Epson V700 vs. Plustek 120.

Here is a high magnification crop from each scanner, from yesterday’s Smile image.

Qualifiers:

  1. Default values in SilverFast 8 (identical settings for both scanners).
  2. Each manufacturer’s stock film holders were used (the Epson ones are flimsy, the Plustek ones are impressive).
  3. I’m only examining sharpness (though I already have an opinion about dynamic range that I’ll keep to myself for now).
  4. This is a B&W comparison only (no colour comparisons are forthcoming – sorry!).
  5. This is not scientific.*

*This was done for my own evaluation purposes.  I have other crops I’ve compared but I’m only posting one because it is representative of the overall results.

The Epson V700 is on the left, the Plustek 120 is on the right:

epson-v700-vs-plustek-120-photographs-by-peter

My verdict?

The Plustek 120 wins.

However, the Epson V700 was hampered by its substandard film holders.  Those of you who are using the BetterScanning substitutes are likely coaxing better performance out of the Epson.

Please note that we are splitting hairs with these crops.  The overall image quality is excellent for both.

In actuality, I was happy with the Epson — until I saw what I can get from the Plustek.  And my goal was to get something at least as good as the Epson in a smaller package.  The fact that I’m getting better image quality (in the context of my workflow) is a bonus.

The second big bonus with the Plustek is that there is no large, smudge-prone, glass panel present from which I have to keep wiping away fingerprints.

The third big bonus with the Plustek is that the film holders can accommodate 3 frames of 6 x 7 film (the Epson ones hold 2.5… which is very inconvenient).

Finally…

I’d like to congratulate Plustek for keeping film scanners alive.   I’m no longer plagued by crazy notions of purchasing a used (and discontinued, and unsupported) Nikon Coolscan 9000 for an inflated price in the second-hand market.

The Plustek 120 appears to be a quality product that is well-conceived and is well-executed.  And thank you Plustek, for finally including well-engineered film holders!

Hopefully, it’s built to last.

—Peter.

29 thoughts on “Epson V700 vs. Plustek 120.

  1. mewanchuk says:

    …So it will render my blurry, out-of-focus photos even more sharply?

    🙂

    Clearly they have sorted out whatever focus problems they may have had.

    (That sound you hear is my wallet wincing in pain…)

    -M.

    • It’s funny you should say that. When I first zoomed in on this image, I thought the very slight blurriness was as a result of camera shake (I was almost expecting it since the shutter vibration in the Mamiya is more that the M9 I’ve been shooting these past few years). It was only until after I re-scanned the frame with the Plustek that I realized the image was actually very sharp.

  2. Kevin Ng says:

    I’ve had and used an Epson V600 for the longest time (in fact, the picture I submitted for your film contest – shot with a Mamiya 645 – was scanned with the V600) and while I’m sure there are much better scanners out there, I’ve found the V600 sufficient for my purposes.

    You’ve clearly got a nice scanner in your hands Peter, but aren’t you really comparing apples and oranges. The V700 is an under $[x] scanner, the Plustek is a $[2x] scanner – I would sure hope you’re getting better scans given the price difference 🙂

    • Hi Kevin,

      Are you referring to your film contest-winning shot? 🙂

      (by the way, have you produced anything noteworthy with all of that film I handed over to you? 😉 )

      As to your comment… we all know that price does not necessarily reflect quality.

      And we all have different standards for “sufficient” results.

      Yes, I would hope that the Plustek is better, but up until now the verdict on the web has been decidedly mixed. I even had mixed comments when I posed the question on this very site.

      As I’ve stated in my other posts, I’d be happy (for many reasons) if the Plustek 120 was “only” equal to the Epson V700. In actuality the Plustek is superior.

      —Peter.

      • Kevin Ng says:

        Peter,

        While I would love to say that I’ve been out shooting like a fiend, unfortunately, I can’t say it….:(((

        I think I met up with you sometime in September and as you know all too well, it’s been rather grim and grey in TO. Nevertheless, I do hope to get out and shoot much more.

