My wife wants digital need 4x5 scanner options : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

My wife has decided to enter the realm of digital imaging. This is bad news. First, it will drain financial resources away from my wet darkroom endeavors, second my 6 year old daughter who has shown a great interest in photography over the last two years may be seduced by the digital side. Alas I see this as an inevitable phase for my wife who has become "dazzled" by her sisters' digital output with their point and shoot digital cameras.

I have decided to outflank my wife by convincing her to keep using my 35mm gear and invest in a scanner and phtoshop to get that "professional quality". I know next to nothing about scanners but would like to at least get a flatbed that can produce decent files from my 4x5 negs ($1000 or less). I have also convinced her that eventually we will need a printer capable of using dedicated ink sets like John Cone's or MIS quadtones. She is going to love what she (I) can do with this set up.

Thanks in advance for your input.

-- James Chinn (, January 05, 2002


The new Epson 2450 scanner looks interesting to me and sells for around $400 locally. It can scan LF negatives (to 5x7 I think) and chromes as well as reflective stuff. Good question, I hope folks will chime in on this.

-- Frank LaHorgue (, January 06, 2002.

I have an Acer ScanPrimo ST and I highly recommend it. It is definately the sleeper of flatbeds. It will scan up to 8x10 transparencies and Negs, 8.5x14 reflected. A very nice set of format masks are supplied for most major formats from 35mm to 8x10. It has a new 48 bit driver (not in the specs), and a nice software package including Monaco calibration software. Dynamic range 3.3, SCSI interface included.

I have had mine for about a year. Cost under $500 New, on Ubid. ACER is in the process of changing the name of its imaging products to Benq, ACER branded productes should be nicely priced.

-- Fred De Van (, January 06, 2002.

I have an Epson 1640SU which comes with a Transparency adapter that scans transparencies and negatives as well as prints. However, let me relate a story I heard about a White House photographer who still uses film vs digital by his competition. He said that during the Lewinski-Clinton scandel he saw the famous shot of the two embracing. It sparked his memory and he went out and hired a researcher to go through his slides. Sure enough, he had another shot of the two enbracing stached in a slide box. The image was used on a cover of time magazine.

He said that he watched other photographers edit their digital images, deleting unwanted ones on the spot so to make room on their storge discs. But since he was shooting film, that image was not lost and it was later used on an important magazine cover.

-- Rob Pietri (, January 06, 2002.

Dollar for Dollar, there is nothing on the market (or the horizon) that can touch the Epson 1680 Pro. Nada.

-- Matt O. (, January 06, 2002.

Hi James,

The best source I have found for helping me to understand scanners and the digital darkroom has been at Norman Koren's website.  He does a wonderful job of explaining to us newcomers the "ins and outs" of scanning and why we would choose one model over another. Take a look and see what you think.



-- GreyWolf (, January 06, 2002.


-- Wayne Campbell (, January 06, 2002.

I'm wondering, who's been outflanked?

-- neil poulsen (, January 06, 2002.


Just to keep your story correct and to keep it from becoming an urban legend, It was not a White House Photographer who had this experiance, it was my friend, Time Magazine's own, Dirck Halstead. He also edits this site.


-- Fred De Van (, January 06, 2002.

James: Just what in the world is your wife dazzled by? I know for a fact that whatever camera her sister is using does NOT produce 35mm quality prints, unless it takes 12 megapixel images. What does she see? Is it just the cool factor? It's weird - I find it frustrating that people are beginning to look at digital photographs in which I can clearly see artifacts, blocked color, or that ugly electronic edge enhancment that people mistake for "sharpness and resolution" and say "wow!" just because they hear the word "digital." About what? I mean, it makes no logical sense when you can clearly put it next to a good film print and show that the digital usually doesn't stack up.Do people really think that digital MEANS professional? Probably. Although 90 percent of the world's photos are shot on film, I meet people every damned day that think nearly all "professional quality" photos are digital. I wish I had as much success marketing truth as Sony does with hype.

