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Best negative scanner ?

Antoni Tomadakis , Jun 14, 2008; 10:24 a.m.

I have around five thousand negatives that I would like to scan into good quality files. Some of them are 120 B&W and color. Most are 35mm. My goal is to produce files as good as the raw files the Pentax k10d produces. Is that realistic? What kind of money should I be spending? I looked at the Epson V series but cant realy tell. .... Thank you.


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Kari Vierimaa , Jun 14, 2008; 11:00 a.m.

Epson V series are flatbeds and while they're good and reasonably fast you could look into dedicated film scanners for optimum "once in a lifetime" scan quality. I don't think you feel like scanning anything ever again after 5000 negs. ;)

Used Nikon 8000/9000? Handles both 35mm and 120. Nikon V would be much cheaper but it doesn't do 120.

Scott Frindel Cole , Jun 14, 2008; 11:28 a.m.

I have the Epson V500. It does a fairly good job on 35mm, but doesn't equal my Pentax k100d for sharpness and color. It's fine for small enlargements, but you'll quickly see the limits for big enlargements. Not so great for shadow detail. Also fairly slow. I bought it mainly for medium format. Sounds like you need the Nikons described above.

Kari Vierimaa , Jun 14, 2008; 11:37 a.m.

"My goal is to produce files as good as the raw files the Pentax k10d produces. Is that realistic?"

Hmm... this is a bit tricky to answer. Basically K10D beats 35mm but does it matter much? Your 5000 images matter and technically scanning + photoshop can give you better end product than you could ever achieve by analog process (especially for color work). It'll look good if your originals are good.

120 size, no problem there, except that file sizes can get huge fast. Quality will be excellent. (I'm not going to start a war by saying that it'll be better than K10D... whups.)

Antoni Tomadakis , Jun 14, 2008; 12:21 p.m.

The Nikon 9000 ED Scanner costs $2,300 plus ...

Michael Darnton , Jun 14, 2008; 12:22 p.m.

I've been through all of this, hoping each new generation of flatbed will give me something approaching the quality of what I've gotten from my first simple film scanner. If you're looking for anything resembling high quality from 35mm, forget flatbeds--every flatbed--and buy a dedicated film scanner of some sort.

The usual size mentioned for the maximum from flatbeds is 4X or 5X. That's marginal for 120, but doesn't cut it for 35mm. Even the folks on the large format forums say, "wellllll, for 16x20 from 4x5, flatbeds are maybe OK, but that's it."

This is assuming you're concerned about quality, which from your question I assume you are. Lacking a functioning film scanner at the moment, I've set up a little copy rig with my Nikon D300 and 60mm Micro which is doing a great job--much better than any flatbed I've had, and I've had a few. I'm as happy as a clam with it, but I'm not talking about scanning 5000 pieces of film.

Ellis Vener , Jun 14, 2008; 02:00 p.m.


The Microtek ArtixScan M1 is at a minimum, in the same class as the Epson V-750 Pro, but since you also say that

"My goal is to produce files as good as the raw files the Pentax k10d produces."

then you want a dedicated film scanner. A Nikon Coolscan LS 9000ED and SilverFast Ai6 software to be precise. Possibly the AZTEK fluid mount tray for it as well. Expect to spend about 10 minutes per scan once you have mastered the learning curve.

But to more rapidlygo through "thousands of a negatives and slides", I currently use a Nikon D3 with a 100mm f/4 AI-S Micro-Nikkor

f stopme , Jun 14, 2008; 03:52 p.m.

Nikon 9000 is great, and you will probably find that you get scans that supercede the quality of your digital camera, assuming of course, proper technique. At least, that's what I discovered after scanning some 35mm color/bw negatives from my F4.

Scanning MF will be ridiculously superior, even on an Epson, or even a Microtek, assuming you get one that works.

Scott Frindel Cole , Jun 14, 2008; 04:12 p.m.

Here's another way to do it: get a flatbed and use it as an editing tool instead of the final scan. It's unlikely that every one of your 5000 negs will be a winner. Then, if something really merits it, you can have it scanned for under $2.00 on a Nikon (for 35mm, that is). I always think my slide are fantastic on the light table, but find something wrong when scanned--only a very few make the cut.

.[. Z , Jun 14, 2008; 05:13 p.m.

Ellis gave you the right answer. After a few weeks of experience you should be able to start producing high-quality scans at home with a $2100 scanner and probably another two grand in storage.. But it will take you well over 1,000 hours to properly scan 5,000 negatives "as good as the raw files." What is the value of your time?

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