Help with Professional Quality Film Scanners

Iron0akIron0ak Posts: 1Member
edited January 2013 in General Discussions
I need some advise. I am going to be cataloging some inherited black and white film, mostly 35mm, slides and a fair amount of medium and large format negatives. I'm talking 10,000+ negatives to process and digitize. These photos range from the 1930's up thru the 70's. I am looking for a professional grade film scanner. I had been reading about the Plustek OpticFilm 120. The specs look promising but the fact that it hasn't been released yet ismaking me a little skeptic.

I know the old Nikon Coolscan film scanners are very good but they are very expensive and I can not do medium and large format film scans.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated. I plan on making prints for a future business for vintage photos etc. It's my 3 year plan!


  • CorrelliCorrelli Posts: 135Member
    I cannot comment on the Plustek. I use a Coolscan LS50 (the smallest Nikon scanner or the little brother of the 5000). Nikon also did have a medium format scanner Coolscan 9000 that had a very good quality.

    The Nikon scanners (and others most likely as well) have got a scratch and dust removal option that works fine on color images. But it does not work at all on silver based b&w film. They use an additional infrared scan to detect dust and scratches. As the silver in traditional b&w films is not transparant for IR this technique foes not work here. You probably knew that already but I still wanted to mention it.

    B&W film is a much bigger challenge for scanners than color negatives as they got a much higher density. If you have the chance to do some tests do it and take some really dark negatives with you as well to test how they are handeled.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Does Nikon even have a Coolscan that is even a current product?
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,100Member
    Not that I am aware of. I think the Coolscan 9000 was one of the last ones off the line. As far as I know, Nikon is not updating software for any of their scanners, which could lead to some nasty compatibility issues at some point.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    edited January 2013
    I use the VueScan software to operate my Nikon LS-5000 ED FILM SCANNER The software which came with the scanner does not work on Mac OS X 10.7.5 I think. Or maybe it needs the VueScan for Lightroom...I am not certain. Without the VueScan I could not get the scanner to work, however.
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
  • framerframer Posts: 491Member
    I had a Nikon LS-9000 for 3 - 4 years and did scanning for a few film based photographers. As they went digital I used it less until it sat on a shelve. I sold it on ebay for more than I paid new for it. Step up to the pump and buy a used on on ebay. Do your work and resell it on ebay. If you buy right you should be able to recover most if not all of what you paid for it. Great scanner. Find a complete unit with the original shipping box. It was made to reship the unit. If it does not have the original box I'd pass.

  • warprintswarprints Posts: 61Member
    I use SilverFast software for scanning. Currently have a minolta dual scan iv (which runs on nothing newer than Win XP), a Plustek 7600, and an HP Scanjet 8300. The Plustek with Silverfast is great. But 10,000+ images is going to be a lifelong job with a manual scanner. I'd look into having them converted commercially, and then you could always go back an rescan select images that you want to tweek yourself.
  • DHunterDHunter Posts: 5Member
    edited February 2013
    I got an HP Photosmart S20 many years ago when they first came out.
    I recently got started back scanning slides I have, remember those?
    Well they don't make a driver for Win 7 unless you have Win7 Pro and use emulation back to XP.
    So I just set it up with my laptop that is XP.
    Then as I often do, I was concerned if something happened to it I would have to find something else. I reviewed a bunch and they did not impress me.
    I found a mint condition and box with everything on Ebay that I won for $150. New these were $500 back in the day and new ones on Ebay can go as high as $800.
    It will adjust to accept 35mm slides which I scan at 2400 dpi with good results. It changes slot size to accept 35 mm film strips or up to 5x7 prints.
    You might research these.
    Post edited by DHunter on
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,119Member
    Is it possible to use a DSLR with a macro lens and some home made rig to just take photos of your negatives and slides?
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • CorrelliCorrelli Posts: 135Member
    Is it possible to use a DSLR with a macro lens and some home made rig to just take photos of your negatives and slides?
    It might be possible but I don't think it is a real substitute for a good scanner. Scanners are designed to reproduce the contrast of slides or b&w negatives and their software can also handle the yellow/orange mask of color negative film. You might have some problems to properly remove that mask without the right software tools.
  • warprintswarprints Posts: 61Member
    Back in the day, before digital, I used to copy slides and negatives with a bellows rig that had a film holder. It worked pretty well. My rig was Minolta, but I know Nikon made one too.
  • CorrelliCorrelli Posts: 135Member
    I did that too, but I used special slide copy film to do that (or negative copying film). What did work very well though was using Agfa Ortho film to copy b&w negatives and create b&w slides from that.

