scanning 35mm film @ medium format film : LUSENET : Black and White Photography: Digital Printing : One Thread

I've been using an Epson filmscan200 scanning in 35mm negs and slides and having some success but i am frustrated by the lack of depth/detail and the darkness in some areas from my scans, ie achieving an even exposure from well taken photos. I am very interested in finding out more about scanning negs from medium or large format film. I presume it yields better results, but how much better? Anyone with experience please let me know. Magazines are hell bent on reviewing those stupid digital cameras and don't have much good info on scanning film of any typye. Can anyone recommend good websites on the above issues. Many thanks DAMIAN

-- Damian Kelly (, June 11, 1999


For a good web site, try

The problem you're running into, though, is probably the scanner, not the source. I've seen excellent prints from 35mm scanned slides, but that was using a $70,000 US drum scanner. The Epson won't get the detail. The drawback to using medium format and 4x5 film is you'll need a much more expensive scanner than you will to get decent 35mm scans.

How large do you want to print your files. If you just want to go to 8x10, you may be able to afford the scanner you'll need. The Nikon Coolscan is capable of capturing enough data for 8x10 prints, but is limited to 35mm film. Larger prints, and larger formats, raise the scanner price dramatically.

The best option is to find a good service bureau to scan your film for you.

-- Darron Spohn (, June 11, 1999.

I have been researching flatbed scanners with separate beds for reflective media and negative/transparency in the price range between US $1,800 and $2,200. Typical specs in that price range are optical resolution up to 1000 x 2000, dynamic range 3.4, all 36 bit. The models I've been looking at are Agfa Duoscan and Duoscan T1200, Microtek ScanMaker 5, and UMAX PowerLook III. They all take transparencies and negatives from 35 mm up to 8x10 or reflective media up to 8" x 11". They cost the same as the dedicated film scanner Minolta Dimage Multi that works with up to medium format.

Does anyone have any experience with those flatbed scanners?

-- Gregory G. (, June 22, 1999.

I recently tried the new Polaroid 35mm film scanner with 4000 dpi resolution - it is really much better than our older scanners, (Polaroid LE) and flatbed scanners with slide attachments. The new Polaroid is maybe even better than the Nikon 2000, which is really good, too.

I've scanned 6x7cm and 4x5" negs with flatbed scanner, Mikrotek Scanmaker III - not bad, but a good 35mm scan is better.

-- Sakari Makela (, June 23, 1999.

This is a question, not an answer. Does the above mean that there is little point to shooting medium format if you want to go digital? I have always used 6x6 because of the quality difference over 35mm in conventional prints. Is this quality advantage less apparent with 'affordable' scanning machines (i.e. under $2,000)? How much would a service bureau charge for a drum scanned 6x6 negative?

-- Michael Heath (, June 25, 1999.

I have a Powerlook III, but haven't had a chance to use it yet. I have used a Powerlook II extensively, and found it OK for scanning 35mm films, except for black-and-white. The software that came with the scanner just didn't handle black-and-white well. Also, the 600x1200 resolution of the Powerlook II just wasn't good enough to capture much detail of a 35mm original. I made some excellent business-card size photos, but anything larger than 4x6 stsrted to show noise.

The Powerlook III has four times the resolution, so I expect much better performance. I'll use it for 6x6 and 6x7 originals, but do not expect it to be anything more than a proofing device so I can get an idea how my prints will look before committing to drum scans.

There is still a good reason to use medium format over 35mm. Even using a Tango drum scanner the best you'll get out of 35mm before it starts to show grain is 16x20 if you aren't too close to the photo. Medium format originals can enlarge to 24x30 without apparent ill effects. Your mileage, of course, may vary. The point is; size stills matters.

-- Darron Spohn (, July 16, 1999.

I've used a Nikon LS-2000 Color Coolscan to scan 35 mm slides with excellent results. I usually end up with a 7.5 megabite file that will print out in great detail with an Epson 740.

If you changed to medium format film then you would have to take your negatives/slides to a professional service for scanning, as there are no "cheap" scanners that I know of made for medium format. Stay with 35 mm.

-- David Cammack (97218@, October 10, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