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filmscanners: Films for scanning was RE: filmscanners: Was New Nikon performance, now dust

Dan wrote:
> What are the best color and b&w films in terms
> of scanning?

This is a question which I began attempting to quantify at least in the
sense of a guide if not actually a scientific way.  Unfortunately it's an
expensive and time consuming exercise to test every possible film in the
same conditions so a comparison can be made.

> From what I've read thus far, it sounds like
> Kodak Supra has a slight edge for color, and
> the C41 processed films (XP2 super and T400CN)
> for b&w.  Are there others?

Using the LS30 I've tried Fuji Superia 100, Superia 400, Superia 800, Kodak
Gold 100 and Kodak Supra 100, as well as two varieties of Konica print 100ASA
film.  I'm told that Supra 100 is an older emulsion rebadged and not a new
formulation.  Supra 400 is apparently a new formulation which has been optimised
in some fashion for scanning, but I haven't had the opportunity to try it
as I can only buy it in packs of 5.

Fuji Superia 100, Superia 400 and Kodak Supra 100 all scan reasonably well.
 I prefer the colour response of Fuji films (OK so I actually like saturated
colour :).  However, particular areas of images seem to be problematic such
as bright skies which seem to show up grain (or apparent grain) more.

Kodak Gold 100 seems to have a ridiculous amount of grain.  The Konica films
didn't seem to scan as well as the Fuji films or Supra.

I have access to a SS4000 but haven't had the time to try selections of
the same films in the Polaroid to see if the aliasing behaviour is improved.

Apparent grain with Superia 800 is absolutely appalling, but it's still
possible to get useful low resolution images out of it.  Scanning some 800
last night I found it extremely difficult to use the curves tool in PS because
there's so much variation in the pixels due to grain aliasing.  Clicking
in an area that looks black (not zoomed 1:1) with the black eyedropper produces
enormous shifts in colour and brightness with fractional movement of the

Essentially you should expect the maximum printable size of the image to
decrease with the increase in film speed.  This is just the same as using
an enlarger.  You want bigger prints, you use a slower film.

I have to scan some recent photos taken with T400CN to check out whether
the scanner sees more apparent grain than the enlarger.  I've done extreme
enlargements of T400 with the enlarger and the grain is amazingly fine.

All the slower slide films I've scanned produce far less aliasing or apparent
grain than print films of similar speeds.  The only slide film I've scanned
which had difficult grain was Kodak 320T, but the photos were not terribly
well exposed (existing light photos of a concert).

> Also, if one is planning ultimately to scan and maintain files
> in digital format (and print from there), are there any
> advantages left to shooting transparencies as opposed to
> negatives--given that the latter has so much more exposure
> latitude?  Or does the finer resolution of slide film still
> make this the preferred emulsion when scanning?

As Tony pointed out elsewhere, you have a fixed reference with slide film
but it's much more subjective with adjusting a neg scan.  The big thing
about slides for me is the vastly reduced apparent grain.  It's a personal
thing, but I'd prefer to lose a bit of shadow detail and maybe even highlight
detail to end up with an image that is much cleaner in the end.

I guess that's an important point; there's no one "true" answer to which
is better.  The answer will depend a lot on what your personal tastes are,
and what kind of photos you're taking.  If this wasn't true, there would
be a lot less types of film on the market.

I'd still like to post some more film comparisons on my web site, but I'd
probably need to figure out a more rigid and reproducible procedure for
taking the test images to avoid criticism of the methods.


Rob Geraghty harper@wordweb.com


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