Scanning 35mm

MM
Posted By
Mac_McDougald
Jan 14, 2004
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729
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For best quality from 35mm, don’t even consider a flatbed. Really. 2400ppi from 35mm = 3402×2268 pixels, or about 7 megapixels. In TIFF/PSD format, talking about apprx 22MB. Of course, how you compress an image into JPEG is up to you.

Most film scanners do higher, 2700-4000ppi.
But remember, total pixel count is only part of the "resolution story". 2400ppi from a film scanner is going to look alot better than 2400 (or even 3200) from a flatbed.

Mac
MM
Mac_McDougald
Jan 14, 2004
All pixels are not created equally. Sheer number of pixels generated is only part of the story.

Flat copy does not have *nearly* the information contained in film. A $40 flatbed can do same quality scan from flat copy as a $400 one.

Read up at Wayne Fulton’s scantips.com to get your digital feet wet. And read UseNet, comp.periphs.scanners. Google Groups archives good for that.


Mac McDougald
Doogle Digital – www.doogle.com
RH
r_harvey
Jan 14, 2004
Which scanner to buy depends on your budget. A high-resolution flat-bed can do film just fine.

I use an Epson 3170 ($200) flatbed, at 3200 p.p.i. which is nearly up to the quality of my old Kodachrome 25 or Panatomic-X. If you’re using a faster film and consumer-grade zoom lenses, this scanner is probably more than enough.

A small review of the Epson 4870 ($450) flatbed is at Epson’s (Almost) Perfection <http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1427726,00.asp> [pcmag.com].
PC
Philo_Calhoun
Jan 14, 2004
r-harvey: I’m curious about your statement about flat bed scanners. I’ve never had any success with good scanning of negs or slides from flat bed scanners (I use a film scanner, but mostly shoot digital these days). Do you have a film scanner that you could compare to it?
RH
r_harvey
Jan 14, 2004
I’m using an Epson 3170 for film; I’ve never used it on reflective material. At 3200, it’s objectively a little soft, and sensitive to how far the film is from the glass. It records more detail than Plux-X has, but Panatomic-X has details beyond it. Comparing a quality silver 11×14 print from a negative to a 3200 scan of the same negative, there’s more on the scan–though I still think it’s soft.

Do you have a film scanner that you could compare to it?

No. It does seem likely that a dedicated film scanner will do a better job, but that’s not in the budget right now.
PC
Philo_Calhoun
Jan 14, 2004
For non-professional use: the Nikon Coolscan5000. I get better results from my Nikon D1x than from the film scanner. I send the neg/slides out for better scanning if I need professional results. I still have a bunch of Master PhotoCD’s lying around.
A
abclapp
Jan 14, 2004
I use a Minolta Dimage 5400 with Kodachrome 25 slides taken with a Nikon F and Micro-Nikkor 55mm f3.5 macro lens. I forget the actual scan dimensions, but it’s the equivalent of 32 Mpixel image. Save as a TIFF, it consumes ~91 MB of disk space. But the images blow up to 13" x 19" with no grain whatsoever. Sharp as a tack. I don’t come remotely close with my flatbed, but it’s not a new unit.

If the film is extremely fine-grain and you have the disk space, go with film scanner. You’ll be amazed!

<http://mywebpages.comcast.net/abc914/index.htm>
PC
Philo_Calhoun
Jan 14, 2004
Comparing film to digital is an apples and oranges comparison. Not all pixels are created equal. There are film grain issues versus some added information with scanned film. In the end it depends on which looks better to you. Often digital will look better than scanned film if the digital is with a high quality capture and the number of pixels of info is the same.
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Jan 14, 2004
While I’ve been generally pleased with film scans on my Epson 2450 flatbed (up to 2400×4800 dpi resolution), I do resort to using my Nikon LS-2000 Coolscan (2700 dpi) film scanner for most negative/slide scans. For the same resolution, it does the superior job and scans much more quickly. However, if I’m editing images that weren’t composed sufficiently for a good full-frame scan and must scan a smaller area, I’ll defer to the Epson scanner and go for a higher-res scan. That also assumes I’m still aiming for a large, high-quality print. While I’ve not done much to compare a non-resampled Epson scan to an up-sampled Nikon scan, again, I’ve been pleased with the Epson scans in such cases.

