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Best Film scanner for 100 or less

willy Wilson , Feb 06, 2009; 06:13 p.m.

Any recommendations on the best film scanners under 100 dollars?

Responses


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Robert Lee , Feb 06, 2009; 07:37 p.m.

Refurbushed Epson 4490 or V500 flatbed.

Paul Cooklin , Feb 06, 2009; 08:32 p.m.

Id wait till I could get an Epson v750, which I can recommend. IMO, you need to be able to get the most from your film, or why shoot it.

Michael Axel , Feb 06, 2009; 08:51 p.m.

Willy, there are some great deals on 4490s. I own one and it took me awhile to get a decent scan out of it, but it does pretty well now. I also use a Canoscan dedicated scanner for 35mm, which I prefer, and I bought it used (but in new condition) for $100. Look around for a dedicated scanner from Canon, Nikon (not likely to be cheap), Minolta, Polaroid, or Olympus. Most are not made anymore, but there are some deals out there if you are diligent. Just make sure they have a modern interface to your computer, like USB and not SCSI (unless you already have SCSI card).

Lex Jenkins , Feb 06, 2009; 09:28 p.m.

Willy, is this specifically for scanning b&w negatives? If so, especially for 35mm film, for best results you'll need a dedicated film scanner, not a flatbed with an adapter.

Good software like Vuescan and a solid technique will also help. Most of the scans I've seen from b&w negatives the past few years are obviously scanned because the grain and flaws (dust, scratches, water marks) are exaggerated at the expense of true resolution, and rather than continuous tone gradation the midtones appear posterized or with a newsprint type halftone effect. I'm not sure whether this is due to technique or an increase in the number of people using flatbed scanners with adapters, but the quality of b&w negative scans I'm seeing recently has deteriorated compared with several years ago.

willy Wilson , Feb 07, 2009; 03:47 p.m.

I've been reading elsewhere that flatbed scanners are not the best choice... Why is that. Lex, dedicated film scanner i.e. only for film? And I'd be scanning both black and white negatives.

Robert Lee , Feb 07, 2009; 08:36 p.m.

I've been reading elsewhere that flatbed scanners are not the best choice... Why is that

Consumer leve flatbeds, i.e., anything under $1k, physically can't resolve much of the image information on even fairly low resolution film like Tri-X, nevermind emulsions like TMX or Acros. However, you specified a under $100 budget. Nothing satisfies this contstraint except flatbeds.

Here's a comparison scan of the same negative between a $100 Epson 4490 and a $1k Nikon CS5000 dedicated film scanner.

Kari Vierimaa , Feb 08, 2009; 11:01 a.m.

What are your expectations? You can make very nice 4x6s and web images with a (cheap) flatbed but getting good results requires a lot of post work and even then you won't ever get the clarity and resolution of dedicated unit. Files may look quite hideous straight from the scanner. (I should know, I have $100 Canon 4400F for proofs and web.)

Saving some money for used dedicated film scanner is really the way to go for 35mm IF you want to make anything else than small prints and web images.

Dan Lovell - Orange County, California , Feb 09, 2009; 02:14 p.m.

The cheapest new solution for getting very good results, for 35mm negative scans is the $1,049 Nikon CoolScan 5000. Anything new costing less is probably going to provide low quality, especially flat bed scanners.

Or you can spend less on a used and/or discountinued Nikon CoolScan negative scanner. Models such as the V, 4000, 8000, plus a few more.

I have never found a flat bed scanner to do even a so-so job with 35mm negatives.

And even if one gets a late model dedicated negative scanner, post processing is often required to the image file after the scan. This is not a bad thing, but even with the best scanner, one often needs to master the image in a similar way one masters a raw digital image file. If the negative is good and the density is good, the amount of post processing is minimal, and often takes less then 1-2 minutes each.

Workflow is very important. You can ask two different people to scan the same negatives on the same scanner, and you'll often get two images files showing different qualities. Scanner set up, and parameter selection are very important.

I've got Nikon CoolScan 5000, and I'm very happy with the results it provides, however it took me a few weeks to dial in a good workflow and learn best practices. For example I learned that manually focusing the scanner for each frame is best. Calibration of the scanner before use that day is a must. Being mindful of the DPI when resizing/cropping in PhotoShop is very important because it can turn your 4,000 DPI scan into something that looks as though it was scanned at a far less DPI.

I scan Tri-X 400 B&W only.

Ty Mickan , Feb 10, 2009; 02:29 a.m.

The Coolscan V is a great choice. The 5000 produces identical results however allows you to add expensive attachments. I also have the Canon 8800f flatbed and whilst it is just okay for 120, it is certainly well below par for 135 film.


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