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Thread: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

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    4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    For someone still shooting 4x5 and medium format film, how does the quality of the resulting prints obtained from scanning with an X5 (or X1, 949, 646) compares with what can be achieved with MFDB.

    Also, I am mainly interested in B&W, and even with 4x5, I can't achieve the same richness of tones with the Epson V700/Epson 3800 combination that I could in the wet darkroom. Would the X5 narrow the gap sufficiently to make this almost irrelevant?

    A new Imacon X5 is about the same price as a P25+ these days, I might afford one but certainly not both!

    Any thought (technical or philosophical) about this dilemma would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    François

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Francois,I have no answer Im afraid but am also very interested in any information and also to add to the brew http://www.mega-vision.com/products/Mono/Mono.htm ,a black and white only medium format back that it would be nice to know if anyone has experience of............Neil.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    From experience scanning 4x5 and 6x7 trannie on a 848 the tonal quality and sharpness is miles ahead of a V700 scan. I own a V700 but outsource my Imacon scans. There is no digital system that I know of - and I'd love to be proven wrong - that handles highlights and high contrast scenes as elegantly as colour or B/W neg film. An X5 is a massive expense though. I'd tend to shift to digital and save in the long run if you have the option to go either way for the same money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois_A View Post
    For someone still shooting 4x5 and medium format film, how does the quality of the resulting prints obtained from scanning with an X5 (or X1, 949, 646) compares with what can be achieved with MFDB.

    Also, I am mainly interested in B&W, and even with 4x5, I can't achieve the same richness of tones with the Epson V700/Epson 3800 combination that I could in the wet darkroom. Would the X5 narrow the gap sufficiently to make this almost irrelevant?

    A new Imacon X5 is about the same price as a P25+ these days, I might afford one but certainly not both!

    Any thought (technical or philosophical) about this dilemma would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    François

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    I can try to shed some light on the question you ask Francois.

    Here is the basis of my answer:

    I have and shoot with a Hasselblad H3D-II/39 ... prior to that a Mamiya 645 and Leaf Aptus 75s, 33 meg digital back. Before that a Leaf and Imacon 22 meg digital backs ... as well as a Hasselblad 16 meg CFV back.

    I also have and shoot a Mamiya RZ 6X7, Hasselblad 203FE and Hasselblad H2F film cameras. Prior to that, a 6X7 Mamiya 7-II.

    For 20 years I processed my own film and made prints in my darkroom on a Leica 35mm enlarger and a Kaiser VMP 9005 MF enlarger with Rodenstock APO lenses.

    I now have and use a Imacon 949, (I had a Imacon 848 for a 3 month demo prior to selecting the 949). Also use an Epson V750-Pro flatbed (for proof sheets only). Prior to Imacon, a Minolta Multiscan Pro medium format scanner.

    I have scanned films on the Imacon 949 for friends who shoot 6X9, 6X12 and 4X5 film. I chose the 949 over the 848 for two reasons: the diffused light source which has more of an enlarger feel to the scans, and the jaw dropping speed of the 949/X5 compared to the 848. Everything I had scanned on the Minolta scanner and the loaner 848 ... I rescanned on the 949.

    Thoughts/Opinions:

    IMO and experience to date, for B&W work, shoot film and scan on a 949 or X5. Especially if it is 6X6 to 4X5. The richness of tones you are looking for will be there, and control of the image is beyond imagination compared to all the stuff you have to do in a darkroom.

    There is no comparison between a Desktop flat bed like the Epson V700/750 and the 949/X5. Not even close. Shadow detail, tonal graduations, highlight detail are all superior with the 949/X5

    For B&W, a Phase One P25+, or Hasselblad or Leaf equivalent will produce beautiful B&W images ... but IMO not the equal in sheer beauty to scanned B&W MF films. There is no substitute.

    Digital is seductive because it is so immediate ... and for commercial work like I do it is absolutely essential. And if color work were the criteria I'd council using a digital back.

    The other half of the equation wether using a digital back or scanned film is how you actually print it. That is a totally separate thread. But, I have come very close to silver prints using papers like Crane's Museo Silver Rag double weight. (FYI, there are Pro labs who produce real silver prints from digital files).

