Film Scanning

Olympus es-10

My first film scanner was the Olympus es-10 film scanner that’s interface is SCSI and I had to use an old Macintosh 8100/80av to use the scanner. It’s been so long ago I cannot recall much other than it did take a good amount of time to scan a roll with and the scan driver was pretty simple.

Epson Perefection 1660 Photo

The scanner that replaced the Olympus es-10 was the Epson Perfection 1660 Photo that came from Costco. There was a pricier scanner that I think offered scanning up to 4×5, but foolishly didn’t invest in it. I say foolish since I did have a small selection of 120 and 4×5 film from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s that I had no way to scan. Even back then, I did work at a Photofinisher, but I cannot recall if they offered a way to scan film higher than 35 mm rolls.

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo

End of September, I found an Epson Perfection 2450 Photo scanner off eBay which offered being able to scan up to 4×5 film. Instead of hopefully getting a newer scanner than the Perfection 1660 Photo (2002) the Perfection 2450 Photo (2001) was a year older than the Perfection 1660 Photo. I tried a 2400dpi scan but all it offered was a soft larger file without much sharpness. Its benefit was that it offered up to 12 shots on 35 mm film, but this was really the only benefit because it only offered 4-slide scans like the Perfection 1660 Photo. Single scans of 120 and 4×5.

With the Epson Perfection 1660 Photo, I used the driver that worked with Image Capture, and it worked fine until I tried the Perfection 2450 Photo. For some reason or other, it didn’t like 4×5 negatives and all it did with the preview was a messed up scan. Luckily, Epson still offered older scanner software for older machines, so I hooked up an old Powerbook G4 and things worked fine as long as I kept to 1200dpi for the scans.

Something went wrong with the Powerbook G4 which seemed to appear to be a possible memory or loose wire cable issue, but I took out and replaced the memory without much luck, so replaced the Powerbook with a iBook G4 14″. There were still issues with the iBook that I got it a few years ago, and it was not in the best shape. Its CD drive was broken, a number of the keys don’t function as well as I found out that one of the one of the USB ports is a bit jankie. Luckily it’s FireWire worked and oddly enough the Epson Perfection 2450 Photo also offered FireWire and worked fine with that setup.

Epson Perfection V550 Photo

The next scanner, the Epson Perfection V550 Photo, I found on Craigslist for pretty much a steal at $100. Found out though the chat with the seller that he had moved to doing DSLR Scanning with a pricey system. He told me that he preferred the ratio from the scanner, but I gathered he went with the DSLR Scanning solution for the benefit of sharpness, since flatbed scanners seem to only max to around 1600 dpi. Flatbed scanner manufacturers do offer higher dpi scanning, but the biggest issue is getting a sharp image, which seems that flatbed scanners cannot offer other than faking it with unsharp mask. Sure it can create a larger image/file but all they seem to do is create a larger softer scan 😭.

One of the main reason why I got the V550 is that I can still use it with my old iBook G4 and a Mac OS 10.5 Scanner Driver and EPSON Scan Utility v3.9.4.0! It is slow, but well, it’s okay. The same app can go up to macOS 10.13 but after that need to get ether ICA Scanner Driver v5.8.12 for Image Capture or use Silverfast which is a much better scanning app than what Epson includes with their scanners. Can get Silverfast free with a new scanner, but not with a used scanner 😭.

The other option is to invest in a film scanner, but issues here are that many affordable scanners only will scan 35 mm film. I think I will go with the DSLR/Mirrorless Scanning solution at some point, since I have a good deal of equipment I can use for the project. I thought I would work with all the film types I have, as well as some larger negatives that I have made out of 8×10 litho film.

For the most part I just scan images around 1200 dpi because the scan is pretty quick, and I’m really only doing it to give a good idea what I shot during the film days. 1200 dpi scan offers a 1776px x 1224px image that offers 5.1″ x 7.4″ at 240 dpi or 6.8″ x 9.867″ at 180 dpi and 8.16″ x 11.84″ at 150 dpi. Might be able to get away with as little as 100 dpi, but gather that the jaggies (pixelation) might be noticeable.


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