Scanners

Reflections on a Reflecta RPS 10M – guest review by Frank Lehnen

Once I was lost and tried to justify the feasibility of sourcing out the scanning of our negatives (you can read that post here.) But then I saw the light, following this great post by KJ Vogelius. I changed my mind!

Since then I have scanned dozens of films on my Plustek Opticfilm 8100, fastidiously feeding the negative holder frame by frame into the scanner’s maw. I regretted selling my trusty Nikon Coolscan IV / LS-40 with its 6-frame negative feeder. That was a great scanner but always under threat of sudden death. Ten years old, bought second or third hand I could not trust it to keep working indefinitely. But, I was silly to sell it, I know that now.

Then I tried all kinds of flatbed scanners from Canon and Epson and found them unworthy. The Plustek got me back on track, apart from the slowness…

The possibility of a Reflecta

I have been reading about the Reflecta scanners for some time now, ever since the 10M came out. Honestly, I never believed the boasted 10000 dpi resolution, which was confirmed to me by this review. As it looks, the maximum resolution is about 4300 dpi which is still pretty great. Setting the scanner’s resolution to 10000 dpi will not get any increase in real resolution, only gargantuan file sizes! Thus 5000 dpi is the sweet spot for this scanner, offering a resolution that gets the maximum out of 35mm film.

If you consider that the Plustek Opticfilm 8100 or 8200 can coax ‘only’ 3800 dpi out of the negatives, and for that you have to dial in 7200 dpi – the decision seems obvious by the merit of resolution.

So let’s also consider the prices of these scanners. The Plustek goes for about 220€ here in Olde Europe while Amazon carries the Reflecta without the horrendously costly Silverfast software for 585€. That’s a 365€ difference, a Euro a day for one year! Now if I can stick in a 6-frame strip of negatives or even a whole 36-frame film and the thing correctly recognizes (most of) the separate frames, I’ll be very happy. Set up the scanner, feed it the film and go away for an hour or two. That’s all I want in fact. If the results prove to be great, the better!

So, now let’s get to the serious stuff…. The Test!

The unboxing

Now, that Plustek scanner has a great build quality, seems sturdy and gives confidence in its future. Furthermore, it’s very quiet in operation. Will the Reflecta’s build quality be up to its technical promises? Let’s see; at least I hope it is, as I already sold my scanner to a pal. Well, if it does not work out, Amazon has that great returns policy…

The Reflecta comes in quite a big box for the dimensions of that scanner, that’s my first impression. I checked the measurements before and noted that it’s a bit smaller that an A4 sheet of (photo-)paper, though somewhat thicker…

‘Big box, but very light’ is my second thought. In fact, when I open it up and pull out the well-protected contraption I notice it’s light, very light! Especially compared to my Plustek. Well, I guess that warranty is good for something! In fact, the Reflecta feels very plasticky and insubstantial, despite its robust looks.

Initial testing

Software installation is painless on my Mac (yeah, PC certainly the same, but there you go for a bit of stickling). Then comes the big moment, I deliver the electric spark to my new scanner and it awakens and starts rattling, clanking and purring… hmmmm, light, noisy… promising!

I grab a strip of negatives and start up Cyberview X5. Unfortunately, I have heard a lot of bad things about that piece of software, and I can say that it looks exactly like that. A preview scan of my 6 negatives is quickly under way and the scanner rattles happily along until an error message appears on my screen. OK, can happen. I make sure I’ve got the latest versions of everything and go at it again… same, same. Darn, no good, I need an alternative!

I own Vuescan, it’s served me well until now, on EVERY scanner I’ve owned. There’s Silverfast, a contraption I don’t like at all. Convoluted user interface, obscure settings, always shifting and changing presets. But, it gave decent results during my last tests with the Plustek. The problem is, the Silverfast license is linked to the specific scanner and if you change scanners you have to buy a new license… at a stiff price even with an ‘upgrade discount’.  I consider that bad commercial practice! But I’ll test a trial version for sure.

I switch to Vuescan first, my goto scanning software and after some coaxing, it does in fact pull in the strip and makes a pretty good job of sorting out the boundaries of the negatives. Result OK, fast enough and if I can leave it to scan a whole roll unattended it will be OK. Just for fun, I scan the same strip with Silverfast trial. It also works, no problems, though for now, I think I will stick with Vuescan!

Now the quality testing

Not wanting to play the pixel peeper here and analyze the scans under the microscope, I will just do some real life appraisal of the scan quality versus the Plustek. I copied some of my Plustek scans from my library (the original scans, straight out of the scanner, mind you) and rescanned the same negatives with the Reflecta. Of course I used the same software, my trusty Vuescan and set the new scanner to 5000 dpi as that’s supposed to be the setting resulting in the maximum resolution it is capable of without blowing up the files unnecessarily. The Plustek files were scanned at 7200 dpi, but as that scanner is supposed to max out at 3800 at that setting, we could suppose that the Reflecta will win this duel.

So here we go:

The film used is a not too great one but one I love for its results and it’s price: Fomapan 100. And be aware that these scans are straight out of the machine, no retouching whatsoever!

The first photo is a portrait of my brother in law, the Leitz Summitar gives it a nice glow, so not the sharpest photograph, but lots of character.

160806-fomapan-100-leica-iiia-009

Plustek Opticfilm 8100

 

vs001

Reflecta RPS 10M

I honestly prefer the Reflecta version as it shows a marginally better resolution and slightly better shadow detail and better highlights. Though without a direct comparison, I would equally like the Plustek’s result.

