SCAN Comparison

An often asked question is, "can a 35mm colour negative be scanned on a flatbed scanner?" the simple answer is, YES with a scanner that has a transparency media adapter, but the real question is how good is the scanned image!

As I own three scanners and have a photo that has been scanned by Kodak on a photo CD, I will try and give some form of comparison.

The scanners

Microtek scanmaker 35t plus, this is a 30bit 35 mm scanner which can scan transparencies and negatives, the maxumum resolution is 1950 dots per inch. This was the main scanner I use for scanning photos on the Advantage Tennis photo site. When this scanner was purchased it was the top end 30 bit scanner, but now the 36 bit scanners which are available are far better!

Minolta Scan Speed, this is a 36 bit 35 mm scanner which can scan transparencies and negatives, the maxumum resolution is 2812 dots per inch. This is now the main scanner I use for scanning photos on the Advantage Tennis photo site. The software provided with the scanner is OK, but better results can be obtained with Ed Hamrick's software

Epson GT-9600 (this scanner is marketed in the States as the Expression 800) this is an A4 flatbed scanner fitted with the optional transparency media adapter, this is a 36 bit scanner that has a maximum resolution of 800x3200 dots per inch.
This scanner is normally used for scanning colour negatives whilst they are in plastic file sheets so that a contact sheet can be produced and a digital catalogue can kept on a CD.
An example of a scan of all the negatives for a roll of film is on this page, warning it is 800KBytes!

The negative is a correctly exposed negative, well I think so :-) taken on Fuji 400 ASA film. The negative has been scanned at the maximum resolution of the scanner, resized to the same size, had the gamma adjusted and then sharpened. No other adjustments have been made to keep the comparison represative of what can be achieved.

Click on the image to see it full size

Epson - scaned at 36 bits 800x3200 DPI Microtek - scanned at 30bits 1950 DPI Kodak photo CD 512x768 Minolta Scan Speed 36bit 2812 DPI

What do you think? I think the A4 scanner is OK for keeping contact sheets and only just acceptable for the Web. Forget about using it for making photographic prints!

Mick McCarron and his homepage.