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[filmscanners] Re: Help with purchasing decision?

Hi Michael,

Welcome to the list.

I can give you some views in regard to your purchase.  I use both a
Polaroid S4000+, which is the identical hardware in the Microtek 4000tf
with different firmware and front end software, and I also own a Minolta
Dual Scan II, which is very similar to the Elite II.  The main
difference between the Dual II and the Elite II are:

The Dual does not have the dICE IR cleaning hardware
The Dual II is 12 bit A/D, the Elite II I believe uses a 14 bit A/D
The Dual II uses USB output, the Elite II adds Firewire

I am running on a PC, not a Mac.

The Polaroid SS4000+ wins this race hands down.  It has better
resolution, and it is mechanically superior, it is faster, make an
overall better scan.

I don't know how much better, in the real world, the Elite II handles
density than the Dual II (there is a difference in the A/D from 12 bit
to 14) but the Dual II has considerably more noise in the shadows and
less shadow information than the Polaroid SS4000+.

The SS4000+ reduces grain aliasing considerably over the Dual II.  I
know from speaking to other users of the Elite II, that it suffers from
the same problems as the Dual II.  Grain is exaggerated, and surface
defects (dust, dirt, scratches, etc) are very defined.  Digital ICE
helps to remove everything but the grain with the Elite II.

The SS4000+ is a larger scanner.  It is faster than the Minoltas.  The
Minoltas have suffered from quite a high level of quality control
problems.  A large percentage of people I know who have bought either
the Dual II or Elite II have had to get exchanges for other units
(including myself).  They seems to have an intermittent calibration
problem with negatives.

The Dual II has a better negative carrier but worse slide carrier to
work with, the Polaroid vice-versa.  The Polaroid scanning software is
better than the Minolta, but I don't know how the Microtek software
rates. I have Silverfast 5.5 which came with the Polaroid, but I
honestly found the documentation a hassle and never have bothered with
it, BUT, I mainly scan slides, where it is less of an issue.

For me, the ONLY consideration between these two is dICE.  Normally, I
would just tell you to use Polaroid's quite effective dust and scratch
stand alone and plug in, but it is not available for the Mac currently.

So, here is the issue:

  If you have a lot of COLOR images that are dusty, dirty, scratched or
fingerprinted, moldy, etc, you may prefer to have a scanner with dICE.
It is convenient and effective.

It doesn't work at all with real black and white films, and some
Kodachrome dyes, and that is one of the big problems.  The Minolta,
without using dICE, leaves you with a mess to clean up.  The spotting
can be a real chore.  With C-41 or most slides, dICE fixes that problem,
but not with true black and white film.  Normally, diffused light
sources as used in the Minoltas, should reduce the amount of surface
defects but for some reason (theories abound, and I have my own pet
ones) it doesn't work in this scanner.

The Polaroid SS4000/+, and 4000t/tf also use a diffused light source,
and like most diffused light sources (the exception mentioned above)
reducing surface defects to a very acceptable level unless you films are
fairly poorly handles.  I'm not promising no manual cleaning, but I
rarely spend more than a minute or two per frame.

So, between these two models, I have no problem suggesting the Microtek
4000tf.  Having also seen results from the Polaroid SS4000 (the Microtek
4000t), I can tell you that it still would be no contest, the original
4000 models were underrated in terms of their dynamic range.  Of course,
both use a SCSI interface, which you have some concerns about.

Final conclusions: Unless you must absolutely have dICE the Mictrotek
4000tf hands down.  If you must have dICE, well, I think you'll have an
inferior product in every other manner, and if you use a lot of black
and white film, you will suffer with more spotting with the Minolta than
the Microtek.


Michael O'Connor wrote:

> Hi, I've just joined the list, so I'm sorry if any ot these have been
> discussed before, I haven't yet noticed a way to search archives.
> I'm trying to make a decision on purchasing a film scanner and would
> like to move ahead very soon.
> Price is an issue for me, or I would already have purchased a Minolta
> Multi Pro even if I don't really need the medium format capability.
> My choices seem to be between the Minolta Scan Elite ll and the Microtek
> Artixscan 4000tf, though I suppose I could also go for the Nikon 4000
> from e-bay.
> The Minolta is 2820 dpi but will output a full 16 bits and claims 4.8
> dynamic range, the Minolta software seems to get good notice and they
> include ICE 3 the lens also seems to be superior. The Microtek is 4000
> dpi, claims a 4.2 (or 4.3) dynamic range, ships with Silverfast AI 5.5
> and a full version of GF Print Pro.
> I'm on a Mac platform, currently OS 9 but I anticipate this will change
> soon to OS X.
> Checking samples of the old Polaroid SS 4000 against the Nikon LS 4000 I
> think actually that I prefer the shadow detail of the Polaroid over the
> Nikon, though the Nikon does seem sharper. I say this since Microtek, as
> far as i know, actually made the Polaroid.
> I'm in a quandary. I anticipate that I will need to crop,  and will want
> to crop severely at times, so the resolution is important, Silverfast
> always gets excellent note, and Print Pro seems very interesting though
> probably isn't quite as good as its made to seem. But the lens quality
> and bandwidth of the Minolta are very attractive, and ICE 3 would I'm
> sure be helpful at times even if i think I'd prefer to spot "manually".
> The Microtek is fairly new and i haven't seen any reviews. I'm concerned
> with lens quality_sharpness, and also with any possible issues on a Mac.
> Has anyone used either of these scanners? has anyone seen an in depth
> review of the Artixscan 4000tf? Can anyone chime in on what they think
> would be best to go for, and why? keeping in mind that though I wasn't
> very sold from samples of the Nikon LS 4000 in terms of shadow detail,
> and there seemed to be a good amount of color fringing on some of the
> resolution target images, and I'm wary of reports of poor edge to edge
> sharpness, and i'd rather purchase from a store/online retailer, I still
> don't consider the LS 4000 to be definitely out of the picture.
> Sorry for the meandering long-winded post, and thanks for any help you
> can offer.
> Michael O

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