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Author Topic: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development  (Read 601 times)

aderickson

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Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« on: May 14, 2018, 08:27:54 PM »

I have been scanning my film for about 12 years, both 35mm and 6x6. I own a Nikon Coolscan V ED and an Epson V750. I've used the Nikon and Epson Software plus Vuescan and Silverfast. The Coolscan came out in 2003 and the Epson V750 came out in 2006. Nikon has since discontinued the Coolscan line and Epson came out with a minor upgrade in 2014. There has essentially no new technological improvements in prosumer scanners in the past decade or more.

I tried Vuescan about ten years ago and found it primitive and hard to use. A version of Silverfast came with my Epson and it also seemed difficult.

Both of these software have seen vast improvements and I now use Vuescan with my Coolscan and Silverfast with my Epson.

In the same time period digital cameras have seen vast technological improvements. What I wonder is how much am I leaving on the table due to the cessation of scanning hardware development, particularly with medium format. Intuitively, I wouldn't think much with my 35mm transparencies on my Coolscan but I have to think that I'm not getting anywhere near the potential of my 6x6 shot on my Rolleiflexes.

I would be happy to be convinced otherwise, however. I know that there exist drum scanners which are a level above my Epson but they are way out of reach financially and I'm not sure how compatible they are with modern computers and software.

Is the solution in digital capture with a modern high MP camera such as a Nikon D850?

Allan
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2018, 10:48:52 PM »

Hello Allan,

Short of drum scanning, the highest quality scanning device on the market would be an Imacon/Hasselblad Flextight running in the 12 to 15 thousand dollar range. You can also do an excellent job with a high resolution DSLR or mirrorless, but the set-up and lens quality are stringent to be assured of edge to edge sharpness. Todd Shaner and I did an article about "scanning" with a camera on this website some time back. You may be interested to see what we said about the option - it's definitely doable and you can achieve high quality results, especially a high MP camera such as Nikon D850 - plenty of resolution there.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Jim Kasson

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2018, 11:52:35 PM »

Hello Allan,

Short of drum scanning, the highest quality scanning device on the market would be an Imacon/Hasselblad Flextight running in the 12 to 15 thousand dollar range. You can also do an excellent job with a high resolution DSLR or mirrorless, but the set-up and lens quality are stringent to be assured of edge to edge sharpness. Todd Shaner and I did an article about "scanning" with a camera on this website some time back. You may be interested to see what we said about the option - it's definitely doable and you can achieve high quality results, especially a high MP camera such as Nikon D850 - plenty of resolution there.

Last time I looked, the Flextight just supported FireWire. Not really confidence building if you're thinking long term. Imacon stabilized (IBMese for ceased development) on software for the SCSI scanners more than a decade ago, and by now those scanners are doorstops unless you're willing to run archaeological hardware and OSs. The same thing could happen to the FW scanners.

OS requirements for the $25K+ X5 are  currently listed as "Windows 2000 and XP; Mac OS X+"

Jim

aderickson

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2018, 11:57:13 PM »

Mark, let's say I do a trial with what I have, which is a Nikon D7100 and the 85mm DX Macro lens (which is reputed to be pretty decent). A square format medium format capture would give me a 4000x4000 pixel image. On the face of it this doesn't seem to be an improvement over the Epson V750's 2400 ppi. Even the D850 would only give a 5504x5504 image, still not as many pixels as the Epson scan. Would you expect these to be higher quality pixels?

Of course some of the disadvantages of the camera captures is that you lose some useful features of the scanning software such as multiple exposure and dust and scratch detection through the infared channel.
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aderickson

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2018, 12:00:22 AM »

Last time I looked, the Flextight just supported FireWire. Not really confidence building if you're thinking long term. Imacon stabilized (IBMese for ceased development) on software for the SCSI scanners more than a decade ago, and by now those scanners are doorstops unless you're willing to run archaeological hardware and OSs. The same thing could happen to the FW scanners.