To just offer why a film scanner is typically better than a flatbed for film scanning, I know the focusing plane for slide scans performed on the Epson 2450 has been found to vary enough that each scanner varies in the sharpness of the scan. Some folks have experimented with various thickness of shims under their slides to elevate the film to a different focusing plane and see if they could obtain sharper scans. Sometimes that works, but what if the focusing plane needs to be lowered? The same may also apply to to the film carriers, I don’t recall. In any case, what this illustrates is that flatbed scanners don’t often provide quite as precise a way to hold the film for scanning, whereas film scanners not only provide better carriers but also may provide autofocusing and/or methods for selecting what area on the film to focus upon. The result is usually a better quality scan than a flatbed.

The price of a high-quality film scanner is markedly higher than a good flatbed, so you just have to weigh the pros and cons of each device against your planned usage. If you anticipate printing a lot of large, sharp images, then a film scanner is a wise purchase. If your needs are more web-oriented or smaller images, then a flatbed may provide sufficient scan quality at a lower cost.

Regards,

Daryl
MM
Mac_McDougald
Jan 14, 2004
Your Epson is NOT higher rez.
It is 2400 only. The 4800 is only stepper motor increments. The 2400 is actual optical rez, just as the 2700 of the Nikon is optical rez.

Plus, pixel for pixel, the Nikon is at least half again as good as the Epson. All the flat beds have much lower effective resolution than their ppi indicates, due to the lens/sensor arrangements and the area they cover. Not to mention lower dynamic range, Dmax, etc.

Mac
RH
r_harvey
Jan 14, 2004
Your Epson is NOT higher rez.
It is 2400 only.

That sounds pretty high to me. I suppose "high" is relative–it depends on what you need.
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Jan 14, 2004
Mac,

I suspected the 4800 dpi resolution was due to stepping, particularly given the 2400 dpi resolution across the width, but I wasn’t sure. Perhaps my eyes were fooling me with the few scans I did at the higher res settings when scanning the small areas I referred to. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done any of that. My more common use of the Epson for film scanning is for 120/220 negatives, and the results were very pleasing to the pro-photographer friend of mine who I was helping out.

Daryl
FN
Fred_Nirque
Jan 14, 2004
Rene,

Two differences between flatbeds and film scanners (in general terms):

1. Lens quality (see point 2 below).

2. Method of scanning – flatbeds generally move the scanning head and lens across the film, film scanners move the film over the lens and scan head. This means that the flatbed must compromise in terms of size, rigidity and weight – and hence quality – of the lens (in particular) and the scan head. A quick look inside a Nikon film scanner will quickly confirm this – the lens/scan head assembly is a large, solid, robust unit.

Dpi is a reflection of the abilities of the ccd capture device (combined with software), whilst resolution (i.e. "sharpness") is a physical thing governed by the lens quality.

Fred.
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Jan 15, 2004
Rene,

The budget you quote may be a tight one depending upon where you live. If you want to take a 35mm to A3 without any resampling and desire a print resolution of 300ppi, that would mean a scanner would need a scanning resolution of about 3600ppi. With a more conservative 240ppi print resolution, the scanner specs would fall to about 3000ppi. Ideally, a 4000ppi scanner would be great since it gives you some extra data headroom to work with in your image, but resampling up by a moderate degree should work pretty well also.

Well, surfing a few sites, I found even 4000ppi scanners are much more affordable now than I realized. Below are some typical prices of various scanners. I know nothing of the quality/reputation of the SmartDisk scanner, nor of Microtek although I know they’ve made scanners for quite some time now. All in all, I’d likely opt for the Nikon myself.

