resolution corresponding to a 2900dpi
    resolution (using the USAF1951 T-20 test.

    This T-20 target is available in UK from:

    I am MD of DataMind who are the UK importers of the
    Plustek OpticFilm 7200 scanner. If anyone wants to re-test the scanner
    for resolution with the T-20 target (DataMind will provide the T-20)
    and publish their results in English, DataMind will loan them an
    OpticFilm 7200 for 21 days.

    Chris Street
    Chris Street, Oct 23, 2004
  8. Chris Street

    Peter Guest

    You have to PAY to get dynamic range.

    I have a Canon FS2710 (£500 in 1999, you can pick them up on Ebay for
    £100 or so) which is pretty good. You can have mine for £100 :)

    I also have a new Nikon 5000ED (£780) which is noticeably better but
    only if you know what to look for. For most negatives, I doubt I would
    see the difference.

    I saw the review of the Plustek before I bought the Nikon. It has
    great resolution but not a great dynamic range. My old 2710 shows up
    grain in a lot of transparency film especially old Kodachrome 64 and
    that is "only" 2700dpi. The Nikon (4000dpi) shows up film grain on
    everything I have, including Kodachrome 25.

    Peter, Oct 23, 2004
  9. I spoke with the makers at photokina, and decided against requesting a
    review sample via their stand. They realised that my magazine
    readerships are mainly professional or advanced and probably have a
    higher Mac user ratio than others, and suggested I waited for an
    improved Mac OSX compatible version which would be appearing.

    I've never used test targets for evaluating scanners (indeed, for the
    last 15 years or so, I've not bothered with them for lenses - ever since
    zooms started coming out where the geometry, curvature of field focus,
    and vignetting over-ride any question of resolution differences). But, I
    do look for evidence of sharp resolution of film detail and grain.

    I would be happy to test, and run a short article in f2 magazine (higher
    consumer and amateur readership) though it inevitably has to be on the
    2.6ghz Dell system which is pretty poor for colour - Spyder calibrated,
    but a Windows machine and with a Dell monitor, which is not a recipe for
    any great degree of accuracy.

    Most of the d-max figures and 'dynamic range' figures quoted by scanner
    makers are rubbish anyway. Minolta claim 4.8D which is denser than
    imageset litho-type film which you can't even see a light bulb through
    (4.0D was the standard we used to work to when calibrating imageset
    film). I still have a decent VipTronic densitometer and can measure the
    base density of any tranny film where I have a clean 'blank frame' or
    end available. 3.7D has generally been the highest figure for E6.

    What many makers are doing is using the A-to-D bit depth as a way to
    describe d-range (not d-max - not the same!) and hope that buyers think
    they mean d-max. Plustek are, presumably, being honest and accepting
    that one or two stops of shadow detail will be missing entirely from
    tranny scans.

    David Kilpatrick, Oct 23, 2004
  10. Chris Street

    Peter Guest

    What is the difference between the two?

    As for D range, a 16-bit ADC will resolve 1 part in 65k which is about
    4.5D. Does the CCD have a more severe limit?

    Peter, Oct 25, 2004
  11. There is a big difference. If the illuminant in the scanner can not
    actually provide the power to get through 4.5D on film, no amount of
    dynamic range will cope with a high d-max. A lot of the range is wasted
    at the top end (highlights) as any unadjusted scan will often show - a
    Minolta 5400 scan without auto exposure is about two stops underexposed
    even from a normal slide. 0.6D is being used just to set the exposure.
    Another 0.6D is used immediately you opt for a non-linear conversion.

    In practice, most scanners have a d-max which is around 3.7-4.0 at the
    best and many only go to 3.4-5

    The first slide scanners has a cutoff at around 2.8!

    The Leafscan, which I still use from time to time, has a real D-range
    (despite 14-bit A to D) to about 3.6. I am talking here about log
    density above film base plus fog. Since Velvia achieves close to 4.0D,
    the Leaf has never been much use for Velvia; after normal adjustments,
    you either lose the highlights, or lose the shadows - two stops at one
    end, or a stop at each. The Leaf has an adjustable aperture and you can
    manually set the exposure time per scan line, with 30 milliseconds being
    generous. By working wide open (f4) on a 5 x 4 tranny very dense
    originals can be punched through, but only if they are underexposed all
    the way - if they are contrasty, the highlights will blow out totally.

    Scanners do not map physical log D exactly to their data Dynamic range,
    and anyone who has used a wide range of them will know it's almost a
    universal barrier. It is possible with some scanners to do a trick like
    Fuji use in their 4th Generation Super CCD SSR - two exposures, one for
    the shadows, one for the highlights, then take the two files and blend
    them in Photoshop.

    There is an entirely separate issue with the Minolta 5400; if you want
    to use Digital ICE, you automatically place a diffuser in front of the
    light source, which greatly reduces its brightness, and uses a whole
    extra chunk of the dynamic range. You can get detail in dense shadows
    with gamma correction if you turn off digital ICE, and turn of 'Grain
    Dissolver' (the anti-Callier diffusion filter), and don't use Pixel
    Polish (an auto gamma and ranging function), and set exposure manually.