Let’s see what happens with a shot of some bikes:

Advertisement

160910-fomapan-100-leica-iiia-001

Plustek Opticfilm 8100

 

Reflecta RPS 10M

Reflecta RPS 10M

Again nearly a draw, slightly better resolution and toning with the Reflecta! I guess this will be the final result of quality testing. Just two more examples and we’ll get to the batch scanning test!

160910-fomapan-100-leica-iiia-028

Plustek Opticfilm 8100

 

Reflecta RPS 10M

Reflecta RPS 10M

 

160603-fomapan-100-olympus-xa2-017

Plustek Opticfilm 8100

 

Reflecta RPS 10M

Reflecta RPS 10M

Honestly, for me, at least looking at the original files, not the necessarily downsized ones that appear here, the crown goes to the Reflecta, but it’s not an overwhelming vistory. I could very well live with the results of the Plustek Opticfilm 8100. File sizes is another thing. In order to get the max resolution of 3800 dpi out of the Plustek I have to scan at 7200 dpi which gives much bigger files with lots of redundant pixels. The Reflecta on the other hand delivers a solid 4300 dpi at the 5000 dpi setting. Good!

I must say that scanning individual negatives out of a strip is a breeze! The manual says it must be a strip of minimum three negatives but as I am crazy, I tried a strip of two and it worked. I only have to tell Vuescan which negative I want and it advances to the correct one, mostly frames it precisely and does it’s magic. No fiddling with a film holder, trying to get the negative strip to lie down and not move until I close it. No risk of touching it with my greasy fingers trying to hold it down.

OK, the film strip gets inserted into the scanner sans holder, and I just touch it by the edges. Not much risk there. A strip of 6 does not touch anything while being scanned. What I fear though is that when I scan a whole roll where the frames advance for the preview scan, then return to number one, the film will move over my desk, unprotected!

img_0052

 

Too bad they did not think of a simple holder or rounded, box-like contraption on both sides of the scanner that would give my film some protection. Perhaps a do-it-yourself project for those long winter evenings!

OK, here comes the mother of all tests, the feature why I decided to give the Reflecta RPS 10M a try.

Scanning a whole roll of 36 frames!

I insert my film roll and nicely ask Vuescan to give me a preview of the negatives. Scan, rattle and roll – the Reflecta does its thing. It advances frames, scans at 500 dpi for the quick preview and advances again. I stare through the small window on top to try to detect any errors but so far, so good. It’s possible to do some correction when the frame is not quite centered by using the Reverse and Forward buttons, but you have to be fast as the scanner only pauses briefly before scanning. As I said I did not have to use them during pre-scan.

Now I have a long list of negatives in Vuescan and I go through them one by one to correct the frame lines Vuescan selected. It’s mostly OK and needs only light adjustments and of course the normal switch from landscape to portrait orientation. Pre-scan took about 12 minutes for the whole roll!

Then it’s time to hit SCAN. And the long wait begins.

Starting at 1:35, at about two minutes a frame without any sharpening, ICE or other corrections, it should be done about 2:47…

OK, it took until 2:58 to complete the batch scan! Just 11 minutes over estimated time… not too bad! At least faster than manually feeding the negatives into the Plustek. Framing was just right, no hiccups, no hassle… seems like this is my new scanner! One hour and twenty-two minutes for a whole roll of film is really not bad at all. Results look good – they will need some work in Lightroom as always, but there are keepers among them. I can let the scanner run unattended, come back and find my scans done. What more can I ask? Scan quality is really excellent, at least on par with my Nikon LS40 and a tad better than the Plustek.

One problem I encountered while scanning whole rolls was that the prescan is of no use. The scanner does not apply the slight corrections I made to some of the framings. In Vuescan it just scans the roll, in Silverfast it quickly does some frame by frame review of the whole roll, supposedly to get the framing right, and then scans the roll. Fortunately, the framing, until now has been quite accurate.

Bad point is that the scanner does no ICE or other adjustments when batch scanning. So you have more work afterwards, especially as ICE works quite well on the Reflecta.

My early conclusions

I heard bad things about the Reflecta RPS 10M – banding, incorrect frame recognition, many returns. But my short experience up to now has just shown me great qualities of a really fine machine. Short of the Cyberview software that won’t run correctly (I guess there’s some minor snag that I’ll have to put right), I am very happy with this scanner. It does everything I want from it and it does it quite fast. The scan quality is excellent and batch scanning works (with the limitations explained above). Now I’ll have to put some more rolls through it in the coming weeks (actually I did two rolls today) and see if it does not fail. In one month, the Amazon grace period will be up and until then I’ll have to be certain of it.

All I can say is that it looks great so far and I guess we will work together for some time. If anything new comes up I’ll certainly add to the comment section of this review to let you all know!

You will however have to take into account the cost! As I said, Amazon carries it for € 585,00 here in Europe while a Plustek 8100 goes for € 220,00. Is the slight but noticeable boost in scan quality and the convenience worth the price – you’ll have to decide for yourselves. More so as the build quality does not equal that of the Plustek. Might not be important, but it’s a fact. Furthermore Reflecta limit their warranty to 10,000 scan cycles, which includes any pre-scans, re-scans etc. Good for only about 138 rolls of film when you consider that each frame will be scanned twice, one pre-scan and one scan….

Next project will be another shootout I guess, but a software one, between Vuescan, Silverfast and Cyberview (If I can get it to work properly…)

Color scans with Silverfast and Vuescan

After some discussions about color scans from the Reflecta in the comments section I add some scans just for information. The color scans are straight out of the scanner, made with Silverfast with the Negafix filter for Portrait 400 applied and with Vuescan without any filter. The Silverfast scans are quite over the top with saturation I think and the Vuescan examples are quite flat but will tweak nicely (first Vuescan, second Silverfast):

VS 1

SF 1
VS 4
SF 4

Thanks a lot for reading this, I hope I could give you some useful information.

