Newbie Question: Negative scanner for 35mm B&W?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Don Simon, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Hello all, sorry if this question has already been asked - I realise there is a similar question a few threads down but I have a feeling that's about 'professional' standard scanning. In any case I'm new to the forum, so please don't bite my head off :).

    I'm relatively new to photography, having done some basic darkroom work - i.e. developing and enlarging - at college, and am now looking to continue my interest in 35mm black and white photography. However I'd like to remove the darkroom from the equation (apart from the initial developing of the film of course) and was wondering how effective and affordable a negative scanner would be for black and white film. I should point out that I will probably never need prints larger than 12"x16", and most will probably be 8"x10" as I can then use my own printer.I have a maximum budget of around £200 (which would equate to about us$350 or 300 Euros) though obviously I would be happy to spend less. I have no experience or knowledge of negative scanners at all, so while I can probably get what I'm looking for on Ebay, I honestly have no idea what it is that I'm looking for... If you see what I mean...

    I would be grateful for any suggestions/fatherly guidance/needless abuse, and please ask any questions that would help clarify what I'm after. Thanks in advance :thumbup:
     
  2. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    Hi and welcome to TPF!

    We'll ignore the word "professional" immediately I think!!! :) It's been dealt a considerable bashing recently.

    I too work with 35mm and like to optimise in PS for printing and web display.

    I have a Nikon CoolScan V and quite honestly I think it's rubbish especially for B&W negatives and slides. It miscalculates terribly on most scans and produces very poor results in an unfeasibly long time.

    After about seven minutes of working on a loaded film segment it will produce a result which I consider unusable even at a piddling 600x400 resolution, let alone printable at a decent size. This could be due to the poor software with it, or possibly some other reason, but I have found that for £400 it's the worst bit of computer equipment I have ever bought! Turning the dust reduction and digital ICE on seems to make it take about 20 minutes per scan and then produce a purple image with no sharpness.

    There are dedicated film scanners on the market within your price bracket, and many get good reviews from magazines. However, my experience has been that mine is not as good as the lab quick scans to CD or even, shockingly, scanning a traditional wet print with an A4 type flat scanner.

    Others may have different experiences or standards, but there are a few things to bear in mind:

    They are very slow compared to lab equipment. You're looking at about ten minutes for each neg you scan, when you include finding it, loading it into the machine, getting it and saving it. Look at time as a factor in the performance of the device - the first time, you accidentally choose the wrong neg (10 mins), the second time you had the negative in upside-down (20 mins), the third time it lost the settings for dust & scratches reduction (30 minutes), the fourth time it worked (40 minutes)..... aargh and you've only got one done out of fifty! You get my point.

    The files generated are HUGE and manipulating them in PS requires both patience and lots of memory. There's every chance that the software for the scanner has a memory leak and crashed messily after a few hours of saving in and out of the swap file.

    Dust is a problem - they are electrical and they attract dust like a whatsit. Keep it wrapped up in static-free plastic when it's not in use, or you'll have a nightmare. Once dust gets into the body, you're looking at taking it to bits and cursing a lot as the last forty minutes of scanning a negative have been wasted. More aargh.

    At least if you get one from eBay, your chances of having an experience as bad as mine are probably slight and cheaper!!

    Others will no doubt indicate how they have had lovely success with neg scanners and how marvelous they are. I just got very cross!

    It's only one story from one person - wait for some other comments before making a judgement.

    Good luck!

    Rob
     
  3. ThatCameraThingy

    ThatCameraThingy TPF Noob!

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    My Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED works perfectly....... on colour and C41 B&W. there is no way I can get a good scan out of real B&W.

    For colour and slide work - go for it. B&W no way.


    Hanno
     
  4. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Hello again, thanks for the advice. I'm currently borrowing a Canon CanoScan 8400F (flatbed with adapter but seems to have mostly good reviews), and will see how that turns out; will post some (massively compressed) results here if possible. Just out of interest, is there a specific technical reason why such scanners don't handle black and white well? Just wondering since there may be some way to get around it. Thanks again!
     
