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Scanner Help
Old 06-22-2006, 11:45 PM   #1 (permalink)

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I have a feeling that this post will separate the seasoned veterans from the rank newbees.

I have recently found it necessary to break out, dust off, and reactivate my Epson Perfection 3200 Scanner to digitize some photos for a client and this has brought back a flood of memories, both good and bad from my days of working with film, which I still do from time to time.

I have been photographing for over 15 years and have run countless rolls of film through the cameras I have used and I have scanned thousands of prints and I have always had trouble in getting whatever scanner I owned at the time to do what I wanted it to. I have owned several combination (film and prints) flatbed scanners as well as a high res Nikon film scanner and the Nikon film scanner was the most frustrating of all of them to use.

None of the scanners I have owned and used have had anything even approaching what I would call adequate documentation and as a result I have missed out on a lot of the capabilities of the scanners I have used over the years so my main question is this: How in the world am I supposed to learn how to use and more importantly get the maximum out of my scanners or any other of my photographic equipment for that matter??

I never was able to figure out how to get the most out of my film scanner. The film scans I did were always weak because I could never figure out how to get the image size down to a manageable level where it wouldn’t steal all my computers memory and crash it. I would have to scan film at 300dpi just to get a reasonable size scan and then when I tried to print the scan at 8” x 10” it was laughable. I just recently found out that most scanners have settings that allow the operator to adjust both the input resolution as well as the OUTPUT resolution. Without adequate, useable documentation how am I supposed to know this? This makes me wonder just how much else I am missing out on with not just my scanner but with all of my equipment and it is very frustrating.

Is there a place on the Internet or elsewhere that can be used as a clearinghouse of information for photographers that will help them in plain, simple English to learn to use and get the most from their at times quite sizeable investments? If anyone can turn me onto a source of information they will have my eternal gratitude.
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Re: Scanner Help
Old 06-23-2006, 02:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, you might wanna check out the links at They link to several sites with different info, including sites regarding scanning.

But I don't know of many places that will give you all the detailed information you're looking for without paying for it... That's why I'd get thee to a bookstore and get some books you can keep and carry with you. When the manual isn't enough, there are these Magic Lantern Guides (I've got one for my Nikon N75) that I've found helpful. Sorry, I know it's not much, but maybe it's a start? I also found this book called Mastering Digital Scanning with Slides, Film, and Transparencies too, but from the reviews they have there, it may not be what you're looking for.

As far as scanners go, maybe I can help, since the Epson scanner you have is just two models above mine (mine's a Perfection 2450), and I have a Nikon film scanner too (which one do you have? Mine's a Super Coolscan 9000ED -- just got it yesterday ). I haven't had problems with mine (other than the physical limitations of the scanner itself -- the Epson, which is why I got the Nikon). Don't know how much help I can give, but I can sure try.

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Re: Scanner Help
Old 06-23-2006, 09:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't know of a single clearinghouse for everything photographic. I don't even know of a single clearinghouse for scanning film. Scanning is a royal pain in the butt. Even the really, really expensive drum scanners like the Heidelbergs produce junk without an experienced operator. An experienced operator is critical to getting good scans. For the average personal scanner (like your Epson), calibrating your scanner to a known target is the most important step. If your scanner isn't calibrated to a known target (like the Monaco EZcolor ones) then you're just fumbling around in the dark.

I don't know what software you have, but there's a pretty decent tutorial on using Silverfast Ai over at the luminous-landscape:

You said this was for a client. If I may make a recommendation: Find a good, professional lab in your area (Phoenix is bound to have at least one) and have them scan the images for you. Flatbed scans shouldn't cost you more than $2-3 apiece for a 6MP scan and they will in all likelihood do a better job than you will in the short term. Higher res scans should cost you maybe $4-6. If you want the ultimate in scan quality and your client is willing to foot the bill (~$40 a piece and up), get your images drum scanned.

Let the lab deal with all the headaches. That's their job. I don't know what your time is worth to you, but I can think of better things to do than spend a couple of days or a week tuning up all of my computer equipment and learning how to scan for just this one job. If you're going to make a regular habit of this then it's different. You should be able to get very nice scans out of your Epson, you're just going to have to invest a lot of time learning how to do it.

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Re: Scanner Help
Old 06-23-2006, 01:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I often wonder why people spend thousnds of dollars on equipment and are so unwilling to do the one thing that will help the most. . . boost memory!! with todays prices if you don't have at least 2 gigs of memory (with 4 plus even better) you are shortchanging yourself in both speed and imaging capability.
Also make sure you have at least a firewire/USB2 connection to the scanner unless you can live with sllooowww.
Try this link:
Lots of stuff there.
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