Scan Elite 5400

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Melvyn Kopstein, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. I had alot of responses to my recent post regarding film scanners. I was
    trying to decide between Nikon's Coolscan IV and 4000ED models. Many
    responses opined that Minolta's new Dimage Scan Elite 5400 scanner would be
    a superior choice. The Nikon scanners have been out a few years and have
    excellent reputations. At this point, I will select either the 5400 or 4000
    ED. With the Nikon rebate the cost differential is essentially zero. The
    big question I have is how the Minolta scanner fares compared with the
    Melvyn Kopstein, Jul 22, 2003
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  2. Melvyn Kopstein

    Dave Guest

    To me the big deficiency between my slides and prints from those slides
    is the sacrifice in dmax. That is to say, I haven't found a slide scanner
    that is capable of reproducing the depth of brightness between the brightest
    areas of the slide and the darkest. I use provia 100F, and my mountain
    slides often look crappy when printed, or even when scanned to a monitor.
    The brights are washed out, and the darks are too dark. Although the claimed
    dmax of 4.8 is impressive, I fear that the 5400 will be a disappointment as
    well. Does anyone predict an improvement in dmax in the coming years? Why is
    it so difficult to make a slide scanner that can do this well?

    Dave, Jul 23, 2003
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  3. harvey wrote:
    a European photo mag has tested the 5400 and indicates a tested Dmax of
    3.8, similar to the Elite II and that multiformat thing of Minolta's. I
    am looking for a replacement for the Nikon 4000, rumoured to be coming
    this fall but if the 5400 is cheap enough .....
    harvey steeves, Jul 23, 2003
  4. Melvyn Kopstein

    Alan Browne Guest

    Unfortunately, the 4.8 dMax of the Minolta is a lot of marketing bluff.
    I spoke with some software engineers at work (signal processing types)
    and their take is that 1.5 bits should be discarded as noise. So this
    leaves you with 14.5 "real" bits of information. log10 (2^14.5) = 4.36
    theoretical Dmax. (or make it 14 bits and you get 4.2).

    Well, a Dmax of 4.2 is damned impressive, no doubt. Another poster in
    this thread says the "tested" Dmax of this scanner is really 3.8 ...
    without indicating the test methods, conditions or providing a link, but
    I would tend to believe the Dmax is not as good as 4.2 either.

    [[Another note here, is that if the tester of the test above used slides
    that were "perfectly exposed", then he may have biased the test against
    the scanner. Film scanners usually fare better with slides that are
    overexposed by about 1/3 stop as this get the densities downfavouring
    the limits of the scanner.]]

    If Nikon are coming out with a 16 bit scanner, their Dmax cannot
    (theoretically) be better than about 4.2 but it could possibly be better
    than a measured test of 3.8 as cited by the other poster.

    Alan Browne, Jul 25, 2003
  5. Melvyn Kopstein

    Alan Browne Guest

    They can calim 4.8 but it is more like 4.2 at best and according to some
    tests only 3.8. (See my other post in this thread).

    Dynamic range is diffeicult to push up as you're looking for more
    information in the densest/darkest part of the slide. The 5400 employs
    a 16 bit per channel A/D converter (not cheap, by the way). The more
    bits you add the more the low order bits are used to measure fine
    changes in the light coming through the film.
    You can add as many bits as you like, but the return in performance for
    the cost/complexity is diminishing very rapidly. The noise increases as
    you go deeper into an area where there is less light shining through.

    I would doubt that higher Dmax "home" scanners will come out at all and
    I beleive that at 16 bits these scanners have "hit the wall" in visible
    dynamic performance. Go to drum scanners to get more off of the film in
    both resolution and dynamic range.

    Alan Browne, Jul 26, 2003
  6. Melvyn Kopstein

    Karl Winkler Guest

    There's certainly a limit to what any scanner can do, although drum
    scanners generally are better at pulling out shadow detail than
    standard "film" scanners. I own the 4000 ED and I've found it to be
    quite good and getting the full range of light to dark from my slides.
    It's much better in this regard to an older Minolta Dimage Dual, but
    it's not a fair comparison (the Nikon was 4x the price!)

    You don't say if your slides look good when projected or on the light
    table... because with subjects like mountains, the original light to
    dark ratio is most likely beyond what the film can do in the first
    place. Blown highlights and blocked up shadows can't contain details
    and thus can't be scanned no matter what the technology. That's why
    graduated neutral density filters were invented...

    Karl Winkler, Jul 27, 2003
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