Dslr vs Scan (and which one)

Hi there. Maybe this question has been asked several times in this forum, though I didn’t find it so here it is: I just came back to 35mm after more than 15 years of DSLR. I purchased NLP and used it for my first rolls, that I scanned with my Alpha S7 II. Though I wonder if I should buy a scanner or, or pursue using one of my cameras (I also get a 5D markIII)? What do you think? If scanner, then which one (my range of price: epson V600, Plustek 8100/8200, til Nikon coolscan V even if this one is way more expensive)?
Thanks, guys.

You could try to evaluate things coming from several sides:

  • how much money are you willing to spend?
  • how much time are you willing to spend?
  • what is the final product of your effort?
  • how many negatives will you scan per session?

Checking where you want to go and getting prepared for it seems to be smarter than getting all possible gear only to find that it’s not fit for what you need…

Answering the questions above (and possibly others) might give you (and possibly the people on this forum) the basis for decisions and a shopping list…

Hi digitizer and thank you for your reply. Let me do this with more accuracy. I do between 2 and 5 rolls a month, depending on the time I get. I usually process about 4 rolls at a time, so between 96 and 144 pictures. The idea is mainly to make albums, but also to print wide for a few of them. My budget is around 300, I could go to 500 if it really worths it. The question remaining is: with that kind of money, would a scanner offer me a better or comparable result, in a decent timing, than my 5dmIII and a proper setup?

I may have found a coolscan V (500 bucks), does it worth it?

I scan with a 5D Mark 3 and get scans that easily convert(*) into decent images. I also often use an EOS M6 because it focuses more easily, be it with autofocus or manually. My lens is an EF 100 Macro (the old model) that is attached to my setup with a tripod mount ring. This gives me a fairly stable setup and I can switch cameras on the fly.

I see no need to buy a scanner.

(*) I have difficult negatives that ask for a lot of adjustments. Converting photos taken in decent light on newer film is easy though.

Hi. I have used a number of scanners, in the past including several dedicated film scanners. The results I get with a camera (in my case a Nikon D810 with 60mm macro lens) are as good as the best from my very expensive film scanner.

If you are not happy with the camera results you are getting, first try a little sharpening. I think most scanners apply some. Otherwise if you have a problem it may be that the lens you are using isn’t the best for macro.

I can speak a bit about scanners as I’ve used them exclusively. I have no personal experience with DSLR scanning though.

edit: this is a sorta long post. I apologize.

I feel the greatest benefit of using a scanner is the ICE or noise/scratch removing software you get with most of the scanners. I personally find this to be quite effective and feel that it probably saves me literal hours in post processing time.

As for resolution, there is an obvious limit that a 35mm negative has. I can’t say objectively for sure, but I’ve seen it stated and I tend to agree, that the resolution one would get from the likes of an old Nikon Coolscan, or one of the good dedicated film scanners such as my Primefilm XA is likely getting just about max resolution the film medium in 35mm format can provide.

Similarly, I’d imagine, though I again have no objective evidence or even subjective personal experience for this one, that a DSLR with a good lens should also be able to reach this resolution threshold. The ability to manually focus with the DSLR also is a big benefit, only some of the more advanced film scanners allow this option and doing so is very ‘janky’ at best… I think I get some blurry scans when the negative isn’t properly flat in the holder… this wouldn’t be an issue if I could easily re-focus.

I’d imagine the DSLR route is faster and more streamlined. A big negative to scanners is that they are hardly ever refreshed, both from a hardware and software point of view. The software tends to be a bit basic if you’re talking about the free bundled software or overly complex with a somewhat steep learning curve if we are talking about some of the paid options. I’d imagine taking a raw file and opening in LR with NLP would be quite easy and fast.

I personally intend to try out DSLR scanning in the future, but for for me the bulk of my current scanning is for archival purposes of my family photos… negatives that have been improperly stored for decades. In this scenario, the ability to use ICE is hands down the better and less time consuming option for me. In the future, when my only negatives that I scan are newly developed un damaged ones, I’m hoping the DSLR route provides a better experience.

As for scanner models, if you do choose that route, there are things to think about… which I’m sure you already know. For example, you have to decide on “film dedicated” as in it is built to scan negatives only, vs a flatbed scanner which can scan negatives (35mm and often MF formats) as well as prints and of course even documents. Resolution wise, you get much better quality from negatives with a film dedicated scanner. As I’m archiving family photographs, i use a film scanner when I have the negatives available, but a flatbed when I don’t.

I’ve personally used an Epson V550 photo and currently use an Epson v800. There is a discernible difference in file output with the more expensive Epson vs the other. From my research though, all lower Epson’s should be about the same while both the Epson 800 and 850 should be about the same. For my dedicated film scanner I use a Prime Film XA (or Reflecta RPS 10 I think it’s called in Europe). The Prime film provides excellent results, leaps and bounds better than my Epson 800. If you shoot 120 film… then things change further because a lot of film dedicated scanners only do 35mm so you’ll have to research that. Dedicated neg scanners that also do 120 film tend to cost a lot of money.

The Nikon Coolscans seem to be the holy grail in the sense they are fast and provide max resolution without inflating file sizes too much. My understanding is that the software natively only runs on old operating systems like Windows XP. Although Vuescan is supposed to provide an alternative. Someone can correct me if the above info is false… But your mileage will probably vary with using an old machine like that.

Those are my thoughts.

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Hi folks, I recently discovered Negative Lab Pro and a new world has opened up. I use a Canon 5D mark II with the canon pro 100 mm macro lens on f11…100 ISO… a very stable Kaiser RS 1 repro stative…and a Multiblitz Dia -duplicator for 35 mm, 6x4,5,and 6x6, for bigger 6x9 and 4’x5’ I stil use the darkroom?
I only do black/white, so no problems with Kelvin and his color temperature.
As programmed I use Of course “Negative Lab Pro”, Lightroom and ON1 for some Black and white things like detail and borders. The results are far above expectation…an A2 print is no problem.
This system is quick and have fabulous results. Many thanks “Neg. Lab Pro”
One question: what, do you think is the best resolution for this system (is 30 Milion pixels better than 21 ??? for detail and grain)…or is it too sharp and do you lose your analog feel ??

The more, the merrier… taking a shot of a 6x6 with a FF DSLR of 30 Mpixels will give you 20 Mpixels of usable image area at best. Higher res cameras need better lenses too, so you might try stitching and see what you gain without the extra cost.

As for the analog feeling: it is in the negative. More pixels mean that you can get images that are closer to what is on the film. If results look too clean, simply add some noise in Lightroom :wink:

You could try this for images that will look sharper.

I have an Epson V850 pro and I was not satisfied with how the grain looked, specially on dark photos so I began using my Leica SL2 just to see the difference. i can tell you that my scanner is gathering dust. The grain is so much real and the colors almost as good as they could get.