Drum Scanners: Anyone know about them? For purchase?

cayenne

EOS 5D Mark IV
CR Pro
Mar 28, 2012
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Hi all,
Does anyone here know much about drum scanners? Are they practical to purchase for self use?

I've been shooting a bit of MF film and see that some sites want $60/scan on a drum scanner....wondering if there is a practical one to buy for home use?

I have my older Epson V600...and its "ok"...but thinking an upgrade would do me good....but I know nothing about drum scanners and hoping someone might could give me some advice, pointers or links to info.

Thanks in advance,

cayenne
 

Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
I'd say no they're not. I think there is only one company that makes them now, that's Aztec, and they are rather expensive ;)

You'd be looking at an old one that would require some refurbishment. Then there's the fact that the scanning process takes a lot of setting up; they are wet scans and it's messy.

Here in the U.K. Mr Drum Scanner is Tim Parkin of Optimum Exposure / Professional Drum Scanning. He takes orders from all over the world, and a 5000 dpi scan of 6x6 is £14. This would give you an output size of about 1.4m @ 300dpi. For any special negatives / transparencies you may want to print big it's worth getting them scanned in this way, as it is, IMO, still the ultimate way to digitise your film. Your V700 won't do a good medium format film justice if you are going to be looking at it critically, it's going to be (relatively) soft. It sounds crazy but it's quite feasible to post your negs to him and get the digital files via we transfer, and then your negs back in the post later.

Or you could just shoot digital and run the raws through a good film simulator like RNI :censored:. (Joke !)

(Sorry output size is about 1m x 1m @300 dpi).
 

privatebydesign

Garfield is back...
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I trust Nick Carver’s opinion.

One very important thing to recognize with high resolution scans is actually determining if it is rendering any more photographic detail or is it just resolving film grain at ever greater acuity.
 
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Nov 3, 2014
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I've had access to film scanners that cost significantly more than my first house and I'd still prefer to digitize film with a digital camera and a macro lens. I'd be hard pressed to think of anything that would be a bigger waste of money for a casual user than a drum scanner. As PBD said there just isn't that much photo information in film emulsion. Certainly not in the emulsions that are fashionable today. An Eos R can easily capture all of the detail in a 6x6 negative and it will have the benefit of yielding a RAW file. An R5 even more so. If that's not enough take multiple images and merge them. You can also do hdr stacks which will vastly exceed the dMax of even the best scanner. There is a reason why nobody makes scanners any more, because anybody who has invested any time and money into them knows scanners suck. I know you won't take my word for it so carry on.
 
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Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
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Mar 25, 2011
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Every time I've looked at drum scanners over the last 15 or 20 years, I quickly give up.

I also have a V700 and its fine for me. I built a copy stand last year and tried lighting it with some softboxes thinking that I could adjust the angles to eliminate reflections from the surface of the photos, but it never worked. I also found it took a lot of time to get a photo positioned properly under the cameras. I used to have several enlargers and easels but gave them all away to a local high school. One of the easl's might be a help if I ever figure out the lighting. I wonder if a ring light would work?

Here is a photo I took while testing it, the lights are at about 60 degrees, just out of the photo. I tried several angles, I could see the reflection no matter how I adjusted.
untitled-1.jpg
 
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Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
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BTW, I looked on ebay again at both current and at sold ones. For $5000, you get a 30 year old model that only works with a 30 year old Mac and floppy disks. Be very careful, some of them may not work at all unless you have a very old computer to control them, and the software may not be available.
 

cayenne

EOS 5D Mark IV
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Mar 28, 2012
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BTW, I looked on ebay again at both current and at sold ones. For $5000, you get a 30 year old model that only works with a 30 year old Mac and floppy disks. Be very careful, some of them may not work at all unless you have a very old computer to control them, and the software may not be available.

Whew..yeah, ok....I guess I"ll pass on looking into drum scanners.
;)

I love my digital, don't get me wrong, but I am also very much enjoying shooting MF 120 film not only in 6x6...but in 6x9, 6x12 and 6x17......

I especially like those wider aspect ratios, and they are something I cannot shoot in one shot with a digital camera....I can use ND filters on that 6x17 and get smooth pano shots that aren't possible shooting digital multiple shots and stitching together....things like that.