Don’t hesitate to stop by on my blog: www.whyfilmcameras.com

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84 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Stephen
    January 14, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Many thanks Frank, I have a Nikon LS4000ed…. Downsides are many, as you may remember, lack of drivers being rather prominent… I keep an old quad core powermac to run the scanner. I had an email exchange with Brian Griffith who is behind Iridient Developer and his product now reads my .nef files produced by the ScanSoft software as raw files.

    It seems a real shame that the big boys of digital photography no longer wish to be involved in scanning, since the scanner is really just a digital camera.

    Anyway, very nice to see some attention being paid to one of the lesser known modern products.

    I am going to have to look for a replacement for the Nikon as I have just started using medium format 120 film…

    The search begins.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 14, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Thanks, Stephen.

      As you’re into MF now, and if you will stay true to it the most interesting alternative would be a good flatbed scanner. Resolution is normally enough for MF. A dedicated MF scanner is certainly better but pricey.

      And of course the flatbeds just suck for 135!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Terry B
      January 14, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Stephen,

      Flatbed scanners seem better suited to medium format than 35mm, and Frank has already alluded to Canon’s Canoscan 9000F MkII. I have the MkI version and can confirm that its performance with MF film is far superior to that with 35mm film. In fact, with a quality negative shot on, say, FP4 and developed in a fine grain developer, the results belie the fact it has been scanned with a flatbed. The fact is, I can not get what for me are quality scans from even the best of my 35mm negatives. I’m not sure why the “chalk and cheese” result should be so.

      I have need for a 5×4 scanner, and I have recently acquired a replacement for my 2003 Canoscan 9900F and which Canon has drivers only up to Vista. (Aaaargh!) Their last model was the Canoscan 9950F and happily Canon do at least have drivers for W7 64 bit so I can make full use of my W7 Pro laptop with SSD, i7 and 16GB RAM. Not massively powerful, but more than enough.

      One advance of the 9950 over the 9900 that I wasn’t expecting was the 35mm negative film holders have provision to scan 24 frames, up over the earlier model’s 12. I’ve yet to see how its 35mm scans compare with the 9000F.

      But flatbeds for MF can make a lot of sense compared to MF dedicated film scanners that cost a small fortune. If you’ve got deep pockets and really need this level of quality, you could be surprised at how well a Canon or Epson MF film flatbed can perform.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Frank Lehnen
        January 14, 2017 at 1:17 pm

        Right, If I shot MF of LF i’d go for the Canon 9000F MkII again, without hesitation. It’s a great scanner though Canon’s driver support for Mac is abysmal. The only difference between the 9000F and 9000F MkII was the software – only the VERY bad Canon ‘My Image Garden’ software provided (and of course the driver). Even the name of that software can put you off.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Terry B
    January 14, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Hello, Frank.

    Thanks for your post. Before reading it, I would have thought batch scanning uncut 35mm film could be a good idea, rather like when I was enlarging and doing quick proof prints to 6×4 inches. I would eventually cut the film into strips of 6 for filing and storage. The relevance of this is that it was very evident that I wasn’t proofing every neg and I started to think that given the time it takes to scan a roll on your Reflecta, and without applying any adjustments at that, my time could be better spent selecting which negs I wanted to scan and apply corrections. Each scan takes longer, but saves so much time later when editing in imaging software.

    Given the not inconsiderable difference in price between the Reflecta and the Plustek, and I rather gather you are saying the Reflecta isn’t exactly a Plustek killer, what are your thoughts on this?

    As you will know, colour negative film poses more problems that b/w; what are your thoughts on how the Reflecta performs here? Could this justify the higher price?

    I’ve recently acquired a book dedicated to scanning and one of the tips that you may find useful when scanning b/w negatives is to scan them as slide material and then convert to positive in your imaging software. Strange as it may at first seem, the resultant scan is superior. Give it a go and see what you think.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Frank Lehnen
    January 14, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Thanks for your comment, Terry!

    In fact, I’m still not sure about the Reflecta. You are right, and the thing that bothers me most is that I will end up with 36 frames I have to correctly crop (not as in cropping but cutting some black borders that remain sometimes), that I have to edit, to evaluate….

    Sure I edit my scans always, but even batch scanning with that machine does not in fact save all that much time. Now if I could select my frames after a pre-scan, adjust them correctly and get results I can immediately use, it would be great.

    As it is it saves some time, yes, but the time / cost equation is quite biased. We’ll see in a few days what I decide.

    As for color scans, I did some of older negs and the results were very much OK. Depends on the software of course. That Silverfast with Negafix setting for Portra 400 for example gave extremely saturated scans. Vuescan on the other hand puts out very neutral, even pale scans but better suited to work on later. Now perfect results might be possible by scanning as negative and treating the scans to ColorPerfect. Best results, but not much difference between both scanners apart from the resolution and toning!

    I’ll definitely try this for black and white too. Thanks for the hint!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Terry B
      January 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Frank, and others who may be interested.

      Another tip from the book relates to scanning with automatic dust removal. Scan at FULL res, irrespective of the intended used of the scan. This helps the software to better distinguish the smaller particles of dust from from the background film grain. Then afterwards, the scanned image can be resized for whatever purpose you’d intended, and produce sharper images for web use than if the original scan had been made at a web use resolution.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Frank Lehnen
        January 20, 2017 at 4:22 am

        Good to know!

