35mm Film Scanner Roundup

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If you began your love affair with photography back in the days of film, raise your hand. OK. Now raise your hand if you still have a darkroom in which you still print your slides and negatives. I thought so.*

*For those reading this at home you’ll have to take my word… not too many hands went up for the second request.

If you’ve long since decommissioned your darkroom, a box of doughnuts says you’re sitting on a trove of wonderful imagery that few people—including yourself—are likely to see anytime soon outside of its sleeved binders. The good news is that your currently moribund archives can be easily digitized and returned to active duty through the use of film scanners, which depending on your particular needs and budgetary restraints, are available for as little as $54.99 or as much as $24,995.00.

Regardless of their respective price tags, most scanners work on the same principle. A slide or negative is held flat in a frame, illuminated by a calibrated light source (usually an array of LEDs or a cold cathode lamp), and is recorded as an electronic file after passing through, by or around an optical system and a scanning sensor. The specifics vary by brand and model and the results of your efforts are greatly determined by the level of sophistication of the scanner and its optical system, and equally important, the abilities of the scanning software.

It’s worth noting there are many flatbed and all-in-one scanners that tout film-scanning abilities, but the truth of the matter is only the pricier and far more sophisticated models can do justice to 35mm slides and negatives. In a pinch, these inexpensive desktop wonders will suffice, but in terms of sharpness, dynamic range (how much detail exists between the brightest highlights and darkest shadows) and Dmax (the depth of shadow detail) most, if not all, of these entry level do-it-alls are best reserved for less critical web-related chores.

There are a number of flatbed scanners that are, in fact, capable of producing truly print-quality scans from 35mm slides and negatives, but only the priciest of them are capable of capturing anywhere near the detail and tonality of non-flatbed scanners that are strictly dedicated to scanning film.

Hardware and software aside, some of the attributes that determine the imaging abilities of film scanners (and correspondingly their price tags) include bit-depth: 8-bit (256 colors per channel), 12-bit (4,096 colors per channel), or 16-bit (65,536 colors per channel); Dmax, or the amount of shadow detail the scanner can record; and the number of file format choices—JPEG (OK), TIFF (better) or RAW (best).

The key to producing scans that are faithful to the color and tonality of the original slide or negative rests largely on the number of film-type profiles in the software database. In the simpler range your choice might be restricted to bare-bones generics as simple as “Slide” and “Negative,” which invariably require a bit of tweaking in Photoshop or other photo-editing software before they’re suitable for posting or printing. The more sophisticated scanner software applications contain profiles specific to the looks of many popular film types, which offers more accurate color rendition and invariably cuts down on post-production tinkering.

Many film scanners—even some of the least expensive models—also offer a form of dust reduction, which as anyone who has printed from slides or negatives can tell you, can be a major chore to do manually with a brush, electronic or otherwise.

Even if your scanner has a dust-reduction system in place, cleaning your slides and negatives should be standard protocol. Most dust particles can be removed easily using a camel-hair brush or a baster style air blaster. More stubborn particles and smudges can be removed using film cleaner (or denatured alcohol) and a cotton swab (cotton only!!!).

Canned air can also be used for removing dust from the surface of your negatives and slides, but from a distance of at least one foot from the image surface, in order to avoid denting it.

As with most things in life, the higher your expectations, the higher the price, and scanners are no exception. But if all you need is a scanner that will enable you to share images of the good old days with others online and the occasional small framed print for the living room mantle, there are a number of reasonably priced options.

In addition to the scanning software that comes with your scanner, you also have the option of using third-party scanner software applications designed to work with most popular film scanners, many of which are extremely capable in their own right and in some cases, better than the software that came with the scanner.  

Entry-Level Film Scanners (Under $100)

For basic analog-to-digital conversions there are a number of small desktop scanners that can turn your slides and negatives into JPEG or TIFF files that are more than suitable for online sharing and photo-quality prints from 4 x 6" to 8 x 10", depending on the resolving power of the scanner. In addition to film scanning, several models can also convert 4 x 6-inch prints into digital files, which can be a godsend if the negative has long gone AWOL or you never had one to begin with.

Without exception, all of the following entry level film scanners are about the size of the proverbial breadbox and take up little room on your desk or workbench.

Pacific Image Memor-Ease Plus Scanner     

The Pacific Image Memor-ease Plus is the least expensive of the scanners in this roundup. Designed to scan 35mm negatives and mounted 35mm slides, Pacific Image’s  Memor-ease Plus (Mac and PC) can convert 35mm images into 1800 dpi digital files with little more than the press of a button, complete with automatic dust and scratch removal. The 5MP Memor-ease Plus contains no built-in memory or image preview screen and outputs all scans to your computer via a USB 2.0 cable for viewing, editing and storage.

