Flextight scanner vs. camera scan quality

I have been scanning 35mm, 6x6, 6x12, and 4x5 film with my Flextight X1 scanner for a long time.
However, my X1 scanner keeps not recognizing on my Macs, or I have frequently encountered freezing problems during scanning.
So I’m planning to buy a 35mm digital camera, macro lens, light source, and copy stand to scan my films.
(I am interested in Negative Supply LLC’s camera scan products.)

For example, If I scan 35mm black and white films with these devices, can I get the quality that rivals a Flextight scanner?
I am particularly curious about the sharpness and gradation(tonal transitions) quality.

I would like to ask you for advice.
Thanks for reading.

Camera scanning results will depend on your gear and its settings. Gear matters!

In order to get the proper gear, you could take the approach backwards from your intended output.

  • What is the max size I want to print from a single shot of a 35mm negative?
  • How many shots will I have to stitch for a same quality print of a 120 or 4x5 negative?

Stitching can be difficult, specially if the lens has lots of distortions. You might want an app that can correct these distortions before stitching (or increase the number of shots which will make things more time consuming). Check out if the lens candidate is supported by the app in question.

Have a look at these:

and stuff you find on youtube like this

I will only scan black & white films for 35mm, and the print size will be 11 x 14 to 20 x 24.

I am planning to use Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens with A7R III or IV camera.
Also, I am planning to use Negative Supply LLC’s Film Carrier and Light Source Pro light table.

If I use these devices and set them up correctly, will I get resolving power, sharpness, smoothness of tonal gradations comparable to the Imacon Scanner?

Since full resolution sample images are not available, I asked a question before deciding.
Thank you for your detailed information.

You choose top notch lens and camera combinations according to technical evaluation by dxomark.com.

Lighting is less of a concern for b&w. A high cri light is still a good choice in order to optimally exploit the camera sensor’s color response.

The answer is yes and no. Using different gear will definitely take you on a different path to the final image, which you can always tune to make it look according to your will. This means that you’ll most probably need to adapt your settings in order to get very similar results.

One last question: Why change gear if the results you get from your current process are what you want?

If you want or need to change your gear and process, the question for intermediate steps feels somewhat irrelevant to me. Your opinion can be different though.

This is because my Flextight X1 scanner cannot be repaired.
(I sent email to Hasselblad several times, but I didn’t get a reply.
It seems that Hasselblad is no longer doing scanner repairs.)

Thanks again for the advice.

In that case, all you can really do is take your first steps with camera scanning. Maybe you already have a camera to test the new process with, before diving into major investments.

Thumbs up for the next steps!

Thank you for your interest in my question. :slight_smile:

p.s. How about 2:1 macro lens? Is there a problem or not suitable for camera scanning?
After watching this YouTube video, I got to pay attention to the Laura lens.


The Laowa 2x macro lens seems to be a decent performer on the Canon bodies used in this review
Caveat: Often, a lens performs well with one sensor and not so well with others. If you check for quality measurements, find one that was done with the lens fitted to the body you have in mind.

Having a 2x mode is certainly interesting for capturing smaller negatives without having to crop or use extension rings or bellows. DOF might get very shallow with such magnification though.

Oh, the DOF could be a problem.
Thank you for your kind advice and explanation.

I used to scan with an a7r ii and 90 mm macro. The lens and camera are excellent for scanning. If you’re trying to rival an X1, I would go for an a7r iv and expect to nearly max out the sensor at e.g. f/8. Obviously, perfect film and sensor flatness and excellent scanning gear are essential here, but I see you’re not skimping and going which negative supply, which should do very well. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the x1 but never used one myself.

a7r iv sensor is something like 9.6k x 6.4k. So in DPI terms, something like 6700 DPI for a 36x24mm negative. That’s an upper bound - actual resolution will be lower due to optical imperfections, bayer matrix, not filling the frame, etc. But suffice it to say you should easily clear 4000 even 5000 DPI. I find diminishing returns past around 20-25 MP for 35mm (or equivalent in medium format, don’t scan LF). That is to say, you should be fine in terms of resolution but expect some growing pains as you learn the setup.

In terms of dynamic range, sony sensors are great and should do fine. I expose to the right while scanning.

In terms of color, no promises. NLP is excellent and should get you close. But I sometimes prefer lab scans’ color, either due to the equipment or the operator. You’ll need to practice and relearn a bit.

Good luck.

Thanks for your advice and encouragement. :slight_smile:

Anyway, 35mm film scan would be sufficient with the a7R IV’s native resolution, but 6x12 or 4x5 film may require a pixel-shift function.
Oh, and I also have a lot of 35mm film too. And they’re are all cut into 5-6 frames. Some of these are cut into 2-3 frames.
I’m not sure if Negative Supply LLC’s FILM CARRIER MK1 will load the very end frames of these strips as well…

Have a great day.

yeah, I think if you want to max out 6x12cm or definitely 4x5 you’ll have to stitch, sadly. Stitching is pretty painful in my experience, and I tend to only bother stitching when I’m going to print larger. I believe negative supply came out with a stitching holder for 8x10, perhaps they’ll do the same for 4x5".

Hasselblad/Imacon scanners usually produce 9,500 x 7,500 pixels images of 4x5 films.
I will test the 16x pixel-shift function(creating single 19,008 x 12,672 pixels images) of a7R IV and observe if I need a multi-shot for stitching.


Here’s some info on it: https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-a7r-iv-review/6
Check out both pixel shift modes. They seem to handle quite differently, one of them needing ooc assembly.

Oh, this is my typo. I’m sorry. :joy:

Thank you for the link. :grinning:
I already checked the test images a few months ago.
I think I need to do a lot of tests.

If you just tile 4 images in the corners, the photo-merge will be seamless in PS or LR. Having the border helps the software merge. The A7riv with pixel shift & tiling should give you a file rivaling your flextight with this method. Would love to see your results as I am a large format guy myself and am working through this myself.

Thank you for the information.
When the gears are ready, I will test several things and report the results here.
Have a nice day.

I am just picking this up re the X1 not being recognised. I only have experience with the X5 model. Have you tried trashing the .plist preference file in the library folder? It has solved that problem for me in the past.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work for my X1 scanner.
Anyway, thanks for the tip. :sweat_smile:

p.s. My scanner works normally for 5-15 minutes when powered on, then stops working. And it won’t be able to connect for a while or for a long time.