        The other thing is that I get a little lazy with developing. I have this tendency to accumulate several rolls before developing and so far I’ve only shot two rolls.

        I’ll try and send something to you to look at when I do get around to developing. Enjoy your MF camera, I know I did when I had mine!!

        Best regards,
        Kevin

  3. Justin says:

    I’ve been watching the Opticfilm 120 ever since it was announced waiting for definitive reviews. I have been in the exact same situation you were in. I’ve been back and forth with deciding to either get the v700 or the Opticfilm 120. I am pretty much only shooting medium format these days. Ideally, I’d like to know how the Opticfilm 120 compares to the v700 with the betterscanning holders, but I’ll take any info I can get.

    I was very excited to find your recent posts today as I am completely ready to buy one of these scanners ASAP. I would love to hear any other comparative information you have about these scanners including image quality, scan times, ease of use, etc. I think it would be important to compare prints made from the scans as well and if the prints are better at all sizes or equal up to a certain size. Such as, the prints made from the two scanners are indistinguishable up to 12X12 but beyond that the Opticfilm is clearly better…

    It’s great to see others shooting medium format film!

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Justin!

      I’ll continue to share my experience as I acquaint myself with the Plustek 120.

      The scan time for the Plustek was something that worried me, given some of the online commentary indicating that it is a SLOW performer. However, as I stated before, even on my 2009 iMac, the scan time is not perceptively different from what I was experiencing with the V700. Mind you, I am using the newest version of SilverFast 8 (coincidentally updated yesterday when I received my scanner), so that might account for my positive experience.

      —Peter.

  4. I have an aging Coolscan 4000 that I’ve been concerned about replacing; I’m delighted to read of your positive experiences with the Plustek. Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re welcome Mitch.

      Lovely images on your site by the way — you really have a great eye. I’m especially impressed with your iPhone shots, which I would never have guessed where shot with an iPhone! Also, the Leica IIIf, DLux-4, Canon, Sony, etc… shots, you have a dozen cameras and it doesn’t seem to matter what you use, the results are all beautiful.

      • andygemmell says:

        Very nice work Mitch….!!

      • Thank you for the kind words. I’ve had dozens of cameras over the years, and worked professionally with dozens more; now I just take photos for my own enjoyment.

        By the way, I’m glad to see a fellow Leica aficionado; I just succumbed to the M 240 myself earlier this week. I have a buddy that went through several M9-Ps, to the point where Leica finally replaced it with some sort of arrangement on an M 240. I can’t offer anything about the CCD vs CMOS debate, as this is my first digital M — but I’m looking forward to using it just the same.

        I’ve also picked up a used M7 in recent weeks (amazing how low they’re selling for these days), merely because the IIIf is such a challenge to work with compared to the Ms, and I’m wanting to shoot more film now.

        I must hand it to you — your monochrome portraits are stunning. They make me want to shoot film all the more.

        Anyway, thanks for the kind words again and I look forward to participating more in the discussions here.

  5. Kevin says:

    I know you said no color evaluations above, but I’m curious about 35mm. Willing to do an eval of Tri-X in 35 or are you only sticking to 120 when it comes to film?

    On another note, I’ve read often how people complain what a pain scanning is. Is it really that bad, and is it any more labor intensive that if you were to process a RAW photo? Seems to me it would be 6 vs 1/2 dozen as computer work is computer work.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Kevin,

      Time constraints dictate that I have to limit my testing to answer my own questions, relating to my own workflow (the fact that I share my findings here is hopefully a bonus to the readers). Having said that, I’ll likely try scanning colour film at some point and I will definitely share my findings.

      And, no, scanning is not a big deal at all. I think problems arise with large volumes of film, where even a minute more per scan amounts to hundreds of additional hours when batch-processing.

      • Oh – I forgot to mention that, yes, I will be scanning 35mm Tri-X with my Plustek 120. I won’t be able to do a comparison evaluation, however, because I no longer have the Epson V700.

