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Slide Scanners

by Philip Greenspun, 1996

Sunset. Kings Canyon National Park, California


For the vast majority of digital imaging purposes, having a Kodak PhotoCD made is the best convenience/quality/price choice. However, if you really want to buy a scanner yourself and don't want to spend $100,000 on a Kodak PIW, you do have some options.

Drum scanners, which use photomultiplier tubes, capture the most information from a slide, particularly in the shadow. Drum scanners also incorporate hardware unsharp masking. Drums scanners finally are usually parked next to skilled operators at service bureaus who, for $75 and up, will make you a scan that requires little tweaking in PhotoShop.

If you want to make super high-res FlashPix in the privacy of your own home, spend $25,000 on a Howtek HiResolve 8000, which was introduced in the fall 1998. The Howtek will give you the 8000 dpi resolution that you crave from 8 x 10 inch transparencies! Make sure that you also get a writable DVD drive handy to store the resultant 15 GB files!

If you need to do a few 35mm slides or negs at a time, can't wait 2-7 days for a PhotoCD scan, and don't have the budget for a 100 lb. drum scanner, you might find that settling for a desktop CCD scanner isn't so bad. HP makes a surprisingly good one for $500 (see review below). Nikon and Polaroid produce the traditionally popular desktop scanners. They cost around $2,000. Right now it looks like the clear winner in the cheap desktop market is the Nikon LS-2000 Super Coolspan . This plays two interesting tricks: multiple-pass scanning to reduce shadow noise; comparing the image from multiple angles to figure out where the dust and scratches are, then eliminating them automatically. The image quality from the latest and greatest Nikon is probably better than what you get from PhotoCD, but you have to deal with the host of calibration, indexing, and archiving issues that are raised in the image library chapter of my book.

Look at http://www.cix.co.uk/~tsphoto/tech/filmscan/menu for a well-done comparison of desktop scanners.

The most painless way to drive all of these (except the HP) is from a PowerMac running Adobe PhotoShop. The bits go direct from SCSI into PhotoShop and then you can do whatever you need to from there. If you decide to do this with Windows NT, make sure that you budget some time to think about color management and calibration.

Full Reviews (of ancient stuff)

Miscellaneous Examples


Once you get those images in digital form, you'll probably want to either

Readers' Comments

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Andrew Hathaway , December 26, 1996; 02:29 P.M.

Being an owner of a nikon super cool scan, I can say that it works really well. However, it does tend to scan a little (to a lot) cyan. I believe this is due to the diodes it uses to provide light for the scanning. But for the price/performance (it is not a $7,000 and up laser scanner) it does the job well. Also, I think is is a basic problem withh all diode illumination scanners.

Cees van Leeuwen , January 31, 1997; 01:16 P.M.

Filmscanners are a major contribution to keep photo journalism alive. The most practical scanner for the photojournalists is the Nikon Coolscan 1000LS. It is small easy to handle and sturdy. Colour balance is no problem since that can be corrected through the software. Drum scanners are nice for pre-press applications only.

Jeffrey Goggin , May 08, 1998; 09:01 A.M.

Being cheap (well, cheap-ish anyway), I recently purchased a Mictrotek 35t+ scanner instead of the Nikon Coolscan. Turns out the color calibration kit has to be purchased separately, directly from Mictrotek (i.e., no mailorder discount), and that adds another $100 to the purchase price. So much for saving a few bucks...

On the positive side, all of the scans I've done so ar have turned out pretty well despite having only 1950 dpi resolution, a dynamic range of just under 3.0 and no focus adjustments. One small plus is that the scanning area measures 36mm square, which means you don't have to scan your vertical compositions horizontally and then rotate them upright in photoshop.

On the negative side, I find the interface clunky to use and the preview images are too small, which makes very fine pre-scan color and curve adjustments difficult to perform. The selection of base masks for print film is also very limited, which means more time has to be spent correcting color later on.

Overall, though, I'm happy enough with it and the improvement in quality compared to my previous scans using a transparency adapter on a flatbed scanner is significant. Were I do it again, I'm not sure that I would buy another one instead of a Coolscan but as it is, I'm not in much of a hurry to replace it, either. :^)

David Elfstrom , October 02, 1998; 01:41 P.M.