    Hope this helps

    Marc

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    My thoughts exactly. I have a 646 and use it for magazine repro, fine art prints, etc etc. My last book, CYPHER, was shot primarily on b&w MF film and was all scanned with the Imacon. Looks like high end drum scans.

    It's paid for itself over and over and over again, and if I could turn back the clock I would have gotten the 949 (I got a 343 first and then a refurb 646). I have large film archives that continue to pay the rent so it's an invaluable tool for me despite the fact that I shoot mostly digital these days.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    To those who know, is the 646 still serviceable by Hasselblad / Imacon and how does its scan quality compare to the 848? Is the 646 able to be run on Snow Leopard with the latest Macs on firewire? Are spare parts and accessories still available for the 646?

    I've pretty much given up on trying to scan trannies properly myself. The Nikon 8000 and glass carrier I use at work does a great job but it has been thrashed and is getting unreliable. We've put in a request to get the 9000 to replace it but the Nikon guys have told us they are no longer being made and are on their last batch, if not run out already. By the time the money comes through I doubt there will be a comparable product for us to buy. I would personally like to buy a 646 or 848 for myself but the outlay would be substantial and I wonder if I'd just be better of saving more and going digital MF capture. Not the same, but efficient and less links in the chain to worry about. Total self reliance goes a long way in learning and I'm always nervous sending bulk film off to the lab, plus I've never been happy with the colours and contrast of my scans when getting other people to do them for me. The process is just too subjective and it's hard building relationships with image editors / scanner operators when they are located 1000km's away let alone in the same another city!

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Yes to basically all of these. I use a 646 at the moment, and while I have not upgraded to snow leopard yet, I am using a recent mac with firewire. I don't think Snow Leopard will matter because it does not really use drivers or anything so esoteric as that. You just plug in the scanner and open FlexColor (which unfortunately has stopped being upgraded, though it works fine now). All the rest of those questions should not be an issue. I had mine serviced this summer. It is essentially an identical scanner to the X1, so parts should not be an issue. There are not really any accessories other than the film holders, and those are identical for all models.

    As for film versus digital, I bought a used 646 in 2005. I have used it constantly since then. I bought a 22mp digital back in 2008, did not get on with it and sold it this year. I find if you like shooting film, the versatility of the Imacon's is unmatched. You have your choice of any film camera, any type of film, and any format. With MFDB, you are stuck to that one system, one type of file format and so on. They are all large, bulky kits. With the 646, I can confidently shoot the light Mamiya 7 one day, the Hasselblad for portraits the next, or a 4x5 view camera on another. The only kicker is that if you want true dust and scratch mitigation you need the 949 or X5, and if you want to scan mounted slides you need the 848, 949 or X5 and the expensive batch slide feeder.
    Last edited by Stuart Richardson; 10th November 2009 at 01:07.
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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Yes to basically all of these. I use a 646 at the moment, and while I have not upgraded to snow leopard yet, I am using a recent mac with firewire. I don't think Snow Leopard will matter because it does not really use drivers or anything so esoteric as that. You just plug in the scanner and open FlexColor (which unfortunately has stopped being upgraded, though it works fine now). All the rest of those questions should not be an issue. I had mine serviced this summer. It is essentially an identical scanner to the X1, so parts should not be an issue. There are not really any accessories other than the film holders, and those are identical for all models.

    As for film versus digital, I bought a used 646 in 2005. I have used it constantly since then. I bought a 22mp digital back in 2008, did not get on with it and sold it this year. I find if you like shooting film, the versatility of the Imacon's is unmatched. You have your choice of any film camera, any type of film, and any format. With MFDB, you are stuck to that one system, one type of file format and so on. They are all large, bulky kits. With the 646, I can confidently shoot the light Mamiya 7 one day, the Hasselblad for portraits the next, or a 4x5 view camera on another. The only kicker is that if you want true dust and scratch mitigation you need the 949 or X5, and if you want to scan mounted slides you need the 848, 949 or X5 and the expensive batch slide feeder.
    Hey Stuart,

    have you seen this news item about Joel Meyerowitz using film and a Flextight scanner for his NYC Central Park project?

    http://www.hasselbladusa.com/news/me...k-project.aspx

    Here's his website:

    http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/

    See, you are not alone in shooting film and scanning. I'm going to be doing some film stuff this winter after wedding season dies down ... a nice relief from shooting digital for 6 straight months. I want to to some "urban landscape" work in B&W and scan it on the 949.

