Bruce Varner Photography BruceVarner.com


 

Best Scan Results from Epson V600

Updated 02/06/16

I have been doing more film scanning recently after a several year absence.  I have not been happy with my results, especially when scanning 35mm film.  I understand that the best results with 35mm film can be achieved using a dedicated 35mm film scanner.  I do not argue with that fact.  However, most film scanning I do is medium and large format, so I feel that if I can somehow obtain acceptable results with 35mm, I will be happy for now.

As with so much these days, the internet is a vast repository of knowledge.  The problem is that much of it is not correct, or at a minimum disputed.  Finding an answer to the best method of film scanning using an Epson V600 should be readily available, but it is not.  Or at least no agreed upon method is available.  This has resulted in the below testing of methods for scanning with my Epson V600.  Are these results valid for other models and makes of scanners?  Unknown.  Are these results valid for even other V600 scanners?  Unknown.  I just know that it provided me with the information I required to make my decision.

Methodology--

I approached this testing in a mithodical manner.  The same image was used for all tests.  VueScan v9.5.28 was used as the software running my V600 scanner.  The exact same VueScan setting were used for all the scans.*

*It should be noted that although VueScan has the capability to adjust focus on some scanners.  The Epson V600 does allow focus adjustments....

Nine tests were conducted.  Each test changed the method by which the 35mm film was placed onto the scanner bed and subsequently scanned.  The film used was Kodak 400 TMY.  Image had been captured using a Canon F1n with a 50mm 1.2f lens.  I tried to have all other factors remain the same for each test.  After the tests you will find my results.  The decision as to which image(s) were the sharpest were mine alone.  You may reach a different conclusion based upon your observance of the test images.

VueScan was setup for each test as follows:

1) Input Tab: Transparency, B/W Negative, 16 Bit Gray, 6400 dpi, # Passes=3, Multi Expo=Off, Lock Expo=On

2) Filter Tab: None

3) Color Tab: Curve Low=0.45, Curve High=0.45, Brightness=0.85, Kodak, TMAX-400, D-76 CI=.40, Color Spaces=Default, Printer Color Space=ICC Profile, Gray, Adobe RGB, RGB

4) Output Tab: Printed Size=Scan Size, Raw File Only Checked, 16 Bit Gray, RAW Output with Save, Compression=Off

5) Curve Low, Curve High, & Brightness were adjusted somewhat to maximize histogram.  Once this change was made for the first test, this same change was applied to all subsequent tests in the series.

Tests-- (All images displayed at 100%)

Test #1 Left Image (Using The Epson OEM Film Holder.  Hold measured to hold the film .040 thousandths off of scanner bed.)

Test #2 Right Image (Remove dust. Film placed emulsion side down oon bed of scanner. Anit Newton glass placed on top of film.)

Test #3 Wet Mount Left Image (Remove dust. Kami Wet Mount Liquid applied to bed of scanner. Film placed emulsion side down on the oil. Kami Wet Mount Liquid placed over film. Mylar placed on top of film. Roller used to remove bubbles)

Test #4 Wet Mount Right Image (Remove dust. Kami Wet Mount Liquid applied to clear/non-etched side of Anti Newton glass. Film emulsion side up placed onto oiled side of glass. Kami Wet Mount Liquid applied over film. Mylar applied over film. Roller used to remove bubbles. Placed sandwiched film, Mylar/emulsion side DOWN, onto scanner bed.)

Test #5 Wet Mount Left Image (All ViewScan setting the same except: Input Tab: Multi Expo=On, Lock Expo=On)

Test #6 Wet Mount Right Image (All ViewScan setting the same except: Input Tab: Multi Expo=On, Lock Expo=Off)

Test #7 Wet Mount Left Image (All ViewScan setting the same as test #4 except: Mounted film raised .045 thousandths / 1 millimeter above scanner bed.)

Test #8 Wet Mount Right Image (All ViewScan setting the same as test #4 except: Mounted film raised .030 thousandths above scanner bed.)

Test #9 Wet Mount (All ViewScan setting the same as test #4 except: Mounted film raised .015 thousandths above scanner bed.)

Below is the whole image, post processing in Photoshop CC, with Curves and sharping applied.

 

Results--

Tests were ranked by me based upon my opinion of sharpness. 1 being the softest. 10 being the sharpest.

Test # 1-Softest, 10=Sharpest Details
Test #1 1 The Worst!!
Test #5 2 Not much better than Test #1
Test #6 3 Just better than Test #5
Test #7 4 Slightly better than Test #6
Test #8 5 Slightly better than Test #7
Test #9 6 Better than Test #8
Test #2 7 Slightly better that Test #9
Tests #3 9 1/2 Much better.  Wet mount seems to always produce better results.
Test #4 10 Best of All !!!

Conclusions--

Appears to me that based upon this particular V600, that the best focus was consistently achieved with the film at approximately scanner bed level.  Test #3 had the film directly on the scanner bed.  Test #4 had the a sheet of Mylar between the film and the scanner bed.  I really, really had a tough time saying that Test #4 was better than Test #3.  I definitely think that for many images, just placing the oil and film directly of the scanner bed with Mylar over it would be sufficient........

I am struck by why the results were not sharper when the film was placed at some point above the scanner bed?  Epson, after all holds film up above the scanner bed.  But from my results, none of the tests where the film was above the scanner bed produced sharp results.  Now I know what this V600 will do.

I hope you enjoyed the comparisons.

Bruce Varner

 

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