So, I'm working on getting good scans.

SO, if drum scanners are out of the picture...what are the better flatbed scanners around today? My V600 is "ok"....should I look at a V800 or the newest equivalent of that?

C
 
Nov 3, 2014
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BTW, I looked on ebay again at both current and at sold ones. For $5000, you get a 30 year old model that only works with a 30 year old Mac and floppy disks. Be very careful, some of them may not work at all unless you have a very old computer to control them, and the software may not be available.
Yes, scanner drivers are notoriously susceptible to OS updates and computer I/O changes. I have to keep a Windows 7 PC and an old MacPro in storage because they are the only machines I have that can run the drivers for my film scanners. When they stop working I guess that will be the end of that.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
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Mar 25, 2011
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Yes, scanner drivers are notoriously susceptible to OS updates and computer I/O changes. I have to keep a Windows 7 PC and an old MacPro in storage because they are the only machines I have that can run the drivers for my film scanners. When they stop working I guess that will be the end of that.
I have a HP-4 Scanner out in my Studio. It works fine. But, getting a SCSI adapter for a modern PC, and finding a 3rd party driver would not be fun. I have several older PC's that Would likely work, even one with ISA slots. I also have a ton of old SCSI Cards and cables. My time is better spent elsewhere though.
 
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I have a HP-4 Scanner out in my Studio. It works fine. But, getting a SCSI adapter for a modern PC, and finding a 3rd party driver would not be fun. I have several older PC's that Would likely work, even one with ISA slots. I also have a ton of old SCSI Cards and cables. My time is better spent elsewhere though.
SCSI worked remarkably well for a system that seemed like it should be prone to problems. As long as you followed the rules it mostly did what it was supposed to do.
At least with SCSI when it failed it was probably a connector and you could usually fix it. With USB and drivers it either works or it doesn’t. Pretty much out of my control.
I gave up on SCSI a while ago though. I took a nice Lino-Hell flatbed and a few removable drives (syquest zip etc) to a county electronics recycling fair. The Lino was a hand me down from an old client. It probably cost more than my car when it was new.
Maybe somebody rescued them but they probably were scrapped. The older I get the harder it is to watch the inevitable trip for the junkyard for all the tech I’ve bought over the years.
 

SteveC

R5
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There at least used to be a place near here called OEM parts that one could sell their antiques to. Better than trashing it.

There are even museums, now for some of these sorts of things.
 
Nov 3, 2014
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There at least used to be a place near here called OEM parts that one could sell their antiques to. Better than trashing it.

There are even museums, now for some of these sorts of things.
Maybe if you have an early Mac, Apple II, TRS-80 or something like that. I don’t think anybody wanted my old SCSI gear. I gave it to the recyclers so it wouldn’t end up in a landfill. About the best I could do.
 
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stevelee

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Yes, scanner drivers are notoriously susceptible to OS updates and computer I/O changes. I have to keep a Windows 7 PC and an old MacPro in storage because they are the only machines I have that can run the drivers for my film scanners. When they stop working I guess that will be the end of that.
Drivers for my Minolta film scanner haven't worked in my Macs for over ten years, as I recall. I use VueScan. It works great and has a variety of options. It also supports my old Canon flatbed scanner. When I got a newer Canon flatbed, I never bothered to use the Canon software because VueScan works so well.
 
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Nov 3, 2014
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Drivers for my Minolta film scanner haven't worked in my Macs for over ten years, as I recall. I use VueScan. It works great and has a variety of options. It also supports my old Canon flatbed scanner. When I got a newer Canon flatbed, I never bothered to use the Canon software because VueScan works so well.
I have a Minolta as well. Dimage 5400. I agree. VueScan is fine. I have a calibrated workflow that doesn’t work with vuescan but I could get along without it. I still get better results with my 5D Mark IV and it is 10x faster and I get a RAW file. My color slides are dense and scanners always struggle with the shadows. The 5D has almost unlimited Dmax. The new R’s will be even better. Seriously, I’d never go back to scanning. It’s a 20th century technology that hasn’t improved in decades. My opinion but I think solidly grounded in fact.
If you are going to scan though, the Minolta are about as good as it gets. I could still sell mine for what I paid for it. Last time I tried to use it it wouldn’t start up. I thought that might be the end of it but turned out to just be a bad power supply. $15 on Amazon and good as new. Sony won’t fix them so when they break they’re done.
 
