Scanning film negatives

And now for something completely different – film photography.

I’ve recently ventured into the often forgotten and neglected side of photography, film photography. Or so I thought. It turns out it is a very popular activity in the world, although it seems a very niche market here in South – Africa.

A friend kindly donated a Minolta Dynax 5 camera, one of the latest analogue cameras released before digital cameras took over.

Minolta Dynax 5 Minolta Dynax 5

Above is my new camera. It has all the bells and whistles, so not technically suitable for street photography as it is not discreet and some would suggest that I’m missing the true experience of film photography. I digress, that is not the purpose of this post.

Having shot my first roll of film I wanted to investigate some options for digitising my photos. The first and most obvious would be to pay the store, QPhoto Pro Lab (http://www.qphoto.co.za/connect/store-locations.html) in Waterkloof, after they’ve developed the film. However, I want to eventually develop my own film so something affordable at home would be convenient.

I read a number of articles with the various option, and it turns out a decent scanner is quite expensive. I decided to try the following two devices:

1) Wolverine F2D Super 20 Mega pixel scanner – http://www.wolverinedata.com/index.php/site/quicklinks/C72/

2) Epson V300 – http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/jsp/Product.do?sku=B11B193081

I’d like to review the Wolverine first as I’m experiencing some problems with the V300. The scans are clean, but the focus is way off, so I would like to make sure it is not something I’m doing wrong.

Wolverine F2D Super 20 Mega pixel scanner

The scanner retails for around $99, and with shipping to South-Africa it came to about R1300.

image

It doesn’t look like much, but it does feel sturdy. Operation is very simple. Power up, slide the film into the supplied tray, press two buttons and the image is scanner to the on board memory within 3 or so seconds. There are a number of reviews of the operation of the device, so I’d rather just show you what the output looks like compared to the professional scan at QPhoto Pro Lab.

Fujifilm SP-3000 Fujifilm SP-3000

Above is the professional scan performed by QPhoto Pro Lab. I must say the quality is excellent, although I noticed strange artifacts on some of the photos. There is definitely some processing that happened and it produces interesting errors at times, but overall, the quality is great.

Wolverine F2DSuper Wolverine F2DSuper

Above is the scan done by the Wolverine F2DSuper scanner. Clearly the quality is not the same.The colours are not as vivid and it seems slightly washed. Noise was surprisingly low as some of the earlier models were purported to be very noisy for negative scans.

Wolverine F2DSuper White balance adjusted Wolverine F2DSuper White balance adjusted

I was a little bit disappointed initially, however, running the image through Gimp quickly rendered a very pleasing image. The only change was to use Gimps White balance adjust feature. Nothing else was done and clearly the image is very pleasing to the eye although not as warm as the Fujifilm professional scan. It was interesting to note that there is quite a bit more visible detail on the flowers on the Wolverine scan compared to the Fujifilm.

Wolverine F2DSuper White balance adjusted and colour enhanced Wolverine F2DSuper White balance adjusted and colour enhanced

Lastly for this comparison I used the Colour enhance feature and this resulted in the above image. Not bad. Zooming in shows the 20 Mega pixel image should be usable for large prints.

Most of the image data appears to be available to generate a respectable image as long as you’re willing to perform some tuning. Colour is usually not far off, however, adjusting high lights and shadows is some times necessary for the most pleasing image.

For my purposes the Wolverine so far appears to satisfy my needs. Perhaps as my skills and critical eye develops I will need to move to a more professional scanner. My only gripe at the moment is that there is no way to get a RAW uncompressed image from the Wolverine.

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