Scanning Myths

 

Myths About Slide Scanning and Negative Scanning: Scanning Film With Flatbed Scanners is Good

The manufacturers of flatbed scanners would have you believe that their scanners do a good job scanning slides and negatives. This isn't necessarily the case. Let's look at some examples to see how well a good flatbed scanner performs compared to a dedicated film scanner.

We will examine scans of three images - two slides and a color negative - on two scanners; the Epson V750 and the Nikon 5000 ED. The Epson is a good quality flatbed scanner. The Nikon is a dedicated film scanner.

Ektachrome Slide

Fatbed scan of Ektachrome slide
Film scanner scan of Ektrchrome slide
Crop of flatbed Ektachrome scan
Crop of film scanner Ektachrome scan
Flatbed
(click for the full-sized, uncropped JPEG image 1.7MB)
Dedicated film scanner
(click for the full-sized, uncropped JPEG image 3.4MB)

 

Kodachrome Slide

Flatbed scan of Kodachrome slide
Film scanner scan of Kodachrome slide
Crop of flatbed Kodachrome slide scan
Crop of film scanner scan of Kodachrome slide
Flatbed
(click for the full-sized, uncropped JPEG image 1.6MB)
Dedicated film scanner
(click for the full-sized, uncropped JPEG image 3.1MB)

 

Kodak Color Negative

Flatbed scan of color negative
Film scanner scan of color negative
Crop of flatbed negative scan
Crop of film scanner scan of color negative
Flatbed
(click for the full-sized, uncropped JPEG image 2.7MB)
Dedicated film scanner
(click for the full-sized, uncropped JPEG image 4.9MB)

Discussion

As you can see from the examples above, the scans from the flatbed scanner are generally significantly softer, showing less detail. Additionally, the color fidelity is not as good. The Nikon scanner produces images showing detail down to the grain of the film.

(Flatbed scans on Epson V750 scanner. Film scanner used is Nikon 5000 ED. Light ICE used in all scans.)