Noritsu LS-1100 – First Black & White Scans

Sometime late spring last year I bought myself a Noritsu LS-1100 commercial 35mm film scanner. For one reason and another, and another, and a few more, I’ve had a bit of a mare getting it working, but work it now does, and I am at last now getting my first scans out of it.

I’m in the process of writing a post about all the fuss I’ve been through to get it to work, but since it’s been quite a while, I’ve found I’ve had quite a fair bit to say for myself. As such – especially considering how happy I am with the scans I’ve had so far – I thought I’d share some of them in the interim.

This set of images was shot as part of a long form documentary photography job I am doing through a little brand we created at work called ShootRewind. The client is a cider producer out in Ledbury, Herefordshire (where proper cider comes from). They’ve been making cider in the same plot of land for over a century I think, and have only relatively recently decided to bottle and sell it.

Everything they do to make the cider is done in the traditional way. They grow the apples, take the apples off the tree, smush them into juice, leave them to ferment, filter, blend to taste, add sugar for the sweet variety, bottle and sell. There’s no artificial additives or anything like that, it’s all done properly!

You can see a few other stages of the process on the ShootRewind website here. This particular stage hasn’t been published on there yet.

These photos were taken to document Brian Wilce tasting and blending the cider. There are apparently lots of different varieties of apples, all that add different tastes to a cider. Brian mixes the varieties in small quantities in measuring tubes in his kitchen to get the flavours he is looking for. These small measures are then expanded up to the large volumes that will go to be mixed and bottled. In short, buy a bottle of Wilce’s Cider and it tastes exactly as it does because Brian Wilce decided that’s how it should taste!

The photos were shot with my Leica M-A, Zeiss ZM Sonnar and HP5+. The HP5+ was then developed in Ilfotec DD-X and scanned to 24mp equivalent TIFFs using the Noritsu LS-1100, then tweaked slightly in lightroom.

Wilces Cider

Wilces Cider

Wilces Cider

Wilces Cider

Wilces Cider

Wilces Cider

Wilces Cider

Wilces Cider

Wilces Cider

Keep an eye out for my post about the hell ride I’ve had getting the Noritsu up and running, it’ll be up next week sometime. Believe it or not, this was a high point…

…Thankfully, I think it’s been worth it in the end!



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28 thoughts on “Noritsu LS-1100 – First Black & White Scans”

  1. Hi, Hamish.

    Thanks for the direct link to flickr where I was somewhat taken aback with the high grain in these images. It almost matches that I obtained from a roll I shot back in the late 1960’s of Kodak’s Royal X Pan which was available in 120 only and which at the time was the fastest commercially available base ISO film at 1250 ASA, as it was then.

    I’m assuming from viewing the magnified images in flickr that you may have done some push processing as the images don’t look that crisp, even for 35mm film, and grain seems to dominate. I’ve not used Ilford’s Ilfotec DD-X but checking their information sheet it is recommended for HP5+ for fine grain. So I am somewhat perplexed by it all. :D)

    What dpi did you scan it?

    Looking forward to the next instalment about getting the scanner itself working.

    1. Hi Terry,

      They are certainly fairly grainy, though I suspect as much as anything else this is down to a lack of practice with my home developing.
      I’m not so worried about this, as I know I can try harder to keep the variables less variable. (Or get someone else to do it for me)

      As for DPI, they were scanned “high” which creates a 6000 x 4000 ish file … so that’s about 4200dpi by my reckoning…?

      The lack of crispness depends on what you feel isn’t crisp. If you think the images look soft when zoomed in, this possibly down to them being shot with the Sonnar wide open (they all were). It’s not very sharp wide, but I like the look it renders.

      Or are you talking about crispness at a grain level? I think the grain itself has been well resolved, but if you feel it is lacking there, this is possibly down to me turning off sharpening in the scanner, then not sharpening them after (I didn’t want to emphasise the grain too much…)

      1. The reason for me being so happy with the scans was in part actually the resolution and rendering of the grain. The other main factor being the control over tonality I now have… though these are things I’ll come back to later.

        1. Hamish, the grain rendering does look like film grain, not something that can be easily replicated, if at all, by adding it digitally. This is a good point. You want your scans to look like film, not a digital interpretation of it.

          1. Indeed, but moreover I suppose, I was just happy to see that the scanner was capable of that level of resolution, even with the sharpening switched off. This is not a level of detail I have ever managed to extract from a 35mm neg.

          2. Hamish,
            Regarding the lack of IQ from a 35mm neg in a wet print, I have a theory, not very scientific, as to why a very high quality scan will beat it.
            In a 12×8 conventionally derived photographic print, say, the negative is not only enlarged linearly 8x, but also suffers some degradation from the enlarging lens and, in addition, just like film, to achieve the best results, the paper needs to be exposed for the optimum time and developed accordingly. If the paper is underexposed and overdeveloped, or overexposed and underdeveloped, both will lead to a lack of sharpness in the print. Technique is all when coming to the highest quality images possible. And because print size is a linear function, the higher the magnification, the less sharp will be the resultant image. Thus for any given size print, it is a truism that a good big’un i.e. 6×6, will always beat a good little’un because less linear enlargement is required.