        Problem with the Reflecta is that you can’t scan with dust removal while doing a batch scan of a whole roll. At least I haven’t found that option in Silverfast and Vuescan. Batch scan is always straight without any other settings.

        That negates the advantage of the scanner quite a bit!

        • Avatar
          Reply
          Terry B
          January 20, 2017 at 12:16 pm

          “That negates the advantage of the scanner quite a bit!”

          Frank, yes, it does and I can’t really see any advantage to this facility. I didn’t initially pick up on your comment, but it seems that despite the batch scan, the scanner doesn’t allow you to automatically select a pre-scan and for the scanner then to automatically move to the selected image. Have I understood you correctly?

          My old Minolta Dimage Elite II, although only holding 6 negatives, is motorised and after its initial pre-scan of all six, will then “drive” to the selected pre-scan from whence all adjustments can be carried out for the final scan. Of, course, this isn’t the same as batch scanning all final scans with adjustments, but being motorised it does make selection easy, and its positioning of the negative is spot on. If you use your Reflecta to do a batch scan with uncut film, how do you get to select, say, negative 19, for example, for final scanning? Is this still motorised, but with frame accuracy being questionable? It seems to be that this may, or could even, lead to greater opportunities for damaging the your precious film, something we photographers go, or went to, great lengths to avoid!

          • Avatar
            Frank Lehnen
            January 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm

            Right, at least in Vuescan you can select the frames you want to scan (Batch list) but you can’t apply any adjustments like ICE or individual framing… too bad! With Silverfast it’s much more involved to scan just one frame from a roll. You basically have to ‘advance’ frame by frame to the correct one…. as far as I found out at least.

            Then you can make any adjustments and do your final scan.

            As I said framing was astonishingly accurate when batch scanning or ‘driving’ to a specific neg with only very slight errors and perhaps some problems with negatives with extensive black or white areas throwing the scanner off course.

            And all the time your film travels back and forth on your desk…. aaaaaaarrrgghhh! Gathers dust, and heaven forbid, scratches. The Reflecta is not the ideal scanner and I have really been thinking about a return to the Plustek or perhaps the RPM 10T which is basically the manual-feed sibling of the 10M.

          • Avatar
            Terry B
            January 20, 2017 at 4:52 pm

            Frank, as you prefer the Reflecta scans somewhat over the Plustek, it seems to make more sense to go for the manual version RPM 10T as potentially less damaging to your negs, and saving money in the process.

          • Avatar
            Frank Lehnen
            January 20, 2017 at 5:11 pm

            Seems logical, though the 10T sells for about 400€ and the Plustek is just 185€ on amazon.co.uk just now. Still a sizeable difference of 43 rolls of HP5!

            I think that I’ll introduce a new currency from now on, the RooHP (Roll of HP, pronounced rupee).

            Let me make a decision this weekend. Then again I got this nice enlarger from my brother in law (the one in the review’s photographs) – Might try to find a space to set it up and do some real photographer’s work….

        • Avatar
          Reply
          Jakob
          January 24, 2017 at 12:13 pm

          Hi Frank,

          I’ve been in contact with Reflecta and asked them if it is possible to use MagicTouch / ICE when doing batch scanning. The answer was that magic Touch is either “always on” or “always off”, even when batch scanning (This wasn’t the literal answer, I asked in german). Still, the answer says that the scanner is indeed capable of batch scanning with automatic dust removal turned on.
          Did you try turning it on for a single scan, then doing a batch scan? It might be that the option cannot be changed when batch scanning, but that your last setting still applies. Also, could this be a shortcoming of Vuescan?

          • Avatar
            Frank Lehnen
            January 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm

            I think this will only work with Reflecta’s software Cyberscan which I never got to work on my Mac. It always crashed…. In Vuescan or Silverfast, even with ICE or whatever it’s called, turned on there is no second IR scan to detect any dust or scratches.

            Anyways, I have nearly reached a decision to return to the Plustek scanner. The 10M can work for some, but I’m not getting intimate with it. I’ll post my decision!

          • Avatar
            Terry B
            January 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

            Frank,
            As far as I have always thought, IR dust removal does not work with black and white negatives. From what I can gather, the RPS 10M uses IR, so could this be the reason why it doesn’t work? Or are you saying you can’t select any adjustment parameters when batch scanning a full 36 exp. roll?

          • Avatar
            Terry B
            January 24, 2017 at 12:49 pm

            Oooops! Frank, just spotted you have already confirmed this in one of your earlier replies.

          • Avatar
            Frank Lehnen
            January 24, 2017 at 2:45 pm

            No problem, in fact it was the same when I scanned some old color negatives.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    George Appletree
    January 14, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Perhaps the point is what using the scanner for.
    To get a fine digital print a really good scanner is required.
    For a screen view here or there just a flatbed one works fine

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 14, 2017 at 11:51 am

      True! But for the moment I’m a hybrid guy as I have no place for a darkroom. I got a nice enlarger from my brother in law last week, but still have no place to set it up. That will be seen to within the next years I guess. Until then I scan and print, so I need a good scanner.

      Of course I can always wet print my negatives later.

      I had very much OK experience with the Canoscan 9000f MkII, but in the end it was not enough.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Julian Master
    January 14, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    have any color samples?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 14, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      Yes, I’ll add some to the post!

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Frank Lehnen
        January 14, 2017 at 5:17 pm

        Color scan section added! Just the scans, no great review…

  • Avatar
    Reply
    George Appletree
    January 14, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Big difference in color samples.
    First ones too weak, seconds yellow casted.
    Also, try scanning to tiff, someway better to lately LR handling

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 14, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      As I said the Vuescan scans are very flat but can be post processed very easily. Silverfast makes a mess of the scans as it overdoes the processing… thus the yellow cast and flashy colours.

