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Scanners for Medium Format

Alex Hoxie , Jul 27, 2012; 10:27 a.m.

I am in need of a new scanner, one good enough to scan medium format film and will give me an image that is good enough for print. Does anyone have any recommendations? I'm currently using the Epson V500, which is crap, no dual lens or anything. Here is an example, I lose a lot of detail: http://www.alexhoxie.com/Sara-with-the-trees

I was looking at the Epson V700 which sounds like it could help me with both medium format as well as 35mm and larger negs as well. Has anyone tried this scanner? How does it compare? Is there something better out there?

I've had my negs scanned at high quality res by local photo houses and got nothing back messy, shoddy work.



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Stephen Penland , Jul 27, 2012; 12:35 p.m.

I had and might still recommend a Nikon 8000 or 9000. Now discontinued, they are hard to find, prices are usually high, and they are no longer supported by Nikon (i.e., you may need a computer with an older operating system to run the scanner). Plustek is coming out with a new medium-format scanner (will do 35mm as well), and the specs are reportedly very good; that's certainly something I would look into if I were in your shoes.

Alex Hoxie , Jul 27, 2012; 02:40 p.m.

Thanks stephen. I'll look into the Plustek! The Nikon sounds nice, but i don't know how much hokey software i'm willing to up with anymore. Epson's software isn't too great as it is, and is present day stuff.

David Henderson , Jul 27, 2012; 03:37 p.m.

I have a V700 and I have owned the Nikon 9000 ED in the past. Additionally I have had hundreds of MF slides scanned on Imacons and on drum scanners. My opinion is this

  • The V700 does a fine job with the 3rd party film holder and AN glass to make prints up to around 12" sq. If you want notably bigger prints than this, or prints above proof size from 35mm than you're going to need to use a film scanner. Which of the candidates Nikon 8/9000; Imacon; or drum scanner you need to use depends on how big you want the prints to be.
  • But you don't need to own a film scanner unless you need a large volume of bigger prints. For many people- including me- it is much more economic to own something like a V700 which covers a large majority of my scanning volume and then to send out the relatively few that must be better than the V700 can deliver to a scanning service depending on what my size/quality needs are. It can be pretty good value these days to buy in quality scans .
  • Though your experience to date hasn't been good, don't form a view that all externally-made scans are bad. You just have to find competent people using the right scanner, thats all.

Not particularly relevent given my suggestions, but I never found a problem with Nikon scan or indeed Epson software.

Marc Batters , Jul 27, 2012; 04:03 p.m.

Marco Venturini Autieri , Jul 27, 2012; 04:19 p.m.

Unfortunately, what I can honestly answer is that, in my opinion, below Nikon Coolscans (that are not available as new anymore), there are no decent scanners. I have tried the Epsons, and I know somebody likes them, but I don't.
I am the lucky owner of a Coolscan 9000, however I am aware that if it broke down, I would have no choice but the too expensive Hasselblad ones :-(
Many people compare favourably Epson scanners to Nikons in terms of resolution. Their resolution is indeed good. However, the colour reproduction of the Epson is poor, as well as their ICE dust removal (the Coolscan does not introduce artifacts because they do visible and infrared in one pass).

Ivan J. Eberle , Jul 27, 2012; 07:26 p.m.

Plustek has set for a September launch of a dedicated film scanner called the OpticFilm 120 that will do up to 6x12 at a scanning resolution of 10K dpi and an output resolution of 5K at 16 bit. Has ICE. Comes with Silverfast. ~$2,000 USD.

Tom Bloomer , Jul 27, 2012; 07:56 p.m.

Here ya go -
I've got the M1 pro and it blows anything else on a flat bed platform out of the water. With the LED light source the M2 should be even better. This is from 35mm. Kodak Portra 160. Nikon 105mm F2.5 AIS

Tom Bloomer , Jul 27, 2012; 08:10 p.m.

Microtek Artixscan M1 Pro - Bronica SQA 6x6, 105mm f3.5 S, Fuji Superia 100
No unsharp mask

David Henderson , Jul 27, 2012; 08:10 p.m.

I have to say that whilst I'm clearly aware of the limitations of flatbeds, I have not had difficulty recreating the colours of the original slides with some fairly simple work in Photoshop. I've done two websites and the prints for several (self-published) books using the V700 and the colours are fine. You do lose a little in shadow detail vs a film scanner but I haven't found that ever to be catastrophic. Where you do lose out, quite clearly, is on the ability to make big enlargements.

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