Nikon CoolScan V ED – 4000ppi, 4.2 Dmax, USB2.0 – $600
(Wow! 1/3 what my old LS-2000 cost!)

SmartDisk SmartScan 3600 – 3600ppi, 3.6 Dmax, USB1/IEEE1394 – $500 (Quality uncertain…built by Nikon or Canon perhaps?)

Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III – 2820ppi, 4.8 Dmax, USB2 – $300 (Soon to be superceded by Dual IV @ 3200ppi, similar price)

Canon CanoScan FS4000US – 4000ppi, 3.4 Dmax, USB/SCSI2 – $550

Microtek ArtixScan 4000FT – 4000ppi, 4.3 Dmax, USB/IEEE1394 – $470

Hope that’s helpful,

Daryl
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Jan 15, 2004
Rene,

I thought perhaps you were in Europe…going by your reference to the A3 size (which I had to look up dimensions for, ha!)

I have an Olympus C5050 which also provides a 5Mpx image with similar dimensions as your Sony V1. If by "zoomed to A3" you mean resampling the image up in size to print at A3 (11.7 x 16.5 inches), then yes, I think you should be able to achieve that with a good sharp image. I don’t know if you’ve actually attempted to photograph and print such images yet or not. I’ve had some images that didn’t look very good much over 8×10 inches due to how some of the lighter colors were dithered by my Epson 1270 printer on premium photo paper. Meanwhile, I’ve also printed some images at about 12 x 18 inches, that turned out quite nice. Typically, I’d resample those images up 150% using the Stair Interpolation action, and others simply using the Image Size dialog…results vary again by the image.

Anyway, comparing the dimensions of 2820ppi-scanned film (Dimage III) to a 5Mpx digital camera image:

Scanner: at 2820ppi, 35mm frame = 3973 x 2698 pixels = approx 10.7Mpx Digicam: at 5Mpx, Sony V1 frame = 2592 x 1944 pixels

So, even with what would be a lower-resolution scanner by today’s standards, I think you’ll readily find that a scanned image will equal or surpass what your 5Mpx camera provides. Keep in mind also that the 5Mpx image is only its best quality when shot in RAW or TIFF mode, with JPEG images introducing compression artifacts (though minimal at low compression). Similarly, the quality of the scanned image will vary with the film grain.

Regards,

Daryl
BO
Burton_Ogden
Jan 15, 2004
Daryl,

Well, surfing a few sites, I found even 4000ppi scanners are much more affordable now than I realized. Below are some typical prices of various scanners…

Oddly, none of those scanners have as much resolution as the new Epson Perfection 4870 flatbed scanner that r_harvey called our attention to in message #4. The Epson Perfection 4870 has a street price of $450 and a resolution of 4800×9600 dpi in its 6" x 9" transparency adapter area. PC Magazine’s review described it as, "razor sharp, with bang-on colors and clear details in even the darkest shadows".

If I had $1000 to spend I would probably get the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 with 5400dpi, 4.8D 35mm film scanner. But when you lower the price cap to $500, I think the new Epson flatbed enters the equation. I have to admit that for me, with a bunch of old stereo slides on hand, the Epson 4870 seems like a possible solution for scanning them. Or perhaps I could insert one side of a stereo slide into the Dimage 5400.

— Burton —
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Jan 15, 2004
Hi Burton,

I overlooked r_harvey’s comment about the Epson 4870 scanner, and I’d not heard of it until you called my attention to it again. It does sound nice but I guess I’m stuck with my 2450 for a good while longer still. It’s just too new to simply toss aside…unless I gave it to my parents and taught them how to use it. They could always defer to the Epson SmartPanel to assist them. Plus, I think I’d likely prefer a replacement to my Nikon LS-2000 so I could get away from having any external SCSI devices, and that is the sole survivor. Lately I’ve been putting together a new "wish list" for a new PC and it included a SCSI card so I could carry over the scanner, Jaz drive, and an Ultra 160 LVD drive. Seeing the low prices on current scanners, I’d be tempted to save the cost of the SCSI card, put it toward a new film scanner, and just leave all the SCSI stuff in my current system. The Jaz sees very little use anymore and leaving the Ultra 160 drive in place would leave me with 63GB across 3 LVD drives…good for storage I suppose. Then a new system could be built around all USB2/IEEE1394 periperhals and SATA/ATA133 drives.