Included with the scanner is a Quick Installation Guide, a Cyberview CS scanner driver CD, media holders for four mounted slides and a separate holder for a strip of six uncut negatives (or slides) and a USB 2.0 cable.

Wolverine SNaP 35mm Slides, Negatives and Photos to Digital Image Converter

The "SNaP" part of the Wolverine SNaP 35mm Slides, Negatives and Photos to Digital Image Converter’s name stands for slides, negatives and photos (as in prints), which is exactly what the Wolverine SNaP scans. Designed to convert mounted slides, cut filmstrips and prints (3 x 5", 4 x 6" and 5 x 7") into 10MB (interpolated) JPEG image files, the Wolverine SNaP is a stand-alone film scanner, and as such does not require a computer or software in order to convert your analog film and print originals into electronic image files.

Powered by your choice of AC or USB via your computer, the Wolverine SNaP features scan speeds under 5 seconds and can store your image files on the scanner’s 16MB of internal memory (up to ten scans) or on SD/SDHC memory cards using the SNaP’s built-in card slot.

VuPoint FC-C520-VP Scanner  

A bit more advanced is the VuPoint FC-C520-VP, which features a 5MP imaging sensor and a 2.4-inch LCD for viewing your scans as they’re made. Designed for converting 35mm slides and negs into color or monochrome image files without the use of a computer, the VuPoint FC-C520-VP contains 32MB of internal memory and gives you the option of outputting your newly scanned files to SD/SDHC memory cards (up to 16GB). Other features found on the VuPoint FC-C520-VP (Mac and PC compatible) include automatic color balance and exposure control and the ability to display your scanned images on a TV or computer using the included cables.

Included with the VuPoint FC-C520-VP film scanner are a user’s manual, an AC adapter with USB cable, a video cable, an ArcSoft Photo Impression software CD (PC compatible only), film and slide holders and a brush for cleaning your slides and negatives before scanning them.

Wolverine 8 Mega Pixels Film to Digital Converter

Able to create 8MP scans from slides and negatives with the press of a button, not to mention without a computer or software, is the Wolverine 8 Mega Pixels Film to Digital Converter (Mac and PC). Powered by AC or via your computer’s USB port, the Wolverine 8 Mega Pixels film scanner takes less than 3 seconds to convert 35mm film to digital image files. Once scanned, images can be saved to the scanner’s internal memory or SD/SDHC memory cards.

For viewing the action, the scanner features a 2.4-inch color LCD. Included with the Wolverine 8 Mega Pixels Film to Digital Converter are holders for mounted slides and negative strips, a USB cable, an AC adapter, a cleaning stick and an operator’s manual.

Pacific Image ImageBox Scanner               

Designed along the same lines (and with similar specs) as the Pacific Image Memor-ease Plus is the Pacific Image ImageBox. The big difference between the two is that the ImageBox also scans 4 x 6-inch prints, which adds a great measure of value in terms of bringing new life to your analog memories. 

Like the Memor-ease Plus, the Pacific Image ImageBox (Mac and PC compatible) has separate holders for mounted slides and strips of negatives, but in this case, there’s also a slot on the rear top deck into which you can slip a 4 x 6-inch print. The scanner automatically recognizes the change from film to print and makes all further media adjustments automatically. Exposure and white balance controls are also handled automatically. All you have to do is press the button and sit back.

Included with Pacific Image’s ImageBox are a quick Installation Guide, a USB 2.0 cable, a scanner driver CD, a Cyberview CS software CD, a mounted slide holder, a negative holder and a 4 x 6-inch print holder.

Ion Slides 2 PC mkIII Slide and Film Scanner

Equally easy to set up and use is the plug-and-play Ion Slides 2 PC mkIII (Mac and PC), which like many scanners in this class, features a 5MP CMOS scanning sensor, a fixed-focus lens, automatic exposure and white balance control and one-touch functionality. The Ion Slides 2 PC mkIII scanner is powered via USB from your computer.

In addition to a filmstrip holder and a mounted slide holder, the Ion Slides 2 PC mkIII, which does not require drivers, also comes with a Rapid Slide holder that allows you to stack a roll’s worth of slides for “in-goes-the-new-slide-out-goes-the-old-slide” feeding through the scanner.

Included with each Ion Slides 2 PC mkIII scanner are holders for mounted slides, a negative roll feeder and a slide-stacking tray, a USB cable, a film cleaning brush, a quick-start guide and a software CD.

Midrange Film Scanners ($100 to $999)

When you get into the category of midrange scanners, the resolving power starts to exceed the Web-optimized status of the simpler entry level film scanners. In addition to one-touch auto control, several of these film scanners also allow you to control exposure and white balance settings and other advanced exposure features manually. The optical and operating systems of these midrange scanners are also more advanced than the entry level models, and several of these scanners can be used as a component of your computer system or as computer and software free stand-alone devices.

