Scanners: Christmas Update

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Well, time now to figure out the best film scanner for this Christmas. Might actually buy one now that I’m generating lots of 35mm and want to scan in all those old photos too. The day is definitely getting close when real quality adherents like “Steve Hoffmann”:http://sphoto.com/techinfo/dslrvsfilm.htm can compare a $1,500 Canon 10D with a film camera plus scanning and say that this 6Mpixel image is on pare. Of course, the holy grail on the upcoming 11-14Mpixel cameras coming that have the same image sensor size as 35MM (wow!). The Canon 1D for instance is still in the $8K range, but coming down. That’s what I’m waiting for 🙂 Until then, the scanner models to consider:
h4. Minolta DImage 5400
This is the latest film scanner out there. Not many formal reviews of it. Much of the interest on the Internet has shifted to digital cameras (I’m going there too as soon as an affordable high resolution back comes out. Say 10Mb for $1K 🙂 In the mean time, here’s the latest on the Minolta:
* Minolta 5400 great, but software sucks!. Trying to decide between the Nikon. Here’s a review at Photo.net that basically says the resolution is amazing but the software isn’t that great. Some good sample scans as well. He talks about something called the Silverfast imaging software which he loves and will soon be out for the 5400. Not surprising that the included software isn’t that great IMHO.
* “Minolta 5400 Image Quality”:http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0064L1&unified_p=1. Title of the posts are a little misleading, but a good discussion and some sample of the image quality.
* “Minolta Image Quality Solved with Vuescan”:http://robertdfeinman.com/tips/index.html. Someone else with a Minolta 5400. He finally solved his problems with different software from “Hamrick”:Hamrick.com that solves the software limitations. good reading.
* “Mike Nunan’s Review”:http://www.photo-i.co.uk/Reviews/interactive/Scanners/Minolta/page_1.htm. A good review by Mike using the included software.
h4. Nikon Super Coolscan 4000ED
Talk about a long name! The cost is the same as the “Nikon Super Coolscan 4000ED”:http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LS4K/L40A.HTM assuming the $200 rebate in effect until December 31 ($200 higher otherwise), so interesting to see which one is really better. Minolta has better specifications, but the Nikon is time tested, has great reviews. The main specification differences are that the Minolta:
| | Minolta | Nikon |
| Ship Date | 2003 | 2001 |
| Resolution | 5400 dpi | 4000 dpi |
| Connection | USB 2.0 and Firewire | Firewire only |
| Dynamic range | 4.8 | 4.2 |
| Scratch Removal | Digital ICE | Digital ICE |
| Color Depth | 16 bit | 14-bit |
Here are some reviews of the Nikon. These are pretty in depth since it has been out for two years and is the flagship in many ways:
* “Photo.net”:http://www.photo.net/nikon/scanner/4000. Quite a few comments over the last two years to read through. Some interesting ones are that for everyday use, you should scan at 4000dpi, 50% image size, and 8 bits, which yields very manageable 4-6Mb files that can be printed with good results up to 8×10. A “user”:http://www.pytlowany.com/ED4000_pg_4.html who solved the problem of slides jamming in the feeder by narrowing the opening with a piece of credit card plastic. You can also try “Lynn Farmer”:http://lynnfarmerphoto.net/35MMBoard/messages/3dqtr01/16070.html and “Gregg Man”:http://www.greggman.com/pages/ls2000.htm (very detailed with photos).
* “Steve Hoffmann”:http://sphoto.com/techinfo/scs4000.html. A deep review of the 4000 and he loves it. Main points he makes are to make sure the film is really flat and actually has to be the right way when scanning at 4000 dpi.
h4. Scanning Software
Essentially, most of the included software isn’t that great. There are two third party packages that get lots of comments:
* Vuescan.
* Silverfast by Lasersoft.
Most professional types use these and then do the final edits in Photoshop, so I may be springing for Photoshop someday soon. Unless there is a decent open source photo editer somewhere. I can only hope.
h4. Epson 3200 Flatbed Scanner
There are also the flatbeds to consider.
* “Photo-i on the Epson 3200”:http://www.photo-i.co.uk/Reviews/interactive/Scanners/Epson_3200/page_1.htm. It is also the best selling on Amazon is the “Epson 3200”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00008ISWU/qid=1070334214/br=1-1/ref=br_lf_e_1//102-7967833-8380932?v=glance&s=electronics&n=227756. It has 3200 dpi and has a 35mm film holder. The quality in the reviews shows that it is very high, although not as good as the best dedicated scanners. Probably not a bad compromise all things considered. In specmanship, it is slightly lower with a 3.7 Dynamic Range, but on the other hand way more versatile. Main issue is lack of Digital ICE. It does comes with a version of SilverFast which is wonderful.
* “Steve’s Digicam on the Epson 2450”:http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/epson_2450.html. The previous model’s like Epson 2450 have been highly rated for quite a while as good for scanning photos and also transparencies. The flatbeds now have dedicated slide and 35mm attachments, but their performance isn’t as good. Still for $300 or so, it is a interesting compromise. Particularly if you use third party scanning software like Vuescan or Silverfast.

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One Reply to “Scanners: Christmas Update”

  1. – The resolution and color depth on the Nikon is more than adequate for most purposes.
    – If you are going to scan a large number of slides, then you will want to get a slide feeder. It’s not very fun feeding individual slides to a scanner every few minutes.
    – The scan time is important if you are scanning a large number of images.
    – VueScan allows you to capture the raw data from the scanner to a file. This is useful for a couple of reasons:
    — You can play with grain reduction, dust removal and color correction settings without rescanning the image.
    — You can scan at the raw data capture speed during the day and let the computer crunch the grain/dust/color overnight.

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