Film scanner and output : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

I'm in the process of making two credital decisions, and was hoping for some imput/advice.

I do not have a wet darkroom now, and with a totler at home I don't have the large blocks of time to get back into one. I want to produce digital prints that will be consistant with traditional prints from the same film/developer combinations. I primarily shoot Tri-X and process in Rodinal, and I like to print to 11x14.

Film Scanners - I have heard that if you shoot fast film (Tri-X, Tmax 3200) a 2700 dpi scanner will have proplems with the grain, and only at 4000 dpi or greater can you actually reproduce the grain.

I am considering these scanners:

Minolta Scan Elite - if I go with 2700 dpi and have to suttle for a different look then my traditional prints, I want the Digital ICE feature to work with my b&w negs (ICE supposedly does with Minota's version, but not with Nikon's).

Polaroid Sprintscan - 4000 dpi if it truely can reproduce the grain.

Microtek - they make the Polaroid Sprintscan. Does anyone know if Microtek saved some proprietary goodies for it's own scanner?


Epson 1200 or 3000 with Quadtone inks as a dedicated b&w printer. Are there advantages to one over the other? Should I consider another b&w printer?

Epson 2000P as an all around printer (I've read that the 1270 has an orange casting problem).

-- Warren Spicer (, January 05, 2001


Hi Warren, I'm also planning to set up a digital darkroom, am interested in some of the same equipment and have some of the same concerns. You may want to refer to and to see what other photographers experiences have been with regard to the specific equipment you've mentioned. I'm leaning towards the Microtek 4000 w/ Epson 1200 for B&W and 2000P for Color, but this may change by the time I actually set up. Let us know how it goes for you!

-- KL Prager (, January 06, 2001.

Warren - I went through this process six months ago when my daughter was born. I could only afford the Minolta Dual Scan and only needed A4 so I got the Epson 870.

I can't really comment on the scanners, except to take a good look at which one has the best (fastest) batch scanning. It takes me about two hours to scan in a 36 exposure roll and make a proof sheet (I use Hammick Vuescan). If it was convenient, I would skip this and make a chemical proof sheet. For the this reason the Kodak 3600dpi scanner with the ablity to scan a whole roll my be interesting. A flat bed scanner with an 8x10 slide attachment would be a huge time saver.

My scanner doesn't have ICE. Computors are the worlds best dust magnets. If you can afford it, get ICE.

The Dual scan is a 10 bit device, and doesn't do a great job with slides, tending to blow out the highlights. It seems well matched to T400CN and T-max 100.

The 870 (and thus the 1270) are great general purpose printers. My wife uses it a lot to do normal office stuff. The reviews of the 2000P would indicate that this printer is not general purpose. I have experienced the cyan ink fading with a reject print I left lying on the floor for a couple of days. The prints in my albums are still fine after 5 months. Matt paper photos on my wall above my computor at work are fine after 3+ months. I wouldn't sell output from this printer, but the wedding album (I wasn't the main Photographer) I printed on matt paper for friends has been fine. I feel I can live with this printer's flawed inkset.

I have been tempted to buy a 750 to try the quadtone ink, but don't have space (we will soon have to move the computor out of the babies room). I feel I have a reasonable color correction to get a near B&W on matt paper with the 870 (default is rather ugly cyan on mine), but I haven't had the time to experiment to get a decent B&W on the PPGP.

I really don't like color. Too many Varķables, and only want to print the best photos I shoot, but If you wife is anything like mine, you end up playing minilab printing flawed baby photo's in color :)

-- Mark Wrathall (, January 06, 2001.

Several years ago, I did much what you're considering, but for me it involved throwing out my darkroom. I've got an HP Photosmart scanner and it's worked fine for me--probably most people will tend to say that what they're using, if they think it's working, is the best, having no experience with anything else. . . . but I think the leaders right now seem to be the Polaroid scanner (but not with the Polaroid software, for B&W, at least), and Kodak's similar one.

If all you want to do is B&W, then the 1200 isn't the right printer--the printer of choice at the moment for this stuff is the 1160 (or the more expensive 3000). You should go to the site and check out what they offer--it's the system used by really hardcore B&W people. I've also used the MIS quad inks in my 1160, and prefer the tone of their inks to the piezography inks, but the piezography quality is better, as you can see on their site (and they're currently working on a different/better colored inkset).

The piezography3000 forum at will give you a lot of info on the piezo system, if you bear in mind that it's the place to go with problems, so you'll read a lot of negative stuff that might not be representative of the average experience.

For color, you might want to get a 1200 and use the Piezography Color system, if it ever shows up.

-- Michael Darnton (, January 06, 2001.

Micheal, did you go through the photoshop separation workflow recommended by MIS to send the individual inks the layers which they need? The MIS site indicates that this is required to avoid the Epson driver laing down inks which it thinks are still color, and will deliver results similar to the Piezo process at a much lower price.

