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Author Topic: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?  (Read 1678 times)

samogitian

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Hi everyone, I have a bunch of old snapshots—nothing special, but I'd like them to be processed and stored archivally at the best quality possible.

It seems that I have two options.

The first is to scan them using my Epson V750 using Vuescan and the highest available resolution.
The second is to get out the old Kaiser Repro stand that I've been meaning to put on eBay forever and put the GFX100S on it. I used to be an architecture historian and bought it so I could make my own slides. I shot around 15,000 of them on my old Pentax K100 in six years and then * hit the fan and everything went to Powerpoint and I had to spend a year digitizing all the slides with a Nikon scanner.

Which is a better route?

The GFX100s would certainly be a lot faster once we got it nailed down. It would be higher resolution, but would it be higher quality?
If I used the GFX100s, I'd have to figure out how to deal with photo curl, maybe a piece of non-reflective glass?
What about dust and other imperfections? Those are easily taken care of with Digital ICE on the scanner, even though there is a small cost.
What lens do I use? I have the 80, I think that would work, no?
I'd probably want to update the lights in the repro stand away from the fluorescents to LEDs. Or would I?


 
« Last Edit: January 01, 2022, 12:46:09 pm by samogitian »
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Alan Klein

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2022, 01:23:54 pm »

I'd use the V700 because I'm familiar with flatbed scanners, not digital cameras canning.  The V700 is made to scan prints as well as negatives.  You already have it ready to go.  You're not going to get more resolution than is in the print anyway.  You can probably do well scanning at 600bpi. 

The added advantages of the V700 with let's say Epsonscan software is you have ICE which will remove many of the creases and other blemishes in the print. The scan will take longer but you'll eliminate a lot of editing afterward.  The V700 will also automatically crop the picture to the photo's size saving more editing.  There's also automatic color restoration for faded prints. 

Why don't you try it with the V700 and see if it meets your requirements? Good luck.

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2022, 01:27:53 pm »

I'd use the V700 because I'm familiar with flatbed scanners, not digital cameras canning. 
So a non answer.
If you've only imagined it, you haven't experienced it.
I've done both, and with dozens of scanners from desktop to PMT drum, so I'll actually answer the OP based on experience next.
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digitaldog

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2022, 01:44:40 pm »

Hi everyone, I have a bunch of old snapshots—nothing special, but I'd like them to be processed and stored archivally at the best quality possible.
If prints, then the Epson is fine but slow as you point out and it is questionable if 'full resolution' (optical not interpolated) is even necessary**.

Using a digital camera is fast but you're not producing a true trilinear color, it is CMOS with Bayer filter so the areas you might have issues is with moiré IF the prints have a texture or if the image has very finely ruled lines. That camera has a massive resolution so you could shoot at full rez and resample down to something reasonable and deal with this to a large degree. But aside from that, I really think you should at least test this route.

Digital ICE is not a perfect solution by any means. Yes, it will hide some scratches and blemishes while also removing some apparent visual sharpness.

As for lights, ideally something like Solux full spectrum (real full spectrum) lighting is ideal but they run hot. Fluorescent lights are not ideal due to spiky spectrum and the same to a lesser degree is true for many LEDs. Do a search here for recommended LEDs if you have to go the cooler route. Some have actually measured them (I did for the Soraa brand, they are Ok at best).

I have a V750, I hardly use it and have instead setup a copy stand photo system for slides and occasional prints using a 5DMII using a Just Normlich viewing box which works pretty well (those Fluorescent are a bit better than most in terms of spiky illuminant but not Solux by a long shot).

If you have a huge number of prints, 8x10 or smaller, I do have to say its worth looking into an Epson FastFoto scanner which I have for my small snapshots. It is super fast, auto feed! I'm only scanning actual size to about 200PPI which is more than enough to view on screen and make a copy on my Epson**. I save directly to JPEG although one could do so to TIFF. These are old prints, need little work, I just want a digital archive of the prints, I have many hundreds and I'll only 'fix' (spot and clean) after I find one I either want to share or reprint.