Technology has advanced since the slide scanner article was first written. I'd like to add my comments about the Nikon LS-2000 scanner and how it relates to Photo-CD. Pro-Photo-CD is hard to find, and is still quite expensive. Most places just offer consumer Photo-CD. Simply put: The quality of scans from the Nikon LS-2000 goes beyond consumer Photo-CD. The Digital ICE hardware/software dust/scratch reduction system is fantastic. I give each slide a quick blast with an airgun just in case, but even that isn't really necessary. At 2700 dpi with multiple sampling and scratch/dust turned on, the images are fantastic. Once scanned, I've seen detail in the shadow area of slides that I've never seen before, such as a person's face in the alcove of a building. This is probably due to its d-max of 3.6 O.D. The ability to manipulate the color balance and gamma directly means you won't have to be a slave to the whims of the operator/computer doing the scanning for a consumer Photo-CD.

The only downside? TIME. It takes a long time (10-20 minutes) to scan at the highest quality with 'oversampling' using the LS-2000. The 50-slide batch scanning feeder option is starting to look very attractive.

Steven J. Reinhart , December 11, 1998; 09:27 P.M.

Be careful of the Nikon Coolscan 2000. If you don't treat it like it's one of your grandmother's fragile antiques, it will likely start exhibiting increasing optical errors, which will eventually result in a return for service. Don't get me wrong, the quality of the scans is very high when the unit is working... Just don't breath on it wrong.

J Greely , December 14, 1998; 12:09 P.M.

To add a bit of personal experience on the fragility of the LS-2000, mine lasted a little less than two months before dying, and then spent five weeks at Nikon's repair facility before they gave up and sent me a brand new one. At that time I was told that they've experienced a 4% failure rate with this model, due either to rough shipping or below-spec parts, depending on who you ask.

The new one has firmware that's three revisions newer, and the primary difference I've noticed so far is that the Digital Ice feature no longer degrades the image quality as significantly.

Oh, and before I forget, turn Nikon Color Management off and relaunch the application; you'll thank me the first time you see the difference in dynamic range.

Michael J. Kravit , January 13, 1999; 12:14 P.M.

For those who have not seen nor tried the new Minolta Dimage Multi scanner you are really missing something. This scanner handles 16mm 35mm, 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7 and 6x9 negatives and transparancies. Scan time averages 20-45 seconds for 2400 dpi scans. Sharpness and color accuracy is excellent.

Although resolution for MF film is not as high as 35mm, the results are still quite impressive. This scanner uses a fluorescent light source in lieu of LED's and therefore does not exhibit the cyan cast of other scanners.

This scanner has an impressive dynamic range of 3.6!

I purchased this unit due to it's ability to scan MF transparancies and was quickly tickled by the fact that the transport mechanism uses trays that hold up to and can scan 4 35mm slides, 6 35mm negatives and 1 MF frame at a time.

The scanning software is very intuitive. Options include predefined "Jobs" that allow the user to pick an almost endless array of scanning options based upon film size, final output size and anticpated final use, ie; monitor, and various printer options, photocd, etc.

For the price ($2300 1/10/99) I feel that this is a lot of scanner for the money.

Scott Pick , February 04, 1999; 08:46 P.M.

Don't forget to look at the Minolta Quickscan 35+ when looking at film scanners. I have had mine for over a year now and an overall very pleased with the results. The only scanner I can see that is clearly better is the Nikon LS 2000 but it is over 2x the cost of the Minolta. With the Minolta and a Power Mac, the scans are quick (even at 32MB) and good. Check out my Mountains of the Pacific NW web site at www.members.home.net/mountains to see over 100 images scanned on this scanner.

Scott Pick

Mike Johnston , March 18, 1999; 12:37 P.M.

A low-end alternative for the thrifty would be the Olympus ES-10 film scanner. I just purchased one and for the money (~ $320) it can't be beat. While not up to the quality of what one would expect from a Nikon unit, it is able to produce good scans that output just fine on my Epson Stylus Photo. I'd certainly be interested in hearing from others that are using this scanner on a Mac. (It does PeeCees too.)

Ian Porteous , March 28, 1999; 01:52 A.M.

One question I have had for a while, is at what resolution do you need to scan to take advantage of all the resolution the slide has to offer. This is not an easy question to answer, but I conducted a test that helped me better understand the amount of information available vs what gets scanned. I took a slide and scanned it at 2400 dpi, then I took a picture of a small portion of the slide using a microscope and scanned that. Comparing the scan vs the micro image, you can see that the scan is definitely missing some details. I have posted the images at http://www.geocities.com/~ianporteous/test/digi.html , so people can see for themselves.

Ed Hoo , March 29, 1999; 01:37 P.M.