        • Kevin says:

          I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been sending out my rolls to a lab, and with scanning (on a Noritsu), it gets expensive. I think if I can keep what I have instead of buying a digital M9/E and scan my own film, it’ll be a lot cheaper, especially with developing my own black and white. I shoot more 35mm than MF, and am curious about how it compares to the Noritsu scans. One last question, now that I think about it, at what size would you feel comfortable enlarging with the Plustek? (I was thinking of your M9 enlargement post a few months back.)

          Thanks again!

          • Dale says:

            Great blog Peter. Just curious, I want the film edges to be able to be seen in scans, does the Epson or the Plustek 120 do this?

            cheers Dale

        • Dominic says:

          Hmm. I didn’t know the plustek 120 could scan 35mm. Everything I read indicated it could only scan 120 film. Which is the reason I bought plustek 8200. Would love to see your results.

  6. Mark Druziak says:

    @Peter, Mark from Plustek here. Thanks for the nice write up.
    @Kevin, regarding the OpticFilm 120 vs the Noritsu… I don’t know the resolution or dynamic range specs of the Noritsu the lab is using to scan your film, but I will say that the output is only as good as the scan operator. I’ve seen some nice scans from a Noritsu, but I’ve seen some poor scans also.

    If there are any specific questions anyone has on this scanner or any of our scanners, please let me know.

    • Hi Mark,

      It’s great to have you join us here with your comments, and no “thank you” is necessary since I was only sharing my experience with your product.

      Once again, I’m very pleased with it and I applaud the effort and attention to the details Plustek has made in bringing this scanner to market (build quality, robust film holders, pro level bundled software, etc.). It’s those little details that make for a great user experience.

      Thanks also for offering to field any questions from the general readership.

      —Peter.

    • Kevin says:

      Mark,

      The scans I receive are medium scans from an outstanding lab. While I think they do an awesome job, it’s just expensive and I’ve got rolls and rolls of film ready to send in the fridge since it adds up. 3 rolls for a develop and scan was about $90, so I send in a few rolls at a time. Just thinking if it’s easy and can get similar output, I’d rather just scan on my own as at some time I’ll reach the inflection point where it becomes more expensive to continue having the lab scan my rolls as opposed to paying up front for a scanner and doing myself. And, it’s cheaper than buying a digital M or especially a medium format back!

      I appreciate your response, and will give the OpticFilm 120 a serious consideration.

      • Mark Druziak says:

        @Kevin, I’m not saying that it is easy to scan film, but I actually enjoy it (good thing because I work for a scanner company huh?). You will have much more control over the final image if you scan the film yourself. You can even create the equivalent of a RAW file and do all your editing in Lightroom or Camera Raw – Photoshop if you want.

        On a side note, if any of you guys are going to the CanAm Photo Expo in Niagara Falls, let me know.

  7. Jason Howe says:

    I think I kind of knew the Plustek would win, I now have to wrestle with that knowledge……getting one in NZ is proving very difficult though so the decision may be made for me!

  8. […] I recently reported on the Plustek 120 scanner for scanning black and white film. […]

  9. Thanks for sharing your experiences Peter, great to see and hear your thoughts. As I say I’d been very close to taking the plunge myself but thought that I’d try out the betterscanning.com mounts before investing. Whilst it takes more time to scan this way, it certainly improves results. I hope to share my own findings soon – it’s great that you’ve found a solution you’re happy with. It’s a neat looking unit, compact and clearly delivers on IQ. Perhaps when my epson starts blowing smoke I’ll invest!

    It’s great that you continue to share your findings, I appreciate you taking the time to do so. Shared knowledge helps us all!

    Thanks – James

  10. tomj says:

    thanks for this article/post. i’ve been going back and forth between a nikon coolscan and epson 750, not yet having had the opportunity to try the plustek. i am using vuescan software, and have been making these translations for printing.
    enjoyed finding your site and have bookmarked it and now following your tweets.
    thanks,
    tomj
    arttaj.com

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