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cayenne

EOS 5D Mark IV
CR Pro
Mar 28, 2012
2,352
344
I have a Minolta as well. Dimage 5400. I agree. VueScan is fine. I have a calibrated workflow that doesn’t work with vuescan but I could get along without it. I still get better results with my 5D Mark IV and it is 10x faster and I get a RAW file. My color slides are dense and scanners always struggle with the shadows. The 5D has almost unlimited Dmax. The new R’s will be even better. Seriously, I’d never go back to scanning. It’s a 20th century technology that hasn’t improved in decades. My opinion but I think solidly grounded in fact.
If you are going to scan though, the Minolta are about as good as it gets. I could still sell mine for what I paid for it. Last time I tried to use it it wouldn’t start up. I thought that might be the end of it but turned out to just be a bad power supply. $15 on Amazon and good as new. Sony won’t fix them so when they break they’re done.
I know there's no real GOOD reason that I've found yet to date, against using a digital camera to digitize your film into the computer, but man..that just seems WRONG somehow...hahaha.

Plus, with me, I'm shooting mostly larger format Medium Format film.....like the 6x17 stuff, where I'd have to stitch the images together, which in my head, kinda negates shooting panoramic images in camera with no stitching in the first place.
:)

I think for 35mm film, using a Digital camera might be ok, but I just don't seem to like thinking about it for larger formats of film, at least at this point.

Also it seems a bit more of a PITA to set up a DSLR/Mirrorless, level it, get your film mounted to something and that that surface is level, and then unless camera is down low enough to be able to look at the back to check focus, etc..and then worry about moving film for overlapping, etc (in the case of panos)....just seems a lot more trouble than throwing into a holder in a scanner and getting 1 or more images all in one swoop, you know?

Not that I won't look more into it, but I just can't see doing that right off to bat.

After finding out more about drum scanning, I"ve kinda given up on that, haha.

But looking maybe to upgrade my flatbed scanner at some point....

Thanks for the response!!

C
 
Nov 3, 2014
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I know there's no real GOOD reason that I've found yet to date, against using a digital camera to digitize your film into the computer, but man..that just seems WRONG somehow...hahaha.

Plus, with me, I'm shooting mostly larger format Medium Format film.....like the 6x17 stuff, where I'd have to stitch the images together, which in my head, kinda negates shooting panoramic images in camera with no stitching in the first place.
:)

I think for 35mm film, using a Digital camera might be ok, but I just don't seem to like thinking about it for larger formats of film, at least at this point.

Also it seems a bit more of a PITA to set up a DSLR/Mirrorless, level it, get your film mounted to something and that that surface is level, and then unless camera is down low enough to be able to look at the back to check focus, etc..and then worry about moving film for overlapping, etc (in the case of panos)....just seems a lot more trouble than throwing into a holder in a scanner and getting 1 or more images all in one swoop, you know?

Not that I won't look more into it, but I just can't see doing that right off to bat.

After finding out more about drum scanning, I"ve kinda given up on that, haha.

But looking maybe to upgrade my flatbed scanner at some point....

Thanks for the response!!

C
I have a few. I also have a Microtek M1 for glassless scanning of all medium format size as well as all my large format film. It’s also about as good as it gets and the 5D is still better.
Last year I digitized my entire portfolio. Hundreds of hours. Thousands of individual images in formats large and small. A bucket list accomplishment for me. I tested a lot of different options and using the camera was the clear winner.

The stitching worked fine. I've never seen any artifacts. You need a good system and everything has to be squared up. After that it's easy. I was often doing HDR combined with and Panos without any problems. Scanners are so slow I would never have gotten it done. I’m only telling you this so you know I’m not just shooting from the hip.

IMO, film’s true superpower is making chemical prints in a darkroom. There is no substitute for a silver print. If you want a challenge consider that. I wouldn’t have shot all that film just to digitize it. But, you should do what works for you. Process can be an important source of inspiration.
 