The scanning time on the LS-2000 will vary depending on your computer. On a 400MHz PII 256MB running NT4.0, batch scans take just under 10min for each slide (2700dpi, 12bits/color, 16x sampling, ICE on, 59MB files). Smaller res scans (540dpi, 12bits/color, 16x sampling, ICE on, 2.4MB files) take just over 2min.

Usually no hairs or dust, great colors, especially with the Nikon color management turned off as suggested by J. Greely above. You might still want to do levels etc, but the original scans are pretty good. After a few hundred, my experience is a 1% to 2% rescan rate due to a speck of dust or hair that the ICE did not eliminate. That happens even though I always clean the slides with a dust gun before scanning.

The tif files are not worth zipping, the size goes from 59MB to may be 40MB. That also means that you can only fit 10 suckers in a CD.

I have the slide feeder permanently attached to the unit. It works great and is perfectly usable for single scans, protecting the unit from dust. The feeder fits 40 to 50 slides, depending on the thickness of the frame. Load it up before you go to bed and check the results in the morning (50 x 10min = 8:30hrs).

Initially I mentioned that the computer was best left alone. After some heavy loading I have no reason to say that now, and can not account for a couple of odd balls at the beginning.

Unrelated: If you don't have an imaging program and just happen to have MS-Office 97, that program comes with a primitive applet, frequently overlooked, that will load the 59MB files. It does not have a real curve/leveling tool, but it allows you to do simple filters, sharpening, auto-levels, resize, rotate... and save it into different formats. It can read the 12 bits/color tif's, but only saves 8bits/color.

Happy shooting,

Ed (Amended from 3/24)

Kay Simon , May 03, 1999; 05:01 P.M.

In anwer to the question, "How many dpi does one need for optimum resolution?, I recently heard a talk by Bill Atkinson,a founder of Evercolor Imaging, a previous engineer who developed MacPaint at Apple, and presently a leader in developing digital imaging technology. He is also a major consultant for Galen Rowell. He said he had calibrated digital systems and ran a curve using increasing #s of dpi. He determined the maximum point at which increasing dpi no longer improves information. His conclusion was that the maximum # is somewhere between 5500 and 6000 dpi. This translates into 95 megabyte files for 35 mM film, and 300 megabyte files for medium format film.

Another factor that determine the size of the file,and also the quality of the final image is the # of bits (8, 10, or 12-bit for RGB becomes 24, 30 or 36-bit). This # determines the range of colors that can be represented.

The third major factor in determining the quality of final image output is the quality of the optics of the system, and this is measured as optical density (O.D.), and has a range of 1-4.0. The current consumer scanner with the highest O.D. is the Nikon LS 2000, with an O.D. of 3.6.

Does anyone have experience with or knowledge of the new Polaroid Sprintscan 4000 scanner? This scans at 4000 dpi, and with an O.D. of 3.4. Suggested retail price is $2300.

ksimon@castles.com May3, 1999

Tim Hull , May 04, 1999; 08:21 P.M.

I am using the Minolta Dimage Scan Multi and have found that it has trouble with color balance when scanning color negatives.

I sent back my original scanner and requested a replacement because the color cast was so bad. The second scanner was just as bad.

We also own a Nikon LS 1000 and compared the 2 default scans side by side...the Nikon embarrassed the Minolta.

I would also like to say that the Minolta tech support has been about as bad as their website. Also, there are features that are only available on the windows version, but not the mac (ie - 35mm auto slide feeder - this is only related to you in the help area of the PS plugin)

I don't expect a scitex scan from a $2,300 scanner, but I am very dissappointed with the poor quality and lack of support...

Pedro Ricardo , May 13, 1999; 01:03 A.M.

Nikon LS2000 vs HP Photosmart S20.

I have both of these scanners and am amazed at how well the $499 HP compares to the $1700 Nikon. The colour representation is actually better on the HP even after correcting the 'lean to cyan' on the Nikon, and sharpness is very similar on both units. The only place the LS2000 is clearly better is in it's slightly better shadow detail ,and that it (optionally) takes different film sizes including APS. Overall, I would heavily consider the HP if you are looking for a Pro quality scanner, I find myself using it over the nikon unless the shadow detail in the transparency is an issue -Pedro

Manfred Mornhinweg , May 21, 1999; 02:12 P.M.

I bought a Microtek 35t+ some months ago, and generally I'm quite pleased with the results. The 1950 dpi resolution is enough, if you consider that my lenses are not professional and so anyway my slides don't contain so much more detail. The dynamic range is much more of a problem, as the scanner has FAR less range than the slides. But careful adjustment of the translation curves allows to get reasonably good scans even from "difficult" (high-contrast) slides.

But my scanner seems to have a bug: Every so many scans, suddenly it adds an intense color mask to the scans, most often green, sometimes red. When it starts doing so, the only fix is switching it off/on and redoing the failed scan. It's not a terrible problem, but it makes one loose time! Sending back the scanner doesn't make much sense, since I live in Chile (pretty much at the end of the world...:-) and mail-ordered the scanner from the USA. Does anyone have an idea about how to fix this? Like a firmware upgrade or so?

L. Lawrence , August 03, 1999; 11:53 P.M.

I recently purchased the CanoScan FS 2710 and am very pleased with the results. The scanner is a good contender among higher-priced units and sells for about $699. I shoot with Nikon, but I found Canon's image quality, user interface (it comes with a scaled-down verson of PhotoShop), and cost (about $200 less than the lower-end Nikon scanner) to be comparable to Nikon's.

Marika Buchberger , August 30, 1999; 06:50 A.M.

I have to agree with Mike Johnston, whos comment appears above. If you want an inexpensive scanner that does a real good job, especially with black and white negatives and colour slides, the Olympus ES-10 is the way to go. I believe it's the least expensive scanner on the market and it really does a great job for the money.

Considering it does not have the bit depth of other scanners, it does a remarkable job in recovering information in particular, from deep shadows.

It's easy to use, easy to focus and unlike the Nikon scanner, is rugged and easy to care for.

It's an excellent choice for the money.

Tom Garrett , August 31, 1999; 11:34 P.M.

I would like to suggest the Epson Expression 800 Pro flat bed scanner for those who might be interested in scanning medium and large format negs/slides. I've only had mine a few weeks but am well pleased with the resulting scans. I've even had great results from 35mm scans and prints up to 6.75x10 inches. I purchased mine from Arlington Computer Products with a 30 day trial period. Price was $949. Their phone no. is 800-548-5105. TOM GARRETT August 31,1999

Helmar Rudolph , September 07, 1999; 05:18 P.M.

I recently bought a Minolta Scan Speed. I agree with one of the previous posters in that the scan quality with the Minolta can only be regarded as acceptable once one has fiddled with all possible color settings. The initial scan after the prescan is always useless. I also expected the scan interface to be a little more modern and consistent. Although it is easy to use, it leaves a lot to be desired. I expected more for a scanner in that price range.

Helmar Rudolph (helmar@argo-navis.com) http://www.argo-navis.com/private/gallery.html

Dave Stout , October 08, 1999; 09:27 A.M.

I have been using the Olympus ES-10 for over a year and I would agree that it can do a good job on slides as long as they are not too dark or have too much contrast. However I have had problems with color negatives. The scans tend to be grainy, which is especially noticeable in sky areas and in skin tones. I also get banding in these areas. I've tried adjusting the focus which helps some but you lose resolution. I was considering the Minolta speed as a replacement but I see that it has its own problems.

Eric Shambroom , October 22, 1999; 08:46 A.M.

I've been working with the Minolta Scan Speed for some time. Before purchasing it I compared it to the Nikon LS2000, which is priced a good deal higher than the Minolta. Aside from the Silver Fast software packaged with the Nikon scanner the Minolta is in every respect the better scanner. Sharpness corner to corner and a true range of 3.6 were the deciding factors. The poor salesmen at the Nikon stand at CeBit (in Hannover Germany) gave up and admitted defeat.

Thomas M. Trostel , October 24, 1999; 11:52 A.M.

With the introduction of ICE technology from Applied Science Fiction and its analog gain control (convenienly marked in exposure values) I feel the Nikon LS-2000 is an excelent scanner. There are several slides I have which are incredibly dense. By turning up the gain and using the multiple sampling option I was able to retrieve beautiful scans which I believe no other scanner in its price range could touch. For even more of an added incentive the Digital ICE technology saves me hours of time removing tiny dust spots.

Anthony Edward Mead , November 03, 1999; 07:03 P.M.

