Agfa Duoscan HID – Bringing a Cheap 24 Year Old High-End Scanner Back to Life – It’s Mind Blowing

It all started when we needed to scan some slides. With my Screen Cezanne 5000 scanner I would get an amazing quality, but it would be exhausting to do. I have an old Epson scanner that could do it, but it’s also not a very comfortable task. So I had an eye on a Agfa Duoscan Hid scanner. These scanners scan film without the need of a glass. That makes things much easier. They are also great flatbed scanners. With that I take more care about my valuable Screen scanner. The lamps of it are not longer available, when they break its over. But as always it was more difficult to get this scanner up an running than I thought. It needed lots of cleaning and my first idea about a fitting computer was also not my best one.

My first idea was to use my old Scenic Mobile 800. This laptop was ahead of its time back then. Why ahead of its time? Because you could take off the screen to use it on an over head projector. The infrared wireless keyboard was also something special back then. The hard disk was encrypted with a special secure card. Lots of crazy stuff for a Laptop back then. I tried to use it with the scanner. To connect the scanner, I got myself an original sealed Adapter PCMCIA SCSI card. I always enjoy the unpacking of these old parts.  First I tried Vuescan, but that software created some funny scanning results. So I tried Silver fast and it worked out.  But the laptop was still too slow to work as a scan server.

Overhead projectors have been obsolete for a long time, but back then it was amazing what that laptop could do. After more than 20 years, It still boots with the original hard disk. I think that says something about the quality of this laptop. But there is also a downside. The car I bought back then was less expensive than this piece of tech.

Newton rings are always a pain to deal with when you scan analog film from glass surfaces, Scanning without the need of glass – a great benefit of this scanner. I think these “click in” holders are also great for slide scanning.

The scanner was very dirty and in the need of much cleaning. I cleaned it 4 times until it worked as expected. Whenever you open the scanner, you must be very careful. First of all disconnect power and SCSI. The Manual mentions high voltage inside the scanner, I guess they’re meaning capacitors or something like that. I already tried to clean the “bottom scanner” that takes care of the film scanning. I could barley see it with a little mirror, but not reach it. And dismounting the main scan unit was way too risky. I think I would never get the scanner calibrated again. But overall it was easier to pull everything apart and together again compared to most new tech we get these days. To make products repairable these days is just not profitable for most companies.

I was very happy with the SilverFast support. I had some issues, that were very specific to my configuration, The Silver Fast service was still able to point me in the right direction. I think the software is great for scanning film. Check out their website here:

This scan of one of one of my most favourite wet plate portraits (Phoebe) from last year that was done with the Screen Cezanne and is very similar to the Agfa (see the video for more details). I think this scanner is much easier to handle compared to the Screen Scanner. Quality wise it’s still behind the screen scanner, but it’s so much smaller and so much more easy to handle. If you are looking for a new scanner to scan film or wet plates. Have a look at this one. Little money, lots of fun.

Another wet plate portrait of Phoebe that I like a lot. its just great how much detail this scanner can reveal

Some more slide scans with the Agfa Scanner. Scanning them with the Agfa holders makes it much easier than putting them on glas.

The last scan that I want to show you is from my “When love is not enough” wet plate series. You can se more details in the video. Even it was a dark time in my life, I really like how this turned out. I captured this portrait all by my self. I placed the tear, reached for the lens cap and synced the strobe by hand.

If you won’t to save some money and have an old PC/Mac at home, the Agfa Duoscan HID could be a great solution for you. Have also a look at the duoscan F40. This one has an USB connection and can be used without the hassle of scsi cards.

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9 thoughts on “Agfa Duoscan HID – Bringing a Cheap 24 Year Old High-End Scanner Back to Life – It’s Mind Blowing”

  1. I also have one of those Agfascan HiD scanners. Good to see the internal cleaning method. Mine has a bluish cast along one vertical edge I assumed was a light leak. I also retain an old PC with a SCSI card for this scanner and wonder about options. SCSI-USB adapter I don’t find to be very common and cost more now than what I paid for the scanner x years ago. I got the Agfa scanner because of the lower drawer capability for up to 8″x10″. I had only cleaned the inside of th top glass when I first got it so it’s good to see your motivation to inspire me to access the glassless stage optics if necessary. I expect to find some fogging after years of storage.

    I think the high voltage warning inside is probably about the inverter(s?) that drive the CCFL lamp(s), but there is of course the usual line/mains voltage.

    I also acquired a 2nd SCSI flatbed scanner (can’t recall brand/model & cannot access it to look) with lower resolution (700×1400 IIRC) that has 11″x17″ (+) and (-) capability. I assumed I would only be using it to allow larger items to get online. It is huge and has its own cart for lack of portability otherwise. (The lower shelf of the cart is storing a 6″ Metrogon lens in shutter!).

    Keeping old things running is a task of its own! I have to figure out how to ‘chain’ two SCSI scanners with cabling so I don’t need SCSI cards. It came with native/manufacturer software (somewhere!). I haven’t used it yet but the opportunity to acquire it was lucky.

    By the time I get the larger one set up I expect I will use a camera to photograph anything that large or larger.

    I don’t want to think too hard about rationalizing keeping a stable of SCSI scanners for…someday.

    Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Very welcome!
      My second scanner is a Screen Cézanne 5000 But I did not try to use them now daisy chained.
      But I am so happy that I have this one.Its easier to handle than the Cézanne and a bit quicker as well. But the Cézanne still is a bit better from my point of view. Maybe I should do a compare them with a modern scanner sometimes…

  2. Thanks for the reviews and overviews – you’ve done beautiful photographs and plates and the quality is amazing.
    How does this compare to say an Epson V700/800 flat bed or a dedicated say 35mm Minolta Dimage Scan III IV or 5400?
    I use an old Mac Pro tower which can boot into Snow Leopard so I wonder if the Agfa would run on that?

    1. Such a comparison would be great. You have to look at the Silverfast website, you should find there until which version their software runs. Or just write them an email. They were very helpful.

    2. I had one of these years ago, used it for my large format scans until replacing it with an Epson 4990 (previous version of the v700 iirc). The biggest problem with the Agfa was the resolution, which I believe topped out at 1200 dpi. This was fine for 4×5 and 8×10, sorta ok for 120 and definitely too low for 35mm. The film holders were really nice and held the film flat, and it was easy to set up (I was running vuescan on a Linux PC with a pci scsi card, and id imagine that setup would still work today). Eventually though, the much greater resolving capability of the Epson got me to upgrade.

  3. I’ll confess from the start, I only understood a tiny amount of your exploits, but your images are superb. They look absolutely wonderful, and the quality of the scan looks excellent.

    I will be reading the post again, and of course viewing the images ????, even with my limited knowledge, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Thank you for posting.


  4. Peter Goldberg

    You realize of course that the Affair scanners were rebranded Microtek scanners. I used duoscans and Microtek scanners for years,and always found the results very good. Only problem was that they are very slow compared to Epson scanners. Great job keeping the Affair working

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