    But, if you use the scanner on auto exposure and with ICE and grain
    dissolver, there's no way you actually get the 4.8 dynamic range they
    have claimed. You get much the same as any other scanner - nice image,
    slow, but not loads of extra shadow detail as seen with a projected slide.

    David Kilpatrick, Oct 26, 2004
  12. Chris Street

    Chris Street Guest

    Plustek have no plans so they tell me, at the moment, to produce a Mac
    OSX version - I have specifically asked this question of Plustek as a
    number of people have already asked.
    Yes its a shame manufacturers cannot agree on a standardised method
    for quoting d-max/d-range. However here what concerns me is that imply that Plustek are somehow 'playing' tricks with
    optical resolution figures.
    Amateur Photographer (9th October 2004) review said of Plustek
    OpticFilm 7200:- 'With a DMax of 3.4, OpticFilm 7200 shouldn't have
    too much trouble dealing with most negatives. With average exposed
    transparency film (for exposure and contrast) the 7200 consistently
    delivers a full range of tones.'

    I understand your point about cameras but why specifically have you
    never used test targets for evaluting scanners? I have not looked into
    the specifics of the T-20 test yet. Can you or anyone comment on what
    merit is there in testing scanners, as does, using
    the T-20 targets to determine optical resolution?

    I am reminded that earlier models of flatbeds confused buyers by
    giving interpolated rather than optical resolution figures. I dont
    want to suggest that Plustek are playing with numbers like this. In
    their (pdf) spec they clearly state 'Resolution: hardware optical 7200
    x 7200dpi'

    However the test result (2900dpi) implies that
    somehow Plustek are manipulating figures or at worst being simply
    innacurate in their assessment of the optical resolution.

    Mark Tranchant () >the actual optical resolving
    (3200dpi) >than the Plustek for not a lot more money.

    The T-20 test (USAF-1951 Test-Chart) is used by to
    determine the optical resolution of scanners.
    tested Nikon Coolscan 5000ED and they found (using the T-20 test)
    3900dpi - very close to the Nikon stated 4000dpi resolution. Similarly
    Minolta Scan Dual IV was tested at 3100dpi (minolta quote 3200dpi). So
    why are the OpticFilm 7200 results (7200dpi stated and only 2900dpi
    found) SO at variance!

    If, and only if, you think the T-20 test is at least partially valid
    in assessing the true optical resolution of the scanner, DataMind will
    provide the methodology (after we have received the test details from and T-20 test target (we will buy it from the UK
    distributor) that used to get the 2900dpi test

    I hope that you can duplicate their test, obtain a dpi result and
    comment on the usefullness or otherwise of this test and result.

    Digital Photography Made Easy said 'overall we were impressed with the
    results; images are predictably clear and sharp' I'm sure you will
    find 'sharp resolution of film detail and grain' Other reviewers made
    similar comments:

    David, we will publish your results and conclusions along with the
    other UK magazine tests here on the OpticFilm 7200 homepage at

    We already have asked Plustek to comment on the
    result and will invite them to comment on your results also.

    Thanks David for your kind offer to test the optical resolution of
    Plustek OpticFilm 7200. Please advise your full postal address to

    Chris Street, DataMind
    Chris Street, Oct 26, 2004
  13. Chris Street

    Peter Guest

    Thank you for the great explanation. I was looking at it from the
    electronics POV. 16-bit (true 16 bits, linear, monotonic, noise below
    1 LSB) ADC are easy to get now, but they are linear, not log. This
    means there will be very little resolution in the dark areas.

    I always use digital ICE on the Nikon 5000ED so I will try some dark
    slides without it. However that scanner is way ahead of a lot of some
    tranny film that I have used over the years.

    Is there some alternative software for scanners like mine which allows
    the adjustments you mention e.g. the lens aperture?

    Peter, Oct 26, 2004
  14. Peter wrote:

    I don't think to 5000ED has an adjustable aperture, and I am unsure
    about its exposure time. Most modern scanners have a fixed exposure time
    and rely on their bit depth for exposure adjustments. The 5000ED may
    also perhaps not use a diffuser filter like the Minolta 5400 - unless it
    has a special grain reduction setting, which I am not aware of.

    Oner of the good things about the old Leaf software was that you could
    actually control directly the exposure time for each line, alter the
    aperture, and if you really wanted to, swap the colour filters for
    narrower or broader cut, and even change the wattage of the lamp. In
    theory you could remove the 75mm Apo Rodagon f4 lens and fit a 75mm f2.8
    in its place. In theory, it would even be possible to make one of these
    old things have digital ICE by using an infra-red filter!

    But who wants to work with a scanner the size of an enlarger which takes
    ten minutes to do a 5000 dpi scan?

    You could try Ed Hamrick's VueScan on the 5000ED, or see if there is a
    version of SilverFast, but I bet the exposure time and d-max are pretty
    much fixed by the firmware/hardware.

    David Kilpatrick, Oct 26, 2004
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