Firewire film scanner
February 22, 2005 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good (but not pro-level), not crazily expensive Firewire film scanner, 35mm and 120, for OSX. thanks
posted by matteo to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your 120 requirement will make your purchase expensive:

Nikon Coolscan 8000 ED
ArtixScan 120tf

You might consider using a cheap flatbed scanner, if these go over your budget. Some are Firewire, and some of them have 120 format holders. The results won't be as good (color fidelity and range, sharpness, contrast) but the cost might be right.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:10 PM on February 22, 2005

Response by poster: Your 120 requirement will make your purchase expensive

yeah, I know, 35mm is by now very cheap...
thanks Alex
posted by matteo at 2:14 PM on February 22, 2005

This is a very context-based decision. Basically, what do you want to do with the scan files?

Do you have a lot of 120 negs? Are they colour? Do you want to make nice large prints from them? If the answers to the above are yes, then you'd probably need a good quality dedicated film scanner, if only to satisfy your own craving for perfection in the large prints

On the other hand, I have a lot of 35mm colour transparencies (shot on an FM2), plus some colour 35mm negs from a compact camera, plus a lot of b+w 35mm (mainly FM2), plus a few 120 b+w negs, that I'm trying to maybe put on the web and share with a few folks, and I bought a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual. I figured that scan resolution does not matter (as I am posting to the web). I also figured that I could do without DigitalICE (dust/scratch remover), especially as this does not work with b+w (unless it's a colour, C41 processed b+w film). It was $300 for the Minolta vs. $500 for the cheapest 35mm Nikon film scanner.

The Minolta feels a bit flimsy, but you get what you pay for, and it got me started on scanning and posting stuff, and it works just fine. I figured that by the time it craps out, the Nikons will be *really* good.

Slightly OT, I'm personally dubious about making prints from digital files, as I'm just sick of prints. Re. the archiving argument, you're probably just as better off getting archival neg strip holders, as using a hard drive for archiving. It'll take you forever to scan stuff in at high res, dust free, for archival purposes.
posted by carter at 4:21 PM on February 22, 2005

Well I just got home and realised that the Minolta is USB, not Firewire.
posted by carter at 5:13 PM on February 22, 2005

The best prosumer solution (i.e. cheapest for the quality (and versatility)) is probably one of the Epsons. The Epson 4870 (USB 2.0) is their current offering in the US, and it comes in two models: the "4870 Pro" and the "4870 Photo." From my research, the hardware is the same, but the "Pro" comes with more "professional" software -- software that I have read doesn't justify the additional $200 price point. Factory Refurbished 4870s are available on Epson's website right now for $349 (free shipping).

If this sounds appealing to you, you might want to hold off for a couple months, as Epson will be releasing its successor, the Epson 4990 (Firewire!). At that time, the 4870s will likely be discounted (though I don't know if it'll be cheaper than the refurbished price). In addition to the 4990, the Epson also offers the F 3200 dedicated film-scanner (also Firewire), but reviews suggest that it's barely, if at all, superior to the 4870/4990.

As someone who is in the market for a medium-format scanner, myself, I'll most likely be purchasing the 4870 pretty soon -- unless, for some reason, the new 4990s are priced more attractively than the current default 4870 price. Poke around on that resource site, as there's a ton of great info available. I especially appreciated the comparisons -- for instance, the bottom of this page compares the 4990 with the respected Nikon Coolscan 4000. As you'll see, the Coolscan produces noticeably superior results... whether that difference is worth the Coolscan's additional $1000 is something you'll need to answer for yourself.
posted by Hankins at 6:54 PM on February 22, 2005

Response by poster: thanks everybody
posted by matteo at 1:28 AM on February 23, 2005

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