Scanner or Macro...need to do something

Brownie

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I've been using a camera, copy stand, LED lightboard etc. to scan negatives. It seems to get decent results but it's cumbersome in that I don't have a place to leave it set up, requiring I take it down and box it each time. Another problem I've run into is trying to do this with macro tubes and a standard or zoom lens. I have scanned 35, 120, and 127, and will soon be adding 110. I lose resolution depending on the format, the square are the worst. And if it can't focus close enough to completely fill the frame then more yet needs to be cropped away.

I have never been much of a macro guy and have never had a dedicated macro lens, but feel like one would vastly improve the process, especially with the upcoming 110. It is going to need to be close to fill the frame. I wouldn't mind a manual focus adapted lens at all, once the distance is set for the format it stays the same from negative to negative, so that doesn't matter much. This is option 1.

Option 2 is to chuck it all get a decent flatbed. Not a great flatbed, but a decent one. I am thinking along the lines of an Epson V600 or similar. Here I am wondering about quality. It seems most people favor the camera over a flatbed for higher quality until you get to serious cash outlay. I suppose if there was something I wanted to enlarge to poster size that'd make sense, but the vast majority will never get printed and those that do would seldom get above 8 x 10, with the rare 11 x 14 or 16 x 20 tossed in.

From a cost standpoint they're probably similar. A good used lens will be around the same price as the scanner, maybe less if I can find a good adapted lens.

Interested in hearing thoughts from experienced users of each type, and especially from those who've done it both ways.

Lens recommendations: Focal Length, focusing distance, specific lens models etc. are all appreciated. Is there a grand old Pentax, Minolta, Nikon etc. that should be considered?

Scanner recommendations: Using the E V600 as a base, which others compare favorably? Are there better choices?
 

Macroramphosis

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My P30mm does the job quicker and better than any scanner (within my budget - and I've had a few, lol) when set up. I built a stand for camera and lens, to which slides can be added and photographed just about as quick as you can slide them in. I use an LED torch the other end for lighting.

Should you find a decent second-hand P30mm, you will then also own a fine walk-around 'nifty sixty' for other days :)

It's also quite good for insects, too :D
 

Hendrik

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I've used both scanners and cameras to copy slides and negatives. My experience has been that, for the less-than-critical uses that you describe, it doesn't make a great deal of difference in the results which method you use as long as you optimize your process. Getting to the results is another matter, altogether.

Using a camera doesn't allow any sort of automation. A strip of negatives will need to be handled as many times as the number of negatives on the strip you may wish to copy. The concern here is time spent as well as a modicum of increased risk (dust, grime & scratches) for the film. The workflow is tedious and doesn't admit of multitasking. I comfort myself that for 135 negs, a 16-20 mp camera is overkill - it will resolve the film grain very nicely (and film grain is far sharper than the image on the film). ~5 mp is more than adequate for a typical soft 135 image. For 110? 1.5 mp?

I have an Epson V700 and it has done a lot of scanning for me: slides and negatives, color and black and white. Scanning has its quirks, too, and there's a definite learning curve. I've settled on using Vuescan and the smartest thing I ever did was to read The Vuescan Bible by Sascha Steinhoff (rockynook). My strategy has been to use the scanner for mass ingesting of images at about 5 mp, reserving a camera solution (or a professional scan) for a second go at important images. Scanning is one of the easier things you can ask a computer to manage - there's plenty of power left over. While the scanner is working, I can take care of filing, culling, etc. or something else. The larger your library, the more a scanner makes sense.

Most of our slides (over 40 years' worth) were scanned using a dedicated film scanner, borrowed. The task would never have been accomplished otherwise. We still have my wife's parents' library to do. That's easily twice the volume of ours. Joy, joy, joy...
 

Brownie

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Thanks for bringing up the professional scan, I left that out of the equation. Even when getting film professionally developed I scan at home or order low quality scans. If there's something that I decide needs more for printing I send it in and have them rescan at higher quality. So far that's been minimal.

I'm set up with negative holders for 120 and 35, so once I put a strip in it's align, shoot, move, align, shoot move, etc. All in all not too bad. I also like having the RAW image to work with rather than a jpeg or other format. I've made a 127 holder for lack of market availability, but it works well for the limited amount it gets used. I will probably do the same for 110.

I think my biggest gripe is the inability (currently) to leave it set up, less the camera. Maybe I should work on that aspect along with obtaining a macro lens.
 

Hendrik

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I think my biggest gripe is the inability (currently) to leave it set up, less the camera. Maybe I should work on that aspect along with obtaining a macro lens.
Look for an old-style copy stand:

IMG_4083.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

Hendrik

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So, you have the materials. It might not be too difficult to reduce the size of the base and fix it permanently at an out-of-the-way spot. My copy stand is pretty awkward to store or move and, if film copying were the only use I had for mine, I would have no qualms about either cutting down the base or transferring the column to a secure table top. Btw, the lens in my pic is the O30 macro. It might be good for your use - it goes past 1:1 to 1.25. With sufficient light or rigidity in the mount there should be no real worry about shooting at anything other than base iso.

That said, even with carriers, copying film using a camera is a lot more labor intensive than a scanner and, to my mind, offers scant advantage in terms of results achieved.
 

Brownie

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So, you have the materials. It might not be too difficult to reduce the size of the base and fix it permanently at an out-of-the-way spot. My copy stand is pretty awkward to store or move and, if film copying were the only use I had for mine, I would have no qualms about either cutting down the base or transferring the column to a secure table top. Btw, the lens in my pic is the O30 macro. It might be good for your use - it goes past 1:1 to 1.25. With sufficient light or rigidity in the mount there should be no real worry about shooting at anything other than base iso.

That said, even with carriers, copying film using a camera is a lot more labor intensive than a scanner and, to my mind, offers scant advantage in terms of results achieved.
Interesting thing about that copy stand. It is all original and was a NOS Open box. I don't think the lamps were ever even mounted to the base. If I were to do something like that, I'd be more likely to cut a new base and move the hardware to it so I could restore the original if I ever wanted to. Woodworking is another hobby so that'd be an easy approach.

I was thinking about the O30 for the reason you mentioned. Using it on a stand the slower aperture and stabilization are irrelevant.

Then there's your last sentence, and I think if I search my thoughts that's kind of where I've been going all along.
 

Bushboy

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The Olympus 30 gets real close. It could probably do those 110 negatives. I could check with a measure rule for you if you’re interested.
 

Bushboy

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Roughly done handheld to give an idea.
Looks like about 10 millimeters.
 

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Brownie

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Roughly done handheld to give an idea.
Looks like about 10 millimeters.
Well that will certainly do the trick thanks!

Interestingly, everyone is out of the V600. Not available. B&H has no idea when they'll be in. I'm not in a hurry, but if it turns out this is a COVID or semiconductor issue and it'll be a year I'll probably go with the lens.

I was thinking too that taking @Hendrik suggestion a step further, I could build a folding table where the table top is the copy stand base. Wouldn't be hard to do. I'd set it up so the post comes off and stores on the table with some utility clips.
 

Brownie

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Tim, the V700 Photo is a far better, dual platen scanner than the non 'Photo' versions.
I know, and it is not an option. A couple of points:

They no longer make the 700.
They cost used 2-3 times as much as the V600 does new.
The V600 is for photos and comes with the negative and slide trays
I don't need that kind of resolution for everyday scanning. On the rare occasions I do need it, I'll send the negative to a lab.
 

ex machina

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I know, and it is not an option. A couple of points:

They no longer make the 700.
They cost used 2-3 times as much as the V600 does new.
The V600 is for photos and comes with the negative and slide trays
I don't need that kind of resolution for everyday scanning. On the rare occasions I do need it, I'll send the negative to a lab.
I started out with an Epson v550, which was great for prints but disappointing for negatives. I needed a model that could handle glass plates that were too big for the v550 so I hemmed and hawed and eventually shelled out the dough for a v800 which does a MUCH better job. The v800 and its ilk provide negative scans as good to my eye as what I got from TheDarkroom.com and others, but the v550, not so much.

I might not have made the investment if I didn't have 100 glass plates my great grandmother shot that I wanted to preserve, but I'm glad I did. The difference between my scans and my uncle's camera+bellows "scans" before the plates came into my possession is huge, though TBF his camera then was not like the cameras of today. My main point in all of this is to warn that you might not be very happy with negative scans on Epson's lower-end scanners -- even my 120 scans were a let-down. Again, though, prints were awesome. Fwiw.
 

Brownie

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I wish I had a way to test one out before buying. The problem is right now is this unavailability which looks like has been going on for a while. Epson and retail sops list it at $229. If you look on eBay they're going used for $300 and more.

Still though, I am happy with the results from my copy stand and camera, it's just cumbersome. For the most part I'm shooting vintage cameras, point-n-shoot Brownies, the older Argus I've been posting, etc. I would expect it to only get better with the macro lens. The IQ likely doesn't need anything even close to what the 850 offers. If the difference is $1,200 for a V850 or $300 for the Oly Macro, the camera will win. And as I said, if I decide there's something worth printing I can always send the negative to the Darkroom for high quality scans. I can't see myself spending $1000 on that service in a lifetime.
 

Hendrik

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I wish I had a way to test one out before buying. The problem is right now is this unavailability which looks like has been going on for a while. Epson and retail sops list it at $229. If you look on eBay they're going used for $300 and more.

Still though, I am happy with the results from my copy stand and camera, it's just cumbersome. For the most part I'm shooting vintage cameras, point-n-shoot Brownies, the older Argus I've been posting, etc. I would expect it to only get better with the macro lens. The IQ likely doesn't need anything even close to what the 850 offers. If the difference is $1,200 for a V850 or $300 for the Oly Macro, the camera will win. And as I said, if I decide there's something worth printing I can always send the negative to the Darkroom for high quality scans. I can't see myself spending $1000 on that service in a lifetime.
I looked at Craigslist here and found two offers for Cano Scan 8800F at =<$100. It was well reviewed at launch as an equal to the V600. Perhaps?

One immense advantage of Vuescan is that it supports almost any mainstream scanner made in recent memory.
 

ex machina

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Interesting. How so? Dynamic range? Resolution?
It's been a couple years now, but I think both were just meh. I tested by comparing professional 120 scans with the best I could do and there just wasn't any comparison. 35mm scans were worse. I honestly think camera-based "scanning" could be at the very least comparable if not superior, albeit more of a hassle. Again, though, print scanning was excellent, no complaints there at all.
 

Hendrik

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It's been a couple years now, but I think both were just meh. I tested by comparing professional 120 scans with the best I could do and there just wasn't any comparison. 35mm scans were worse. I honestly think camera-based "scanning" could be at the very least comparable if not superior, albeit more of a hassle. Again, though, print scanning was excellent, no complaints there at all.
Thanks.
 

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