Filmscanners

If you have found this page you are probably looking for the filmscanner reviews and information that I used to maintain at www.halftone.co.uk. I regret this has now all been removed. It was hopelessly out of date and only referred to obsolete scanners. I became unable to continue reviews several years ago due to the large amount of work involved. It was taking several days every time a new scanner appeared, and simply became too much. I do not intend reinstating the old pages. You should however be able to find much of the old content using the Wayback machine web archive.

Alternatively, the filmscanners email list is still in operation. If you have a specific query, there are plenty of knowledgeable people there who may help.

  • There is a partial web archive of list messages. You will probably find that your question has already been answered there.
  • To subscribe to the list send an email to listserver@halftone.co.uk with 'subscribe filmscanners' as the message subject.
  • If you prefer a daily digest - hardly worth bothering as messages are few and far between nowadays - send an email to listserver@halftone.co.uk with 'subscribe filmscanners_digest' as the message subject.

A brief FAQ

Where can I get a Windows XP compatible version of Nikon driver software for my Nikon LS1000?

You can't. Nikon no longer supports the LS1000 with current versions of Nikonscan. However, it is perfectly possible to continue to use the scanner under XP if you use Vuescan instead, shareware from Ed Hanrick's site. Vuescan works better with the LS1000 than Nikonscan ever did anyhow. Please read Ed's notes on the site about the requirement to install an ASPI layer, though generally XP is pretty good at installing SCSI support automatically.

Comments

No simple answer

If you like C41-based B&W it is the easiest to scan in several respects. The density range is not as extreme as silver based negs can be, if heavily exposed and/or strongly developed. Scanners will struggle less with that. But also the diffuse dye-cloud image causes fewer problems with the sampling. Grain can cause grain aliasing with CCD scanners, where grain size is at or near the Nyquist limit of sampling you can get strong aliasing effects that look like severe grain but are not.

This effect becomes far less troublesome with scanners than achieve 4000ppi or more, and a diffuse lightsource also helps. Worst are the older Nikons of 2700ppi. Their LED lightsource is partially collimated and grain aliasing issues were very common even with slow and medium speed films, including colour negative. Many Nikon users complained about exaggerated grain in pure blue skies with ISO100 colour negative, but it wasn't grain. In fact anything that looks like grain at 2700ppi is likely to be an artifact, not real grain at all.

I still use a Polaroid 4000 and have very rarely seen grain aliasing artifacts. In fact only twice that I can recall. Once on a badly overexposed Fuji200 colour negative, and more seriously on some TMZ (TMax3200), which I eventually gave up trying to scan at all. I never shot much of that, I preferred Delta3200, which I shot quite a lot of.

My archive consists of a great many films processed many different ways, as my ideas and materials changed over the years, and I daresay I got better too. I was never a big grain fan. Early on I shot FP4 rated at ISO500 and developed in Diafine 2-bath, Then Tri X in ID11/D76 or Microdol X. Some PanF devved in God knows what. Later TriX in 1:3 ID11 became my standard. After that, lots of XP1 in Ilford chemistry. After that TMY (Tmax400) in HC110 1:10 with some added sulphite. Later in TMax dev. Then I switched to TCN (TMax CN). Nowadays on the rare occasions I shoot film, it's either TCN, Delta3200 or TMax100 or FP5. In medium format I still really like TMax100+Rodinal. In between times I continued to experiment with other devs, Diafine, Acutol, FX-39. But my development was always on the delicate side, I always hated blocked highlights.

None of this presents any particular difficulty with scanning, unless I really screwed up exposure it's all fine. In fact negs that were swines to print in the darkroom become possible to deal with once scanned. Quite a few that I viewed as diaastrous failures for a decade or two have been resurrected by a little post production, and finally look as I intended.

Only a few rolls of TMZ have been difficult, and there it's not every frame, just some that I exposed for shadows on backlit subjects. But someone who uses a different scanner, or more importantly, liked to expose heavily and dev to completion, might have a much harder time. But grain aliasing is a weird thing, film that is impossible in my Polaroid might well be no problem at all in a different 4,000ppi scanner, a Minolta 5400 or even a 2700ppi device. Or vice versa.

But having said all that, in my opinion the least problematic films are the chromagenic B&W's, TCN and XP2. If you like their creamy dig-like tonality, that's fine. There is only one slight downside, that their more compressed density range gives you slightly less to work with in the digital domain, but in 16bits there's plenty of tonal resolution unless you want to get really radical with levels and curves.

However if you love grain and think it an essential ingredient of B&W you may have more trouble, depending on your exposure and processing, and your scanner. In any case, to get really crisp and honest scans of grain you need to be scanning at 8,000-12,000ppi, drumscanner territory. I've seen direct comparisons and although 4,000 ppi gets almost all of the image, grain topograohy continues to get more clearly defined to the far side of 12,000ppi. But then enlarger lenses weren't perfect either.

Regards, Tony Sleep

Which sort of B&W film is best for scanning?

Hello, Having drifted away from Film to Digital in recent years, I am now getting back into it partly because I love B&W and partly because of a growing interest in vintage and veteran cameras. Previously, however I did all of my own B&W D&P in my wet darkroom, but the enlargers etc are mothballed out in the garage, although I still have access to my film tanks and chemicals. I am therefore intending to develop my films again but then scan them into the computer for editing and printing, as I did with my colour film during my change over to Digital. As I have read various comments about which of the three types of B&W film curently available - traditional, T-grain, and C-41 - and their suitablility for scanning, I would be grateful if you could give me the benefit of your experience and advise me as to which would be the best type for me to use in future. Thank you, Tony Wells.

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