Scanner / Industrial Lenses for APS-C Sensors

I’ve read a few threads here about using lenses harvested from film scanners like the Coolscan 8/9000 and DiMAGE 5400, printing Nikons, Rodenstock lenses, etc. It seems that many of these lenses are optimized for a specific reproduction ratio. Are there any lenses that would work well for an APS-C sensor for scanning 35mm and 120? Right now I am using an adapted 50mm f2.8 Sigma, but I haven’t been particularly pleased with the results.

I was pleased to have been directed to this article on 35MMC, particularly as it links to articles by Richard Karash giving results from his extensive lens testing for slide scanning.

My impression from reading what are probably the same posts as you on here is that the Minolta 5400 lens is good (well, excellent) for 1:1 or 2:1 and so wouldn’t lend itself to scanning medium format, I think Belinda uses a different lens for that if you’ve seen her posts. There is the option of taking multiple frames and stitching them together, mainly for medium format but even for 35mm, full frame sensors might have an advantage here. Are you looking for that kind of quality though? Scanning lenses have fixed apertures and very minimal depth of field so the originals would also want to be mounted so that they are completely flat, between glass probably, and that brings its own problems with respect to dust.

You say that you weren’t happy with your Sigma 50mm f2.8? I’m surprised because the Sigma 50mm f2.8 DG Macro makes it to the top tier of Richard Karash’s test and I’ve read good things about it elsewhere. Did it not give good results for both 35mm & 120?

In the comments to Richard Karash’s article here he refers to the Minolta 5400 Elite scanner lens:

"I don’t have access to the Printing Nikkor, but I’ll trust Robert O’Toole’s reports that this lens is excellent. I’m skipping most of the exotic lenses.

The lens from the Image 5400 is known to be excellent. it is set up at 1.78x in the scanner, and I’ve tested mine at that magnification with excellent results. But, it is hard to use for camera scan at this magnification. Stitching, of course, is an option.

But, I was surprised to find that turned around and with slightly different conjugates, it works well at 0.67x to cam-scan 35mm to an APS sensor. Has excellent sharpness to the corners in this configuration. This 40mm lens has fixed aperture at about f/4.

Net for me: Quite usable and excellent results at 0.67x to APS, but be careful about film flatness and alignment. 40mm is a little short for my preference.

Rather than this lens, I’m using the 70 Sigma Macro ART, the 55 f/2.8 Micro Nikkor. For special images, I may do focus-stacking with the lens from CoolScan 8000 (a close relative of the printing Nikkor)."

Thanks for the response Harry. On 35mm, the results were pretty good. With thinner negatives I ran into some issues with orange blobs in the corners on my final images. I don’t really understand how I am getting these because I wouldn’t imagine there should be much vignetting when using a FF lens on a APS-C sensor and being stopped down to f/8. The scans don’t hold up by Flextight X5 scans but perhaps that’s an unfair comparison. With 120, the scans are noticeably better than my scans on V750 flatbed and much worse than on the X5. Although, I wouldn’t be shocked if the 24MP sensor is the bottle neck rather than the lens.

Well it certainly sets a very high bar, but it also means that you’ve seen what is possible to extract from 35mm, 120 & 5"x4", I think the standard resolutions for those formats on the X5 are 8000, 3200 & 2040 ppi respectively. This also means that the 75mm Rodenstock Magnagon lens has to accommodate the different magnifications required for each of those formats, which it clearly does. I have an Imacon Precision II and of course that is much, much slower than the X5 and I suspect has a different sensor. The light unit is custom made on the X5 (and the Imacon 949 I think, possibly others), no longer an interchangeable fluorescent tube as on my Imacon, much brighter so the lens can be used at a stop smaller aperture allowing more depth of field and quite possibly a better dynamic range.

Robert O’Toole looked at a couple of the Magnagon lenses here but since they came in different versions I’m not sure if they relate precisely to the one(s) in the Imacon/Hasselblad scanners.

Of course in a line scanner they perform a slightly different task to that needed for camera scanning, they just have to perform across the width of the sensor in terms of resolution but also without vignetting, and to a very high standard. I didn’t measure mine when I checked it but from memory the sensor looked to be around 4 to 5 cms wide in my Imacon.

This is a company whose setup is claimed to exceed the quality from the Hasselblad X5 and I’ve got no reason to doubt them, as you can see their setup is very high end.

Similarly with Mark D Segal’s excellent article using a 60MP Sony: