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Renting a film Scanner

Peter Smith , Mar 12, 2006; 03:20 p.m.

I am new to Photo.net and hope to learn a lot. In 2004 I converted to digital but have 30 years of 35 mm film negatives. I would like to scan those that are of good quality to digital. I have been advised that the Epson and HP consumer scanners will yield a disappointing rendition so would like to use a high quality unit such as the Nikon Super Coolscan 9000. The purchase price is about $1800 so I would like to rent one for a month or two as once I am done, I am done and will likely not need the scanner again. Anyone know of a place to rent or lease a high quality 35 mm film scanner? Any other ideas?

Thanx

Pete

Responses

John Shriver , Mar 12, 2006; 04:16 p.m.

Google?

First match (coolscan rental): http://www.vistek.ca/rentals/rentalequipment.aspx?categoryId=32

But, at $315 a week, you're not saving an awful lot by 2 months.

You'll also go batty trying to do large numbers of scans in a short period of time, it can get tedious very fast.

Also, unless you're planning on 20x30 enlargements, a Nikon Coolscan IV will do. A used US (non-grey-market) one should be pretty affordable by now.

Just think of it as one of the new capital costs, along with Picture Window Pro or Photoshop, a quality monitor, and a monitor calibrator.

Jeff Applegate , Mar 12, 2006; 04:41 p.m.

You might also consider the Nikon Coolscan 5000 at about half the price of the 9000. If I'm not mistaken the main difference between the two is that the 5000 "only" does 35mm, whereas the 9000 does MF (medium format) as well.

For the cost of renting the thing, you might be better off to just purchase it. When you are done you could recoup a decent fraction of the cost by selling it (ebay or elsewhere). Also, as most people who actually do home scanning can tell you, you may find that the effort to get high quality scans of your old film is more time intensive than you had expected. In that case owning your own scanner and not having to worry about the pressure of a return deadline would be the way to go.

Jeff

Jeff Applegate , Mar 12, 2006; 04:42 p.m.

By the way, nice sunset shot!

Robert Lee , Mar 12, 2006; 04:49 p.m.

The Nikon dedicated film scanners don't depreciate much in price. You're better off buying one, using it for the few months, then reselling the unit when you're done.

By the way, if you're only scanning 35mm, get the CS5000 rather than the 9000.

Peter Smith , Mar 12, 2006; 06:40 p.m.

Wow - fast responses. Thanks for the input and I will follow the advice and buy one. Anyone want to buy one in the fall?

Craig Shearman , Mar 12, 2006; 08:02 p.m.

The units that you have heard bad things about are most likely the flatbed scanners that come with negative holders. They can scan film but the resolution isn't as high as film scanner and there may be other quality issues. I have a Canon FS4000US that I paid $600 that is excellent and any of the Canon or Nikon units in the $400-$600 range are used for professional work every day by thousands of people. I would recommend that you buy rather than rent for a couple of reasons. One is that their is a learning curve to getting good scans and you could easily burn up a week's worth of rental just learning to use the scanner well. (I'm not talking about the basics but rather the subtleties of capturing all the detail in one shot vs another shot just as their are subtleties in wet darkroom work.) Second is that for the volume of material you have it's going to take more than a week or two and you could easily buy a scanner for what you would pay in rental. Finally, if you've got 30 yars worth of negatives, it might be overkill to sit down and scan everything. I would buy a scanner but only scan what I have a need to scan at any given moment, just as I would only print what I need to print at any given moment. Your negatives will always be there but the 4000 ppi tiff on a CD that's high-end today might seem quaint five or 10 years from now when we're using whatever the latest Microsoft/Apple/Adobe have to offer.

Robert Martin , Mar 13, 2006; 09:30 a.m.

Peter, scanning takes a lot of time. I have a Nikon 9000 and 40 years of color negatives (35mm and medium format) to scan. I spend a minimum of 5 minutes per image while scanning. I scan in the batch mode and edit later in Photoshop. I consider this as a multi year project and don't scan every week. My wife shoots 35mm film, which we have processed only and scan with the Nikon 9000. I shoot medium format film and do the same. I just purchased a Nikon D200, so this will reduce some of our film use, but I get better results from scanned medium format.

Daniel D , Mar 13, 2006; 11:07 a.m.

You may also consider passing this job to someone else - there are outfits that would do the scanning for you (can't recommend one though). Depending on the price and the amount of scanning it may work out cheaper. Otherwise to use a film scanner takes a lot of learning - don't assume you just put things in and they come out as you want them. It will cost you a lot of rental money before you will be able to use it to get the results you want.

It might also work out cheaper if you buy one and then sell it second hand. Second hand scanners get quite good prices on ebay these days.

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