  5. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I use Plustek's Optic Film 7200 dedicated film scanner. It will scan 35mm negatives and slides up to 7200 dpi. I found that scanning BW negatives at 3600 or 1800 to be sufficient for the type of enlargement you want to make. IMHO it's a well put together scanner, simple to operate and it's not as expensive as the 'big name' makers. I bought it last year from http://www.tigerdirect.com for just under $200 plus shipping.Good luck.
     
  6. Bob_McBob

    Bob_McBob TPF Noob!

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    Have you ever considered the possibility that something might be wrong with your scanner?
     
  7. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Well after getting nice scans from normal photos I decided to buy the CanoScan 8400F and a Canon IP4000 printer to go with it - partly to set me up for the next university year, and partly because my holiday plans fell apart so I found myself with a few hundred to spare. Today I finally got around to taking my toys out of their boxes and setting them up; the very first scan of colour negatives produced some nice results but I was slightly disappointed by the loss of clarity when the pics were enlarged to fill the (19") screen, although I hope to get better results by playing around with the settings, and also I'm not sure why I expected more from a £100 flatbed.In any case I hope to post some B&W negative scans up here soon (I know I said that before; at some point I'll actually do it).

    In the meantime I'm curious; after looking at the Gallerys on this site I'm wondering how people here manage to get their photos onto the PC when the photos are taken with any camera other than a digital one; if those with negative scanners are in the minority then presumably most of you just scan the print? Another thing I'm wondering is whether those of you with non-digital cameras develop your own film? With B&W I can understand many of you probably have your own darkroom (even if its only temporary) but how about colour? Many photos look far too good to have been printed by the local chemist or standard consumer photo shop. And does anyone have no access to a darkroom at all, and if so what do you do with your B&Ws?
    Sorry for all the questions, they all seemed to pop into my head at once :)

    The problem is that I myself have no access to a darkroom (for the next couple of months at least) and am wondering what to do about the black and white 35mm rolls I've been using up. Posting them off to a specialist lab seems the most obvious choice but I don't know the first thing about doing this. Any thoughts on any of the above questions would be very much appreciated. Thanks! :thumbup:
     
  8. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    I get the lab to scan them onto CD which costs me an extra £1 with standard 7x5 prints. If I'm going to be working for a print end result I sometimes get a pro lab to drum scan it at about £15-£30.

    If I'm just trying to get an image for the web and didn't get it scanned at the time of development, I scan the print which works surprisingly well.

    Oh and Bob, I'm on my second scanner - I took the first one back assuming that there was something wrong with it! It works OK for colour, but not for B&W. Presumably it's predominantly designed for colour or it's just a poor product.

    Rob
     
  9. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Ah right, thanks for that. I know you can have it scanned onto CD with colour at pretty much any chemist or high street photo shop; wasn't sure who would do the same with black and white. When you say £1 do you mean £1 per print? And is the lab a local one or do you mail your films off? Thanks again :)
     
  10. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    In the UK, snappy snaps are to my knowledge the only shop chain who can do both E6 and B&W in an "hour". It's an extra £1ish per CD where I go, so if you put in 3 films, they only charge me once for the scanning for all three i.e. total cost of £1. It's about £20 for the one hour service, and about £7.50 for 3 day service based on a 36 roll of 35mm B&W at 7x5 and on CD. It's much cheaper to have 6x4 and much cheaper still to have no prints, but 6x4 is not my favourite, so I pay the extra and I like the prints.

    Most pro labs will be do mail return dev & print and most offer CD services. Expect to pay quite a bit though for the whole thing quickly.

    Rob
     
  11. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Ah you've made my day there - I didn't know that ANY high street chains did B&W; thought I'd have to mail the films off to specialists :shock:. I'm very unlikely to need my B&Ws processed in an hour, I just want them done at decent quality (and preferably with Print sizes aren't too important to me since I'm much more likely to use the images on the CD as long as the scans are good. So yes, that makes me very happy indeed :) thanks!
     

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