Film and Negative Scanners

Choosing the best film and negative scanner.

Many flatbed scanners are capable of scanning film using a transparent media adaptor but most of the cheaper ones tend to produce such poor results that we really can't classify them as film scanners. When scanning 35mm slides, 120 (medium format) and 5x4 film, it's important to look beyond the resolution. At the same resolution, two scanners may deliver vastly different results. If you are trying to scan 35mm negatives, bear in mind that it's the most difficult task for a scanner.

Scanning colour negatives is also likely to take longer than scanning slides. The qualitative aspects are essential to obtain good results. They include the scanner's mechanical precision, optical quality, optical path (e.g. glass free or not), number of mirrors, dynamic range, colour calibration, software and last but not least: auto-focus. Bear in mind that published specifications are often very misleading, especially when it comes to dynamic range and resolution.

If this sounds too complicated, please feel free to contact us for advice. If you are looking for an A3 scanner with film scanning capabilities, have a look at the Microtek Artix 3200XL. Epson has a range of flatbed scanners but one model stands out from the others in term of film scanning quality: the Epson Perfection V800 Photo .

The Epson Perfection V800 Photo comes with Silverfast SE scanning software and this is fine for home users. Semi-pro and professional users should seriously consider upgrading to the full version of Silverfast, which offers much more powerful features, batch scanning and full colour calibration from a colour calibration target. Plustek offers well priced dedicated 35mm scanners suitable for slides and negatives. Whilst they are not up to the same level as the previous Nikon scanners, they represent excellent value and are the most popular 35mm scanner for the home user market and light professional usage.