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film-scanners below approx. 500 euro
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 12:47 pm    Post subject: film-scanners below approx. 500 euro Reply with quote

A while ago, I started to shoot film again, and actually liking the process.

I'm wondering what are current good options for a negative film scanner? Mostly for B&W-film, although I will also shoot the occasional roll of colour film.

E.g. the Plustek OpticFilm 8200 seems a nice and compact unit, and affordable.

The Reflecta X120 has the advantage of also allowing MF-rollfilm, but reviews suggest the scanning quality is somehow sub-par for MF-roll.

What models would you recommend?

Size is a consideration. Therefore preferably not a flatbed-scanner, or a setup with a camera-stand, macro-lens etc. A dedicated film-scanner is easier to stow away when not in use. Price is also a consideration; a lab-worthy scanner of several thousands of euro's is simply not an option.


PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no experience with this, but as my mother is at an advanced age now,
I have some interest in this also. She has many negatives and slides
that my brother and I might like to digitally convert, and print.

A quick Google search for "negative film scanner" turned up a very interesting
and informative buyers' guide article from B&H of a "Film Scanners Buying Guide."
Plenty of useful information with product suggestions linked; it seems a fairly
good approach to the subject, from beginner to expert levels.

Unfortunately, the article points to a few outdated/discontinued products. Embarassed


PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nikon and Minolta used to built very good and nice film scanners long time ago. I still have and use my Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 for 135 film. Luckily software like VueScan and SilverFast still supports all these scanners on present day systems and software as well. To look for a second hand one maybe an option.
I also have the Epson Perfection V600 Photo flatbed scanner for bigger medium format film. I don't use it for 135 film.
There is not really much left nowadays. I think Reflecta and Plustek are the only ones that still produce such dedicated scanners other than the Epson and Canon flatbed ones.
Anyway, you have to be aware that such a project is rather cumbersome and time consuming if the result should be nice.

Here is a example of an old 135 slide from my Minolta scanner:



This is a medium format (645) film negative scan from the Epson:



PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I were you I wouldn't be so quick to reject using a digital camera with a macro lens setup. A flash is also a good thing to have because that way you're not dependent on ambient light. A flash that has fractional output settings works best. I shoot my duplicates using either 1/8 or 1/16 power.

One reason why I suggest using a digital camera and a macro lens rig is because it is repurposing existing gear for new applications. In other words, it isn't taking up any more of your precious space. And yet, if you have a digital camera with at least 24 mp, you can shoot duplicates that are actually at higher resolutions than the much vaunted Nikon Coolscans can provide. Images of 4000 x 6000 pixels are possible with a 24 mp sensor.

A few of my dupes:




PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tb_a wrote:
Nikon and Minolta used to built very good and nice film scanners long time ago. I still have and use my Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 for 135 film. Luckily software like VueScan and SilverFast still supports all these scanners on present day systems and software as well. To look for a second hand one maybe an option.
Thanks, older Nikon scanners are still readily available and look pretty solid.

SkedAddled wrote:

A quick Google search for "negative film scanner" turned up a very interesting
and informative buyers' guide article from B&H of a "Film Scanners Buying Guide."
Unfortunately, the article points to a few outdated/discontinued products. Embarassed
It's a good read nonetheless Smile

cooltouch wrote:
If I were you I wouldn't be so quick to reject using a digital camera with a macro lens setup. A flash is also a good thing to have because that way you're not dependent on ambient light. A flash that has fractional output settings works best. I shoot my duplicates using either 1/8 or 1/16 power.
Your examples look great!

I think I should have been more specific. My objections against a rig with camera are not at all related to concerns re. image quality, but more to the room (I think) such a setup requires. I live in a pretty small apartment, and I don't have room for keeping a rig in place. That's why I was thinking in the direction of a more compact, and easier to store, film scanner. I'd shoot a roll once or twice a month, so ease of use and compactness of setup is an important concern.

But possibly I have a wrong idea on the size of the setup, and the ease/difficulty of disassembly/re-assembly/calibration?


PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
If I were you I wouldn't be so quick to reject using a digital camera with a macro lens setup. A flash is also a good thing to have because that way you're not dependent on ambient light. A flash that has fractional output settings works best. I shoot my duplicates using either 1/8 or 1/16 power.

One reason why I suggest using a digital camera and a macro lens rig is because it is repurposing existing gear for new applications. In other words, it isn't taking up any more of your precious space. And yet, if you have a digital camera with at least 24 mp, you can shoot duplicates that are actually at higher resolutions than the much vaunted Nikon Coolscans can provide. Images of 4000 x 6000 pixels are possible with a 24 mp sensor.