Depending on the make and model, many of the following midrange film scanners can produce digital image files containing enough resolving power to produce photo-quality prints well beyond the threshold of 8 x 10-inch prints. And all of them pack more resolution than you’ll ever need for Internet applications.

Wolverine 14MP 35mm Slides and Negatives to Digital Image Converter

The Wolverine 14MP 35mm Slides and Negatives to Digital Image Converter (Mac and PC compatible) features 14MP of resolving power and under-three-second scanning times while retaining the plug-and-play ease of an entry level film scanner. Powered by a choice of AC or USB, courtesy of your computer, this scanner features a 2.4-inch color LCD for previewing your imagery and the ability to override the auto settings in order to control the brightness levels of the image being scanned.

Other features found on this scanner include a video out to TV connection (cable not included) and the ability to save scanned image files to the scanner’s internal memory of external SD/SDHC memory cards. Included with each Wolverine 14MP 35mm Slide and Negatives to Digital Image Converter are slide and negative holders, a USB power cable, an AC adapter (110V-220V), a film-cleaning stick and a manual.

Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Standalone Scanner   

Pacific Image’s ImageBox 9MP Standalone Film Scanner features 9-megapixel resolution for a maximum of 2400 dpi when scanning 35mm slides and negatives and 560 dpi when converting 4 x 6-inch prints into digital image files. As its name implies, the Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Standalone film scanner is a stand-alone device and does not require a PC. Images can be previewed and cropped using the scanner’s 2.7” color TFT LCD. Once scanned, image files can be saved onto SD/SDHC memory cards (up to 32GB).

Other features found on the Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Standalone Film Scanner include a flip-top lid for easy placement of scan-ready prints and Magic Touch dust and scratch removal technology for clean image files.

Included with each Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Standalone film scanner are negative and slide holders, a USB cable, a 5V, 1A DC adapter and a user manual.

Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250u Scanner

Pacific Image’s PrimeFilm 7250u 35mm negative and slide film scanner is designed to scan negatives and slides one at a time (16-bit A/D for 16-to-8-bit output) at up to a resolution of 7200 x 3600 dpi with a Dmax of up to 3.2. To minimize post production clean-up time, the PrimeFilm 7250u utilizes Kodak's Austin Development Center (KADC) Digital ICE for eliminating dust and scratches and optimizing color rendition and grain structure.

In addition to a copy of Adobe’s Photoshop Elements, the Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250u comes with CyberView X scanning software, which contains tools for optimizing the color, contrast and tonal parameters of the images being scanned for accurate, natural image reproduction. Also included with the PrimeFilm 7250u are copies of DigitalROC and DigitalGEM, which together allow you to tweak the elements of your originals to “like new,” or in some cases, better-than-new condition.

Plustek OpticFilm 7400 Scanner  

The Plustek OpticFilm 7400 and its enhanced twins, the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i SE and Plustek OpticFilm 7600i Ai each offer a large measure of bang for your scanning bucks. The Plustek OpticFilm 7400 (PC and Mac), which according to the manufacturer is geared toward the amateur sector of the photography market, is capable of scanning 35mm slides and negatives at 3600 dpi for outputting high-quality prints in excess of 16 x 20" at 300 dpi. Not too shabby for an “amateur” film scanner.

Along with resolution, the Plustek OpticFilm 7400 offers Dmax densities of up to 3.6, which approximates the dynamic range of many popular films. For greater detail you can take advantage of SilverFast Multi-Exposure software that enables multiple passes of the film being scanned (think HDR), making it possible to expand the dynamic range even more.

For accurate color and tonal renditions the Plustek OpticFilm 7400 features built-in ICC profiles for positive and negative films, and to better ensure blemish-free image files, the OpticFilm 7400 also contains advanced electronic dust-removal technologies.

In addition to SilverFast scanning software, which has long been known as one of the best scanning applications on the market, the Plustek OpticFilm 7400 comes with Plustek QuickScan, SilverFast SEPlus, NewSoft Presto! PageManager and NewSoft Presto! ImageFolio.

Included with the Plustek OpticFilm 7400 are a padded carry/storage bag, negative and positive film holders, a Plustek Setup/Application CD-ROM, a SilverFast CD-ROM, a Quick Guide, a USB cable, and an AC power adapter.

Plustek OpticFilm 7600i SE Scanner  

The Plustek OpticFilm 7600i SE, which is geared toward serious photo enthusiasts and professionals, has all of the features found in the Plustek OpticFilm 7400 but with the addition of a built in, hardware-based infrared imaging channel that works in conjunction of the included SilverFast iSRD software to detect and eliminate scratches and dust particles embedded in or sitting on the film surfaces.

