Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/07/01

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Subject: [Leica] New Holy War (which film scanner?)
From: Peter Klein <>
Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2003 18:06:33 -0700

I use a Canon FS-4000, which I purchased recently.  My previous scanner was 
a Nikon LS-2000.  I would have stayed with the LS-2000 if I was primarily a 
color photographer.  But I like to do "real" B&W.  After seeing the same 
Tri-X negs scanned at both 2700 and 4000 dpi, I concluded that the extra 
pixels would help me acheive more smoothness and and less grain aliasing.

So far I've been quite pleased.  The FS-4000 is indeed a bit slower than 
the 4000 dpi NIkon.  I don't mind this, since I only scan the pictures I 
intend to print or display on the Web.  I also use SCSI rather than USB, 
which speeds things up considerably.  The Canon is also several hundred 
dollars cheaper, and doesn't use an LED light source that can emphasize 
scratches and dust like the Nikons.

A full-resolution scan with IR cleaning is indeed about  7 minutes, 
including the file save. You chop about 1.5-2 minutes off the scan if you 
don't need IR cleaning, and a bit more if you only scan at 16 bits.  You 
save more again if you scan at lower resolutions, which I don't do.  I 
didn't compare B&W vs color.

The FS-4000 has FARE, which is Yet Another Infrared Cleaning 
Acronym.  Infrared cleaning requires another scanning "pass," unlike the 
Nikons.  This doesn't matter with "real" B&W, since you can't use IR 
cleaing then anyway.  It is sharp, and I have had no problems with parts of 
the image the being out of focus.

The negative carrier loads more easily than my old LS-2000, The I can load 
a strip of 6 negs or 4 slides, "schedule" as many or as few frames as I 
wish, then leave the scanner and do something else while it scans.   If I 
were a pro who relied on volume, I probably would have gotten the Nikon 
4000 dpi model.  But since I'm not, the Canon's savings and the less 
colimated light source won out.  Especially after reading the reviews of 
its image quality on several respected digital photo sites.

The FS4000 works great with Vuescan.  As is to be expected, the native 
Canon "FilmGet" software has the black and white points set so the scan 
looks "snappy," and Vuescan lets you capture a flatter scan with all the 
detail for later curve-bending.  I have not yet found out if I can tweak 
FilmGet to keep the brightness extremes in the scan.  It would be nice if 
this were possible, because FilmGet's user interface is very convenient 
compared to VueScan.

Now if only the files weren't so big. . .  :-)

BTW, the LS-2000 is now a great deal used (around $400, give or take), and 
it's a good scanner.  For prints of letter size and below, the quality is 
great.  There is a bit of grain aliasing with fast film--some ISO 400 and 
faster film (especially "real" B&W) seems to hit some sort of non-sweet 
spot at about 2700 dpi.  With 4000 dpi, the graininess of the scan looks 
about the same as the original.  With 2700 dpi, it's coarser.  The effect 
is more marked with silver B&W than with color neg dye clouds.  With slower 
color film, things look smoother.

The grain aliasing can be minimized by using a grain reduction choice in 
Vuescan, by a slight manual de-focus, or by *light* application of an 
external noise-reduction program like Neat Image--all at the expense of a 
little sharpness.

- --Peter

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