I do not have a slide/film scanner as yet but for the moment I have fellow members at my photographic Club kindly do this for me. One has the Nikon Coolscan and the other has the HP one. For me they seem as good as each other. I have also used a Mail order service in the UK which scanned at the same high quality with 30 images inc CD for about #20 While this arrangement is fine for the moment I would long term like to capture my own images from slides. For fun I capture images usingmy web cam that give very low resolution images but good enough for pictures via the Internet but hopeless for serious A4 photo images In the UK the Nikon is about #500 or so and the Minolta and HP around the #350-#400 mark and a little outside my budget. I have not seen the Olympus anywhere that s mentioned in these pages and will do a web search for more info. I also understand that Jenoptics in the UK market a scanner in the #200 plus bracket but have not found much info on this yet. I hopemy comments aree of interest.

Eric Hanchrow , November 06, 1999; 02:28 P.M.

This may be obvious, but: if you live in a big city, you can rent a scanner. I've done so a few times, and the cost was about $40 per day. I scanned as many slides as I could during the day. I think this is the cheapest way to get decent scans.

I did, however, have to buy a SCSI card for my computer.

There's a related thread here.

Rick Grant , January 01, 2000; 02:29 P.M.

I recently purchased an Artiscan 2400FS built by Tamarack Technologies at Frys Electronics. It is a 2400 DPI 36 DPI 35 mm neg/slide scanner for $169.99. I went in to buy the HP $500 USB scanner or Canoscan 2710 scanner but the HP was out of stock and I didnt feel like forking over the $800 for the Canoscan, so, I thought I would give the cheap one a try. While I have not used the Nikon or Canoscan products, for the money, I dont see how the scanner was built at this price, and may even compete with the Nikon and Canoscan. I did have to adjust some of the scanning properties i.e.: black is slightly noisy during a JPEG scan, but, welcome to JPEGs, this was handled in PhotoShop or the scanner driver menu, overall I find the color and image quality acceptable. The images are ever so slightly out of focus but this may be an artifact of 8.5 x 10 prints (On a 35 mm Neg I believe this translates int0 around 350 DPI) or my Canon BJC-6000 printer. Since I have not used any of the other products I dont know how a 35mm negative should look after a scan. I have seen scans of 2 < negs from a drum scanner and have also not been that impressed with the results. The scanner seems to have an easier time with slides than with negatives (color wise). If the negatives are not perfectly flat there can be some reflections from the curved part of the negative, I would guess that the Nikon wouldnt have this problem. I have posted one scan at http://www.jps.net/tmbrline/SunInTrees.jpg .. I did have to download new drivers to make the scanner load the scans and the scanner carrier did jam once. The price one has to pay. The JPG is about a .6 meg file and was taken with a Nikon F4 35-80 lens with a polarizer and cut screen filter to create the star image. If were doing this for a living I would not purchase this scanner, I will be creating some magazine ads for my company using this product.

Paul Thomsen , January 07, 2000; 12:42 A.M.

Just noticed there doesn't seem to be any comments on the Polaroid Sprintscan 4000. Perhaps because it is fairly expensive? I bought one a few months ago. Initially I had trouble getting colors right with the Insight software it came with (ver 3.0 i think) and this didnt get much better when I downloaded 3.5 of polaroids site. I resorted to purcashing vuescan and got pretty good results with this. I recently downloaded version 4 of polaroids insight software and its great! I don't use vuescan anymore.

I have not owned other film scanners to compare this with, but I find this to produce beautiful quality images and it seems pretty fast too.

You can get a lot of the slide with 4000 dpi too, my 128 megs of ram isnt quite enough when doing a full res scan. Click on the below pic to see a fullres scan of just its eye. The pic below is the original slide in approximately life size (depending on your display). I was amazed at what both the film picked up and the scanner.

Yefei He , February 08, 2000; 06:31 P.M.

I am considering buying a scanner so I checked out a few websites. www.imaging-resource.com gives a very high ranking to the HP PhotoSmart Scanner S20, as well as the Nikon LS2000. Following the link in the review for the HP scanner, I went to the homepage of Ed Hamrick's VueScan program, which can be used for many of the film/slide scanners. I guess this program can help alleviate the pain of several readers above. And, it has a freeware demo. Interestingly, Ed recommends Minolta Dimage Scan Dual and Nikon LS-30. I figure he doesn't recommend the HP S20 because it can only be run under Windows. I would have prefered to able to run it under Linux, too, but Linux doesn't support USB yet. By the way, go to c|net to check out the lowest prices for the scanners.

-- Yefei He

George Feucht , February 10, 2000; 05:02 P.M.

Just bought the Canoscan 2710. I've scanned about 30 rolls with it, both slide, negative, and b&w. Here is my review thus far (from a person who has never owned a scanner before).

I bought it because of its resolution (2720, though its named the 2710... hmmmmmmmm...) and the recommendation of the good guys at Bel Air camera in Westwood (CA).

LIKES: Cost/resolution. I Paid $600 for the beast (it retails for $1100, I think). Resolution is just that. Huge. 60mb files resulting from scanning at 24bit color. (It can do 36bit, but you can't save as a jpeg... gotta do 24.) The color rendering is great. I have run Ektichrome VS film through it and (after tweeking) have come very close to matching the color. (For those of you who have shot E100VS, you know how it is nearly impossible to get that kind of color punch on a computer.) Color Negative film is great as well. I agree with Phil that you can make images from neg film look better on computer than consumer-grade prints. The lattitude is amazing. I suprised myself on a few of them. I got the prints back from a semi-pro shoot (was experimenting with the flash and wanted to see if I knew what I was doing) and they looked like shit. Scanned and adjusted, they look awesome. How I love consumer grade prints.

MORE LIKES: Controls and scanning software: Brightness/Contrast (of course); Color balance (naturally); gamma control (adjust for monitor); and also an exposure curve where you can infinitely adjust the relationship of a level coming in (of overall brightness, RGB) to what you want it read as. Example: Sky is blown out. Go into the blue curve and roll off the highlights to make them a bit darker. Cool. Last like: this puppy is fast (26 seconds is the longest scan)

DISLIKES: MAJOR MAJOR DISLIKE: This thing sucks with black and white negative (in monochromatic mode). I have spendt hours and hours tweaking that damn curve with no satisfying results. Which sucks because I do alot of black and white. There is no lattitude. I am getting NO shadow detail regardless of settings. I am very disappointed. However, I may have found a solution: I scanned it as color and desaturated it in photoshop. Presto! Shadow detail. I'll be playing with this for a while to make sure it works, and will take anyone else's advice on fixing this. Other dislikes: the flimsy neg carrier. It gets the job done buy I don't know how long it will last.

That's it. All in all quite good. I'd appreciate any advice on the b&w thing. Thanks


Image Attachment: Keith-net.jpg

Bruce Lin , February 12, 2000; 02:11 A.M.

I also have the Canoscan FS2710, and I highly recommend Ed Hamrick's VueScan software to anyone with this scanner. It not only improve the scan speed dramatically, it also adds so many other features to the scanner. I too also was having problem getting good results from B&W films using the Canon software. Vuescan solved the problem. Now I'm getting very decent scans from B&W films. You can get VueScan from here. Make sure to get version 5.9. Here's a B&W scan using Canoscan FS2710 and Vuescan.

Image: sample.jpg

It's sepia-toned in Photoshop.

George Feucht , February 20, 2000; 04:19 P.M.

Followup: I tried the Vuescan software. Awesome. B&W looks incredible. I have more depth scanned in than alot of my prints have. Incredible lattitude. I haven't played around with what the software can do with color, but disregard any problems I had with black and white from my previous post, if that was a deterrent from purchasing this scanner.

Bill Ross , March 15, 2000; 02:45 A.M.

I think the SprintScan 4000 has emerged as the leader in 35mm higher-end "home" scanning now, because of the resolution obviously, but also the quality of the support vs. Nikon, including both software upgrades and the sense of a team who cares (not perfect, but responsive, and they share their interface spec), and hardware durability. See Tony Sleep's site for a more in-depth review and high-end discussion of all sorts of scanning.

Being able to crop significantly & still print at high res is addictive. If you want to see an extreme crop from a P/S picture, click on the picture this points to.

Michael Kitei , March 25, 2000; 08:41 P.M.

I've owned a Nikon Coolscan III, LS 30 since about mid January. When it works, it's great. Although, I've had some problems with contrasty negs. Problem is, it's buggy. First it went into a perpetual search mode. That eventually cured itself. Then it became necessary to reboot my computer in order to get it to recognize the scanner. I called Nikon about that and was told that I'd be contacted by a customer service rep within 24 hours. Never called. Arrogance, negligence or inefficiency, pick one. I'm becoming disenchanted with Nikon. Most recently, I returned from Loxahatchee with some good looking slides, only to find that the scanner will not turn on. Just doesn't want to work. Since I've already given up on Nikon customer service, I decided to try their tech forum. It seems they're so inundated with problems that they can't accept any new postings. I've got a scanner that's less than three months old and it's history. Good news is, it's in warranty. That's if I can ever reach anyone to tell me what to do with it.