            So to my theory why a high quality digital scan and print will win over the same sized print direct from a negative. Let’s assume the 35mm negative has sufficient detail to be resolved by a 4200 dpi scan. The file size will be large, but also will be the pixel dimensions expressed as the sides of the image captured.
            But the resolution captured by the scanner is not subject to any degradation up to the image’s native print size based on its pixels. It is nigh on impossible for a 35mm negative to approach this technical quality because its IQ degrades according to the linear enlargement it is subjected to, whereas a digital image does not, except when interpolations is used to exceed its native print size.

            I’m sure there must be a gaping hole in my reasoning, so please shoot it down!

          3. It certainly stands up as an argument… though god only knows how many variables there are to consider as both pros and cons. I suppose the purist would flag up the flaws in the process of digitisation; is the range and control of tonality in an analogue print process up to that of a scanner and software? Then you have the type of print from digital – are we talking inkjet or c-type, as that argument alone has enough variables to worry about. Enlarger lens quality, skill of the person in charge of the enlarger, CofC/final print size variables. I dunno Terry, I also think we might have stepped into the world of perception, confirmation bias and subjective opinion too – as I bet when you get to the point of controlling variables to an extreme degree, and ensuring highest quality at every step, I’d bet there’s not a damn lot most people would be able to discern from one process of image to the next…?

      2. Hamish, Thanks for the info.

        From you explanation, I now believe the lack of perceived crispness (to my eyes) is more likely down to shooting wide open where you say the lens is soft, whereas the grain structure looks crisp enough, although to me it still looks to be on the high side for even a fast film such as HP5+ and which has not been pushed processed. This is all to taste, of course, and unless I needed to push process a film, my preference was always directed towards getting the finest grain possible commensurate with the film I used; these were invariably, and initially, FP3/HP3 and Tri-X, and later with the updated FP4 and HP4 and Tri-X. I didn’t see any need for fancy developers, only Geoffrey Crawley’s formulations for Paterson: Aculux, Acutol and ID11/D76. No fancy two-bath formulations and always one shot. Over the years I got to know these combinations well and what they could do. I did try some alternatives, followed the instructions assiduously, but didn’t like the results and immediately went back to my tried and trusted combinations.

        I’d really like to see what your Noritsu does with a finer grained negative, say FP4+ perhaps.

        1. I’d agree, it is slightly on the high side. It’s certainly higher than I have had in my own results processed by AG who scan with the same scanner, so I am confident the fault is within the realms of the chemical part of the process. Speaking of taste, I am happy with them, though I would definitely like to find a path to controlling the perceived grain better. The question is just down to whether or not I choose to go down the road of mastering the chemicals, or taking the path of least resistance and continuing to outsource that part of the process. I’m yet to decide, but with the dark room now ready to rock at work, I’m inclined to the former at the moment.
          Send me a strip of negs if you like…? Im happy to indulge the intrigue of a “regular” to the site. 🙂

      3. Great to see some examples from your Noritsu – I own an old Fuji SP500 which is fantastic for colour 35mm but not so good for B&W. A little wrangling in LR afterwards gets them to a good point. I have heard the Noritsu is much better at B&W.

        With regards to the DPI – they definitely won’t be 4200DPI. The DPI is determined by the output so if these are scanned at 6000x4000px and you are printing a book at Blurb for example and they required 300DPI then you would be able to be print at a maximum of 20 inches (6000 + 300) by 13.3 inches (4000 + 300). You can can of course push that to some extent (print at 25 inces or even 30 inches would like fine at some distance) plus you can upsample in Photoshop too.

        If you were sending them to the local newspaper they might only print at 75 DPI so you could print as wide as 80 inches from the 6000px wide image.

        The DPI or PPI of an iPhone is about 325 and the screen of a 27″ iMac is about 110 from memory. So when you zoom in on a 6000×4000 you may be disappointed with the 100% view as it is pretty crude but if you were on one of the newer 5k iMacs they have a DPI of about 220 so the photo zoomed at 100% would look far crisper as there are essentially twice the amount of pixels crammed in the same space. That’s why your photos look great on the iPhone or when you print them – that sort of DPI/PPI can hide all sorts of issues at small sizes.

        Suffice to say 6000×4000 is more than enough to view or print at pretty much any size.

        1. Yeah, I get all that… The scanner output files are indeed 72dpi
          What I was basing my comment on was the scan resolution rather than the file output resolution. Now, this isn’t something I know much about, but all scanners seem to have a scan res…?
          In the epson software (which I use to scan LF) you can select (for LF) up to 3200. If I select 2400dpi, I get a scan that on the long edge is a tiny bit shy of 12,000px (2400 x 5″)
          So in this case, I’m assuming a scan resolution of around 4200 dpi from the same calculation.
          If the scan is 6000px on the long edge, and a 35mm neg is 1.4″. 6000/1.4 = 4285 so there is a scanning resolution of 4285dpi…?
          Or am I talking out of my arse?