OS requirements for the $25K+ X5 are  currently listed as "Windows 2000 and XP; Mac OS X+"

Jim

Yep. Even the Nikon Coolscan 9000 which could do medium format are firewire.
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BartvanderWolf

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2018, 04:30:06 AM »

Mark, let's say I do a trial with what I have, which is a Nikon D7100 and the 85mm DX Macro lens (which is reputed to be pretty decent). A square format medium format capture would give me a 4000x4000 pixel image. On the face of it this doesn't seem to be an improvement over the Epson V750's 2400 ppi. Even the D850 would only give a 5504x5504 image, still not as many pixels as the Epson scan. Would you expect these to be higher quality pixels?

Hi Allan,

Not all pixels have the same quality of data, because the number of pixels doesn't tell the whole story.

A number of years ago I ran some tests (link is here) on the actual resolution from my Epson V700, and found that anything above 1600 PPI only showed a very much reduced increase of resolution. I expect a digital camera capture to have much higher resolution.

Obviously, a camera capture presents other challenges to overcome, like lack of depth of field and getting the film parallel with the sensor and optics in between, combined with a lack of film flatness. Also, false light on the front of the film must be shielded to avoid loss of contrast, or worse. But a camera capture has a lot of potential, since one can even scan parts of a filmframe and stitch the tiles, if resolution must be maximized for a given camera.

Quote
Of course some of the disadvantages of the camera captures is that you lose some useful features of the scanning software such as multiple exposure and dust and scratch detection through the infared channel.

Yes, that's one of the trade-offs.

Cheers,
Bart
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saiguy

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2018, 07:58:57 AM »

Peter Krogh has a DVD about camera scans.  dam useful.com
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nirpat89

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2018, 08:17:59 AM »

Mark, let's say I do a trial with what I have, which is a Nikon D7100 and the 85mm DX Macro lens (which is reputed to be pretty decent). A square format medium format capture would give me a 4000x4000 pixel image. On the face of it this doesn't seem to be an improvement over the Epson V750's 2400 ppi. Even the D850 would only give a 5504x5504 image, still not as many pixels as the Epson scan. Would you expect these to be higher quality pixels?

Of course some of the disadvantages of the camera captures is that you lose some useful features of the scanning software such as multiple exposure and dust and scratch detection through the infared channel.

Having a full frame sensor, the D850 has larger pixels than those in D7100.  Also, Nikon has this adapter ES-2 for 35mm film digitization that can be used with their 60mm macro lens - only for 35mm though, not for medium format.

Regarding multiple exposures, you can probably do something similar by bracketing in the camera and then blending in Photoshop to take advantage of the full DR of the slides or negatives. 
« Last Edit: May 15, 2018, 08:49:09 AM by nirpat89 »
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2018, 08:21:47 AM »

Last time I looked, the Flextight just supported FireWire. Not really confidence building if you're thinking long term. Imacon stabilized (IBMese for ceased development) on software for the SCSI scanners more than a decade ago, and by now those scanners are doorstops unless you're willing to run archaeological hardware and OSs. The same thing could happen to the FW scanners.

OS requirements for the $25K+ X5 are  currently listed as "Windows 2000 and XP; Mac OS X+"

Jim

Yes, I just looked it up (since quite a while back) and you are correct. What's more the price range is far higher than I mentioned. Not worthwhile - much cheaper to use a camera.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2018, 08:39:36 AM »

The amount of resolution you need depends on the size of the final output you intend to produce and how much you are prepared to resample before visible deterioration of image quality sets in. I'm using a Sony a6000 camera (24MP) with a Zeiss macro lens and a Zigalign system to assure flatness of field between sensor and media. I also made a very rigid camera support and trigger the exposure with a remote control. This produces sharp output. The 6000 pixel long dimension resolution allows me to produce a maximum print dimension of 16.7 inches on the long side at 360 PPI with no resampling, which is a native specification for the Epson print process. All 24 MP can be usable in the final image insofar as one can compose the content from the media at capture. If you need more resolution than this, then you either need more megapixels or you tolerate some resampling. The resolution of a Nikon SC 5000ED is 4000 PPI, which for the long dimension of a 35 slide is roughly the same as that of my Sony a6000. The resolution of the V700/750/800/850 scanners is higher and my full experience with the quality of those scans compared with a number of options is reported in my extensive review of the Epson V850 on this website, so I won't repeat any of that here, save to remind of course that the sharpness and overall quality of a scan depends on a lot more than resolution alone. Don't under-rate the Epson V850. It may not be as sharp at the far corners as an Imacon, but at one twentieth of the price and given that many photos simply don't need absolute corner sharpness, it's "pretty darn good". And what's more, its currently available, supported by the latest hardware and software and accommodates many media types and dimensions. Based on past experience, it's safe to predict Epson will be supporting that product for years to come.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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b2martin