If you're thinking about buying a Nikon scanner, do a little more research than I did. Then think again.

Julian Robinson , April 27, 2000; 12:28 A.M.

I had a problem with my HP S20 which seems the same as reported above by Dave Stout with his Olympus ES10 (October '99). I have also seen this problem reported before re S20's and wonder if it is a recurrent problem - if so is it independent of scanner, or due to the particular installation, or just a problem with S20 and ES10's?

Problem was excessive noise and banding, particularly in sky areas. The problem is not visible in deep shadow areas so I guess it is not a dark-end noise problem??? It was so bad I have returned the unit. HP say they can not replicate the problem but I am not sure if they are just being cute. I did try recalibrating several times which did not help.

I would be interested if any others have had similar problems or have any idea what may have caused it - it would be a shame to return an otherwise reasonable scanner if it is not the scanner's fault. At the moment I am trying to decide between the LS2000 and the Sprintscan 4000 as a relacement/upgrade. How difficult a choice - it seems everyone has conflicting opinions!

Image Attachment: ularu orig posn 1500dpi.JPG

nikonf5 lover , May 02, 2000; 03:53 P.M.

I have been using Polaroid SprintScan 4000 since Feb. and really love it. To get a best scan, it takes around 2 minutes to scan a film at 4000 DPI on my 400 MHz Win 98 machine which has 512 MB RAM and 30 GB hard drive. It takes much less time if I just want to get a scan to share with friends and relatives over e-mail. I will tell you that it is hard to find such satisfication of viewing your own pictures on a 21 inch monitor. It is like viewing a big 8x11 original slide on a wall mounted light table without using any loupe.

Robert Moon , May 20, 2000; 12:48 A.M.

I purchased a Minolta Dimage Scan Elite this past March and all I can say is WOW!! On a Beige 266MHz G3 Power Mac and Photoshop 5 it was great, then I upgraded the G3 to a 450MHz G4 and 5.5 and this set up smokes. I guess the reason I went for it is that all my other photo stuff is Minolta but also the numbers match the Coolpix 2000 especially the dynamic range 3.6. Not only that, it includes the 2nd generation Digital Ice and when you're digging out 40 yr. old slides and negs. to archive that feature is absolutely indispensible. I don't think there has been a lot of ink about it because it only hit the market in the late fall of 99 and it is just a Dimage Scan Speed with Digital Ice. The cost is under a Coolpix 2000 and in fact I got mine for $300 less than the Nikon. The thing is that with this computer stuff next week Nikon or Canon or Olympus or somebody will have something out that will smoke my Minolta but I'm real pleased after a month of use and beleive that I made the right choice at the time. I hope this helps.

Bob Moon

Doug Johnson , May 28, 2000; 10:56 A.M.

Does anyone have a view on whether Polaroid's 4000 scanner produces higher, equal, or lower quality output than standard Kodak PhotoCD scans?

I note that the resolution at 4000 dpi is much greater than the standard PhotoCD scans -- and about equal to the level of Kodak's generally much more expensive Master, or Pro PhotoCD scans.

Dynamic range, shadow detail, and color balance I don't know about, however.

My particular use would be prosumer -- not professional. But the delay in getting slides and negs turned into PhotoCD's is nonetheless an irritation, and a factor. As well, with the Polaroid now obtainable on the Web for around $1400-1450, it wouldn't take all that many full PhotoCD's at regular resolution, much less Pro level scans, to "pay for" the cost of the scanner. Certainly it seems possible that in time it would be pretty much a wash economically to go the high end scanner route. (True even at $.70/scan plus $10/CD for after developing scanning of only a small minority of prior work, and future efforts -- which is about the best PhotoCD rates I've found for regualar, not Pro, PhotoCD scans.)

With Epson's 1270 printer allowing stunning 11x14 and even 13x19 prints at the prosumer level, there seems to be more reason than ever to preserve maximum resolution from at least some images when they are converted to digital for practical personal "darkroom" work. And of course there are also the demands for resolution when cropping.

Is Phil Greenspun's advice that PhotoCD's are for most people the practical answer to high resolution high quality scans at less than commercial volumes, still applicable? Or is that now becoming rather dated? It seems that technology may have moved on enough to revisit that judgement. No? Or is the dynamic range and color depth of the Polaroid's scans still inferior to PhotoCD's?

Christian Deichert , July 11, 2000; 10:32 A.M.