Plustek OpticFilm 7600i Ai Scanner  

Plustek’s OpticFilm 7600i Ai, which is Plustek’s full-blown professional 35mm film scanner, has all of the features of both the Plustek OpticFilm 7400 and Plustek OpticFilm 7600i SE but also includes an IT8 Calibration Target for creating custom ICC profiles based on the specific imaging characteristics of the scanner. In addition to the iSRD software, the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i Ai also includes SilverFast Ai Studio in place of SilverFast SEPlus; this upgraded software allows for greater image control and highly adjustable parameters to meet your needs.

The OpticFilm 7600i Ai can also be configured to scan slides and negatives for CMYK soft proofing, which for graphic designers and photographers preparing artwork for offset printing, is a desirable scanning option.

Both the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i SE and Plustek OpticFilm 7600i Ai come with a padded carry/storage bag, negative and positive film holders, a Plustek Setup/Application CD-ROM, a SilverFast CD-ROM, a Quick Guide, a USB cable and an AC power adapter.

Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 Scanner

Another notable midrange film scanner is the Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3, which like the above-mentioned Plustek scanners, can output scans at 7200 dpi resolution at 16-bits per channel (total output 48-bits) with a dynamic range of up to 3.6.

In addition to scanning individually-mounted slides and negative strips, the Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 can also batch-scan roll films and filmstrips, which can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to babysit the scanner when converting large numbers of originals into digital files.

Pacific Image’s PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 is bundled with CyberView X scanning software, which enables you to custom-adjust the color, contrast, white balance, curves, levels and other tonal parameters of your slides and negatives for optimized image files.

For managing dust and scratch-related issues, the PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 is bundled with a copy of KADC’s Digital ICE, a well-known dust and scratch-removal application that neutralizes blemishes while maintaining the overall sharpness levels of the film original. Other image enhancing software applications included with the Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 are Digital ROC, for restoring color to faded prints, Digital GEM, for managing grain and reducing noise levels, and a copy of Photoshop Elements.

Professional Film Scanners ($1,000 to $24,995)

The following film scanners represent the best film-scanning devices available today, and as such, the key guiding factors in determining which scanner is best for your needs should include the number of film formats you plan on scanning (35mm, medium format, 4 x 5", etc), the degree of control you wish to have when tweaking the details of your scanning efforts, and of course, your budget.

Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 Scanner

The Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 Scanner makes easy work of scanning 35mm slides and negatives individually or batch-scanned in groups of up to 50 mounted slides. With a top optical resolution of up to 5000 dpi, 48-bit data conversion, and a Dmax rating of up to 3.8, the Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 is well worth considering for producing high-fidelity scans on a moderate budget.

The Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 contains a 2MB buffer and utilizes a combination white and infrared LED array for backlighting your film. The images are recorded by a linear-array CCD. Connectivity is via USB 2.0 cable to your computer. Though the Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 lacks a built-in LCD for viewing your scans, it does feature a convenient Quick Slide Viewer that enables you to inspect your film original before scanning it.

For post scan image editing, the Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 comes bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements along with Magic Touch dust- and scratch-removal software, cleaning your film during the scanning process.

Pacific Image PrimeFilm120 Scanner

Pacific Image’s PrimeFilm 120 Scanner has many of the same high-performance features found on the Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 Scanner, but in addition to 35mm slides and negatives, the Pacific Image PrimeFilm120 can also convert medium format (6 x 4.5, 6 x 6, 6 x 7, 6 x 9 and 6 x 12 cm) slides and negatives into high quality digital image files.

Featuring 48-bit A/D conversion (16-bits per channel), a 3-line CCD array, a Dmax of 3.6 and up to 3200 dpi optical resolution, the Pacific Image PrimeFilm120 can help you convert all of your 35mm and medium format slides and negatives for active duty in the Twenty-First Century.

To eliminate, or at the very least minimize the amount of time you spend retouching scratches and dust marks, the Pacific Image PrimeFilm 120 Scanner is bundled with Magic Touch dust- and scratch-removal technology, which addresses the problem during the scanning process.

Included with Pacific Image’s PrimeFilm 120 film scanner are copies of CyberView X and Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0, a printed user manual, a USB 2.0 cable, an AC adapter, a scanner driver CD and media holders for four framed slides up to 3.2 mm thick, a 35mm film holder for film strips with
up to 6 frames and a medium format film holder for 1-2 frames (6 x 4.5 cm), 1-2 frames (6 x 6 cm), 1 frame (6 x 7, 6 x 9, 6 x 12 cm).

