This weekend I broke down and picked up a Nikon CoolScan 5000ED from BellAir Camera. until now I have been dropping my film at the lap for process and high-rez scan, honestly I was actually pretty happy with the results, even though I did notice I was loosing some highlight and shadow details. Today I pulled out some of those original CD's with store bought scans... OUCH... Keep reading for all the details....
my store-bought scans is roughly 3000x2000pix or 6mpix
the same neg scanned on the Nikon CoolScan 5000 is roughly 6000x4000pix or 24mpix
The store-bought scan create a funky cross-hatch grain pattern. probaby created by the chip. Compared to the CoolScan which actually show the film grain clearly. Nice - now I know that the shoe is out of focus for sure.
But there is another huge and important difference, I asked for the scan's to be flat to include as much details in highlight and shadows as possible.. as you can tell the store-bought scans are rather contrasty.
Here is the Store Scan at time of processing from a Noritsu high-volume scanner.
Don't misunderstand me, I DO like the contrasty look of the original Store-Scan, however I like to make that choice myself. In today's world where my scans are quickly becoming my "negatives" for post-processing, I will much rather have a flat righ-rez scan which I can work on in PhotoShop.
To be fair, I should hurry up and say that most photo-labs also offer high quality scans, however these are typically not available with your processing order. At Samy's in Los Angeles the next step up in quality cost $10-15 per frame, sure it is nice they have the option, but that is simply not feasable for batch scanning my processed film. This is why I finally gave in and picked up the CoolScan. Only problem now is that I may have to rescan all my old negatives.
Here is another comparison of the image above.
Note the higher contrast in the store image and also how it did not keep the faint detail of the string in front of the light-bulb.And Finally one more from the corner with some shadow. While I failed to focus perfectly here, the Leica lens DID hold details from the string even in front of a bight light-bulb, one might say that there is no point in photographing with a good lens and then get a store-deal scan as this scan do not capture close to what was actually rendered on the film by the quality lenses. Clearly this applies to any Canon, Nikon, Pentax Prime lens as well as to Leica lenses. Quality lenses performs much bette than a high-rez store scan. (unless it is a custom scan with a whole different price tag)
A couple of guys pointed out to me that the noritsu scanners also seem to blow out the scans a bit regardless of the exposure of the negative. This seems to be true for CSV as well. but I have been pretty successful with their C41 processing, one roll uncut $ 2.99, just make sure to tell them not to handle the negs too much as they have a tendency to scratch the ends.
UPDATE: CSV might not quite cut the mustard here, I have now processed several rolls with CSV and similar 1-hour low-price labs found on many street-corners... They simply don't change their chemistry often enough, some of the films I have processed have had fairly significant buildup of "gunk" chem-spots etc. Having worked in a lab for years I can say for sure this is a result of in-frequent cleaning of the equipment resulting in overly ripe baths, the people operating the stuff don't have a lot of clue what is going on. Sooo I ended up cleaning with PEC which works OK, but is extra work, therefore, my suggestion is "use a good quality lab, ask for sleeved negs and scan yourself" (or send them to me for scan) But don't use the dirty 1-hour lab on the corner, unless it is nice and clean and well kept and the staff know their stuff.
As I said above one can surely purchase high-quality scans at a lot of stores, but the price goes up and it is no longer a "process & scan" kind of deal.
So, Im starting to think about offering batch scans from the NikonCool scan at 4000dpi. I have the scanner and staff to handle daily turnaround. Any sugestions for how best to organize this.?
This is a follow up on my previous post about digital workflow - Click to read.
OH THIS HURTS... I just got the roll-film attachment from Amazon, and then I learn that one can hack the included SA-21 film-feeder to do full rolls (instead of the $500 SA-30). Click to read.
WOW I just finished posting this when I found this post about scanning with Jesop in the UK click to read