A few of my dupes:




Could you suggest an appropriate focal length for a macro lens to be used on i) an APS-C DSLR ii) a full frame DSLR?


PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
If I were you I wouldn't be so quick to reject using a digital camera with a macro lens setup. A flash is also a good thing to have because that way you're not dependent on ambient light. A flash that has fractional output settings works best. I shoot my duplicates using either 1/8 or 1/16 power.

One reason why I suggest using a digital camera and a macro lens rig is because it is repurposing existing gear for new applications. In other words, it isn't taking up any more of your precious space. And yet, if you have a digital camera with at least 24 mp, you can shoot duplicates that are actually at higher resolutions than the much vaunted Nikon Coolscans can provide. Images of 4000 x 6000 pixels are possible with a 24 mp sensor.

A few of my dupes:




Could you suggest an appropriate focal length for a macro lens to be used on i) an APS-C DSLR ii) a full frame DSLR?


PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
If I were you I wouldn't be so quick to reject using a digital camera with a macro lens setup. A flash is also a good thing to have because that way you're not dependent on ambient light. A flash that has fractional output settings works best. I shoot my duplicates using either 1/8 or 1/16 power.

One reason why I suggest using a digital camera and a macro lens rig is because it is repurposing existing gear for new applications. In other words, it isn't taking up any more of your precious space. And yet, if you have a digital camera with at least 24 mp, you can shoot duplicates that are actually at higher resolutions than the much vaunted Nikon Coolscans can provide. Images of 4000 x 6000 pixels are possible with a 24 mp sensor.

A few of my dupes:




Could you suggest an appropriate focal length for a macro lens to be used on i) an APS-C DSLR ii) a full frame DSLR?


PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sjak wrote:
tb_a wrote:
Nikon and Minolta used to built very good and nice film scanners long time ago. I still have and use my Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 for 135 film. Luckily software like VueScan and SilverFast still supports all these scanners on present day systems and software as well. To look for a second hand one maybe an option.
Thanks, older Nikon scanners are still readily available and look pretty solid.

SkedAddled wrote:

A quick Google search for "negative film scanner" turned up a very interesting
and informative buyers' guide article from B&H of a "Film Scanners Buying Guide."
Unfortunately, the article points to a few outdated/discontinued products. Embarassed
It's a good read nonetheless Smile

cooltouch wrote:
If I were you I wouldn't be so quick to reject using a digital camera with a macro lens setup. A flash is also a good thing to have because that way you're not dependent on ambient light. A flash that has fractional output settings works best. I shoot my duplicates using either 1/8 or 1/16 power.
Your examples look great!

I think I should have been more specific. My objections against a rig with camera are not at all related to concerns re. image quality, but more to the room (I think) such a setup requires. I live in a pretty small apartment, and I don't have room for keeping a rig in place. That's why I was thinking in the direction of a more compact, and easier to store, film scanner. I'd shoot a roll once or twice a month, so ease of use and compactness of setup is an important concern.

But possibly I have a wrong idea on the size of the setup, and the ease/difficulty of disassembly/re-assembly/calibration?


The key word in Michael's post is re-purpose. You probably already have everything to assemble digicam scanner, thus no more room is required. As easy to setup & use as making a regular macro photo. Easy enough for quick try it you'll like it.


PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, visualopsins, that's exactly what I was getting at, since space is at a premium for Sjack.

Sjack, the size and complexity of a good dupe rig depends on whether you have an APS-C or full-frame camera. The goal is to come up with a dupe rig that will produce 1:1 copies of slides or negatives. The process is easy if you have a full frame camera. But if you have an APS-C camera, things can get complicated. Unfortunately I haven't found an easy way to produce an excellent quality dupe rig for APS-C systems that doesn't involve the use of various adapters and spacers. I ended up having to cobble together a rather complicated setup to produce 1:1 images with my APS-C cameras, whereas with a full frame camera, all you need is a bellows with macro lens and a slide/film strip copy adapter. Here are a couple photos of the rigs I've used, the first for Canon APS-C, which is 1.6x and the second for my Sony NEX, which is 1.5x (Nikon too -- others?)

The heart of my dupe rig is a Nikon 55mm macro lens. I've used both f/3.5 and f/2.8 lenses -- they both work great. The Nikon 55mm macro is one of the sharpest lenses in existence, so it works very well for duplicating slides and negatives. To mount the slide to the lens, what I did was to take an Opteka "digital" slide duplicator, that is intended to be attached directly to the front of a lens and which has an internal correction element, as well as a slide holder, and removed everything from the tube so that it is just a tube with a flange on the front end. I bought an old zoom slide duplicator on eBay for about $8 and removed the spring-loaded slide holder from this old duplicator. This slide holder slides onto the stripped dupe tube and is held in place by its spring clips. I also found a roll-film stage on eBay that I can use for uncut slides and negative strips. This stage also has spring clips that will hold it in place. I have seen some of these digital duplicators that have film strip adapters so this may not be necessary if you choose to follow this method.