-- Mark Wrathall (, January 06, 2001.

They hadn't published that workflow when I was using MIS inks, and when I last looked for it, after someone mentioned it, I couldn't find it (though I just now looked, and did).

The following comments are from someone, therefore, who hasn't tried the MIS workflow with MIS inks:

Be aware that the Epson printer driver is an RGB driver, so any separation you do to CMYK in Photoshop gets converted to RGB for printing, which in theory undoes much of your fancy separation and curves, putting things back together mostly as they were before. The Epson driver will still use black ink pretty much as it pleases, whenever it wants, in whatever range of the grey scale, which is one part of the problem that can't be corrected in RGB. Also, below a certain black level the Epson driver defaults to 100% ink (this is so type and such print totally black), which results in solid black clogged islands of ink in shadow areas--once you realize it, it's pretty irritating, and the Piezo system has a succulent bottom end that I doubt (well, OK, I completely disbelieve :-) MIS matches. As if that wasn't enough, the Piezo driver does print a dotless image, by independently driving the printer head to a higher resolution 50% higher than the Epson driver, and the MIS workflow can't do that.

At least in theory, the only way to really solve the separation problems is to use a CMYK driver in place of the Epson RBG driver, and I believe some people have done this with some quite expensive aftermarket programs developed for the printing industry, such as the recently discontinued Pressready.

All that said, I found the prints I made with the MIS inks completely adequate under normal viewing conditions--the differences only pop up with a magnifier. If you're printing on glossy papers, the Piezo inks look exceptionally cruddy, because they're pigment based and developed for the fine arts crowd to print on watercolor papers--that's one place where MIS looks a LOT better. If, however, you really are trying to hide that you're using digital processes, I think the Piezo system is the only real way to do it.

-- Michael Darnton (, January 06, 2001.

Thanks Micheal. I haven't tried either system, and am interested in a better B&W than the 870 is giving.

-- Mark Wrathall (, January 07, 2001.

When I was using an Epson 600 for B&W I finally arrived at a color compromise that worked for me. The Epson (and all other color inks, for that matter) change color under different lighting. Printing color you really don't notice this. When the results are supposed to be neutral, however, it's much more obvious. I finally gave up trying to print neutral, and tweaked the color balance in the printer driver to give me B&W prints which looked in daylight as if they'd been selenium toned (dark red/purple brown), and pretty neutral under incandescents. I don't remember the exact correction, but I think it was something on the order of [advanced/more settings] +5 magenta and +7 yellow. This prevented the prints from looking that ugly green that Epson B&W prints appear to be under some lightings. With the fine grain pattern of the 870/1270 (relative to the 600), you might not even see the colored dots that make up the image, and this could work to make nicer prints than you've been getting.

-- Michael Darnton (, January 07, 2001.

WIth my 870 I have found that the color cast is not linear enough to just add +x Magenta and -y Cyan in the printer driver.

Once I am happy with the B&W picture in Photoshop, my last step is an action to convert the image to RGB and then add differnt corrections to the highlights, mid tones and shadows. The results on the Epson Matt paper are pretty good but not completely neutral. I read on one of the "Expert" sites that color profiling to get perfect repeatable tones for the 870/1270 is not possible.

I have a group of Framed B&W pictures on the wall printed on the Epson and at least three conventional B&W papers. The Epson print color is within the variation of the other three papers.

For that you need MIS or Peizo inksets and an older printer without the cartidge chip.

-- Mark Wrathall (, January 08, 2001.

What I'm referring to isn't a cast--it's color shifts with different light sources. As such, it's impossible to "correct", since it changes with the quality of the viewing light. That's why I went overboard in a direction that I liked the resulting color. You won't get very far correcting the color, because that's not the problem.

-- Michael Darnton (, January 08, 2001.

Hi mark & Michael,

Since you're both apparently quite experienced with digital darkroom equipment, I'm wondering what equipment (scanner & printer)you would recommend to someone who's not particularly computer savvy.

I use both B&W and color print film in both 35 and 120 (mostly 35 these days). I want to set up a digital archive of my better images and be able to produce good quality proof prints to 11x14 (although initially I might be satisfied w/ 8x10).

I'd like to keep things as simple as possible and can see setting myself up incrementally by getting a scanner for 35 to start (MF later) and 1 printer to do both B&W and color, then add a second printer later. By the time I know what I'm doing, the technology may well continue to change. Ease of use is very important to me at this stage! Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

-- KL Prager (, January 08, 2001.

When you put color into the equation, I fall out--I don't do any, and my whole setup is based on B&W. Maybe the Epson 2000 would be a good choice--I think the 870/1270 is a bad choice at this point, based on the reliability of its color stability. Maybe some people can live with the idea that you never know when a print will blow up, but I can't.

