Minolta 5400 Mark 1 Vuescan vs. Silverfast vs. Dimage scan

Im wanting to know if there is a big difference between in the quality of scans im gonna get using the different available options for software and then converting using NLP. I currently use the original dimage scan software on a windows computer and scan as a positive and then transfer and convert on my mac. Figured vuescan and silverfast might be an easier option to forego the needing to transfer and dealing with old software. Will I see much of any difference using vuescan and or silverfast in combination with negative lab pro?

If you are still able to use it, the original Minolta software was perfectly good at getting a decent scan out of the Dimage.

I haven’t done a recent comparison of the two, but I went for Vuescan years ago as I needed something which worked on newer OS and it’s always been excellent.

After drying dimage (in a VM on Windows XP 32 bit), Silverfast 6 (in a VM on Windows XP 32 bit), Silverfast 8 (good in modern OS) or Vuesca (good in modern OS)…

… I discovered that - for my Scanelite Mark1 at least - the only programs managing to get a good scan are dimage and Silverfast6.

Silverfast8 doesn’t use Digital Ice, but their own IR-assisted iSRD. And it creates artifacts (never had issues with my previous scanner with it). Maybe my IR channel is different to what Silverfast expects, but I get weird lineskips and blotches, areas where the iSRD goes nuts while nothing was there. And no, I’m not scanning silver-based negs or Kodachrome.
Silverfas6 doesn’t has this issue.

Vuescan has issues with the autofocus. If you pick a spot to autofocus, it does it’s thing, but way faster than way Dimage and Silverfast are able to do.
I think it does something wrong in this, because when I tweak - painfully by trail and error - the focus number in Vuefast I manage to get it just as sharp as Dimage and Silverfast… but Vuescan’s autofocus just doesn’t pinpoint that number (while the other two work fine!!).

So, Dimage ‘scan as positive’ (and I tweak the R, G and B gain to let the filmstrip of C41 be aligned and quite high, but quite some safe margin to clipping). For positive (slides) I just scan with the gain equal and at 1.0. I have a Fuji it8 target that seems to fill that range, so I can color-calibrate it to that.

Only drawback of Dimage is that it doesn’t do ‘batch’ scanning.

In Silverfast6 - if you get around all the bugs and quirks of the very old software - you can queue up an entire filmholder and press start and go away. But - officially - it is not available anymore.

The 16bit linear tiff files from a ‘scan as positive’, I even managed to through in Vuescan and then ‘scan raw from file’. Through this trick you can scan ‘from raw to raw’. If you set your output raw as DNG, you can create neatly Vuescan-created DNG files. Through exiftool you might have to fix ‘camera maker / camera model’ for NegativeLabPro to pick up the correct profiles, but I managed to get this working, and the results were OK.

Don’t use NLP anymore, so I don’t the converting from .tif to .dng handy from head. But I still scan with Silverfast6 and my Dimage5400 :).

(I did some tests with my Sony A7m2 with Sony 50mm 2.8 macro lens with NLP vs the same negs with my Dimage 5400 converted through NLP… the Minolta won hands down (in the colors, the resolution the film is oten the limiting factor), since then I never tried to DSLR-scan again).

Ive been using dimage scan for a little bit now but I have had trouble with windows xp virtual machines. The scanner will get recognized the first time i load up the machine but after that any time i restart it will show the scanner is there, and the dimage scan software will launch, but it just hangs there indefinitely. have you had any issues with vms and dimage scan?

I use vmplayer workstation 15 player with windows XP sp2 32bit. That way the official driver still works.

In vmware you can set an USB device as ‘pass through’. So the moment I flip the switch on my Dimage 5400 and vmware is running, it shows up as a new connected USB device in the VM, not on my ‘real’ machine. Never got it working through firewire.

It’s an old beast though :). When the VM is started, I need to turn it on. I have to remove the filmholder from the device, then start a scan app (dimage / silverfast6). Then it inits the scanner, and it starts making noises and things start moving. It can take a good 30 seconds or so for the app to continue starting. Then when the app is started, you insert a filmholder. In Silverfast you’ll see that it recognizes which of the filmholders you inserted and it’ll switch to that mode. Configure it how you want and try scanning.

If you don’t use the scanner for a while, it goes to some sort of sleep mode and the app looses connection. You need to remove the filmholder, close the app, restart the app, and when it’s started insert the filmholder again.

Silverfast6 has quirks to. If I modify the gain settings (in the settings somewhere), they become active for the normal scan mode. But if you use the ‘batch mode’, the selected gain settings only get applied after quitting and restarting the app. And this requires removing and inserting the filmholder again :P.
Also enabling IR-cleaning seems to limit the speed to 5400 dpi. As in, if I disable IR-cleaning and go down in DPI, the scans go faster. But if I enable IR-cleaning, it doesn’t matter which DPI I choose, it always goes slow. As if the IR channel has to be scanned at 5400 DPI or something.

Sounds annoying - and it is - but once you know this stuff it doesn’t really matter. If I scan a roll of film I’m setting up the gain/exposure this way, and finally if I’m happy I make all the settings how I want them (DPI, Digital Ice, diffuser enabled or not, focus point I always put somewhere between the center and the outer edge it always focuses on the grain, etc…). In Silverfast I can ‘save’ these settings.

So then when I’m ready to go, you go in the batch mode, there is a little icon that does a filmholder-preview (special button in the batch window, not in the normal window) and there you add images from the filmholder to the batch. When you do, it asks which settings to apply. Pick the settings you just saved too, do not click on ‘automatic adjust stuff’, give a filename to each of the 6 images and click ‘start’ and it will do 6 at a time.

Doesn’t make the process that much faster, but I’m more free to do some other stuff around. It’s much easier during a workday for me to put in a new strip of film every 30 minutes then having to start the next frame every 5 minutes in Dimage :).