Best 35mm negative scanner ???

Like a lot of old pharts, I’ve got a ton of 35mm negatives stuffed into shoe boxes. Most of them are worthless and will be tossed. But mixed in with them are some priceless shots of the kids in various stages of their youth. Want to make copies of those for their children to enjoy and make fun of!

Need to find a good quality 35mm negative scanner that will let me scan strips reasonably fast. Preferably at a reasonable price.

Any dopers have any first hand recommendations?

Since the OP is looking for advice, this is better suited to IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

I have a Canon 8800F, but I actually bought it because it could scan large-format 120 film too. (And full pages). The specs say optical 4800x9600. I have no complaints about the results.

Quite a few scanners have 35mm inserts. Make sure when you read specs to find “optical resolution” not interpolated output.

A 35mm neg is 1x1.5 inches, at 4800dpi that’s 4800x7200 or 34MP. More resolution than you’ll ever need. In fact, an acceptable 2400x3600 scan is 8MP. What I found with some of my commercially processed film was that they had “water spots” on them. Not sure why, and I plan “one of these days” to soak and dry a test strip. Could be wet spots, could be bubbles during processing that left long term damage. (The printed photos are fine)

Worst case, I could go take them again - except they were from the top of the World Trade Center.

The trouble with flatbed scanners and negatives is the time involved. On my Canon (8000F) I can only scan a maximum of 12 frames at one time, and it usually takes about fifteen minutes per frame (enlarging them 800% @ 350dpi for an approximate 8x10).

So that’s about nine hours per roll (if your negs are cut into strips of six frames; most minilabs cut negs into four-frame strips to fit in their envelopes, so you’ll have much fudging about to scan everything). I would request mine in six-frame strips so I could make contact sheets.

Dedicated film scanners are faster, and give better results, but no one seems to make a consumer or prosumer model any more. Nikon made some good ones, Minolta. too. Canon never did. You might find a Nikon or Minolta on eBay, but drivers for a modern (Win7 or comparable Mac OS) computer may be hard to come by.

I really wish Nikon and Canon hadn’t abandoned film shooters like this; I have thousands of frames that I’ll never digitize, either.

Thinking about the time it will take, I encourage you to look at the services that do this for you. I was quite happy with the results I got last spring from ScanDigital on a bunch of slides, and I’m about to send a box full of negs to ScanCafe. Why am I changing suppliers? Excellent Groupon deals in both cases. They dust and clean the negs, use serious scanners with ICE technology, and know more about restoration and color correction than the kid at the drugstore who probably made your original prints.

Is this true even if you only intend to keep a small percentage of the overall collection?

Well, it’s a calculation. ScanCafe allows you to delete 20% of the frames scanned before they charge you $0.29 per frame scanned. I plan to stack the deck a bit by not bothering to send them strips containing no frames that I want, and the Groupon sweetened the deal by another 50 percent.