Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography Page 2

Scanning 9x12cm Glass Negatives
Q. I have a few 9x12cm glass plate negatives I would like to scan and print. I placed one on my Brother 7840W scanning surface and upended an 8x10 “light box” over it and this process did generate a usable, if crude, print. Can you suggest a flat-bed scanner that might be friendly to these glass plate negatives and also to 35mm negatives (and possibly up to 6x9cm negatives) without requiring a large cash infusion?
Ted Hurwood
via e-mail

First of all, regarding how-to information on scanning, I have written quite a few articles that are contained in an eBook on CD. You can get more information on the content and how it can be purchased on my website at: Otherwise, all I can recommend is going to the digital photography book section on and looking through the many volumes for sale on that topic.
The one scanner available today that will do a good job scanning 9x12cm glass plate negatives and be within a reasonable budget is the Epson Perfection V700. More modest cost scanners that will scan film, like Epson’s V600, I am afraid will not cover the 9x12cm image size. Detailed information describing the V700 is available on the Epson website. You can find my review of the V750-M (the “pro” version of the V700) on the Shutterbug website.

The NEC MultiSync LCD Displays
Q. I was very interested in your February 2010 review of the NEC MultiSync P221W with SpectraView II. I was wondering if these monitors worked with the new Macs? I’m a professional photographer and am pretty much forced to get the 30” Apple monitor if I want a matte finish; all the others are glossy and therefore hard to calibrate. I’d like to find another solution that would be compatible with a Mac Pro. Also, which monitor would you recommend for my situation?
via e-mail

A. The NEC MultiSync P221W was tested using an Apple Mac Pro that’s about a year old. The NEC P221W is the smallest and least expensive of the LCD displays in the MultiSync line, and there are also new 24”, 26”, and 30” models, all with wide color gamuts. I tested several different sizes of Apple Cinema Displays a while ago and found for digital photography use they provide just moderate to poor performance. They are really comparable to better home/office LCD displays and not professional graphics displays like ones offered by NEC or EIZO.

The Choices Keep Changing
Q. Assuming I will select the 35mm film to be scanned and expose it to maximize scanning potential (my film archive is 120 film), do you recommend C-41 or E-6? One of my “film concerns” is the condition of the chemistry used to process it. The decline in film use in the U.S.A. must have had an impact on the quality of C-41 chemistry used by minilabs, given their reduced volume. The good news is that there are a few pro labs within driving distance. The bad news is that they are substantially further away than the two minilabs in town.
I’d love to be able to conduct a test of the Plustek 7600i to scan one of my images made with the ideal film and exposure for scanning, but that isn’t possible. Would a pro lab film scan (not a flat-bed scan; not a drum scan) be a fair comparison to what I could accomplish with the 7600i at home? While I understand that the operator and software will impact the results, I’d like to get close to a realistic comparison before I purchase a 7600i or a small digital camera, each with a purchase price in the $500-$900 range.
Alexander Noble
via e-mail

A. As far as future shooting is concerned, I think film is as good as gone except for black and white, even though I have excellent processing not far from me. Even my closest friend and colleague who shoots architecture and furniture for high-end national accounts now does almost everything on a Nikon D-SLR.
As far as photo lab scanning is concerned, it is mostly low grade, using processors that scan at 2000dpi. There is a pro service bureau that is available near me, but all the scanning is done on a drum and starts at many dollars per scan and more if an RGB file rather than CMYK is required output.
There is nothing now in consumer products that competes with the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i, and it’s as good as I need to scan my old film archives. If you buy the Plustek from a retail source usually you can return it in 30 days and just pay a restocking bill. If you want anything better, plan on shelling out up to $15,000 for an Imacon.
Personally, I would not shoot 35mm color for scanning; a good digital camera does much better.

The New Plustek OpticFilm 7600i Test
Q. Have you seen the new Plustek 7600i yet? It was supposed to be out in January, based on your e-mail to me. I see where several outlets now have it. Have you done your evaluation and review of it yet and can you recommend it? My son is a true photographer and is going to do most of the work if I buy the scanner.
Larry Black
via e-mail

A. Plustek sent me one of the first OpticFilm 7600i Ai scanners to test and evaluate for Shutterbug. I have put at least 200 35mm film frames through the 7600i and the files are excellent. This scanner in almost every way performs better than any new scanner I have tested in the recent past. My report for Shutterbug recently arrived at the editorial office, so it may be a while before you see it in an issue. You need not have any doubts about buying a 7600i if you can find one, as I understand most stores have sold out already, but new shipments from Asia should take care of that.

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