**This is rubbish, all original prints are not "300DPI", in many cases, it would be overkill to scan them as such. ** https://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=136760.msg1194660#msg1194660
This is evidence that you should take with a grain of sand, anything recommended from that 'resource'.  ;)
« Last Edit: January 01, 2022, 01:48:04 pm by digitaldog »
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samogitian

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2022, 01:57:16 pm »

If prints, then the Epson is fine but slow as you point out and it is questionable if 'full resolution' (optical not interpolated) is even necessary**.

Using a digital camera is fast but you're not producing a true trilinear color, it is CMOS with Bayer filter so the areas you might have issues is with moiré IF the prints have a texture or if the image has very finely ruled lines. That camera has a massive resolution so you could shoot at full rez and resample down to something reasonable and deal with this to a large degree. But aside from that, I really think you should at least test this route.

Digital ICE is not a perfect solution by any means. Yes, it will hide some scratches and blemishes while also removing some apparent visual sharpness.

As for lights, ideally something like Solux full spectrum (real full spectrum) lighting is ideal but they run hot. Fluorescent lights are not ideal due to spiky spectrum and the same to a lesser degree is true for many LEDs. Do a search here for recommended LEDs if you have to go the cooler route. Some have actually measured them (I did for the Soraa brand, they are Ok at best).

I have a V750, I hardly use it and have instead setup a copy stand photo system for slides and occasional prints using a 5DMII using a Just Normlich viewing box which works pretty well (those Fluorescent are a bit better than most in terms of spiky illuminant but not Solux by a long shot).

If you have a huge number of prints, 8x10 or smaller, I do have to say its worth looking into an Epson FastFoto scanner which I have for my small snapshots. It is super fast, auto feed! I'm only scanning actual size to about 200PPI which is more than enough to view on screen and make a copy on my Epson**. I save directly to JPEG although one could do so to TIFF. These are old prints, need little work, I just want a digital archive of the prints, I have many hundreds and I'll only 'fix' (spot and clean) after I find one I either want to share or reprint.

**This is rubbish, all original prints are not "300DPI", in many cases, it would be overkill to scan them as such. ** https://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=136760.msg1194660#msg1194660
This is evidence that you should take with a grain of sand, anything recommended from that 'resource'.  ;)


Ah, now that's super, super useful, thanks!

The FastFoto might be the way to go, to be honest. It seems like a pretty effective method, how is the quality of the scan though? How might it compare to the photo scanner at the same resolution?

The lights currently on the Kaiser are fluorescent, but they are 5400k flourescents made for the kaiser, not some kind of garbage from Home Depot.
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digitaldog

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2022, 02:08:06 pm »


Ah, now that's super, super useful, thanks!

The FastFoto might be the way to go, to be honest. It seems like a pretty effective method, how is the quality of the scan though? How might it compare to the photo scanner at the same resolution?

The lights currently on the Kaiser are fluorescent, but they are 5400k flourescents made for the kaiser, not some kind of garbage from Home Depot.
So unlike some, I'll refrain from providing an answer based on assumptions: I haven't tested the same scan on a FastFoto vs. my V750 but I can tell you, I can scan a dozen prints in the time it takes to do one on the V750.

Film would be far more challenging due to its far greater dynamic range. The differences in the V750 and FastFoto for prints, probably tiny if visible and in the end, I'm simply never going to scan hundreds of prints on the V750 which all I'll every do is view them on-screen or make a 2nd print at the same size or smaller than the original.

I have printed images from FastFoto scans back on my Epson 3880 or P800 and with a little clean up and a little editing like Clarity, the new prints are visually better than the originals! So again, if your goal is to scan a lot of prints, I'd suggest you forgo the V750.   

The only minor issue I have with the FastFoto is trying to scan many differing sizes in the auto feeder; sometimes it will 'clog' or get stuck on one. So I've setup scanning all 3x5's first, then 4x6's next etc. Everything ends up in a Lightroom Classic catalog and the tools there are fine for 90 odd present of any work needed. I did have to clone some very old photo's with tears, no way any digital ICE would do the job but Photoshop, no problem.
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samogitian

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2022, 02:42:18 pm »

I haven't tested the same scan on a FastFoto vs. my V750 but I can tell you, I can scan a dozen prints in the time it takes to do one on the V750.