    So from a magnification point of view using this setup for a DSLR will work as well, but I am quite sure that using a dedicated scanner will give you better results (color and contrast) in the end. But I have to admit that I did not try it yet.
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 958Member
    To Iron Oak and others interested in film scanners. I currently use pretty high tech digital gear. I have shot up to 10X30 cameras and still own the best scanner for multi-purpose I ever owned. It is a Microtek (and I sure used a lot of other scanner brands) this is a 2500F and i own all the holders for up to 11x14 for this one. It is excellent for 35mm (which I used for my f5 Nikon gear2, then for panoramic medium format like the Linhof Technorama on 72mm wide to Fuji GX 617 with lens panels from 90mm to 360mm, and Hasselblad form 6x6 to 6x12. I use Silverfast as a scanner software. So this one scanner does it all and does it very well. You would need to get current drivers from Microtek to work with a specific computer. That scanner used to sell for about $6,000. I paid somewhere around $3,500 for mine. Compared to all the 35mm scanners I owned it is way better built. I might be tempted to sell mine but I still have lots of large and medium film of very high commercial quality to scan. ABC Photo and Imaging in Manassas VA. could scan for you but the cost would be up there compared to doing it yourself. Let me know how you make out. The suggestions given up to mine are not the way I would go with your project.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    1. If you buy a decent scanner, you can sell it after your project
    2. it's incredibly time-consuming
    3. it's boring, because it keeps you away from new pictures and this can be poison for each motivation.

    That was meant as preparation

    My 135 slides I reproduced by using a Kodak carousel without lens, a 20 Watt Halogen bulb with a diffusor-plate and a plate-mounted Pentax K-m with an old enlarger lens and some distance ring. These were looking into the projector, I removed it's lens. Selfmade, but very good for an overview to put in iPhoto. The better slides I wanted to do afterwards. The transport is fast and for 80 slides in 10MP I needed 3-5 minutes.
    The few 120 slides I reproduced with a friend's DSLR, a Nikon D2 with a 105 macro. It was the reason to buy a DSLR, a Pentax. I just wanted to get a quick overview of all the slides and the very few "better" ones I wanted to scan again.

    Meanwhile the first Epson was no longer enough and I changed it for an Epson V750. It can scan 4 rows of 135 film or 2 rows of 120. Together with VueScan I made RAW-scans and separated the huge, 16 Bit 1/2 GB lateron in single frames. Reason for that: To scan each frame, there's a lot of mechanical movement. The scanner-rail must be moved to each picture. I didn't make it to color negatives, I stopped half way through with B/W, which must be a good thousand of films. I am bored to go through all that failures and bad ideas again, with few good ideas in between.

    Now, the downsides. Learning what DSLR can do kept me away from scanning / reproducing old stuff with lots of pictures I should've thrown away long ago. Improving in processes, handling files and post-production let me come to the conclusion I should redo most of the scans with better technique. But the older you get, the more vaiuable your time gets. I never really finished the work, it was just too much for me.
  • scoobysmakscoobysmak Posts: 215Member
    I guess I will bring this old thread back to light. I have been looking for a scanner to use at home, I prefer to do things myself (yep call me crazy). I probably would not scan more than 3 to 4 rolls of film a month but something I would do on a normal basis. I would prefer a high quality solution because sometimes I print up to 20"X30", I usually print 13"X19" if I find something worthy. Speed is not that much of an issue since I don't have that much to scan all at once, easy of use is an issue. If I have to spend an hour trying to get my film flat in the scanner for a good scan I think I would shoot someone, the higher quality of a scan the more time I am willing to put into it though (it seems that wet scans usually turn out better but they are more of a pain to deal with).

