The New Microtek ArtixScan M1 Pro; All-Format Glassless Film Scanning And Flat-Bed Print Scanning, All In One Page 2

For those with 35mm black and white negatives that have a strong curl/curve in the film, common with older films, you can follow my course and go to a glass shop and have a piece of heavy window glass cut to slightly less than the 8x10 carrier opening size. I used removable tape to secure the film in place on this new piece of glass and once secured put the glass with the film face down onto the glass in the frame. The weight of the glass flattened the film sufficiently to achieve a decent quality scan for a proof sheet print.

I was even able to find an effective way using the 8x10 glass frame film support, using a second piece of glass, to secure and flatten out old rolls of 35mm black and white film with a lot of curl and curvature.

Evaluation And Recommendation
Any photographer with a collection of film images in different format sizes should consider the Microtek ArtixScan M1 Pro. In the past there were compromises, like not enough optical resolution to scan 35mm film, or the need to pay a very high price for a higher-resolution scanner. This new ArtixScan is competitive in performance with dedicated multi-format film scanners at a fraction of their cost.

My confidence in recommending the Microtek ArtixScan M1 Pro was sealed and delivered by its ability to produce the best scan yet of the most challenging color negative in my library, one that I have scanned with every medium format capable scanner I've tested. The image was taken to realize a picture I had fantasized in my mind after my first visit to make photographs in a rain forest. I imagined a fairy tale-like nymph of a figure dancing through a magical forest.

This Kodachrome 64 slide of an oak tree silhouetted against a setting sun recorded the full range of densities the film can produce, yet it was no problem getting detailed tones across the range in a scan from the image with the ArtixScan M1 Pro.

Photographing on a tripod in the rain forest is essential as even on cloudless days little light gets down to the forest floor. In addition to needing a very fast color negative film I also needed to correct for the very greenish light that filtered down through the forest canopy 200 or more feet above. So I chose to use a Pentax 6x7 and Agfacolor 1000, even though this very fast film had its own color peculiarities. My very first attempt to scan these negatives yielded very poor results, so I was inclined to never try again. But I did regardless, never quite getting a correction and adjustment of the image that was not compromised. But this time with the ArtixScan M1 Pro and SilverFast Ai Studio, I obtained a smooth, sharp image with color fidelity in both the model's skin tones and the surrounding forest's many shades of green and brown.

I don't consider myself a lucky or patient photographer. Seldom is the light just right when I have the time and energy to take a 4x5 out just to shoot for pleasure. This time I was lucky. The ArtixScan M1 Pro delivered both minute details and broad expanses of smooth tones.

In terms of quality there are some differences between the M1 Pro results and those of dedicated film scanners, but they are slight. The three-line, high-resolution linear CCD used in dedicated film scanners does provide a very crisp, sharp scan. But the six-line CCD made by Sony used in the M1 Pro captures almost as much image detail and produces a smother image appearance with less prominence of grain and image artifacts. In terms of density range reproduction of transparency images, the high 4.4 D-max of the M1 provides full, undistorted reproduction of highlights and shadows with the most contrasty film images I could dig out of my library. The precise, easy-to-use calibration and profiling along with the sensitivity of the Sony CCD reproduced a spectrum of colors easily adjusted to reproduce very high fidelity.

The only consideration that may be a difficulty for some is that the Microtek ArtixScan M1 Pro requires quite a bit of desk space as it is substantially larger than most contemporary consumer flat-bed models. But thankfully, as big as it is, and as versatile and efficient, it is also a high value for a moderate list retail price of $649.99 for M1 model and $799.99 for the M1 Pro.

The fishermen's harbors on the Northern California coast are often seen as picturesque subjects. The myriad lines that protrude from the fishing boats skyward are also a test of image resolution, which the ArtixScan M1 Pro had no trouble reproducing with acute sharpness.

For more information, contact Microtek, 10900 183rd St., Ste. 290, Cerritos, CA 90703; (310) 687-5940 (customer service);

David Brooks can be reached via e-mail at: