Friday, 9 May 2008

A Tale of Two Scanners

Which is better for scanning film? A dedicated film scanner or a flat-bed? Well, I have two film scanners, neither of which is the latest or greatest kit, but one of each type. One is a dedicated 35mm film scanner, the other a flat-bed with transparency adaptor.

The older of the two I've had since about '01, a trade-in against a Pentax ME Super, back when film cameras were still worth money! It's an Acer Scanwit 2720S dedicated 35mm film scanner, SCSI interface, scans at 2700ppi. I use this for 35mm negs and mounted slides.

The newer addition is a Microtek ScanMaker 6100 flat-bed which scans film up to 5"x4" at resolutions up to 3200x6400 ppi. I bought this one for 120 film and my 5"x4" pinhole negs. I've also used it to scan darkroom 'wet' prints.

I regularly have fights with them fight both, attempting to get the best possible scans. Scanning is always frustrating! So, I was wondering how the higher resolution of the Microtek flat-bed compared to the ancient but dedicated 35mm Acer. I took an old test slide of a resolution/colour chart and scanned it with both scanners at maximum resolution.

It was clear straight away that the Acer was better, but also I found that the Microtek wasn't providing any more detail above 2400ppi. Also, I found that it produced better scans if I placed the slide directly on the glass instead of in the plastic carrier. The results really speak for themselves. Here are the 100% crops of the scans, Acer dedicated above, Microtek flat-bed below (the latter re-sized to 2700ppi for comparison):


I wish I had something of the quality of the Acer for medium format...!

1 comment:

toddono said...

I agree, the Acer looks better. You can even see the grain of the film. The other could be hampered by the upscaling... but still not as sharp. How is the Microtek with the 120 film?