Hasselblad Flextight X1

Like Hasselblad cameras, Hasselblad Flextight scanners are as good as it gets. Hasselblad’s Flextight X1 is designed to convert 35mm, medium format and 4 x 5-inch negatives and transparencies into the highest-definition digital image files you’re ever likely to see. In terms of resolving power, the Flextight X1 can scan 35mm film as high as 6300 dpi, medium-format film up to 3200 dpi, and 4 x 5-inch film at 2040 dpi, and all three formats with a Dmax rating of up to a truly impressive 4.6. In addition to single scans, the Flextight X1can also be programmed to batch scan up to 6 frames automatically, leaving you time to address more pressing issues.

For maximum bang for your buck, films can be scanned and saved in Hasselblad’s unique 3F file format, which automatically scans the image at a predetermined resolution at 16-bits per-channel while embedding all exposure and scan settings within the file’s metadata for easily repeatable output results.

Compatible with PC and Mac, the Hasselblad Flextight X1 contains three CCD optical sensors (3 x 8000) that squeeze 16-bits worth of data from your film originals, which is transferred to your computer via FireWire connectivity at speeds up to 60MB per minute. Although the Flextight X1 allows for advanced control of all scanning functions, you also have the option of going the 3F Auto Scan route, which enables scanning your film originals with one-touch simplicity.

In a bid to keep dust marks from mucking up your workflow, Hasselblad’s Flextight X1 utilizes the efforts of the scanner’s Flextouch dust-removal technologies.

Hasselblad Flextight X5

The Hasselblad Flextight X5 contains all of the top-shelf features found on the Flextight X1, but with the added advantages of quicker data-transfer speeds (up to 300MB per second), a Peltier cooling device to divert excess heat levels that can affect image quality if left unchecked, and a light condenser that works in concert with the scanner’s software-based dust removal technologies to better ensure blemish-free image files. The Flextight X5 also offers dual batch-scanning options, compared to the single option offered on the Flextight X1.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of options regardless of your budget, technical needs or both. Budgetary issues aside, you should first determine your ultimate goal. If it’s simply a matter of creating digital picture files of negatives, slides and possibly prints solely for viewing and sharing online, there are a number of options available in the two to three hundred dollar range, including a few for under one hundred.

If however, your goal is to create digital image files capable of producing sharp high-definition prints with rich detail in the shadows, highlights and all of the subtle tonal gradations between, you should strongly consider the best scanner you can afford. The payoff will be the satisfaction you get from watching high-quality prints of images, taken in another time and place, take on new lives.

Click thumbnails for specs and comparison

Add new comment

why no reference to Canoscan series or the Epsons?

I have been using an Epson perfection V500 flat bed scanner to digitize 6x4.5 and 6x7 slides and negatives. It comes with digital Ice to minimize dust and scratches as well as photo shop elements. I have obtained excellent results up to 13 x 19 with this set up and the scanner plus software is less than $200.

I’ve had the Ion PICS 2 SD for a couple of months already and I just love the output. It’s so easy to set up and it being USB powered is simply a great asset. I greatly agree that it is one of the top slide scanners for the year. But I hear that if you want to go advance the pacific products are must haves.

I boght the Wolverine 14MP slide scanner. I am disapointed that it only outputs in JPEG format, resulting in 14MP scans being reduced to 1.6MB files that seriously degrade the original image. Are any of your mid-range slide scanners capable of ourput on RAW or equivelint formats? The tabular data is great, but three out of five did not provide that inforamtion. I need that info to make an upgrade decison.

Thaks for your help.

Hello,

The better quality scanners include software that will allow you to save your images as TIF's or uncompressed files. RAW is unprocessed data which is later processed into a standard image file format. LaserSoft SilverFast Ai Studio Software takes the data from the scanner and allows you to make minor adjustments and save the image as you wish,much the same as camera RAW software does.

The Plustek OpticFilm 7600i Ai Scanner has a 7200dpi sensor and produces a 7200dpi file natively. It also has a lower resolution mode -- 3600dpi -- in which only half of the pixel sites are used. So the hardware resolution is user-selectable between 3600 and 7200dpi. Scanning at a resolution lower than 3600dpi will still result in scanning at 3600dpi, and then the software interpolates the resolution down. The scanner's light source comes from a white LED which makes images vivid and dimensional.

Sorry to be dense but I am a little confused by the specs. I have 35mm slides, 35mm negs, plus old negs of odd sizes (like 2 x 3) AND 4 x 5 transparencies. Looks like all the units handle 35mm, but the other formats only refer to prints. Any units here that will handle the 2 x 3 (and maybe larger) negs, and the 4 x 5 trans? Thanks. Useful reviews overall.

