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ARSCLIST  September 2012

ARSCLIST September 2012

Subject:

Re: 35mm slide scanner -- what's good these days?

From:

John Schroth <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 18 Sep 2012 14:30:45 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (162 lines)

Thanks Carl:

What I failed to mention and Carl briefly touches base on, is your 
display. Without a high quality monitor, calibration hardware/software 
and a good understanding of color management, any adjustments you make 
to an image is a shot in the dark. A high quality monitor will reproduce 
and display the full range (or almost full range) of the image's color 
spectrum and the color space format you are scanning to (ie: Adobe RGB). 
Without the ability to see the full gamut or range of the color spectrum 
on a monitor and without that monitor being calibrated properly you 
cannot reproduce a faithful color representation of the image, actually 
sometimes what you create is a mess. A high-end monitor for doing image 
work is akin to a good set of headphones and/or monitor speakers when 
working with audio.

A good example was when I was first getting into the scanning business. 
I was scanning 35mm slides for a well-known photographer here in 
Rochester. He worked for Kodak for many years and took many of the 
Colorama photos one would see on display in Grand Central Station in 
NYC. We were sending files of the 35mm slide scans out to a stock photo 
house in Colorado. The owner of the stock photo house sent him an email 
after receiving the first batch of samples telling him to dump the 
company doing the scanning work as they had not a clue what they were 
doing. The images had color banding issues, color noise and the color 
balance was way off. The images looked fine on my computer CRT display 
(which I thought was a good one at the time) and on my client's Apple 
Mac display. We were both scratching our heads. I invested in an Eizo 
Coloredge color monitor and calibration hardware/software and as soon as 
we dialed in the monitor and put some of the samples up on the display 
we were both embarrassed and shocked at what we saw.

I guess where I'm going with this is, if you only have a small 
collection of slides and want a really good quality scan, you're better 
off sending them out. Then again, if you want to have the capability of 
a decent/good scanner and like working with images it's important to 
know that a good scanner is only part of the equation. Your scans will 
only be as good as, not only what the scanner can deliver, but how you 
can see/view the data  and how the entire chain is calibrated, so that 
you can make accurate adjustments. Throw in some time for a learning 
curve and it's definitely rewarding on the back end.

One last bit of advice for people looking to get into scanning images. 
First, come up with a plan and do a lot of testing before you actually 
begin any scanning project. Richard's post noted a lot of details about 
file format type, resolutions and bit depths. Obviously he took careful 
consideration of what type of file formats and settings he was using for 
his project. You don't want to get half way into the project to find out 
you should have been scanning to some other option or different setting. 
The second is the importance of keeping one set of original raw (as in 
untouched) scans without adjustment. That way if you find you want to go 
back to the original because adjustments you made to the scan were less 
than perfect, you can. Third, after making any adjustments to an image, 
you want to back the adjustments off slightly. When you look at an image 
and make adjustments, persistence of vision comes into play. The longer 
you sit there and stare an an image, the more acceptable your changes 
become to your eyes. Even with professionals - I too-often see 
oversharpening, oversaturation, over compensation. Most often less is 
more (and better).

Happy scanning!

