Plustek’s OpticFilm 7600i 35mm Scanner; A Scanner/Software Workflow Page 2

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Fortunately, a much more efficient and better choice is supplied with the Plustek 7600i with either LaserSoft’s SilverFast SE or Ai 6 software, which supports an easy-to-learn color correction and adjustment set of tools that parallels those found in image editors. Instead of having to work with a big file, SilverFast uses a high-quality pre-scan image preview window that when adjusted reflects any changes made in the picture, and these adjustments can be made one after another, built on top of the last, following the essential order suggested by the software’s “Scan Pilot” to guide beginners. And if you shifted color balance too much or changed contrast too much, for example, you can go back to that dialog at any time before final scan and readjust without any problem.

SilverFast supports scanner profiling for all varieties of film, including Kodachrome. With negative films, the “NegaFix” window allows you to choose the manufacturer and brand of film so a “film term” adjustment is made to the processing. In addition, you can do things like making multiple scans of the film to get more shadow detail and reduce noise. There are numerous similar options, which I will not detail here, but rather refer you to the many features LaserSoft offers in each version of SilverFast on their website at: www.silverfast.com.

The Plustek 7600i includes SilverFast iSRD, an image dirt, scratch, and dust removal and correction using an infrared scan of the film surfaces. On the left is a typical part of an image with big and small surface elements that would require a lot of hand retouching. But on the right, after iSRD is applied, the image is clean and free of extraneous flaws. Unlike other methods in the past, iSRD provides a computer screen window showing the identification of the defects and a slider adjustment to decrease or increase the cleaning effect.

The Scan Process
If I have done a lot of anything since 1990 it has been trying out and reporting on scanners of all types and descriptions. A good many of these scanners have included LaserSoft’s SilverFast software, so it is now a very familiar way of scanning for me. For this test I concentrated most of my work on scanning transparency slide films, mostly E-6, but also older Agfachromes, and even brought some black-and-white and color negative films into the mix. In fact, I got more scans done and finished in a shorter period than I would have expected, and that is due to the SilverFast Archival method of making 64-bit color scans and then processing those Raw files with SilverFast HDR. In addition, a fair amount of the scanning I did was using a more conventional approach of scanning to 48-bit (color) and 16-bit (grayscale) for archiving.

One feature I wanted to test here was the dust and scratch removal, which in the past did not live up to expectations. In fact, it did not work on my own personal Plustek 7500i model because the alignment between the infrared and white light scans was off. I can report that the 7600i model works accurately, so just about all of the slide scans were cleaned by SilverFast iSRD, and I had little post-scan editing work to do.

Whenever I’d get a chance, I would go out for a drive along the back country roads to look for pictures. This time a few “weeds,” as some would call them, caught my eye, and the picture embodies to me why nature is a fairy-tale wonderland. But to get this image scanned and adjusted to fit that scene in my mind’s eye took the tools in SilverFast to ideally balance the foreground and background with just the right density and color.

What kept me going scan after scan was that I was getting really pleasing results, even with some rather difficult film originals. Not everything I shot on film in the past was done with the accuracy or with the best choice of film for the subjects and conditions. So a large part of my scanning work with SilverFast involved correcting exposure mistakes and, on occasion, processing glitches, like one roll of Ektachrome that was processed with color negative chemistry.

Los Angeles has a few visual moments but it is not a photogenic city. However, south near San Pedro is an industrial area that is a gold mine of subjects for black-and-white film. I used it as a location for testing whenever I was doing black and white. And with the Plustek scanner and SilverFast, getting just the right balance of tones as well as detail sharpness was quite easy.

Conclusions And Recommendations
I did become quite engaged in the scan work, but the question remained—did the image qualities I obtained meet all of my hopes and expectations? Yes, and especially so as the cost of even the more expensive Ai model 7600i is about half of what my Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 II cost a few years ago—and this Plustek makes better scans at even higher resolution. However, as I considered this conclusion I had to take into account that Plustek is a relatively new name in the digital photo marketplace, while all of the older, more established brands no longer make a dedicated scanner and there really isn’t any competition left. So, if you want a new, high-performance 35mm film scanner at an affordable cost, this is it.

As far as the performance of the hardware and SilverFast software is concerned, it provides better scans of 35mm film than any other scanner I have used, and that includes all of the popular brands and models of the past. And as I have gotten acquainted with the Plustek people in the US, I have confidence their intentions are good and in the interests of their customers.

At one time or another in the film days I would use just about anything on 35mm celluloid to shoot pictures. My favorite “city at night” film was slide duplicating film. Even though incredibly slow in film speed, it was by far the lowest contrast transparency color emulsion, so the high contrast of lights and dark shadows at night was much easier to capture. And again this was no problem to scan with the Plustek 7600i, reproducing excellent image files.

If Plustek is a company you’ve never heard of before that is not a necessary detriment and doesn’t really affect my bottom line. Which is, there wasn’t ever such a good and affordable 35mm film scanner back when several brands were available. If there were and I had tried the Plustek 7600i and saw the results I obtained in my test, I would have still picked this new Plustek 7600i.

For more information, contact Plustek at: www.plustek.com.

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goksen's picture
What to expect from Plustek customer service!

In case anyone is considering to buy this film scanner as I once did, please read my comment to see what kind of response you can expect from Plustek if you ever need to contact their customer service.

I've been wanting to buy a film scanner recently and considering my options among used Konica Minolta and Nikons and Plustek 7600i. Among the limited options that I have, I was hesitant to invest lots of money on a used 10 year old scanner such as legendary Nikon Coolscan 5000 and I thought I could wait a little more and see if Plustek comes out with a new product that has better specifications. Because this model, Plustek 7600i, has some features that don't meet my expectations and as far as I have seen on several tests, it is still behind Nikon 5000 and 9000. I wanted to try my chance and emailed Plustek asking if they are planning to bring out a new scanner soon. However, I was completely shocked with the response that I was getting from Plustek. Below, I am copying and pasting their responses to me and my responses to them. The following communication has been between me and a guy named Edward Dailey from Plustek.

Here is the first original email that I sent;

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to ask you if Plustek is considering to bring out a new and
improved 35mm film scanner anytime soon? The current model 7600i seems like a good product but two things that make me not want to buy it is first of all its low D.Max value compared to the dynamic range of negative films and D.Max of other film scanners priced around the same(Konica Minolta 5400 II), and secondly the lack of focus control. The fixed focus of the scanner really decreases its professional value.

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And here is the response I got from Edward Dailey;

I do not think so, because really you are the only person I have herd say that they would rather own a different brand. Read shutterbug magazine article on our product and see if you still have the opinion you have. We already have the best.

----------------

Next, I responded with the following email;

Dear Sir,

I am sorry but reading your arrogant comment about your product is another reason not to buy it. I would suggest you read reviews on Konica Minolta 5400 II and Nikon Coolscan 5000 and see if you still have the opinion you have. They already produced the best 10 years ago and they are still the best.

----------------

And this is the final ignorant comment that I got from Edward Dailey;

GREAT

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Apart from the fact that I wasn't sure about the durability of this product, the crappiest customer service I have ever dealt with made a very good reason not to spend even $1 for Plustek. If you buy it and have a problem with the scanner in the future, it's quite possible that Plustek will blame you for it and claim that they are the best and their products never make a problem.

I hope my experience helps...

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