I’ve never shot medium-format but do like the idea of having scanning capabilities to handle it. My 2450 is a cheap solution for that, that will serve my limited needs for such scans for a while still. Even as the world goes more digital, it will still be some time before pure digital is available at a price that would compete with simply doing hi-res digital scans of medium-format film. For 35mm, I think we’re pretty much there now or at least very, very close. I’m still anxious to see some more affordable D-SLRs show up with sensors the equivalent of 35mm full-frame.

Following up on Fred’s earlier comment about how film scanners move the film over the lens rather than vice-versa, I didn’t observe that with my Nikon LS-2000 tonight. As I thought, the film doesn’t budge during the scan. Perhaps other film scanners work differently.

I also realized tonight how long it’s been since I shot any film…I wanted to try and find a good color negative of something in my house that I could easily photograph with my Olympus digicam, then compare a scan of the film to the digital image. I couldn’t find anything! The closest was a b/w negative from 1988 of some framed art that I photographed for an insurance record. The scan of that negative looked like crap that my Olympus bested easily. I’m guessing the original photo wasn’t very sharp to start with or else the film scan should’ve been better than the digital camera pic.

Daryl
RH
r_harvey
Jan 15, 2004
The Epson 4870 sounds attractive for reflective scanning. The detailed photo-i.co.uk <http://www.photo-i.co.uk/News/Nov03/Epson4870.htm> preview discusses the two front lights, which could either be a great liability causing horrible shadows, or it could eliminate unwanted edges and defects… we’ll soon see.
MM
Mac_McDougald
Jan 15, 2004
Before buying any flatbed and expecting good results from 35mm, one should do some research. Some of the folks on comp.periphs.scanners have done some interesting tests.
The general gist is that for 35mm, there have been little improvment over the 2400ppi models. The Epson series seems to have retained the same lens arrangements and even though one gets a pile more pixels, the line-pair resolution is no higher.

Of course, for MF, a flatbed will do very nicely, and the only real alternative is a $1750+ film scanner. And for larger film than 120, the flatbed is the only choice short of drum scanners.

As far as flat copy, even a 2400ppi scanner is way overkill, unless you are doing postage stamp originals that you need to go up to 8×10 or better.

Mac
H
Ho
Jan 15, 2004
I don’t know if this is practical where you live, but the easiest way to see the difference (if any) would be to go to the dealer(s) and arrange a test. Scan a negative on the Epson and the same negative on the Nikon, take the files home and compare them. Of course, certain conventions would have to be followed: no sharpening, same relative gamma settings, etc. Also, a proper negative or slide with lots of fine detail and a full tonal range would be an asset too.

Another testing option is to buy them both and return the one that doesn’t measure up.
CM
cadman_meg
Jan 15, 2004
I would most definitely go with the Minolta scanner. That’s is what I use and wouldn’t use anything else. And I am VERY picky. Email me if you wish to know more.
<René> wrote in message
Mac,

Earlier you wrote that you not would recomand a flatbed scanner for 35mm
scanning, but recomand a dedicated film scanner. So now I’m a little confused…
A Minolta Image Scan Dual III cost around $500, and after reading all the
post in this forum, I have been told that it should do the job. The job is to scan 35mm negatives in a resolution/dpi so the picture afterways can be zoomed to A3, without losing quality.
In you newly added post you say that the only alternative to a flatbed
scanner is a film scanner that cost $1750+ ???
Please help me out here, do you agree in my statements or not?
Rene
MM
Mac_McDougald
Jan 15, 2004
In you newly added post you say that the only alternative to a flatbed scanner is a film scanner that cost $1750+ ???