Regards,

John Schroth
Media Transfer Service, LLC


On 9/18/2012 11:36 AM, Carl wrote:
> I've been doing film scanning for over a decade; not professionally, but seriously. With both the LS-30 and Coolscan 4000, Vuescan worked great and I join the chorus in recommending it. Best $80 I've ever spent on sw.
>
> If this isn't an ongoing pursuit, I'd take John's message seriously and send them out. There is a learning curve, which could take 200 images to climb. Most of my stuff is on color negative, which is more challenging than slides, as you have no reference for color balance. But, slides can also be tough as the narrower contrast range of print or screen display requires interpretation. That takes time and practice. Add to that the effort of perfecting a scanning workflow, which can vary in its details from one system platform to another, and the time adds up significantly. A cheap scanner that won't handle the higher densities will multiply your editing time and potential frustration. Working with pictures in Photoshop (or whatever) is great fun, but scanning isn't!
>
> Carl (John, I'm a fellow Rochesterian)
>
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: John Schroth <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Sep 18, 2012 10:22 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] 35mm slide scanner -- what's good these days?
>>
>> Hello Tom:
>>
>> Part of my business includes slide scanning services. Here's my opinion.
>>
>> If you only have 200 slides, this is a very small amount. If you really
>> want to get a good quality scan, and you don't feel you'll be scanning a
>> ton of slides in the future - send the slide out to a service for
>> scanning. The time and money you will spend trying to fit out
>> hardware/software and testing will not be worth it. If you will be doing
>> more scanning in the future and/or you still want to get a scanner, then
>> read below:
>>
>> I've tried and tested many options. I have not found any flatbed
>> scanners to be acceptable for scanning small format transparencies,
>> including 35mm slides. Flatbeds just can't match small gauge dedicated
>> CCD imaging. I have a Epson VM-750 pro flatbed and any transparency
>> scans in or near the 35mm size class does not look nearly as good as
> >from a dedicated small format transparency scanner. A company in town
>> that also offers slide scanning services uses a very high-end flatbed
>> scanner for slides and they still look crappy. You just can't get the
>> resolution and density range.
>>
>> I agree with Randy - For the money, based on your needs as you described
>> below, if you're looking for better than a flatbed, the Nikon Coolscan
>> 5000 with the bulk film loader offers the best quality. The 5000 was the
>> only one to take a bulk film loader. With all my testing, the only other
>> option that scans at better quality than the Nikon is Hasselblad but
>> you're looking at a price point of more than $10,000 over the cost of
>> the Nikon, for minimal gains only at very high resolution scans. The
>> unfortunate issue is that Nikon stopped making these units, they are not
>> available new, and can only be found used. I've had several contacts I
>> know buy the used Nikon 5000's on Ebay, as long as the seller guaranteed
>> the item, the buyer was protected. Both of the units that I know of that
>> were purchased through Ebay worked out fine. I believe you can still get
>> the bulk loader attachment through B&H Photo.
>>
>> I know of one person who has purchased a Pacific Imaging Powerslide
>> 5000. They say that the bulk loading mechanism jams (though so too does
>> the Nikon bulk loader - but I've worked out modifications to this and it
>> works fairly reliably now). They said that the quality of the scans from
>> the Powerslide were good and they were pleased with the end results,
>> though they were not a professional scanning service with a discerning
>> eye and a really good monitor, so I'm not sure how the quality compares
>> to the Nikon. My guess is that the Nikon is better.
>>
>> The Nikon Coolscan 5000 and the Pacific Imaging Powerslide 5000 are the
>> only two scanners that I know of that have good-excellent ratings that
>> can handle bulk slide scanning.
>>
>> There is no type of software that I know of that offers "good" results,
>> for automatic, accurate exposure and color balance during the scan.
>> Believe me, if there was, I'd be using it - as I get many projects
>> through the door that are several thousand slides. The bottom line, you
>> really have to "touch" each slide in Photoshop after the scan to
>> accurately represent exposure and color balance. The closest I can come
>> to an automated adjustment is using Viewscan pro software and setting up
>> for an automatic white balance setting, with a safe/conservative fixed
>> adjustment for the white and black points so that both the top and
>> bottom point of the histogram are not clipped during the scan. Then you
>> can batch process the scans in Photoshop using auto color correct
>> adjustment only, then using a 25-30% fade on the adjustment as part of
>> the batch scan. This will get you close. Even at that, I still prefer to
>> make all my adjustments by hand and not batch process anything.
>>
>> The best scanning software you can get is Viewscan. It will work with
>> almost any scanner and offers many more options for your scanner than
>> the native GUI will. I can't say enough about this software and the
>> support they have after the sale.
>>
>> Let me know if you have any additional questions.
>>
>> John Schroth
>> Media Transfer Service, LLC
>>
>
> -----
> No virus found in this message.
> Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
> Version: 2012.0.2221 / Virus Database: 2437/5275 - Release Date: 09/18/12
>
>

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