      Of course I scan to tiff – I had to save the files as jpg and reduce resolution to post here so it’s not a very good example.

      For B/W I prefer Silverfast with this scanner, for color I vastly prefer Vuescan with nice post processing in Lightroom. One thing I’ll try more in depth is scanning as negative and processing with ColorPerfect. The things I tried showed VERY good results!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Kenneth
    January 15, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Great Frank, thanks! It will be helpfull in my decision in the future.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Mark
    January 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Wait till you try the Reflecta MF5000 for your 120 scans. Reflectas are not perfect, but the big secret is that few scanners are! They’ve very good though, and a bit better than the Plusteks IMO.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Terry B
      January 17, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      Well, at around £1,600 in the UK it should be blinkin good!

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Frank Lehnen
        January 17, 2017 at 6:43 pm

        Well yes, 1600£ or about 1700€ are quite some cash. They better be good then. Compared to a 220€ Plustek.. ok it’s 135 format, but that’s what I need for the moment.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dustin
    January 20, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve been shooting 35mm film for just under a year now. I’ve up til now been sending my film to get developed/scan through labs. I just sent out 6 rolls and at a cost of around $80 I’m trying to find a good scanner for <$200 or less. I know you guys are saying the 9000f mk ii and v600 which are flatbed scanners suck, but I've seen some videos/photos that seem to indicate you can get good results? I would like to at most do some 8X10 prints but honestly I mainly just want really nice digital images with print possibility in the future. Should I go with the 9000f mkii for my price range? I run a 2012 MBP retina and am on 10.10.5. Would I have to use VueScan?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 20, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      The 9000f is a good scanner, just not up to producing scans which will print over about 6×9 inches. For internet use and smaller 4×6 prints it is very good.

      The Canon software sucks. At least I don’t like it. Vuescan is tougher to master but gets you fine results. And it will work with any scanner you’ll buy later.

      The Epson V600 is nearly as good as the Canon and it’s native software is good. It’s a little more expensive as the Canon but you’ll save on the software as you won’t need to pay for Vuescan.

      Now if you want to print bigger one day, you need a better, dedicated film scanner. The Plustek Opticfilm 8100 is slow to operate but exceeds the flatbed’s quality by far. On Amazon UK you can get it for 160£, cheapest in Europe…. if you’re living here.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dustin
    January 20, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks for the reply man! I live in the states but love this blog! I have seen the plustek models! So the 8100 is good for printing? Does it have ice/do I need it? I have Lightroom/photoshop and am pretty good at using it to remove hairs/imperfections.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 20, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      The 8100 does not have ICE, contrary to the more expensive 8200. If like me you shoot b&w you won’t need it as infrared ICE doesn’t work for silver based emulsions.

      If you scan old, dirty, scratched color negatives, ICE is great! If you scan freshly developed negs, handled carefully you won’t have too much defects to deal with. At least my take on ICE.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dustin
    January 21, 2017 at 5:28 am

    SO it seems the plustek 7400/7600 models are the same except the software bundled? These units are fetching under $100! Will they be slower than a new 8100 or the same speed? Thinking about pulling the trigger on one instead of spending more money if I can help it and performance is the same. *With Vuescan

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 21, 2017 at 6:10 am

      Yes, they seem to be exactly the same scanners and if you find a nice one you save a lot of money! Same resolution, same speed, same results!

      Hadn’t thought about that. Just don’t blame me for the hours you’ll spend feeding it your negatives ??

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        Dustin
        January 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm

        On your 8100… do you scan at the full resolution then downsample? Or scan at the effective resolution…(3500 ish something (I can’t remember))? How would I go about downsampling from 7200? Use Vuescan/Photoshop?

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          Frank Lehnen
          January 22, 2017 at 10:23 am

          I resolved to scan at 3600 – good enough for home use. When I scan at 7200 I downsample in Vuescan immediately but honestly, apart from file size there’s not that much difference between 7200 and 3600 to my old eyes.

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    Andrew Chang
    January 22, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for your right up Frank. I’ve recently picked up a M6 and in the middle of shooting my first roll. I’ve done a lot of reading about scanners and there doesn’t seem to be a problem free one out there. The Hasselblad x series were out of question due to cost and I looked at the Coolscans but the thought of investing in equipment that might be easily repairable quickly halted that path.

    So I considered the 200AI Plustek which looks like a great option with the right software, but a little slow when it comes to speed. The Reflecta 10m also looks good from a speed perspective but I too read up on banding issues that were slightly off putting.

    So, veering towards going down the flatbed root of the Epson 850. I’ve seen some great scans from the perfection series. I think you mentioned earlier that you their output didn’t were not as favourable as those from a dedicated scanner, would it be possible to elaborate.

    As I’m not looking for super high resolution scans and consider colour and rendering more important, an outside option if i can get hold of one is the Kodak Pakon 135+

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      Hamish Gill
      January 22, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      I’m running a Noritsu ls-1100, it and the ls-600 can be got for not much more than a Pakon 135 now…

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        Andy Chang
        January 22, 2017 at 11:04 pm

        I think the main problem with be finding a Noritsu in the UK or europe. Thanks for the heads up.

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          Reply
          Hamish Gill
          January 23, 2017 at 10:43 pm

          Indeed! They are about… but it took me a fair while to find one

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      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 23, 2017 at 4:50 am

      As I said the main problem with flatbeds is resolution ! If you only scan for web use or print 4 by 6 photos, they are very much OK. But if you print bigger the lack of resolution will show. Even the Epson 700 or 800 which are the best of them lack a bit in resolution (only about 2300 dpi), but in order to get that you have to scan at the maximum resolution it says on the box. Result: huge files!