Here is just the Canon rig. About 25mm of extension are stacked behind the Nikon 55mm f/3.5 macro. Macro is attached directly to the stripped dupe tube, slide holder attached to the front flange of the stripped dupe tube. Not visible is the Nikon to EOS adapter I was using.


Sony NEX rig, where everything is indicated. As you can see, the slight difference in magnification resulted in a more complex setup to achieve 1:1. Nikon accessories used here are a K5 ring, a BR2 and BR3 ring, and a TC-14b teleconverter.


EDIT: I just thought of something else I should explain about the above rig. Even though I show it mounted to a tripod, I did this just for the photo of the setup. I don't use it this way. I hold the camera/macro combination and I will move it toward or away from the flash to adjust exposure. Generally I hold it about 12" away from the flash, at 1/16 power. Sometimes I'll "bracket" my shots by moving the setup to make sure that I've got one at the best exposure for that duplicate. This is also a good way of bringing out detail in under-exposed slides. I've rescued a number of under-exposed slides doing this. I've even created HDR files by moving the setup from very close to the flash to far away enough such that the image was almost dark. This has been an effective way of achieving a good balance by bringing out shadow detail with a number of slides I've duped.

I trip the flash using a PC sync cable with adapter for the hot shoe of my camera (not shown). I've also used the camera's on-board flash to trip a remote sensor (slave) module that the flash will be attached to, but I don't like doing this as much because the module I have is not all that reliable. Sometimes it works right and sometimes it gets finicky, whereas the PC sync cable always works, even though it makes things somewhat more cluttered.

The easiest way to go -- full frame camera with bellows and a macro lens:


Actually, if you're a Nikon user the above isn't the easiest way to go. Nikon makes an ES-1 and ES-2 slide dupllicators that, when used in conjunction with the 60mm f/2.8 macro, everything is simplified greatly.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much Michael! This is really helpful, especially with pictures to visualize the concept.

This looks much more compact than what I had in mind for such a setup.

Unfortunately, my only FF camera (the Monochrom) is unsuitable for this type of work since there's no TTL-view and no live-view (I'm considering another FF-camera next year, but undecided which exactly; possibly the new L-mount Sigma or a Pentax K-1.)

My Fuji X-T1 should be able to handle this without problems, and I have a few SB24's (such a great flash!). I also have a few macro-lenses that are up to the task (Leica Macro-Elmarit-R 60mm, Super Takumar 50mm f/4 1:1 macro, Volna-9, and a few yet untested enlarger lenses)

Besides, a sturdy tripod and the various adapters, film-holder etc. also enter the cost equation.

The film scanners are in the range of 200-400 euro, are pretty compact but also lack the possibility to scan 6*6 & 6*9.

Yesterday I discovered my local photostore also offers a scanning service, which is convenient, but of course it's much more fun to be more involved in the process myself. At least, this takes away some urgency in the decision-making.

Thanks again, it's good to have more options to consider!


PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK< small update, the scan at the photostore is certainly motivating to look for options at home. They deliver 1818*1228 JPGs.

Example: http://forum.mflenses.com/bridge-with-fed-2-t80120.html


PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those resolution numbers are sufficient for snapshot photos, and that's about it.

Also to follow up on your comment about film scanners not being able to handle medium format, well, that's where the flatbeds come in handy. A good flatbed scanner will do a good job with medium format images because they don't need as high of a resolution as 35mm because the film size is so much larger. I typically scan my medium format images at 2500 ppi and I've always been happy with the results. Of course, the problem with a large scanner encroaching upon your space will become a factor, however.

If you have access to a light box, that's a way for you to use your digital camera to shoot dupes of your medium format images.


PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much Michael! Your input is of great value for me.

I will postpone any substantial investment until I have done a few rolls of 120-film (2 Moskva's are on their way to me)
A flatbed-scanner is an option if I clear one of my shelves of books (so the scanner gets a permanent place) but it is nonetheless not my preferred solution.
On the other hand, a DIY-lightbox might be a very viable solution. Worth investigating Smile


PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael, meanwhile I ordered a duplicator tube. I wasn't exactly sure which one. So I picked a cheap one with a range of filmholders included, so even if the duplicator is crap, it's still not a total waste of money Laughing


PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sjak, that's what I did. bought a duplicator tube for its slide holder. I didn't care about the tube at all. So if you're getting a range of film holders with it, that's a super deal in my book.