          1. Sorry Hamish I misunderstood what you were saying there. Yes I guess the output from the scanner how you worked it out would be correct. Unlike the Epson and Canon consumer scanners with their crazy high DPI numbers I don’t think there would be any interpolation going on here.

            When all is said and done the only thing that matters is the 6000×4000 figure as that is what you have to work with for printing or viewing.

            Look forward to your overview of the scanner.

  2. Congratulations on getting your scanner to work Hamish.

    Isn’t it a shame that there does not seem to be anyone interested in making a new fast negative scanner?

    Leica seem very happy to maintain a product line of three film cameras, whilst continuing to service and repair all their previous products, and yet no attention is being paid to the manner in which the vast majority of film photographers now “print” their pictures by making a digital photograph of the negative.

    1. Cheers… it’s been a ball-ache!

      Noritsu still make scanners – I’ve been told conflicting info as to whether or not they still make this scanner, but I know they still make the HS1800 (at c.£20k, unfortunately).
      Interestingly, they have recently released drivers for using these scanners with Windows 10 too… to even if they don’t make them, they are still supported.
      Also, the UK importer of Noritsu recently told me he’s seen an increase in demand of late… so things could get interesting if Noritsu respond to that demand. You just might need fairly deep pockets.

      1. Wonderful to see a company keeping its drivers up to date for W10. I’m definitely no IT expert or programmer, but surely it can’t be too difficult for major companies to write drivers for their past products, can it? If Hamrick (Vuescan) can do it, why not Canon or Nikon?

        1. There’s no commercial advantage to them doing it. To my mind, the fact they they do write these drivers points to the fact that they still make the scanners. That being said, they also charge for the drivers… so again, the commercial incentive is there

  3. Love the images! I shot My second roll of Tri-X recently, and pushed it to 800 hoping to get this sort of grain, so I’m very impressed by your results.
    I very much agree with Stephen about the need for more choice of dedicated film scanners. Considering the Kickstarter for Lab-Box has passed €360,000 after just 3 days, I genuinely can’t imagine what a realistically priced new 35mm and 120 scanner project might raise.
    Looking forward to next week’s installment!

  4. Hamish, very excited for you to get the Noritsu up and running! I, too, have recently picked up a Noritsu LS-600, which is the little brother to the 1100 as I understand it. It only scans 35mm, but the 35mm scans have the same metrics as the 1100 or 1800 in terms of resolution, color reproduction, etc. from my readings.

    Looking at the images you’ve scanned above, the grain does appear a bit larger than what I experience with a ‘similar setup’ (for what it’s worth). By that, I mean specifically – Ilford HP5+ shot at 1600, developed at home in Ilford DDX @ 1:4 parts, and scanned on the Noritsu LS-600 as 24MP TIFF(s). I just added a blog post on my website with images taken with the above description, where I basically exported the Raw Scan as a JPEG and downsized in resolution to 2000 pixels on the long edge (again, for what it’s worth).

    I don’t know if you allow direct links, but if so, I can copy & paste a link to the specific post in a reply. If not, I’d be interested in submitting it as a User Review to your site likewise.

    Thanks for maintaining a great space for photography – both film and digital! I always enjoy reading your site.

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi, have you seen my facebook group – I set it up with a chap called Tom. Some great folks on there now.

      Have an open policy on people sharing links! It is what the internet was invented for, so crack on I say!

      I’d also by interested to know what settings you use…? I’m now a little grain paranoid 😉

      I am going to be writing a review of some sort too, so very happy for you to contribute your thoughts, especially around getting the best out of it



  5. Nice images Hamish and great post. I am very much looking forward to seeing your images and the trials of getting your scanner to work. Just delved into home scanning myself with a Plustek 8100 and Vuescan/Color Perfect. (You may have seen my questions on the post of that nature). I can only imagine the trials and can’t wait to hear about them.

  6. gorgeous pics, very cool, you’re a lucky guy ;). I’m a fortunate too because a friend of mine owns a Fuji Frontier SP-3000.

  7. Hamish, these scans are heavily sharpened. Maybe you didn’t turn the sharpness on, but it was definitely not off.
    The patterns we see in these images are not grain, but sharpening artifacts.
    Normally the scans at this resolution produce grain which looks like grain – these do not.
    Try to find a setting in your scanner’s menus, where you can actually turn the sharpening off.
    It was similar with my Frontier SP500, until I turned it off, all the images looked like yours.
    You don’t need sharpening for these these scanners, they have enough resolution (real resolution) that they produce sharp scans from sharp negatives. Especially avoid sharpening with grainy film (at this resolution most film is grainy) since the results won’t be sharper, but ruined … like they have a pattern superimposed on them.

    1. Hi, thanks, yeah – this was obviously early on in my experiences with the scanner and I have come a long way with it. Though even now I feel I am still very much at the bottom of the learning curve. You can see some more recent B&W shots here which I am much more happy with. There’s a colour shot here too.
      Interestingly, in the Noritsu settings there is as you guessed the ability to wind sharpening right down, but there is also another menu with an option the sets between 1 on 2 – no real explanation of what it is or does, but results when set to two have much less in the way of artefacts.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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