      If resolution and printing big are no problem, get a flatbed though. Easier, faster…. or a Palin, but then you’re again stuck with old tech that might fail and be unrepaireable.

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    Dustin
    January 23, 2017 at 3:53 am

    So I went with the 8100 and even though I live in the States I was able to get it NEW like you said through AmazonUK for $200 plus shipping. Arriving thursday! Going to get Vuescan/Color perfect as I already have the adobe suite.

    I was in a bidding war for a 7400 machine but some chump outbid me literally seconds before I could up my max bid. Through ebay sold listings, I’m seeing you can pick up a plustek machine used for anywhere from 60-100 depending on the model. I decided that at least this way I will not have to worry about lack of a warranty, prior owners misuse etc. At this point I’m just ready to scan and start saving a little money and put that money into shooting more film! One of the reasons I haven’t been able to get film developed is the price/scan cost. (Also I really need to get into B+W soon even though I love color film, the price on BW film is much more affordable).

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      Frank Lehnen
      January 23, 2017 at 5:07 am

      …and if you develop b&w at home, which is very easy, you basically have only the cost of film to consider!

      Even color development is not too hard!

      Hope you have fun with the scanner!

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    Dustin
    January 23, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks! Stupid question…by ordering one from the UK, it will work fine here right? Like it’s not a different model than the one sold in the us is it?

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      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      No stupid questions!

      Unless the voltage is different??? Over here we run on 220V. Otherwise it will be the exact same machine. Just The power adapter might be different. Can’t check now if my adapter nsupported 220 AND 110 V as the scanner is gone….

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      Terry B
      January 24, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Dustin,

      Whilst I can’t be absolutely certain, it is more likely than not to come with a UK power supply, if you purchase via the UK. I base this on the fact that here in the UK it is basically illegal to supply electrical products not conforming to the UK mains, or wall plug. Strictly, products should not be sold even with an EU style plug, but this is easier to get round as suppliers simply either supply a UK lead, or simply add one to the box as a 220V item will work on the UK mains supply, although the two are not strictly identical. UK and EU voltages differ slightly in reality; 220V EU is lower than the UK standard which can vary between 230/240V. Both systems work at a frequency of 50Hz, but your US kit needs 120V at 60Hz.
      The good news is that the power supply brick is likely to also be a transformer with dual 50/60 Hz compatibility so, as long as you are able to get an appropriate power brick intended for 120V, the Plustek should work.

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        Dustin
        January 24, 2017 at 7:44 pm

        So do you think the power brick will work out of the box? On the box itself I’ve seen that it says 120-220v on the unit.

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          Reply
          Dustin
          January 24, 2017 at 7:50 pm

          Edit–on the Plustek website it says the same thing on U.K. And US versions under specifications–power supply. So hopefully it’s the same power supply with a built in transformer? I feel a little naive..if I wound up having to purchase another adapter to plug into that costs $20-30 that would defeat the nearly $50 in savings by buying on amazon UK

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          Reply
          Terry B
          January 24, 2017 at 8:07 pm

          Hi, Dustin.
          This indicates it is dual voltage so will be fine. All you will need will be the appropriate US style mains lead. It is common for UK products to have the UK and EU lead. But perhaps Frank can confirm if the plug is a convertible one that has a US adapter. If not, you will need to source a lead from the US.

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            Dustin
            January 24, 2017 at 9:30 pm

            Thanks guys! My last order of film I will get scanned is coming in today and for 6 rolls with enhanced scans it cost $145!! (Shouldn’t have gotten the enhanced scans but still). Color issues or not…I cannot wait to start saving money on scanning. My head is kind of hurting from all this research on getting the best from C-41 Color. It appears there are 1000X ways to get results. Do you guys have any direct comparisons of Silverfast+Negafix vs Vuescan+Color perfect comparisons? Frank I know you have written a few articles but just wanted to know if their is a direct comparison or your guys thoughts? Although I dislike the idea of spending another $150 on additional software it seems a large number of people favor the Vuescan/Color perfect route. I just wanna see how big a difference say Superia 400 shows up using the two methods. If not I will just see for myself this weekend. Honestly I think as long as I’m in the ballpark I’ll be happy.

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            Frank Lehnen
            January 25, 2017 at 6:14 am

            Silverfast with Negafix gave me very exaggerated color results. Very saturated colors with Portra 160. Vuescan scans very flat (I don’t use Vuescan film presets as the results are not great) but you can tweak the files in Lightroom or Photoshop (or Luminar which I like alot).

            Best results are when you scan as RAW in Vuescan and apply ColorPerfect in Photoshop, but it’s quite tedious…

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    Dustin
    January 23, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks Frank–You the man! By the way you said in an earlier comment you were gonna think about the Reflecta again this weekend…you still liking it or thinking about going to another machine/darkroom?

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      Frank Lehnen
      January 24, 2017 at 4:21 am

      I need more time to decide…

      But in the end I’ll certainly go the darkroom way. Just need the space to set it up.

