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Scanner advice-take 2

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  • Scanner advice-take 2


    I am new to this group and joined after searching for information on negative scanning and finding some really good information here. I read through Caravaggio's thread on scanner recommendations, but thought I would post a new thread as I have a similar question but different needs.

    I have about 450-500 large format negatives. They are a mix of sizes, and look like they were hand trimmed from some sort of roll film as the are inconsistent. Some are 4x5 (more of less), some 2.75x3.75, 3.5x6 etc. (All measurements in inches).

    They are my Great, Great Uncles from around 1908 when he was in the Navy with the Great White Fleet. I am quite sure they are nitrate.

    I am really keen to get these all the moment, just for preservation sake and I can then spend time touching them up later.

    Does anyone have recommendations for a scanner that can do negatives like these? I've been looking at the Epson V700 and V800. That is really a bit pricey for me, but I figure I could resell when I am finished and recoup some of the costs.

    Can you scan directly on the flatbed without the holders if your negatives are odd sizes? Also, while some are flat, many are curled so I would need something that could keep them flat while scanning.

    Also, are there other machines out there in this price range or lower that would do the job? I realize that it would be better to have this done professionally, but I just don't have the funds...

    Thank you for your thoughts.
    Last edited by Bulgakov; 12-04-2016, 08:35 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Scanner advice-take 2

    It is highly likely that the films are cellulose nitrate based and you should bear in mind that if this is the case that the material is extremely flammable and also poses the risk of even spontaneous combustion - so handle and store with care and safety in mind.

    DO NOT
    soak the emulsion in water in any attempt to get rid of curl as it is likely that the base will have deteriorated and the emulsion may easily float off.

    Uncurling a tightly curled emulsion of this age is also fraught with the danger of damaging the emulsion. But you may be able to gradually uncurl around different sized objects leaving for a few days and using larger object to return the film to a flat condition.

    Once you have the film flattened to a reasonable level you may want to use some neutral PH paper as separators and store between the pages of a book to further flatten, again leaving for a few days.
    You may want to attempt this on an image that may be off less importance than the rest.

    The v700 and V800 scanners are very good and quite capable of giving very satisfying results.

    However, you should be aware that if you are to get the best quality the film needs to flat and these scanners having dual lens systems require transmission materials (neg and slides) to be postitioned slightly above the scanners glass bed which is normally accomplished using the supplied film holders. So you may need to jury rig something if the film cannot be held flat at the correct height.

    A somewhat cheaper option would be the Epson v600. This only has a single lens and the focus distance for reflectance copy and transmission is not as precise as the 700/800's, but still capable of very good results with film being held either in the supplied holders or even on the scanner bed directly.

    Another option if you already have a DSLR is to use this as a scanner to photograph the negatives on a diffused backlit background e.g. Window with tracing paper to even and soften the light, lightbox, even computer screen could be put into service. Best result with a macro lens ideally greater than 1:1 so that you can stitch the image together in PS. This method potentially able to improve on drum scans but will depend on the quality of the lens and the number of MP your camera has available


    • #3
      Re: Scanner advice-take 2

      Thank you very much for the detailed answer. I do not have a DLSR unfortunately so I cannot take that approach.

      I had looked at the V600 as well as the Canon 9000F MK II but it was hard to get a good answer on the scan quality. Obviously, if I can get by with a V600 that will be much more affordable and viable.

      You mentioned that with the V600 I could scan right from the flatbed?--is there a real loss in quality or just exposure? (I am pretty good at fixing those kinds of things in Photoshop as long as the base scan is adequate) If I do need to jury rig something, what are we talking about? I have not been able to see any of these scanners other than from pictures online, so I don't have a really good idea of how the holder work.

      As for them being flammable, yes I was very aware of that. In fact, these are at my mother's house at the moment, and another reason for doing the scanning is I don't think I could get them back to where I live. (I'm currently on an extended visit home). I cannot imagine I'd get them on an airplane (nor want to, by the way).

      I've tried for the moment flattening out the curled negatives that I could manage to unroll and putting them in heavy books as you said. Hopefully that will help.

      Thank you again for you help :-)
      Last edited by Bulgakov; 12-04-2016, 09:04 AM.


      • #4
        Re: Scanner advice-take 2

        There is a quality difference as to be expected from a 500/600 to the 800.

        To generalise flatbed scanner you are only able to resolve detail to around 1/3 - 1/2 of the manufacturers quoted maximum optical SPI (DPI). Therefore for the v500/v600 you are probably looking at a maximum of 1500 SPI (vs manufacturers quoted 6,400 DPI). With the v800 I believe you will be looking at around 2300. Mainly due to the dual lens system and the dedicated lens for transmission and the variable height film holder system.

        I have had two v500's the first replaced after failure. There may be manufacturers tolerance to consider but what I found with the first was that there was an improvement in resolving power when the film was placed correctly in the film holder when compared to the same film flat on the glass.

        With the second unit I could not see any difference in sharpness when comparing in film holder or flat on glass.

        A quick sample from 35mm film scan attached. The full area shown top right full size of printed image would be 10"x8" @ 300ppi. The crop area you see here representing a size of 2"x1.5" for the print

        I was quite happy with the quality in this case
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Re: Scanner advice-take 2

          That looks quite good. A lot of these negatives I'm scanning are in pretty poor shape and not all are that well focused, so it may not be critical. If you are getting that kind of exposure off a flatbed without the second light (if I understood correctly, the V700/800 are top lit and the 500/600 are not?) then that looks pretty good to me.

          I've read a few Q&As that say you cannot scan 4x5 on the V600, but I am assuming that just means the guides won't work?
          Last edited by Bulgakov; 12-04-2016, 10:27 AM.


          • #6
            Re: Scanner advice-take 2

            If you have film up to 4x5 then you will want to find a used V7xx or V8xx. The V5xx/6xx scanners don't cover film scanning that wide and stitching multiple scans is a pain in the axx.

            Given you have nitrate film, what I have found to be best for other customers in a similar situation was scanning off the glass bed and using piece of anti-Newton Ring glass on top to press the film flat. Not ideal but the best mix of quality and safety in your case.



            • #7
              Re: Scanner advice-take 2

              Thank you. I just bit the bullet and ordered a reconditioned V800 from Adorama. So I take it the cover is not sufficient and I need the glass as well?


              • #8
                Re: Scanner advice-take 2

                No it is not a second light but an actual dual lens system for the v800 at least
                The Epson Dual Lens System consists of a high-resolution lens capable of 4800 x 9600 dpi, plus a super resolution lens capable of 6400 x 9600 dpi.
                Scanning of film is limited to 2.25" wide normally on the v600, but with a little ingenuity and post processing it should be possible to scan 5x4 and larger. The actual scan window is limited on the 600 whereas the 800 can scan up to 10"x8".

                If it was me I would be looking seriously at the dual lens models capable of large format scans - I would hope that they may hold better prices if sellin on


                • #9
                  Re: Scanner advice-take 2

                  Originally posted by Bulgakov View Post
                  Thank you. I just bit the bullet and ordered a reconditioned V800 from Adorama. So I take it the cover is not sufficient and I need the glass as well?
                  Good call.

                  And I am sure Doug won't mind me saying if you are really serious about getting the optimum from your scanner that you consider the added purchase of his holders and ANR glass


                  • #10
                    Re: Scanner advice-take 2

                    Thank you both very much for your great advice and time. I will message him about the glass once I get the box opened and see the lay of the land :-)


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