Good luck James!

-- Josh Slocum (, January 06, 2002.


Thanks for the clarification. I thought I had it straight but apparently not. Still, the pros and cons of digital are there. I personally prefer shooting film then scanning the prints or transparencies. The permenence of didital is highly questionable. But the use of computers and the internet to promote business is invaluable.

I just started with this site and I am very surprised to find such a wide range of topics and individuals sharing information. Glad I found this place. Thanks for the interchange!


-- Rob Pietri (, January 07, 2002.


Of cours you are right. I guess to clarify, she is more dazzled by the quality compared to a lab for 4x5 and 8x10. Pretty comparable to what you get at Walgreens. She also loves to shoot b&w, but doesn't enjoy the darkroom, she leaves that aspect to me. So she likes the idea of direct camera to print even with the image quality of most say $300-$500 cameras. My thinking is I have wanted to get a scanner to use for placing images on the web and for filing my 35 and medium contacts. By convincing her to keep with film and scan prints and negs allows me to share the scanner. Otherwise I can't afford both a good digital camera and flattop scanner. I may have stretched the truth a little, but the quality of images with my Nikons and film will exceed any camera we would at present consider as well as provide a platform for scanning my 4x5 work.

-- James Chinn (, January 07, 2002.

I am puzzled by most of the recommendations. Remembering that this is a LF forum I can not see how flatbed scanners such as those recommended could make it to these pages. So you went to 4X5 for among other reasons, the quality of the image? Well, with the flat beds, having typically a dynamic range of 3.2, not to mention colour bit depth and resolution, how can one possibly get the most out what is in 4X5 film? I saw a demo on one of the tauted Epsons and frankly it was most unimpressive. The tonal range of the slide was badly squeezed in to what Kodak Instamatics used to do, at least to my eyes, although the store salesperson preferred to ignore the issue. I am not really intent into getting into a debate. Like James, who asked the question, I also need to know what kind of scanner will be suitable for 4X5. The scanners recommended may have been more suitable from recent Instamatic Grads, hardly LF types. I think James was asking for something that would satisfy his wife as well as himself. If these flat beds are so wonderful, how do manufacturers of Drum Scanners get tens of thousands for their wares? are buyers a bunch of fools? Am I wrong on either the scanner, or.... James and his wife?

-- Julio Fernandez (, January 08, 2002.

Go here for the whole 'magilla'. Nothing but honesty and frankness about scanners from top to bottom, although they empahsize a 'line you don't want to cross' in terms of professional results.

Having said that, I seriously doubt I would consider paying the price a scanner at the absolute top. I suggested the site with the idea that it might put you on track to a 'middle of the road scanner' or cost-effective 'bargain', that will give you some good results.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, January 10, 2002.

I assume from the information provided that you're a very advanced amateur rather than someone making money from photography (This simply means you must think hard before you buy since you can't write it off on your taxes). If this is the case then the most cost effective way for you to scan medium and large format film is with an Epson Perfection 1650 or 2450. The way to confirm this for yourself is to read all the digital threads here in the medium and large format forums. I would pay particular attention to the posts by Daniel Taylor, a 'Blad photographer using a Epson 1640, who always cuts to the heart of the matter. For less than $400 the Epson Perfection 2450 is a dream come true for amateur medium/large format photographers. It may not make scans capable of being blown up into murals but it should make very nice scans easily printed on Epson's line of home photo printers.

-- Bill Eadie (, January 10, 2002.

Oops! Please allow me to correct my previous post. The Epson 1650 scans only 35mm film. The discontinued Epson Perfection Photo 1640 has a transparency scanning top which scans both medium and large format film. You may find the 1640 as an Epson refurb with Epson's standard one year guarantee. Some people feel Epson refurbs are a very good deal since each unit is individually examined and brought up to the original specs.

-- Bill eadie (, January 10, 2002.

May be cheaper to upgrade the wife.

-- Andre Noble (, January 15, 2002.

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