Film would be far more challenging due to its far greater dynamic range. The differences in the V750 and FastFoto for prints, probably tiny if visible and in the end, I'm simply never going to scan hundreds of prints on the V750 which all I'll every do is view them on-screen or make a 2nd print at the same size or smaller than the original.

Ah, but I can scan film on the V750! That is not so bad since it comes with a negative holder so I can process at least half a roll at the same time.
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digitaldog

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2022, 02:46:18 pm »

Ah, but I can scan film on the V750! That is not so bad since it comes with a negative holder so I can process at least half a roll at the same time.
Yes. But don't dismiss using the camera either, you may be surprised at the quality after running a test.
Negs are a difficult subject because the orange mask changes based on exposure and removing it isn't a trivial task. Doing this with good scanning software like SilverFast for that Epson helps.
If you shoot with the camera, you'll need to deal with removing the mask at the raw scan stage, that's also tricky. There are tools to do so as well if you go that route.
With transparency film, all I've shot on my copy setup, I think the quality is easly on par with the Epson V750 san's gel (oil) mounting which is a PITA.
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samogitian

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2022, 03:03:13 pm »

Cool, that's nice to hear. I've seen what a proper scan can do. I had one image in a book of my work published by a top Spanish art and architecture publisher. I really, really wanted to use it and there was no way to ever take it again.

I couldn't find the negative anywhere and all I had was a damned 4 x 6. Finally I nearly had a stroke, it was with my wife's gorgeous, tiny, Canon Elph' and was in an APS-C canister. Gorgeous and tiny camera, but certainly not high quality. I took it to the local photo place, which since I lived in LA, was the Icon, one of the best labs in the world*, had them drum scan it and use it for a double spread. Is the resolution of the glass fantastic? No. Is the shot the opening to a chapter. Yes. Is it gorgeous. Yes.

I was going to pay my daughter do the scans this month so she'd have spending money in college, but she's going to tag the images with metadata in lightroom instead. A much less mindnumbing prospect!   

*On a related note, the quality floored the publisher of that same book... he was visiting LA and had three weeks worth of film that he taken in the desert to develop before he got on the plane... he thought I was insane when I told him I had a place that would turn all his large format and medium format film around in three hours, he then nearly had a stroke when at 3pm they told him the order would be ready at 7pm ... then when he saw someone from Hollywood come in with an absolutely massive tray full of literally thousands of dollars of film to develop, he realized this was a serious place. Ah, those were the days. But I'll also say that even my Leica Q2 (a pricey, modern day Canon Elph?) can blow away the best photos I could take with my Contax G2 back in the early 2000s. The resolution of the glass and grain of the film is finally defeated. 
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digitaldog

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2022, 03:08:48 pm »

Finally I nearly had a stroke, it was with my wife's gorgeous, tiny, Canon Elph' and was in an APS-C canister. Gorgeous and tiny camera, but certainly not high quality.
Better than my first digital camera: a Kodak DCS-100. The 'good old days'.
But this pup is still in the old digital camera archives, small enough to keep for a laugh:
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samogitian

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2022, 06:32:39 pm »

she had that one too. and no, no we never published any prints off of that one.
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samogitian

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2022, 12:44:01 am »

So I got it. No question it's the best way to go. I started using it this evening and I have processed over 580 photos with casual use. Initially I was bummed that so many photos were backwards, then I realized that if there was text on the back, it would be scanned in. Super cool! I'm getting 12 megapixel images, which obviously are a far cry from medium format, but also few of these are worth enlarging. I am doing a "From the archive" series on Instagram and posting on of these per day. I will examine the GFX100S vs. the V850 scanner for any images that I really want to keep. Some of my old polaroid land camera images are incredibly magical.   
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digitaldog

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Re: It's 2022! Should I scan old photographs with a scanner or my GFX100S?
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2022, 09:09:17 am »

Yup, you can optionally scan both sides.
Indeed, super fast and 12MP should be more than enough.

We used to make pretty nice 8x10 prints from that Kodak DCS-100 on a Kodak XL-7700 dye sub in the day; less than 2MP.

Glad the scanner is working out.
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