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Film scanners

steveash

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 7, 2008
512
217
UK
I have a lot of old medium format film positive transparencies and 35mm slides that I would like to digitise. I started the job years ago on a Canon scanner but Canon stopped supporting it with driver updates with new versions of OSX rendering it electronic waste.

I'm probably looking for a film compatible flatbed as some of my trannys are glass mounted and may not fit in a dedicated film scanner. Ideally not Canon for the above reason. Quality needs to be reasonable although this is only for personal use. Any sort of software/hardware automation would be most welcome as I have quite a few to get through. Does anyone have any recommendations?
 

someoldguy

macrumors 68020
Aug 2, 2009
2,146
6,938
usa
Thumbs up for Vuescan , I used it to resurrect my old Nikon Coolscan V . Worked fine . It's worth seeing if it supports your old Canon . IIRC there's a trial version .
 
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tizeye

macrumors 65816
Jul 17, 2013
1,190
9,089
Orlando, FL
I use an Epson V550 (may be a more recent model as a couple years old). Had a lesser model (V330???) for years but only scanned 35mm and the 550 was the first model that did both. Scanned all my parent's slides and older 120 film. I will say that over the years, firmware updated have been rare as scanner technology is essentially unchanged so the interface remains clunky as ever. You may first want to check Canon's site (Support, Downloads) to see if there is a newer firmware. As I recall, the earlier scanner that I replaced, while it worked fine on Win 7, some of the buttons didn't respond in Win 10. Never tried the Apple drivers on my MBP as scanner set up to the desktop. Needing the 120 capability ultimately led to the upgrade plus when I looked at aveing them digitized commercially, had enough quantity that basically paid for the scanner.
 
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steveash

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 7, 2008
512
217
UK
Try vuescan. This software supports a lot of scanners. Nice workflow too. see: https://hamrick.com

Thumbs up for Vuescan , I used it to resurrect my old Nikon Coolscan V . Worked fine . It's worth seeing if it supports your old Canon . IIRC there's a trial version .

Sadly after about a year of the bricked Canon sitting on my desk I got rid of it. I hadn't heard of Vuescan until now.

Looks like one of the Epson's is the way to go. Its a bit worrying that they are all USB2 but as @tizeye says scanner tech seems to have ground to a halt and the small market doesn't justify new product development very often. Here's hoping that it doesn't soon become as useless as the SCSI Nikon Coolscan I have sitting in a box!
 
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dwig

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2015
696
280
Key West FL
... Its a bit worrying that they are all USB2 but ...

There would be little or no advantage to USB3.x as the data the scanning mechinism produces doesn't challenge USB2. The total data size is large, but it streams from the scanner as acquired and is only stored as a large data clump in the host computer. Scanning time wouldn't be any shorter if a USB3.x interface was used. The speed is limited by the scanning mechinism and not the data transfer.
 
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BobD2

macrumors member
Aug 9, 2008
47
4
Massachusetts
Alternatively, consider using your DLSR (assuming you have a good one) and a macro lens to digitize your film. Many youtube videos describe a variety of techniques, and these techniques will give you better results (and faster) than any of the film scanners you are considering. Better than any flatbed, and probably better than any of the currently available dedicated film scanners you might be considering.
Check out some videos here:
 
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steveash

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 7, 2008
512
217
UK
Alternatively, consider using your DLSR (assuming you have a good one) and a macro lens to digitize your film. Many youtube videos describe a variety of techniques, and these techniques will give you better results (and faster) than any of the film scanners you are considering. Better than any flatbed, and probably better than any of the currently available dedicated film scanners you might be considering.
Check out some videos here:

Interesting idea. I'll give that a try. Thanks!
 
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Nathan King

macrumors regular
Aug 24, 2016
149
569
Omaha, NE
A DSLR with macro lens will work fairly well and resolve grain on a 35mm negative provided the negative is held perfectly flat and the camera sensor is perfectly parallel to the film (see below). It doesn't quite resolve as much detail as my Plustek 8100, but it's close. The Plustek is great for 35mm. I've printed 10x15 prints from a scan that look just as good as my optical prints on a Leitz Focomat and Rodenstock lens on fiber. A flatbed will do reasonably well with medium or large format but doesn't do justice to a 35mm negative. I've heard good things about the Pacific Image PF120 but have not used one.

 
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bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
7,324
4,432
Kentucky
The real weakness of any MF scanner is in the film holders. I spent a while chasing better results on my V700, including buying an aftermarket holder that was over $100(from BetterScanning) with a glass insert. It was better than the stock Epson scanners, but even after I spent hours dialing in the focus the results were still less than stellar. My best results came from wet mounting on the Epson glass plate, although this has a steep learning curve(most of my "good" scans from doing this still have bubbles), is a royal pain, and can also get pricey in terms of the initial investment and the ongoing cost for overlays and mounting fluid. Of course, any mounted slides will have to be unmounted.

I now do all my MF scanning on a Nikon Coolscan 8000. This will cause the same issues you had with your Canon in that Nikon hasn't supported this(and the nearly identical 9000) in years. The Nikon software is better but in my experience gives better results than Vuescan, especially if you are using IR cleaning. You need a Firewire port(you can still get a TB-FW dongle, so that's not a huge issue) but you are stuck with Snow Leopard or earlier if you want to use the Nikon software since it is PPC native. Before someone says it, virtualization doesn't/can't doesn't work with these scanners as FW pass-through has never worked on Macs.

The Nikon holders are also poor. I modified mine to hold a sheet of anti-Newton glass and can consistently get across the frame sharpness. There are two different Nikon glass holders, but these bring serious money on Ebay-nearly as much as you'll pay for the scanner. Also, the FW control boards are a known weakness on these scanners and you have to always be mindful of how you're connecting and disconnecting them.

If you want to throw bunches of money at it, get an Imacon, although you'll be stuck with unmounting all of your stuff and you have the same wet mounting headaches.

That's basically your options. As much as I love getting big 6x6 or 6x7 chromes back from the lab, with Cibachrome now dead a lot of my MF shooting(I do still actively do it with a Hasselblad and a Mamiya RB67) is in B&W and we printed in the darkroom.
 
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Mark0

macrumors 6502
Sep 11, 2014
478
3,046
SW Scotland
I used an Epson V500 with the betterscanning.com holder (as @bunnspecial mentioned) to scan my 6x17 slides. Not anywhere near drum scan quality, but decent enough.
 
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