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2018, 09:37:01 AM »

I have a Nikon 9000 film scanner that will scan medium format film at 4000PPI, this gives you 9000 x 9000 pixels for 2.25 x 2.25 inch film. The scanner does have firewire input, but my current computer accepts firewire inputs. The scanner came with a firewire expansion card.   I have the scanner working on Windows 10 Professional using NikonScan software.  I use a glass film carrier for medium format scans.  I have the Nikon glass film carrier and also one that I constructed that I like better.  I still have a lot of scanning to complete and need to get started again. 
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2018, 09:40:00 AM »

Glass carriers can augment flare impairing DMax. But given the poor design of the Nikon carriers for that model, this is sometimes necessary to maintain flatness of field.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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smthopr

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2018, 01:56:24 PM »

I have been scanning my film for about 12 years, both 35mm and 6x6. I own a Nikon Coolscan V ED and an Epson V750. I've used the Nikon and Epson Software plus Vuescan and Silverfast. The Coolscan came out in 2003 and the Epson V750 came out in 2006. Nikon has since discontinued the Coolscan line and Epson came out with a minor upgrade in 2014. There has essentially no new technological improvements in prosumer scanners in the past decade or more.

I tried Vuescan about ten years ago and found it primitive and hard to use. A version of Silverfast came with my Epson and it also seemed difficult.

Both of these software have seen vast improvements and I now use Vuescan with my Coolscan and Silverfast with my Epson.

In the same time period digital cameras have seen vast technological improvements. What I wonder is how much am I leaving on the table due to the cessation of scanning hardware development, particularly with medium format. Intuitively, I wouldn't think much with my 35mm transparencies on my Coolscan but I have to think that I'm not getting anywhere near the potential of my 6x6 shot on my Rolleiflexes.

I would be happy to be convinced otherwise, however. I know that there exist drum scanners which are a level above my Epson but they are way out of reach financially and I'm not sure how compatible they are with modern computers and software.

Is the solution in digital capture with a modern high MP camera such as a Nikon D850?

Allan
You might try Vuescan again as itís much improved from years ago. I was with a friend yesterday who pulled out an old Mac g4 laptop to run nikonscan :)
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Doug Gray

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Re: Film Scanner Technology vs Scanning Software Development
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2018, 05:33:49 PM »

You folks have stimulated some thoughts I've had recently.

There is an old saying, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

For printers, we benefit from high accuracy spectrophotometers which provide repeatable measurements well beyond our ability to distinguish one color from the next. But while we can characterize printers in various ways using spectros there is a very important aspect of printing that escapes the printer profiling process.

Smoothness. With limited numbers of patches it is very difficult, impossible really, to determine just how smooth printed color transitions will be. Patches are a single color. There are 16 million, 8 bit RGB values in a printer's device space and a spectral scan of a 4000 patch set is only going to measure .025% of them. So determining how well a printer transitions from one color to another is too much a question of luck. Does it show up in the limited patch set?

A scanner, OTOH, has the ability to scan continuously changing colors. This makes detecting things like an abrupt 2 dE color shift more likely. What scanners can't do, is measure spectral info or accurately specific colors. However, they can, very precisely, measure small changes and that happens to be what human vision is most sensitive to.

It may well be that, when testing printers, finding a way to measure smoothness over hundreds of thousands of colors on a single letter size sheet may provide a better quality metric than just extrapolating from the limited data set that profile targets provide.

Anyone run across this use of scanners? Would it be possible, using scanners to identify the more non-linear printer areas, to allow creation of much smaller printer targets while perhaps even improving profile accuracy by including only patch colors where needed?
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