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stevelee

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Jul 6, 2017
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I have a Minolta as well. Dimage 5400. I agree. VueScan is fine. I have a calibrated workflow that doesn’t work with vuescan but I could get along without it. I still get better results with my 5D Mark IV and it is 10x faster and I get a RAW file. My color slides are dense and scanners always struggle with the shadows. The 5D has almost unlimited Dmax. The new R’s will be even better. Seriously, I’d never go back to scanning. It’s a 20th century technology that hasn’t improved in decades. My opinion but I think solidly grounded in fact.
If you are going to scan though, the Minolta are about as good as it gets. I could still sell mine for what I paid for it. Last time I tried to use it it wouldn’t start up. I thought that might be the end of it but turned out to just be a bad power supply. $15 on Amazon and good as new. Sony won’t fix them so when they break they’re done.
I did some quick tests using my 6D2, the 100mm macro, and my iPad in lightbox mode. They were hardly rigorous, but suggested that would work OK. The Minolta is so much handier to use, at least the way I go about it, and VueScan’s multipass and high bit depth produces TIFFs that seem to work as well in ACR as the camera shots. The camera’s extra resolution didn’t seem to help. Of course the slides are 20 years old and have faded and grain shows up rather badly. My slide scans turned out well enough that I had a book printed of many of the pictures.

My next scanning project is to be color negatives from 2001, so probably in better shape than the slides. I have been impressed with how well VueScan deals with the masking that Id be inclined to scan even if I liked the camera method better. Now my next trick is to find what I did with my film carrier for the Minolta. I know I saw it around the first of the year, before I did the slide scanning.
 
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I thought that sorting out masking would be the hardest part but once I got the hang of it I could reverse and color balance in lightroom in 10 or 15 sec. Auto-masking probably the best feature of a scanner though and if you really want to preserve the color qualities of the original film ihat's probably the best way. I was mostly a B&W neg / Color Pos shooter so it wasn'r a big percentage for me. Mostly family vacations and such. It''s a real treat getting to see those old negs when they've been in the closet for a couple decades.

Sounds like you have a good plan. Good luck with the film holder. You don't want to have to find another one.
 

stevelee

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I thought that sorting out masking would be the hardest part but once I got the hang of it I could reverse and color balance in lightroom in 10 or 15 sec. Auto-masking probably the best feature of a scanner though and if you really want to preserve the color qualities of the original film ihat's probably the best way. I was mostly a B&W neg / Color Pos shooter so it wasn'r a big percentage for me. Mostly family vacations and such. It''s a real treat getting to see those old negs when they've been in the closet for a couple decades.

Sounds like you have a good plan. Good luck with the film holder. You don't want to have to find another one.
That's for sure. I vaguely remembering that it fell under or behind something when I moved it from lying on top of the scanner, and at the time, I thought, "I'll worry about crawling down and finding it when I'm done scanning all these slides."

The negatives are from a trip to Seattle and Glacier National Park after a train ride there. I also visited Mount St. Helens. So there could be a lot of very scenic shots. The negatives are in folders with prints, so it would be very easy to see which negatives I'd most want to scan. Of course I could just scan in the prints on a flatbed, but figure that negative scans will give me much better quality. Maybe the difference is not really worth the trouble. I could try scanning in both negatives and prints of a few shots to see before I go to a lot of trouble.

It has been ages since I scanned negatives. VueScan has settings by film type, so it knows what the mask is supposed to be and compensates accordingly. I recall being impressed with the results. Once I finish that project, I'd like to scan some of my old black and white negatives. I also played around a bit with unmasked negatives. I developed slide film as negatives, though I don't recall specifically how. C-41? Ektachrome chemicals but skipping the reversal step? Doesn't matter, because I'm not doing it again. But the prints might have an interesting look to them, which is why I tried that out in the first place. I also tried infrared color film.
 

stevelee

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I thought that sorting out masking would be the hardest part but once I got the hang of it I could reverse and color balance in lightroom in 10 or 15 sec.
My first inclination would be to use the eye dropper on an unexposed part of the film, in effect reading the base. What do you do in Lightroom or ACR to reverse? I know in Photoshop, you can just hit Command-I.