Hello,

Film scanners take standard film sizes which may not include your "2 x 3 (and maybe larger) negs" and definitely not your 4x5. With a 4.0 Dmax, the Epson V700 offers exceptional image quality, excellent shadow area detail, and remarkable tonal range. But the Epson Perfection V700 Photo goes one step further. With its Dual Lens System, this innovative product automatically selects from 2 lenses for the desired scan resolution, topping out at a remarkable 6400 dpi. It has a 8.5 x 11.7" general scanning area, with a 8 x 10" transparency area. The transparency adapter is built in to the lid of the flatbed.

Includes four film holders for 35mm slides (12 frames), 35mm film strips (24 frames), medium format strips 2-1/4", 120/220, 6x20cm (2-6 frames) and 4" x 5" film (2 frames); 8" x 10" film area guide.

I've been scanning on a Poloroid Sprintscan 4000 with a SCSI connection to an old PC and I"m considering a new scanner that's compatible with my iMac. How does the quality of Epson V700 scans compare to the Sprintscan 4000?

The V700 is a great scanner, but for strictly 35mm film scanning, it cannot compare to a dedicated 35mm film scanner like the Sprintscan 4000 was.

I am not interested in scanning prints. Just Slides, and I do not care if I have to individually load them. What is my best choice in the $1200 and under range?
Thanks

Hello;

The OpticFilm 8200i Ai Film Scanner from Plustek converts all your 35mm negatives and mounted slides into digital files you can edit and view on the computer. The scanner uses a high resolution 7200dpi sensor with 48-bit color depth to capture all the detail from your originals. The scanner's built-in infrared channel provides dust and scratch removal. Additionally, the included IT 8 calibration slide ensures accurate color results the first time, reducing the need for repeated scans or extensive post processing color correction.

The included SilverFast 8 works together with the scanner to improve your workflow and ensure proper results the first time. This updated version features an improved user interface and provides an advanced preview option that lets you see the results of adjustments beforehand.

Could this article be updated to reflect currently available slide scanners? A lot of the ones mentioned are no longer available.

Thanks for your interest. For our most current review of some film scanner options, please refer to this article (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/indepth/photography/hands-reviews/holiday-20...) and specifically the "Converting Film Negatives, Prints, and Slides to Digital Files" section.

I need to scan color slides and ROLLS of 35 mm negatives - I've only seen one (so far at least) scanner that handles rolls of film and it got terrible reviews.

Does anyone have advice or recommendations?

Thanks.

Hello,

At one time, Nikon and Sony had Pro level scanners that could handle uncut rolls of film. Today, scanners that can do this are sold commercially to labs. When I have my film processed, I have the roll scanned at that time. Each 35mm frame yields a 20meg file. I might suggest contacting a lab to see what they will charge.

I have a collection of around 3000 slides taken over a period from the late 1950's up to around 1976 they are in a mix of standard 35mm and 2 x 2 cm (12 on 127 Rollei 4x4 ) format most are mounted in either glass, mostly the 2 x 2 format or 35mm straight from processing in card or plastic mounts (Nikon F2). I have around 100 of the 2 x 2 format which are in strips and were never placed into glass mounts. (some are faded and will need remedial work)
From 1976 until around 2000 all my photography was on 35mm negative stock of which again I have thousands of negatives in strips from processing (Nikon F2).
I would be most grateful if someone could advise me on what would be the best scanner to contemplate investing in, I am looking at only doing this once so I am prepared to spend a reasonable amount on getting a high resolution scanner that is quick and easy to use.
Many thanks.....David

Hello;

The best choice is the Epson Perfection V750-M Pro Scanner.

This unique scanner has groundbreaking 6400 dpi resolution, and 4.0 Dmax that results in excellent detail in shadow areas and remarkable tonal range. The enhanced optical system (High-Pass Optics) of the Perfection V750-M Pro consisting of anti-reflective lens coatings and a high-reflection mirror provides a superb level of image quality and helps you achieve faster scans. In addition, the Dual Lens System optimizes each scan, automatically selecting from two lenses for the desired scan resolution.

The Epson Perfection V750-M Pro scanner remove dust and scratches from film and many types of surface defects from prints minimizing costly and time consuming retouching thanks to the included Digital ICE Technologies.

> Includes: (Adobe Photoshop Elements & LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast Ai 6.6).

> Includes four film holders for 35mm slides (12 frames), 35mm film strips (24 frames), medium format strips 2-1/4", 120/220, 6x20cm (2-6 frames) and 4" x 5" film (2 frames); 8" x 10" film area guide.

Hello - I wonder if you could comment on the quality of prints made from the V750 and also assuming the original is great exposure and sharpness - what is the max print size you are seeing.

thanks
Becky

Hello - I wonder if you could comment on the quality of prints made from the V750 and also assuming the original is great exposure and sharpness - what is the max print size you are seeing.

thanks
Becky

You will get excellent digital files out of the V750. Print size will depend on the image you are scanning. 35MM images will be be limited to about 8x10. For images made from larger sources, you will be able to make most any size you wish.

hi,
i am looking for a 35mm negative scanner, for strips, rolls and slides in mass production.
what kind of equipment do you suggest?

