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Photography Question 
Steve McCormack

Scanning: Prints Vs. Negative

I have recently become a digital convert, and would like to start digitizing some of my best 35mm images. Unfortunately, not being the most organized of people, it's not always easy to find the negatives corresponding to the prints. Is there much quality difference (which can't be tweaked by PS) between scanned prints and scanned negatives? Thanks.

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5/23/2004 1:02:41 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  You WILL notice a difference between a scanned negative and a scanned print ... particularly if the negative was scanned with a good dedicated film scanner at 4000 DPI. Scanning prints is similar to making a copy of a copy. I doubt that you will be able to capture the quality of the original.

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5/23/2004 5:13:00 AM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Steve: You don't say what type of scanner you will be using. With a low-end scanner, you may be happier with scans from high quality prints. Cheers!

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5/25/2004 5:18:01 AM

Darren K. Fisher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2002
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  I have to agree with Peter. I got a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III last year and went back through all my images that I had scanned from prints and found out that my images when I first started photography really were not as bad as I thought. LOL ... I get better quality and colors from scanning my own. Hope this helps.

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5/25/2004 6:17:32 AM

Dave Cross   Hi Steve. There is no doubt that you will obtain the best scan quality by using a dedicated film scanner and scanning the negatives ... BUT! There are some plus points to scanning a GOOD, well-balanced print:
1. Prints are bigger so you can use a lower resolution (read cheaper) scanner to get an equivalent file size.
2. The print shop may well have performed a lot of colour management when they made the print. If you scan the neg., you will need to do all this management yourself.
As with all these things, your mileage may vary. Enjoy.

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5/25/2004 9:51:44 AM

James C. Ritchie
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/17/2004
  Any scan you make from a print will never be any better than the quality of the print. If you're serious about doing your own digi-darkroom work it's best to invest in a film scanner. Buy the highest resolution machine you can afford. Higher resolution means bigger print sizes. Example - a machine with a max res of 2700 will yield a max print size a 300dpi of 8.5x12 or thereabouts. A 4000 machine will allow much larger prints, and enable you to do serious cropping and still have a sizable print.

I learned this the hard way. I own a Nikon LS-30 (which is a fine machine) with a max resolution of 2700. However, since I nearly always crop my images to get the best composition, and don't like to make prints less than 300dpi, I soon hit the size limitation wall. In order to do an 11x14, I have to go as low as 250dpi. (This is OK, but I still prefer having a min. res. of 300.)I'm considering a Nikon Coolscan V ED with 4000 dpi optical resolution (about $600).

If budget is a concern, look around for factory refurbished machines with warranty.

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5/25/2004 10:34:43 AM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
Minolta makes some very good film scanners - more affordable than Nikon. Their 2800dpi scanners produce an image file suitable for an excellent 8.5x11" print. This image was a scan from a slide using a Dimage Scan Elite II, an older machine. Cheers!

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5/25/2004 7:03:34 PM

Steve McCormack   Thanks for all the feedback. I hadn't considered getting my own scanner - I was just going to get the scans done at the photo shop. Looking at prices it may actaully make sense to get my own - now I've got some investigating to do. . .


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6/1/2004 10:54:01 AM

Lamont G. Weide
  I agree with much of what is said above. however, be careful and decide what you want. It may change in the future. I purchased a Minolta DualScan III. It received great reviews in all the magazines. It is a good slide scanner and is cheap! However, at 2800 dpi the best you could expect is about an 8 x 10. If you want to print 11 x 14 or 16 x 20 you will be disappointed. Minolta makes a 5400 dpi slide scanner, which I will eventually buy, and it is still less than $1000. In general try for a slide scanner of 4000 dpi or greater. Nikon and Minolta are probably the best. You should also make sure that they have digital ICE. If you NEVER want a photo greater than 8 x 10 then there are manny cheaper choices out there.

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6/7/2004 8:22:46 AM

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