Film users deserve a new mid-range scanner.

Years ago, Nikon discontinued the Super Coolscan 9000 ED.

As of 2017, no one else has managed to produce a comparable product (the Hasselblad Flextight scanners don’t really count because they play in another league with respect to price).

In the past, I’ve been reasonably satisfied with the Plustek 120, but I know its performance lags behind the old Nikon and something about its operation screams “beta product”.

Perhaps Plustek, you can step in and help, please?  I really want to support you for continuing to make film scanners, but I’m looking for something a notch above your current line-up.

—Peter.

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22 thoughts on “Film users deserve a new mid-range scanner.

  1. mewanchuk says:

    💆

    Hallelujah Amen.

  2. Rene says:

    Try the Braun FS120 Medium Format Film Scanner, similar to the Plustek, but much faster speed and quality scans. You can look for a very detailed review and comparison to the Plustek 120 on the ScanDig website.

    • Not much out there on this scanner, but even in that review you cite the Nikon 9000 is still the one to beat.

      Additionally, check out the commentary here: https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/anyone-bought-the-braun-fs120-film-scanner.502298/

      • Rene says:

        Definitely. It’s just that between the Plustek and the Braun, which as noted below by Mark, is the same hardware as the Reflecta, when you add SilverFast Studio, as noted in the review, it comes ahead in terms of speed and true (vs. hyper-inflated) scan resolution. I’m waiting for that winning lottery ticket to buy the Hasselblad… 🙂

        I don’t think anyone is going to make a scanner like the Nikon 9000 anymore, sadly. And I don’t know for how long Hasselblad will continue to build theirs.

        At this time, I’m learning to scan using the ColorPerfect plug-in/workflow to create the equivalent of raw scans that I can later process like a regular camera raw file. SilverFast allows you to do the same, as well as VueScan. At least in theory. I really like what I’ve read and learned about the ColorPerfect capabilities, but am in no way able or qualified to compare them. Unfortunately, I’m going much slower than I want.

        René

    • mewanchuk says:

      Hi Rene,

      The Braun FS120 (and Pacific Image PF120) are both rebadged Reflecta MF5000 scanners. Initial reports seemed to suggest the Braun was a bit faster, but I have looked into this extensively, and they are the exact same hardware.

      Given the price, there are many issues with each, which still make the Plustek a better choice. Namely: (1) The scanners are not motorized (and the carriers must be manually advanced) thereby removing the option to batch scan; (2) They are SLOW (and I mean SLLLOW); (3) The included software is buggy, and poorly supported on the Mac. Furthermore, Silverfast Studio is not included; (4) The dynamic range is lower than the Plustek 120 (despite Plustek dramatically overstating theirs); (5) The film carriers do not hold as many frames, and thus your roll must be hacked up into smaller pieces (and reloaded more frequently).

      Sadly, we really need Nikon to step up and start producing the 9000ED again, or Hasselblad and Noritsu to offer a lower cost Prosumer option.

      😔

      Mark

  3. zeroout says:

    Peter : Thank you for putting this out there. I have a Plustek but would also like the opportunity to purchase something that offers what the Nikon 9000 does.

  4. Rino Jasper says:

    Peter, i am also definitely looking to purchase a new mid-range scanner. As with CCD Lives I am onboard and thank you for bringing this up. Rino

  5. jkjod says:

    I’m not even kidding here…consider the D810 and a Macro lens (if you still have it). I scan with my EM5-II with the “high resolution mode” and am completely satisfied. I use MakeTiff/ColorPerfect and the results are great. Ming Thein used to do something similar when he was shooting film, and he has what seems to me a very picky eye for results(as he should considering he was getting paid for them). Pick up a Tamron 90 or an old Micro-Nikkor and your in business.

    • HI Jordan, I no longer have a D810 (sold it last year) or else I’m at a point where I would try it.

      • jkjod says:

        M9, 50 Summilux, BEOON…I think you have two of those three – I’m just saying, it’s fast, and results are good. Even a used Sony a6000 and a macro lens is probably less than the Plustek scanners.

  6. Kevin Ng says:

    There’s are article on petapixel comparing a $16K Hasselblad scanner to the Epson v700 if you’re interested

  7. I have also been saying this for a long while. Actually before I realized the problem, Stephen Schaub kept asking Kodak when they were going to release a $500 scanner. “Yeah, yeah” was the response. So Kodak sells the film but doesn’t sell you a scanner.

    So what does one need from a scanner? Speed, quality, price. A good 100 speed film has 24Mpx of resolution (equivalent), but some have much more than that. So, 24Mpx is a good maximum for a basic scanner. As for speed, this should be about fps as well as ease of loading. The Nikon is too slow, so I don’t care how good it is. The goal is to make scanning as easy as shredding paper. As for price: $500 should do it.

    The Pakon is terrific, and I wish that I had bought one before the prices went up. I can deal with 6Mpx, considering that these scanners went for about $200, and they are very fast. But I’m not paying $1,000 for it.

    But for home scanning with cameras, forget Bayer sensors (unless you’re using sensor shift as JK does). What you want is a Leica Monochrom, a diffuse light source, and R, G and B filters (or C, M and Y if you prefer). Or buy an Olympus, which will be sharper than the MM, D800E or the 5Dsr, but probably slower. Hasselblad also has a couple of cameras with sensor shift, most likely priced at ‘cadiac arrest’ levels.

    The only scanners I know of that do not exaggerate grain are cinema scanners and the Flextight X5. I’ve pointed this out to you and Mark before: cine scanners are so good that a frame of pushed Super 16 7219 has the same graininess as Tri-X or 5222 scanned in a Pakon. I’d love to see Fujicolor 400 scanned on a Spirit or a Northlight, for instance.

  8. I have the Nikon 9000 right now but in the past i used a Durst enlarger. Took out the lens of the enlarger. Put the negatives in the negative holder and shot my Panasonic G1 (Micro 4/3 + flippy screen for focussing) with old Canon fl 50 macro upwards. Enlarger lamp would light up the negative. Worked really well for 35 mm. And fast! Made 20 x 30 exhibition prints from these files. If you buy an ‘old’ DSLR and have some room where you can install your setup and leave it ready to scan it is really quick.

  9. Roel, how would you compare the quality between what your were getting with your G1 vs. the Nikon 9000?

    • At the time i compared it to the scans of the Nikon ls5000 (which are supposed to be about the same at 35mm as the ls9000) and that was quit good. I was quit pleased with the output i remember. But my photography was Neopan 400 @ 1600 so quit gritty and B&W. But i think you’ll be surprised how good a file you will get with a macro lens and photoscan. Maybe even your old Nikon DSLR and an old manual macrolens. And at the moment you have your setup ready/calibrated for sharpness you will fly though your negatives! Certainly good enough for Online work and deciding which files should get the Full Monty scanner treatment.

      • Thanks Roel,

        I’m looking for something beyond “good enough for online work”. The reason is because I subsequently take the scan and process it to my taste. It’s a customized processing, depending on the image before me. I often cannot remember/reproduce the steps… therefore it’s important to me to start off with a great scan (not just a good enough one).

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