Hello,

This would only be available through commercial channels as labs have such machines. At the retail level, Nikon and Sony at one time had scanners that could scan an uncut roll of film but they are long off the market. Many processing machines have the scanners built into them. The lab I use processes my film and than scans each frame.

We are looking at replacing a now-broken Nikon Coolscan V for scanning of 35mm slides and 35mm negative strips. This article has been quite helpful, but now I'm down to choosing among products you currently offer **and ensuring they have adequate scanning software features.**

We were initially thinking either the Pacific Image PF7250u or Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE. Given that we've been using the Nikon, are we going to be happy with the image quality from either of these two? Because of the sheer volume of scans (thousands!!), each frame will not get individual attention for scanner settings--we are better off with 'auto' settings.

Lastly, and the most confusing part of my research, I've read the users manuals for the above two scanners and it is not clear to me that I can load an entire negative strip (4-6 frames) and have it **automatically** scan and save all frames. Of course, preferably with things like auto-exposure, auto dust/scratch removal processing, etc. being done without our involvement. Can you help advise on whether software bundled with these will do that? If not, can someone at B&H contact me offline so we can discuss a good scanner choice?

thanks,
Mike

Hello,

I do not believe the PF7250u will give you the image quality you've been getting from the Nikon V scanner. The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE will give you great image quality, but does not offer batch scanning.

The Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 Film Scanner provides high quality scanning capability of 35mm slides and negatives with a resolution of 7200 dpi and a dynamic range of 3.6D. The scanner is also an impressive productivity tool with the ability to batch scan 35mm strip film up to 40 frames and Magic Touch Image Correction and Enhancement system that ensures that your scanned images are the best quality possible. It does this by automatically removing dust and scratches, restoring color to faded films, and minimizing image graininess.

i have approx 2000, 1/2 frame 35mm slides, I mainly used Agfa stock, from 1965 to around 1990, I would dearly like to scan all of them for us & our kids, are you please able to advise a couple of opitions which will best handle the 1/2 frame slides Thanks Lindsay

Hello,

If your slides are mounted in standard 2x2 mounts, any film scanner can handle your work. You will have to crop your images in the scanning software prior to scanning. The choice of scanner will ultimately depend on your expectations for the scanned image quality. Low res scans is perfect for web posting but if printing is you final goal, you will need a higher end unit.

The SNAP14 14 Mp Digital Image Converter from Wolverine is a powerful yet easy-to-use device that can preserve all of your old photos, 35mm slides and film negatives forever. Combining a 14MP CMOS sensor, built-in color display, internal memory and an SD memory card reader, you can easily convert 35mm slides, negatives and photos into digital images.

The Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 Film Scanner provides high quality scanning capability of 35mm slides and negatives with a resolution of 7200 dpi and a dynamic range of 3.6D. The scanner is also an impressive productivity tool with the ability to batch scan 35mm strip film up to 40 frames and Magic Touch Image Correction and Enhancement system that ensures that your scanned images are the best quality possible. It does this by automatically removing dust and scratches, restoring color to faded films, and minimizing image graininess.

The OpticFilm 8200i Ai Film Scanner from Plustek converts all your 35mm negatives and mounted slides into digital files you can edit and view on the computer. The scanner uses a high resolution 7200dpi sensor with 48-bit color depth to capture all the detail from your originals. The scanner's built-in infrared channel provides dust and scratch removal. Additionally, the included IT 8 calibration slide ensures accurate color results the first time, reducing the need for repeated scans or extensive post processing color correction.

The included SilverFast 8 works together with the scanner to improve your workflow and ensure proper results the first time. This updated version features an improved user interface and provides an advanced preview option that lets you see the results of adjustments beforehand. In addition to SilverFast, the scanner comes with Presto PageManager 7.23.

I need to scan tens of thousands of Kodachrome slides, so scanners are really no good - they take minutes per slide!

I used to produce thousands of duplicate slides for resale using this equipment:

Canon F1 fitted with 250 exposure bulk film back
BPM bellows and Rodenstock enlarger lens (far better than camera macro lenses)
Fixed to a copy stand pointing downwards
An Omega enlarger head as light box with MCY filters
A choice of film holder for mounted slides, filmstrip, 6x7, etc
Kodak 5071 Slide Duplicating (low contrast) film

This produced near-perfect duplicate slides and I see no reason for not using this system with different components for digitising slides. I would need:

A low-contrast (adjustable) DSLR - my old Canon EOS300 has too much contrast
An adaptor ring for my BPM bellows to fit a Canon EOS body

That's it - the rest of my existing stuff will accurately hold the slides, provide a light source and a far better lens than a camera macro lens - enlarger lenses are designed for "flat" work, rather than 3D work that macros are designed for.

