Ahem, Ok, I guess I have some ‘splaining to do here. Some time ago I wrote this post for 35mmc, in praise for expensive outsourcing of film development and scanning. I wrote it because I wholeheartedly believed what I said. And I still think that the time saved by having a lab scan your film is invaluable.
But then along came KJ Vogelius with his wonderfully detailed post about his scanner…. and doubt crept into my mind. Home scanning has it’s advantages!
Why do we shoot film? Well, we like the cameras, the feel of film, the look of film and the smell of Rodinal in the morning…. But we do it also because we want to keep control over our pictures. And it’s true, outsourcing the scanning process is not always entierly in favour of keeping control!
In short, I went and ordered (again) a Plustek Opticfilm 8100, not the 8200 because I prefer B&W and the infrared cleaning features don’t work on B&W film…. and what’s more, the 8200 is about 100€ more expensive. Of course I bought it from Amazon as I want to test if this really works for me this time. If not I can send it back…. sorry Amazon 😉
I scanned some of my negatives that were processed by MeinFilmLab some time ago and here I want to give you my results. Always keep in mind that a B&W film, developed and scanned by my lab at 3600 x 5400 dpi is 19€ (there are lesser resolutions for a little less money available…), not counting postage to the lab. This can weigh in heavily on the result of the comparison.
I scanned at a resolution f 3600dpi on the Plustek – I compared with the maximum resolution of 7200 and as there seems to be a very slight advantage, the file sizes are HUGE (400Mb for a color scan…). Also I scanned using Vuescan which I think is quite old fashioned, but excellent! I’ll try Silverfast (once again) but I detested it’s cumbersome interface the last times I used it and I don’t think this will change.
Mind you, the Opticfilm scans have NOT been sharpened. And these examples are processed quite quickly as I wanted to submit this comparison and get your feedback.
Here we go!
First, the cover photo for my former post, ‘DO’. Here are both versions, let’s check them out. Of course, it’s hard to get exactly matching colours. I tried as best as I could.
Plustek scan – not matching colours, but the overall sharpness is very much OK and it looks pleasing to me. I might go back to the spot to check the real colours of the scene….
And I tried Silverfast once more, and I must say that I am impressed with it’s color rendition! Handling is still sh..t of course.
‘The Shed’ had an obvious magenta cast to it in the lab scan.
The Opticfilm scan has much more natural looking color, though a bit less flashy and perhaps some light yellowish cast…. nothing you can’t change in LR. A bit of work still required here. Resolution seems very good and much less sharpening artefacts.
And the Silverfast version:
‘The Wheel’ with some tweaking in Lightroom, the lab version
And Plustek’s take on this view – finer grained (or no sharpening artefacts which in my view were very present in all my lab scans) and nice tonality.
‘Them tourists’, heavily ‘Moriyamatized’ in LR – scan from the lab
And from my scanner, I like it!
‘Café’ from the lab….
And the Opticfilm version… not much to say, the scanner did well.
And last but not least, here’s a trio of scans from the lab, the Plustek and the Canoscan 9000F MkII flatbed scanner. The Canoscan is clearly last – lacks resolution, sharpness….. I think for the same price as the Canoscan, the Plustek is very very close to the lab scan.
For me, this is clearly a point in favour of home scanning. For the cost of having a mix of about 12 color negative and B&W film developed and scanned (215€), I get a very capable scanner. In about 4 months, the scanner will have earned it’s keep. And time, well I’ll take my time to scan and I’ll force myself to enjoy it.
Thanks to KJ for bringing me back on track!
I scanned a frame made with my ‘new’ Leica IIIa and it’s great Summitar lens on both Vuescan and Silverfast – applied exactly the same development settings in Lightroom (just slight clarity and sharpening) to both files. I think the Vuescan version succeeds in getting MUCH more details out of the highlights – see the blanket and plate – than Silverfast. The shadows and overall contrast are much nicer! So to hell with Silverfast!
Only thing is, Silverfast produces a TIF of under 9 Mb and Vuescan weighs in at 34 Mb….. but disk space is cheap, no?
Here’s the Silverfast version:
Here’s the Vuescan version: