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[filmscanners] Re: What can you advise?

I don't basically disagree with Jack that Digital ICE IR cleaning and
some of the other features in that package can have benefits in scanning.

For the sake of new list members, who don't know the name yet, Applied
Science Fiction, is in fact the inventor and licenser of the products
Jack is speaking of.

The only bone of contention I have with Jack's statements are that
scanners having the dICE features doesn't in and of itself make them the
best scanners.  In fact, some of these scanners, IMHO, have real weaknesses.

Also, be aware that if you scan a lot of black and white films (true
black and white, as opposed to chromogenic C-41 process films) dICE IR
cleaning does not work, because the process requires IR light
transparency, and true black and white film is opaque to IR lighting
where the silver is.

Most desktop scanners currently equipped with IR cleaning tend to
emphasize surface defects, and the manufacturing defects Jack speaks
about, making those scanners great candidates for having IR cleaning
routines, like dICE.  This is a good way to resolve that bothersome
problem which leads to greater grain visibility and the need for a lot
of spotting work to remove these surface and other defects.  IR cleaning
can be a godsend for images with lots of embedded dirt, scratches,
fingerprints or fungus.

The other side of this issue is that for true black and white film, dICE
cannot be used, and therefore you still have to deal with this extra
grain visibility, dust, dirt and scratches.  Specifically, the Minolta
and Nikon scanners tend to cause this when dICE is not used.

The Nikon scanners also have a minimized Depth of Field/focus, and there
have been many complaints about this by users.  It is difficult to get a
fully focused scan with paper mounted slides, slides in some plastic
mounts or curled film.  However, if you are used to a drum scanner, then
you might be comfortable with removing slides from their mounts, etc.
Some people use glass carriers, but newton rings may present themselves.

So, what is the alternative?

A few scanners make good use of diffused cold cathode lighting, and
similarly to how this works in the wet darkroom with a standard
enlarger, this lighting can vastly reduce the visibility of grain edges,
dirt, dust and scratches.  The advantage of this approach is that it
does this with all film types, including true black and white.

Examples within your classification of scanners include the Polaroid
SS4000, SS4000+, and the same basic model by Microtek, the Artix 4000T
and 4000TF.  These scanners do not employ dICE or any other IR cleaning,
but for any film that is not manhandled, you will find little clean up
necessary if you follow basic scanner "hygiene".  Polaroid does offer a
Dust and Scratch software (stand alone and plug-in) which isn't as
effective as IR cleaning, but does a nice job with most situations, and
is done post-scan.  It is currently available for Windows machine, but
is supposed to be made cross platform to Macs within the next month or
two.  You should also be aware that dICE, GEM and some other functions
that were mentioned do increase scan times considerably, so sometimes
using the stand alone Dust and Scratch software may save time, overall,
when it is required.

The Polaroid SS4000+ and Microtek 4000TF both use USB or Firewire and
are 4000 dpi.  Both come with Silverfast 5.5 a very powerful front end
product (which I think sells unbundled for about $450).  It has a
steeper learning curve than the manufacturer's supplied software
(Polaroid provided Insight, and Microtek has their own product). These
scanners will also work with Ed Hamrick's Vuescan.

The Benq (used to be Acer) Scanwit 2720 and 2740 (with dICE) are both
SCSI, and are very reasonably priced and seem to be well built products,
but 2700 dpi and SCSI.

In the 35mm scanner market, Minolta doesn't currently offer a 4000 dpi
scanner (the Minolta Dual Scan II (USB) and Elite II (USB/Firewire) are
2820 dpi).  Nikon has the LS40 (2900 dpi) and the LS-4000 (4000 dpi, but
using the collimated lighting source and those inherent issues).  The
only other 4000 dpi scanner I know of is the Canon FS4000.  It is a
diffused lighting scanner with an IR cleaning process called FARE.

However, although it is by far the least expensive 4000 dpi scanner, the
major complaints are that it is quite slow (even on firewire), it
suffers from noisy shadows, and the Canon software is not as good as
others, and although Vuescan works wit it, some problems are still being
worked out to make the IR cleaning work with that software.

I've been very pleased with my experience with the Polaroid SS4000+, in
spite of not having any IR cleaning or grain reduction processes built
in.  I have found the Insight software intuitive and very usable,.
However, I mainly scan slides and black and white films.  For negatives,
you may wish to use Silverfast (supplied).

So no one accuses me of not providing full disclosure, I will mention
that I provided beta testing to Polaroid on the SS4000+ and the Dust and
Scratch filter software.  I also own a Minolta Dual Scan II, and have
owned HP S10 and S20 film scanners.  Although I have not owned a Nikon
film scanner, I have done considerable research into the products,
gathered years worth of reviews and reports from users, and viewed their


Jack Phipps wrote:

> Congratulations Geoff! It must be exciting to be able to pursue your art
> full time. I would recommend a scanner with Digital ICE. It does an
> excellent job of removing defects, not just dust and scratches, but film
> manufacturing defects that appear in many images. Digital ICE is available
> in Minolta, Nikon, and Benq (Acer) consumer scanners and many other
> commercial scanners (Kodak, Durst, Noritsu, Gretag, Agfa, etc). Microtek
> recently announced Digital ICE for their flatbed scanners as well.
> Nikon and Minolta also offer scanners with Digital ROC that restores color
> to faded images and Digital GEM that removes noise (grain) from images.
> Digital ROC is available as a Photoshop compatible plug in as is Digital
> SHO. Digital SHO is a valuable tool that helps reveal shadow detail without
> affecting the highlights. Both plug ins are available as a free trial from
> www.asf.com.
> If you are used to drum scans, you may want to consider one. They are
> available on the used market and even though the technology is quite old, it
> is still the measuring stick used for scanning comparisons.
> Good luck with your scanning.
> Jack Phipps
> Applied Science Fiction
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Geoff Clack [mailto:geoffc@adept-design.co.uk]
> Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2002 8:52 AM
> To: Jack Phipps
> Subject: [filmscanners] What can you advise?
> Hello filmscanners
> I am a new list member. Apart from a real interest in scanning (I've
> notched up 50 years experience as a photographer and 40 as a graphic
> designer) I've joined you in the hope of obtaining guidance in making
> a film scanner purchase decision.
> At work I generally use hi-res scans from drum scanners so am
> undoubtedly fussy. As I near retirement (well, give up the day job)
> my hope is to develop my interest in photography and, using Photoshop
> etc., combine this with my ability as a painter to produce prints (I
> started at Art School as a painter but couldn't see my parents being
> able to support me so moved over to a graphic design course. I'll
> never know if that was a wise decision - but most friends who
> persevered as painters are now international names and wealthy!).
> Anyway, as I look through the pages of Macworld, and read the
> filmscanners list, I see reviews and mention of a variety of film
> scanners (and related problems). So far, to me, no model stands head
> and shoulders above the rest.
> My spec includes: 35mm, 4000-ppi, Firewire and value for money. You
> may know better.
> What can you advise?
> Geoff.
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