For the financially challenged who want a good slide/negative scanner without pawning the camera equipment, consider the Minolta Dimage Scan Dual. Relatively cheap ($400 or so right now), very compact (fits on top of my mini-tower PC with room to spare), fairly easy to install and use, and the scans are great. Nearly all the scans on my web site were done with this scanner, and I am quite pleased with the results.

Chien Shih , September 13, 2000; 03:52 A.M.

There is a good user review for Acer Scanwit 2720S:


I am also using this equipment and despite its not so friendly slide feeder, I like the result very much. Some examples of my scan:


luvmunky B , April 02, 2001; 07:41 P.M.

I just read the posting about Artiscan 2400FS film scanner for $169. So I just wanted to post my experience. From my experience it simply belongs in trash. I bought one becos it is cheap and my first one produced horizontal streaks all over the photo and then i exchanged it for a different piece. This did not have the streak problem, but the image was just grainy and looked like crap. I tried lot of adjustments. And after a while in a month or so, the cheap plastic 'power' button broke and so i cant turn off the power anymore..and I cant sell it because if people see the result of scanning, they will think the scanner is not working properly, but it is. So i just dumped it in a corner and bought the HP photosmart s20 scanner and am happy with it. My advice is NEVER go for a scanner in the range of $200 because that money is going to be a waste in a very short time.

Bill Ross , May 31, 2001; 02:13 A.M.

The SprintScan 4000 has much more dynamic range than PhotoCD. I forget the numbers, but I'm not sure PhotoCD even has 24 bits/pixel, let alone the 32 that the ss4k can put out.

Also the ss4k price has been dropping - to less than $900 I hear - since the new Nikon 4000 came out. The latter has more dynamic range (34 bits I think) tho apparently the focus is soft on the edges compared to the center unless you mount between glass, and whether the supplied software works at all depends on unknown details of your hardware setup. Tho Vuescan works with it. I'm waiting for a side-by-side comparison of the 2 scanners to see if the Nikon tempts me. Polaroid has the better service rep hands-down, incidentally.

Canon also has a new 4000 scanner, like Nikon it has hardware dust removal, which the ss4k lacks. There's also a Kodak 3600.

Vadim Makarov , June 04, 2001; 03:34 A.M.

Truly horrible example of dusty scanner optics

I've seen numerous problems with scan quality and want to pass a word of caution. It is important to keep film scanners clean from dust. If scanner optics gets dirty, it degrades image quality.

As a simple and effective precaution, I advise to store the scanner in a plastic bag when not in use (power must be switched off when it's inside the bag). At least, this is what I'm doing now.

See more scan examples and recommendations on keeping scanners clean

Patrick Hudepohl , December 09, 2001; 06:33 A.M.

My review of the HP Photosmart PhotoScanner can be found right here.

matt batt , March 21, 2009; 07:55 P.M.

I was going to disagree with a lot of you guys but then I noticed the date the posts were made. Just shows you how technology has advanced during the last 10 years. slide scanner

Dee Artagnanh , August 20, 2009; 08:03 P.M.

Yeah, this discussion is kinda old. I got here through google when I was searching for an automatic photo scanner. I got some pretty good updated data from this automatic photo slide scanner site which elaborates on each product, featuring each one's pros and cons. Scanning slides has just gotten easier with the automatic scanners available today. Epson, Canon, HP and Fujitsu seem toe to toe in this technology's race. What will these enterprising scanner companies think up next?

Michael Young , February 12, 2010; 05:11 A.M.

The most exciting thing is not only will they come out with more and more sophisticated technology innovations, but at the prices everyone can afford. Just take a look at today's slide scanner or 35mm film scanner appliances and imagine how much would they cost at the time when this article was created.


Kevin Richards , February 22, 2010; 02:18 P.M.

@Christian Deichert: I got the Minolta Dimage Scan Dual and you're right I'm very happy about my 35mm slide scanner, there are however a lot of cheaper 35mm slide scanners on the market! If you don't plan on using it for professional purposes, I suggest choosing a cheaper model.



Doug Settle , October 17, 2010; 05:35 P.M.

I need to buy a slide, film and hardcopy scanner that is compatible with Vista 64 bit. My old Canoscan 8000f did a great job with my old XP computer but will not work with Vista. So I am looking to purchase a scanner for multiple uses and useable with Vista. Recommendations anyone? Thank You Doug

L. Streasby , October 24, 2012; 05:20 A.M.

Has anyone used a bulk document scanning company before?

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