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        Reply
        Terry B
        January 27, 2017 at 11:06 am

        Frank, something you may wish to think about whilst you are waiting to set up your darkroom. This concerns how you develop your b/w films in the interim. Good darkroom technique involves eliminating as many variables as possible so you give yourself fewer problems at the printing stage. To this end, you will find that getting the “right” negative from the outset will reduce time and paper wastage later on in the darkroom.
        Firstly, what light source does your enlarger use? Is it a diffuser (opal glass in the light source) or a full condenser? The difference is significant when it comes to printing. A diffusing light source is comparatively soft compared to a full condenser source, which produces a much harsher light. The aim is to produce a negative which for either light source will print well on a normal grade of paper.
        For a diffuse source, ideally you should develop to a higher gamma (higher contrast) and developing times should be indicated in the guidance note that comes with the film or developer. The opposite is the goal for a condenser enlarger, and development should be for a less contrasty negative.
        Should you not know, photographic papers come in two types: fixed grades (from soft to hard) and multigrade and which, with the use of magenta filters (in the case of Ilford’s Multigrade paper) can produce different contrast levels from the same sheet. And excellent book on developing film and enlarging is Ilford’s own Monochrome Darkroon Practice and if you are going to the trouble to set up your darkroom is well worth investigating, providing you can get it for a sensible price, say in the region of 20€ to 30€.

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          Reply
          Frank Lehnen
          January 27, 2017 at 11:11 am

          Thanks Terry, There’s definitely much to consider before I even get launched on my darkroom… but I got time. Presently I don’t have the space yet.

          The enlarger I got is a condenser type – and I love high contrast. Just have to see how it plays out. And of course I’ll have to read up a bit – thanks for the tip on the Ilford book. I’ll probably book a darkroom course too – I know a photographer who can help me there – the guy works with large format and collodium prints!

          • Avatar
            Terry B
            January 27, 2017 at 11:16 am

            Frank, booking a darkroom course is an excellent idea. Tapping into the experience of a practioner is worth it.

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    Reply
    Michael
    January 25, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Hi, Frank. Thanks for your review. Question on your experience with the scanner: were you able to use the full 36.5mm × 24.3mm spec’d scan area?

    I recently bought a PacificImage PrimeFilm XA (which I understand to be the same device), but returned it. I knew getting into it (based on the specs) that there would be very little overscan. But whenever I did a full/maximum area scan (at that 36.5 × 24.3mm), I always had an unusable half-millimeter or so at the bottom edge of the image. You could see it in Cyberview, SilverFast, and Vuescan—so I don’t think it was software. Just a rough black band at the bottom where you’d expect to start to see sprocket holes. It meant that 35mm negatives always clipped somewhat significantly on their top edge, which is obviously a problem.

    I emailed back and forth with the PacificImage US support, but they were pretty unhelpful—suggesting that this is normal. So I ended up returning the scanner and have been hesitant to pick up another, thinking it would likely just have the same problem. I could deal with the occasional registration/frame-identifaction problem if I had that half millimeter back! And now I am missing the auto-feeding, which is remarkably uncommon in this niche field.

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      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 25, 2017 at 6:16 am

      My XA / RPS10M scanned the whole frame as far as I see. Not the sprocket holes of course. The scan is quite centered and just a small ‘out of frame’ border shown around the negative. I gues your scanner has an alignment problem.

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        Reply
        Michael
        January 25, 2017 at 2:52 pm

        Ah, thanks for your reply. Sounds like it might have indeed been the hardware. So you are able to see the frame (albeit very thin) around the entire image? No amount of maneuvering would get me all four edges visible.

        (I love the exposure falloff, hence my concern.)

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          Reply
          Frank Lehnen
          January 25, 2017 at 4:06 pm

          Normally I can see the slightly rounded corners on the negs from my Leica IIIa.

          I always crop them out slightly.

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    Reply
    Terry B
    January 25, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Dustin,
    Before you spend on software, see if the Plustek can do a straight scan by selecting only two parameters: scan dpi and input sharpening. Thereafter carry out image corrections using your normal imaging software. Unless your negatives are damaged, this works well, and with my Canon flatbed this is how I work. I use the acquire feature and scan directly from my imaging software, which is Zoner Photo Studio Pro, using the Canon driver setting. Obviously, I can’t emulate a film emulsion at the scan stage but, for me, I don’t value this feature anyway as I find the straight scan gives me a preferable result. This won’t be to everyone’s taste, though.
    The main issue with this process is that damaged film or dust which isn’t corrected or removed and needs time in the editing stage. But the trick is that by doing it yourself you don’t usually need to scan every negative, be selective, and work only on the best. If this doesn’t work for you, then you will need to seek advice about which scanning software is best. Personally, I tried Vuescan simply because it came with drivers for my older Canon models and my Minolta dedicated film scanner with runs Windows XP only*, but I didn’t think it was worth the cost. My Canon 9000F came with Silverfast SE and I found its user inter-face a pain in the butt to use. And as it wasn’t giving me any benefits over my preferred method, I dispense with this when scanning.
    * To get round this, I simply purchased a little XP laptop so I could use Minolta’s old, but excellent scanner software.

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      Reply
      Dustin
      January 25, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Interesting thought! I am definitely open as far as workflow goes! It will arrive tomorrow so I will find out! I’m not extremely opposed to spending money on software but I think I might try silverfast first to see how I like it then vuescan/colorperfect. My previous lab used a noritsu and I will be getting scans from north coast photo lab today so I will have plenty of examples to play comparing with. Side note–I’ve been at shooting on film for almost a year and I have two main cameras, a Olympus OM2N and a Nikon one touch 35mm. I had gotten so used to the automatic loading of the Nikon when I just finished a roll of portra on the Olympus I made a rookie mistake and broke the roll. Apparently I could’ve wound it back into the canister but hey live and learn! What’s everyone’s favorite color film right now? I shoot a lot of Fuji superia because it’s most affordable but I’m planning on getting a few boxes of portra soon!