    I don't see myself scanning anything but 35mm film; I highly doubt I would start MF or LF, my current equipment takes up enough room. Most of the scanners today are flatbed scanners unless you look for stuff that is not made any more. There are only a few quality dedicated film scanners that I am aware of which most are made by Plustek, if you go the used route then a Minolta 5400 or Nikon coolscan are options but they are no longer made and probably don't have any more support for. This did not include drum scanners but these are in another ball park for price. I briefly thought about getting a drum scanner but just can't justify it unless I started a business that is already shrinking (not a smart move). Canon just came out with a flatbed scanner that has 9600x9600 dpi but its still a flatbed scanner (CanoScan 9000F). It would be nice if more dedicated film scanners popped up for more options but I just don't see the market for them so I don't blame them.

    At this moment I see myself finding a used Minolta or Nikon scanner but its rather risky since I have no idea if anyone could fix it. I just don't know enough about Plustek at the moment but if anyone has personal experience and can compare products I would love to hear about it. I think this could get me to 13'x19" and if I wanted to print something bigger, I would send it off to be drum scanned (the going rate seems to be about $20 per high resolution picture unless I read that wrong, low resolution scans are priced much lower like less than a dollar). I would put the budget for this at a max of $7k (that would be only if I never had to send anything out to be scanned and it was still supported. You can find used drum scanners for less but I may not be able to get parts for it). If I still had to send my photos out for high quality scans but could print 13"x19" with no problems I would want to stay under 1.5k but see me spending up to 2.5k if a good deal popped up for a Nikon scanner (I still think that is rather risky and stupid though).
  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 411Member
    Ive used the Coolscan 9000 and it works fantastic. The software that comes with it is a bit iffy but it is much more accurate than a flatbed and gets colors you cannot get out of a flatbed... Just my 2 cents
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Having dinner with a friend, he told me he swears by this software for scanner control. Supports Mac, Windows and all of the nikon scanners. Built-in drivers, great for Nikon scanners:
  • fjminorfjminor Posts: 40Member
    edited October 2014
    Waking up this thread - I am also looking for a 35MM Scanner for good results. Looks like in 2014, Plustek seems to be the forerunner, but the Silverfast software is still an issue with most users of this software.

    Any other experiences the forum folks can provide on the Plustek would be appreciated.
    Post edited by fjminor on
    Too much equipment, too little time.
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    I use the Epson V750 for both positive and negative scans, Biggest problem is dust specs no matter how careful you are. Epson offer a wet scan facility for this scanner, which helps reduce the spot problem. only other downside is it is only A4 in size
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    What is the issue with silverfast? It worked great for me the last time I borrowed my buddy's scanner...
  • fjminorfjminor Posts: 40Member
    Thanks for responding paulr and IronHeart.

    In reading the negative reviews with the most of these scanners, Silverfast seems to be a culprit with many users, either it does not work well with Apple PCs, you cannot load it more than once, or numerous issues just working the software. I work with software for a living, so it cannot be any worse than some of the nightmares I have been involved with.
    I am now looking at the Epson V850, it is more than I want to spend, but it seems this unit will provide real good quality scans.

    Thanks again.!
    Too much equipment, too little time.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    I had no issues installing or using silverfast. 6 whiners on the interweb do not an issue make.
  • fjminorfjminor Posts: 40Member
    That is good to hear. Thanks again.
    Too much equipment, too little time.
  • scoobysmakscoobysmak Posts: 215Member
    I had no issues installing or using silverfast. 6 whiners on the interweb do not an issue make.
    90% of any comments on the web usually are people that have an issue with a product. I take stuff like that with a grain of salt, how long has the product been out Vs how many negative reviews it has. You also have to look at the users ability. For instance if I went to get something welded together, I would rather have the guy using a cheap welder that knew what he was doing than the guy that never welded before but has the best welder out there.

    I am guilty, I hardly ever comment on a quality product. If I have a problem with a product I will address it publicly but I do make sure I have not done anything wrong first.

    I am still looking for a scanner solution but have not put much time into it recently.
  • scoobysmakscoobysmak Posts: 215Member
    edited February 2015
    Well I am probably stupid but since my wife and her family have film/slides they want in digital I bit the bullet and picked up a used Nikon coolscan 5000. Probably the worst time to buy one but so long as it works and does the job I guess I can't complain. I just wish I had purchased a new one years ago.
    Post edited by scoobysmak on
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