As for 35+120--there are a lot of good 35mm scanners, but the larger format ones I'm familiar with don't handle 35mm too efficiently or well, so I think your idea of starting with 35mm is good--maybe by the time you want to scan larger film there'll be more choices. I set up a digital lab for someone a couple of years ago and used a $2500 flatbed that also scans film--now that scanner is MUCH cheaper. But still no good for 35mm--and frankly, it's not that good for 4x5 and 120 either--I think waiting is good, in this situation.

-- Michael Darnton (, January 09, 2001.

Nikon is coming out with what appear to be state of the art desktop film 35mm and 120 film scanners in about 6-8 weeks.

Look here for information.

-- Mani Sitaraman (, January 10, 2001.

Michael and Mani,

Thanks for the feedback!

-- KL Prager (, January 10, 2001.

K.L. Not being computor savy is not a show stopper for digital work as most scanenrs and Epson computors are basically plug and pray. Photoshop is also easy enough to learn from tutorials and books. There is a definate rather steep learning curve, but is is more the learning of the Graphic designer role than the computor role.

-- Mark Wrathall (, January 10, 2001.

Hello All,

Thanks for the great advice. This is where I am at thus far:

Printer - definately getting the Epson 1160 (same printing head as the 3000 at 1/5 the cost), and I'll try the Cone Piezography quad inks. Today I spoke to an Epson representative at MacWorld Expo, and he informed me of the identical printing heads and that the 1160/Piezo is b&w state of the art for moderate volumn up to 13" wide.

Scanner - still a tough one. I will have test scans done today on both the new Nikons (2900dpi and 4000dpi) and the Kodak (3600dpi). I'm leaning toward the higher dpi (3600+) so I can output up to 12" wide prints at 300 dpi without spreading out the pixels. My big issues are now density range, noise and batch scanning.

Kodak's 3600dpi scanner ($1100) cliams 3.6 density is more then enough to "see" everything on film. Kodak also has the ability to feed roll film - best batch scanning ability I've seen. Noise might be an issue, Kodak does not have multipass scanning, but says there scan progresses real slowly and that eliminates noise. They also claim that multipass scanning means interpolation which means a less accurate scan.

Nikon claims 4.2 density with their new 4000dpi scanner ($1700 sug. retail). I've seen the last generation of Nikon scanner criticized for noise, but solved by multipass scanning. Nikon has digital ICE, but they say it does not work on silver halide film (and niether should Minolta's Scan Elite). You can batch scan only six frames at a time, or pay another $500 for a roll film adapter. That's $2200 total. If all the specs matter, Nikon has just raised the bar for desktop color film/transparency scanners, but I'm not sure if that holds true for silver halide film and budgetary concerns.

What are the best test negatives and transparencies? Dense or thin

-- Warren Spicer (, January 12, 2001.

Hi Warren:

Have you heard if the 1160 is good for both color and B&W? How does the 1160 differ from the 1200? Are there any other comments you have about why you chose the 1160?



-- KL Prager (, January 12, 2001.


I began focusing on the 3000 as the most likely b&w dedicated printer using the Cone Piezography Quadtone inks because that is the printer they use at Cone's studio. On other bulletin boards I have consistantly read high praise for the combination. Because of this, the 1200 fell out of favor. I know the 1200 is a good Quadtone printer, but I haven't found any consistant "hands down" this is the printer to consider threads. The 1160 is under $200 refurbished ($300 new), it is not currently being produced but is available online (check out a price search engine). The Epson Rep I spoke to said the 1160 and 3000 have exactly the same quality output (the 3000 being the workhorse). The 3000 ($900 refurbished, $1100 new) may be worth it if your doing 50 prints a day, everyday.

If you know more about the 1200 over the 1160 or 3000, pleas

-- Warrne Spicer (, January 12, 2001.


About color output...two dedicated printers (b&w and 6 color) is the best way to go.

If Epson has solved the ozone problem with their cyan ink (can create an orange cast within days) then the 1270 at $450 must be considered. If they have not, then I wouldn't roll the dice with every print. This problem is specific to the 1270, and when resolved the prints should last up to 25 years.

My choice for color is the Epson 2000p ($800-900). Archival to 100+ years on their matte paper, and subjectively speaking produces a finer print then the 1270 with the same image file. In my opinion, the 1270 is like Velvia and the 2000p is like Kodachrome. The 1270 is punchier, and has more enherent contrast, but lacks the subtle gradations produced by the 2000p. I'm a young man, and I want my prints to outlive me. The 2000p is a more delicate print and is prone to scratches, so it is not for making images to be passed around -

-- Warren Spicer (, January 12, 2001.

Hi Warren, Thanks for comments. I appreciate the explanation as I'll be building my own setup in a few months. I haven't done very much research yet, but I think you're probably right about 2 dedicated printers, 1 each for B&W and color. Take care and please let us know how your system evolves!


-- KL Prager (, January 12, 2001.

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