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        Reply
        Frank Lehnen
        January 25, 2017 at 4:09 pm

        I love Portra but it’s expensive so I used Superia most of the time when I still shot color!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dustin
    January 27, 2017 at 4:19 am

    My first film scanner, the Plustek 8100, arrived from the UK just fine! Bought a power adapter at a store and works fine. All is well and that saved me $50 bucks (more if bought from other stores) total from buying it in the US of A. I will not be able to get into scanning until the weekend where I can hopefully put this baby through its paces on a few recent lab scans. My hopes are that this scanner will enable me to shoot MORE film because even if it takes me all day to scan a few rolls, I won’t have to worry about dropping $15 -20 bucks a roll to get scans. I hit a midway into last year upon starting to shoot film where I was uninspired simply because I couldn’t afford it. While this scanner will definitely have its strengths and weaknesses, this puts the cost of shooting film into a much more affordable category for me! Can’t wait.

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    Matthew Martin
    January 28, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Hi Frank, I believe that if you get the archive suite version of silverfast that you can batch scan raw files (including their version of ICE) and then edit the results later in their HDR studio software. This is what I’m going to try with mine, that way you get the benefit of doing other things while the roll is being scanned and you can rattle through any post processing later on without having to wait for the scanner.

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      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      January 28, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Thanks for the info, Matthew, but did you see the price of Silverfast Ai, even as update…… 180€ and that is a special reduced price, normally they want 299 for it. Way too expensive to my taste

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        Dustin
        January 30, 2017 at 1:09 am

        Update!! So silverfast was an absolute dud, registered it and then couldn’t get it to open. Nonetheless, bought vuescan and color perfect…I am so impressed! Scanning RAW files at 3600 DPI, using ColorPerfect, I was able to recover details my lab scan missed- both in size and resolution. On one file the roof top was just kind of blurred but using Color Perfect to pull down the highlights, it revealed very sharp roof tiles. The RAW files come in at just under 100MB but storage is cheap. It’s gonna take some getting used to for me to clean the negatives and line them up, but even buying vuescan and color perfect I am perfectly happy.

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          Reply
          Frank Lehnen
          January 30, 2017 at 4:37 am

          Really glad it works for you!

          Happy scanning!

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        Reply
        Matthew Martin
        February 3, 2017 at 6:21 pm

        Hi Frank, bit of an update for you. If you have the standard version of silverfast you can batch scan TIFFs or JPGs with dust removal no problem.

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          Reply
          Frank Lehnen
          February 3, 2017 at 6:44 pm

          Thanks, good to know. Silverfast is such a convoluted thing I didn’t find that.

          Will try!

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    Reply
    Nicolas
    February 6, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Hi Frank. I recently bought a Reflecta RPS 10M with Silverfast and I’m finally starting to play with it. I used to scan my negs on an Epson V700 available at my previous work with Silverfast as well, usually directly in JPG. I was happy with it, because it was there! It took we a while already to find a good workflow and figure Silverfast out, which is clearly not a user-friendly software. Having to re-align each scanning area of the neg holders after pre-scan was tidious, but I was using that as brake at work with a coffee.
    The capability of scanning a full roll at once and the good effective resolution was my driver to buy this scan. I wasn’t aware of Vuescan, which could I change my decision of buying Silverfast. But since it’s done I’m gonna try to make the best of it!
    So my experience so far:
    – the 10M has more difficulties to align the first frame on a strip of 6 than with a full roll. With a strip, I have a manually adjust the position before the pre-scan, and it will keep it right was doing the Batch scanning.
    – I’m mainly working on B&W neg. ICE is of no help here, but you can turn it on and there is nothing in Silverfast to avoid turning it on, even when you select the TriX-400 presets… The results is a full pixelized scan. But I’ll try with colour neg I will get next week.
    – I’m fairly satisfied with the scan of a full roll at once, except of course for the neg lying on my desk. So will try to build something out of 2 cottage cheese pots of the perfect size for the film to roll in. I will post some result if it work (without altering the neg).

    My final thought on a new workflow I will try to use:
    – Keeping my B&W film as a roll when developing them (I give my color ones to a store, so get them in 6-strips)
    – Scanning the full roll as Tiff, at 2400 dpi, with the film presets of Silverfast as only modifications (at least for the moment)
    – Importing the results into Lightroom to select the frame of interest and erase the others.
    – Exporting the results in JPEG, of the best quality.

    I will be curious to know what kind of settings you are using.
    Best,
    Nicolas

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      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      February 6, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks for your review, Nicolas! I really want to see your cottage-cheese-film-protector!!!

      In fact I went back to a Plustek 8100 scanner… At long last the advantages of the Reflecta batch scans were not enough for me to justify the price. Quite tight money-wise as always, so I just sent it back to Amazon (Thank you Amazon, love you!!!).

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    Reply
    martina
    October 12, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Hello! I would like to have more information about PaciFIC iMAGE Prime Flim Xas. I have to scan several negatives, very long, is it possible to do with this scanner? I need only one tif, is it also possible to do it?
    thank you very much

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      October 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

      This scanner can scan only 35mm negatives (24x36mm).

      If you have panoramic negatives you need a flatbed scanner or ‘scan’ with a digital camera and macro lens…

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    Reply
    Richard
    February 20, 2019 at 4:42 am

    Wait, no digital ice when scanning a full roll ? Why? Are you sure?

    Is this the same scanner as the pacific image primefilm xas?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      February 20, 2019 at 5:13 am

      Never used much digital ICE anyways. The Plustek 8100 I used after the Reflekta doesn’t Even feature It..

      And Yes, they are the very same scanners.

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