Any comments on likely image quality or suggestions for camera body or for source of adaptor rings?

Thanks

Peter

Hello;

Slide film is disappearing from the market and E6 processing is very difficult to find. You may find yourself settling on a film only to have it become discontinued. The only fine grain ISO 50 film still available is Fujichrome Velvia which I would not describe as a “Low Contrast” emulsion. Your best choice would be Fujichrome Provia 100F Professional (RDP III).

Currently, all Canon FD lens mount adapters (Your F1 has an FD mount) have a correction lens built into it for use on current EOS bodies. This will greatly affect your final image quality. I checked www.macrobellows.com and did not see an EOS adapter ring available. You could use an M42 (Universal Screw) mount with an EOS to M42 adapter.

Should you choose to use a digital camera, you would have to choose from the select few that have full frame sensors which are identical in size to a 35mm film frame. Shooting RAW files, you could correct contrast and color using RAW processing software such as Adobe Lightroom. High end labs can use a “film recorder” and output a digital file to a 35mm slide.

Canon’s 6D is the newest full frame model. It is a full-frame 20.2MP DSLR offering exceptionally high image quality and detail while providing compatibility and convenience through its design and features. When paired with the powerful DIGIC 5+ image processor and 14-bit A/D conversion, the full-frame sensor is capable of recording vivid imagery with expanded sensitivity up to ISO 102400. The processing power also affords intelligent noise reduction techniques.

There is still Adox ISO 20 film that is very fine grain as well, though it is not easy to find in most stores.

Peter
I'm very interested in your original set up described above.
I'm looking to scan a lot of old slides and your setup seems a possibly more cost effective and certainly quicker solution.
Any chance you can email me some more details of how I would go about creating a similar set up?
My address is risingearler at gmail dot com

Hello Peter,

I too have tens of thousands of negatives to scan. I have four scanners but even running these all the time is just too labor intensive, I think your solution deserves some serious consideration. What you have listed seems to make sense but I'm not familiar with these cameras and do have some questions. Please contact me, I would be happy to compensate you for your help.

Thanks,
James

Have wanted one of these for years, have lived overseas for business and have a mountain of slides 70-90's.  Your review has been very helpful for me in ascertaining which unit to purchase.   Thank you for your professional and analytical approach and keeping your comments focused.

Hi, I need to scan hundreds of 35mm slides and due to patient confidentiality issues (they are for medical purposes), I can't send them to a company that scans for you. Can you recommend a scanner that can scan 6 frames (or more) of 35mm slides at one go? I currently have an Epson one that can only scan 4 frames at once and it is incredibly slow :( 

If you have a significant amount of 35mm slides to scan, you might consider the Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 CCD Slides Scanner.  It would definitely streamline the process as it can do batch scanning of up to 50 slides at a time.

So...it's been a while since this review was assembled.  Any updates?  I am about to buy a unit and would like to know what else is available in2014 compared to a couple years back when this was written.  I want the absolute best bang for the bick, but my budget sits squarely in that $1000ish mid-range.

You might look at the Epson Perfection V750-M Pro Scanner.  While, not mentioned in this article, the V750-M would be an excellent option for scanning film, and would likely provide the best bang  for your buck in your price range. 

An excellent summary of slide scanners.

Before I retire my HP Photosmart S20...and trust me I'm doing this kicking and screaming because this unit has been FABULOUS; the problem is "communication problems" with newer computers....the difference in USB ports, 1.0 vs 2.0.  Is there any way to rectify this situation before moving on to a new scanner?  Thanks!

Hello,

I maintain an XP machine because I feel the same way about my HP8450 printer. The problem in more then likely due to HP not issuing a driver for the S20 past Windows XP. Newer computer runing Windows 7 or 8 will not be compatible. USB 1 devices can be used in a 2.0 port with no problems. 

Scanners

I HAVE AROUND 10,000 SLIDES & NEGATIVES TAKEN PROFESSIONALLY BY GRANDPARENTS BACK IN THE LATE 1960-1980 WHEN THEY RETIRED THEY TRAVELED ALL OVER NORTH AMERICA CANADA TO MEXICO AND TOOK PICTURES OF OLD DEPOTS BRIDGES BUILDS ETC.. I NEED A SCANNER THAT CAN BRING BACK ORIGINAL QUALITY FOR MAKING COFFEE TABLE BOOKS AND TO SELL PICTURES TO TIME MAG & NATIONAL GEO WHAT SCANNER WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

You might look at the Epson Perfection V750-M Pro Scanner.  It has batch scanning, comes with software that helps minimize the effects of dust and scratches on the negatives, and is a scanner you could get pro results with.