Read again. That statement was in regard to MF (medium format).

Mac
A
abclapp
Jan 15, 2004
Rene, I don’t know about the Minolta Scan Dual III, but I couldn’t be happier with the Minolta Dimage 5400. The film is the limit of resolution, not the scanner. No grain with Kodachrome 25, but you can begin to see grain with Kodachrome 64. See Post #10 for smaller images of original 91 MB Tiffs.

I can blow them up to 13"x19" (Super A3) with perfect sharpness.

ABC
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Jan 15, 2004
Rene,

Yes, the Scan Dual III should be able to provide you a scan suitable for a quality image at A3 dimensions. I’d expect cadman would agree.

With a good printer, you can often get very good results printing an image whose resolution is 240ppi, although going to 300ppi often improves on that a little. The scan size of a 35mm frame with the 2820ppi resolution of the Scan Dual III will provide an image that exceeds A3 dimensions slightly, if you set the image resolution at 240ppi. At 300ppi, the dimensions will be less than A3 but only a minor degree of resampling will be needed to enlarge the image and the results should still excellent.

Although dealing in inches, I find it pretty convenient to think of 35mm film as being 1-inch in height (1.4 inches width). Then, knowing that a 300ppi image resolution will yield very good print results, the math is easy…if I need a 10-inch tall print, then I need a 3000 pixel scan along that edge and hence, a 3000ppi scanner if no interpolation is to be used. A 2820ppi scan would need to be resized up about 10% to be equivalent, and that would not likely result in any noticeable loss of image quality.

Regards,

Daryl
RH
r_harvey
Jan 15, 2004
Unless the scanner is incredibly fast or incredibly automatic, I wouldn’t want to try to scan 5,000 pictures in one session–a session that would last a couple of weeks.

I would consider farming it out, or cutting down the number of pictures.
RH
r_harvey
Jan 15, 2004
…and then use some late evnings in the ‘scanner world’.

I can’t imagine much of anything I’d want to do 5,000 times. Maybe a few, but this isn’t one of them.
BO
Burton_Ogden
Jan 15, 2004
Daryl,

I find it pretty convenient to think of 35mm film as being 1-inch in height (1.4 inches width).

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I believe the 24mm x 36mm 35mm negative dimensions are closer to 1" x 1.5". (grin)

— Burton —
PC
Philo_Calhoun
Jan 15, 2004
I agree with r_harvey. I once scanned in about 3000 slide images. It was painful.
JR
John_R_Nielsen
Jan 16, 2004
I find it pretty convenient to think of 35mm film as being 1-inch in height (1.4 inches width). Not to put too fine a point on it, but I believe the 24mm x 36mm 35mm negative dimensions are closer to 1" x 1.5".

More exactly, 1.41732283464566929133858267716535inches.
BO
Burton_Ogden
Jan 16, 2004
John,

I stand corrected. But, grin, that is too fine a point on it.

I should have corrected Daryl’s statement

I find it pretty convenient to think of 35mm film as being 1-inch in height (1.4 inches width).

to say that the 24mm x 36mm negative is closer to .94 x 1.42 inches. It was the 1-inch part of Daryl’s statement that I should have been correcting. His 1.4 inch part was OK. Oh, well, I got bit in the behind. I’m laughing at myself. Poetic justice. But thanks for bring a little accuracy into this. Well, a lot of accuracy. (grin)

— Burton —
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Jan 19, 2004
Burton,

Catching up with this thread again, yeah, while I may be a bit anal at times with details, my reference to the 1-inch height of a 35mm frame was an intended approximation. As I said, it just makes it easy to relate the size of a desired image to the approximate scanning resolution I’d need for a print-quality image. I can’t so quickly divide by 0.94 in my head. 😉

Daryl

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