Scanned from a Kodachrome. Shot on a Canon film Camera with one of the
First Tamron SP normal focal length zooms. Something like a 35-80mm.
Scanned on a cheapo flatbed scanner.
I'm going through old slides and making scans for myself. I've owned Nikon dedicated film scanners (both medium format and 35mm) and I've had plenty of film drum scanned but for some reason I prefer to do my own stuff on a cheap, non-prestigious, Epson flat bed scanner. We're talking here about a scanner that currently sells for around $180.
The machine is smaller than other scanners I've owned and sits on the right hand side of my desk in a constant state of readiness. The machine's full name is Epson Perfection V500 Photo. It won't scan 4x5 inch film but will do most conventional medium format formats and it will scan 35mm transparencies and negatives. Film holders are supplied for 120mm film and 35mm film in most of its permutations.
The slide above was taken in mixed light. It's a Kodachrome 64 slide. How difficult and time consuming is it to make an image like the one above? Let's see. I put the slide holder on the glass surface of the scanner. There's guide indention on the scanner body that matches up with the holder. Very straightforward. The slide holder has four squares in which to drop your slide, still in slide mount. Close the top, open the Epson scan software, click in the film type (trans or neg; color or black and white) decide on the bit depth you need (24 or 48) determine the size you'd like the the image to end up at (dimensions and DPI) then hit preview. You can zoom in on the image in the preview window. Once you see the image large you can more accurately crop and adjust.
I go into the curves menu and set the white point and black points on the represented histogram. If the color needs to be tweaked I go into the color adjustment menu and play around with the R, G, & B sliders till I get what I want. There are also menus for saturation, contrast and exposure. In the curves menu I can also set how I want the toe and shoulder of the film to look = soft, rounded curves or straight overly accurate curves.
When I have everything hunky dory in the different corrections menus I go back to the main menu and set the amount of unsharp masking I want and whether I want the canned "color restoration" to kick in. Then I hit "scan."
I can't use the Digital Ice dust removal with traditional black and white film or with Kodachrome slides. Something to do with the physical topology of the film so I leave these controls unchecked. It does mean that I'll inevitably be doing some retouching to the files to remove dust spots before I use the images. So, a straight scan of a film from a slide done at 6000 by 4000 pixels (final size) takes about three minutes.
I hear all kinds of nonsense from people about what's needed for good scans. There is a camp that believes flat bed scanners are incapable of doing usable work. There's another camp that's seen good scans from flat bed scanners but believes that you need to pull slides out of their cardboard mounts and coat them with oil before you can get a good scan and then there's the group that believes the scanners may be usable but only when paired with really good and really expensive software. Almost as though you have to pass an initiation to join in the cult of scanning.
I don't fall into any of those camps. I routinely scan all kinds of stuff on the Epson and I'm always able to use the output to deliver jobs or to make prints from it for shows and portfolios. If you are unable to get a good scan on an Epson V500 or V700 I believe you might be over-thinking the process. The most important thing is to explore the software thoroughly and trust your perceptions.
The native resolution of the scanner is 4800 dpi. That means a full scan of a medium formatsquare negative or trans scan is 12,000 by 12,000. And you can make that scan as a 48 bit file if you are willing to save it as a Tiff. But I'll tell you right now that this will be one monstrously big file....
If my math is correct you should be able to generate a medium format scan that measures 40 by 40 inches at 300 dpi. That's pretty darn good. 35mm scans clock in at about 7200 pixels and can make a print, at native resolution of the scanner, equal to 16 by 24 inches at 300 dpi.
My needs aren't that radical and my expectations are that the machine will deliver files for good display of 35mm stuff on the web or on an iPad while the files from medium format film will be good for prints up to 20 by 20 inches. Given that I've been sharing images with you for years which come from this scanner, without any complaints on my part or on your behalf I'd say I'm get pretty good performance from a $180 device that comes with its own software drivers.
I have used Silverfast and VueScan and I like the bundled Epson software best. The other two may be wonderful for people who are really, really interested in scanning and it might get you an extra one or two percentage increase in quality but I'm happy with the straightforward simplicity of Epson's solution. I am running it on OS 10.7.4 on a MacBook Pro. Takes a couple of minutes to launch and then it's fast and crash free.
The scanner will allow you to load four mounted slides for scanning and let you preview the four, crop them, color correct and size each on individually and then allow you to batch scan all four without mediation.
If you have a big inventory of MF slides, can't afford to just dump them on the desk of a scanning supplier and write a check, and are mostly interested in printing and sharing the images you should look at a machine like this one. If you need ultimate image quality for a big ad client you'll be better off having service drum scan your image. At least then you've covered part of your ass when people start looking for who to blame in the production phase.
In all seriousness though, I used to hear that clients would never use digital images from digital cameras for XXXX reasons. Then I heard the same thing about cheap scanners. But I've got to tell you it's just not true.
Here's the drill: launch app > install correct film holder > choose film type > choose preview > Choose zoom > crop > color correct > choose size (geometrical) and bit dept (24 or 48) > engage restore color (matter of taste) > push scan. A window will pop up asking you where and how to save the file. Once scanned take the image into PhotoShop and retouch out the dust and scratches in the method of your preference. Scan one time as big as you ever think you'll need and resize and save copies for other uses. Kinda fun to be able to engage your film files for the greater good of the universe and your artistic sharing.