Dec 26, 2009

FLATBED VS FILM SCANNER


Age old scanner question is "Is flatbed better than the film scanner?".
Well, it depends on what your purpose is.

Film scanner is limited to scanning film only but flatbed can be used to scan film and hardcopy items like other photos, paper, etc. On versatility the flatbed wins however, for 35mm film scanning the flatbed is not appropriate. Sure, you can scan 35mm film on the flatbed but you will lose a lot of detail in the shadows and highlights which is a deal breaker for me. However for medium format film (size greater than 35mm but less than 4x5) the flatbeds do a better job than for 35mm - mostly because the film is larger so it is easier to scan. For me I would use the flatbed for this purpose but (and there is always a but) if the medium film is absolutely a masterpiece I would get it drum scanned (cost start at $10,000), which averages about $50-$100 per scan.

My conclusion is that if you need to scan 35mm film, you should get a dedicated 35mm film scanner and a flatbed to use for the medium and large format films.

You may be asking why I am bringing up 35mm flim because most people have abandoned this format. I have abandoned 35mm film for over 10 years now but recently I discovered the Horizon Perket camera which does 120 degrees panoramic photos. This camera is great for when I travel or on a vacation because it is small. I can't imagine carrying around the bulky medium format panoramic wide cameras and the price difference between the two are thousands of dollars.

So you may ask, why I don't use a point and shoot digital camera to take multiple photos and digitally stitch them. I have attempted this and it creates distortion that the Perket does not. When I correct the stitched image for the distortion digitally, it results in me cutting out the top and bottom corners which results in less height than the Perket photo.

If your purpose it not for great 35mm film scanning, then the flatbed scanner is for you.

For the professional user the two choices from Epson are the Epson V700 or Epson V750 this comprehensive article helped me decide which scanner to choose.

I will be purchasing a film holder that can be both used dry or wet mounting with variable height adjustable from BetterScanning.com. You may wonder why I have selected this accessory and the reason is that all scanner are different. I need to figure out what is the optimal height for my film holder for the most sharp scan by testing. Also this gives me the option for wet film mounting which is important because most film is not flat. The fluid will keep the film flat evenly but the draw back is that it takes patience and practice to wet mount properly. It is also not a pleasant experience because the fluids require a well ventilated room and is highly flammable. Don't smoke if you are wet mounting. Yes, it is a lot extra work to get great scans but worth it.

In conclusion, I decided to purchase the Epson V700 instead of Epson V750 because:
  1. I have no intentions of 35mm film scanning with the flatbed
  2. Epson V750 comes with their version of wet mounting accessory but the one I am purchasing from BetterScanning.com is better because of the height adjusting feature
  3. I am not sold on the Monaco EZ Color software ($279) that comes with Epson V750 and I am skilled at tweaking color with Photoshop
I recommend you take all your needs into consideration and choose the right one for you.


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