    -Marc

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    ...
    There is no comparison between a Desktop flat bed like the Epson V700/750 and the 949/X5. Not even close. Shadow detail, tonal graduations, highlight detail are all superior with the 949/X5
    ...
    How does a Nikon CS 9000 compare to those two?
    And as curiosity, is it similar for 35mm?
    Francois B.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    The nikons and minolta can be similar on resolution, but only when using a glass carrier. The real advantages of the imacons are the speed, the edge to edge resolution (and clean optical path...no glass), the software, the ability to scan 6x17 and 4x5, out of the box colors and dmax. If that sounds like a lot of things, it is! But they are also the things that most "reviewers" leave out when looking at the results. So while they often say, "well, the Imacon is only slightly sharper than this Nikon scanner which costs less than 1/2", they are missing the complete picture. The image might only be "slightly sharper" in the center, the overall ease of working is dramatically better.

    Oh, and Marc, thanks for the links! Interesting to see what Meyerowitz is doing in NYC. I am not too surprised...I think film is satisfying to work with in a way that is attractive to something like Meyerowitz who can basically do whatever the heck he wants. Digital's most compelling argument is its flexibility and speed, but if you don't need to worry about delivering images very quickly, then film has an elegance in its use and its look that are difficult to replicate with digital.
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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    The nikons and minolta can be similar on resolution, but only when using a glass carrier. The real advantages of the imacons are the speed, the edge to edge resolution (and clean optical path...no glass), the software, the ability to scan 6x17 and 4x5, out of the box colors and dmax. If that sounds like a lot of things, it is! But they are also the things that most "reviewers" leave out when looking at the results. So while they often say, "well, the Imacon is only slightly sharper than this Nikon scanner which costs less than 1/2", they are missing the complete picture. The image might only be "slightly sharper" in the center, the overall ease of working is dramatically better.

    Oh, and Marc, thanks for the links! Interesting to see what Meyerowitz is doing in NYC. I am not too surprised...I think film is satisfying to work with in a way that is attractive to something like Meyerowitz who can basically do whatever the heck he wants. Digital's most compelling argument is its flexibility and speed, but if you don't need to worry about delivering images very quickly, then film has an elegance in its use and its look that are difficult to replicate with digital.
    I'll add something here ... I started scanning with a Polaroid MF scanner, then moved to the last versions of Minolta MF and 35mm scanners ... and was pretty satisfied until my crafty Hasselblad rep loaned me a Imacon 848 for a couple of months. It was a fair chunk of change to go Imacon, so I scanned favorite negs on all the scanners to compare. I ended up deleting almost my whole film archive and rescanning it all with the 848. Actual resolution is not the only criteria, all you do is start over-scanning the film grain at some point. It is the "true" D-Max and flatness of the film ... plus the scanning lens is a Rodenstock.

    Then Hassey merged with Imacon completely and rebadged the scanners as Hasselblad Flextight ... so I got a brand new 949 at a very nice discount.

    The 949 has a different light source that produces a bit more of an analog enlarger look ... and it is incredibly fast. I can hardly prep the next film strip before the scanner finishes. No multiscanning that takes forever. Boom! Scanned! Done! I went from hating to scan to loving it. Batch scanning is really easy and I do it all the time.

    It IS a very pricey choice that's for sure, but if you're into film it's less expensive than a good digital back, and IMO does B&W better than any digital solution out there right now.

    The draw back is that you can end up scanning films for friends all the time ... LOL!

    -Marc

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Easy solution to that problem for me...become a photo lab! Now people pay me to scan film...a much better solution all around.

    At the moment I am also seriously looking at selling the 646 in favor of a 949 or X5, but they are really hard to find used or as demos (which would be more financially feasible for me given the tax system here and its 24.5% tithe). If anyone has an X5 or 949 kicking around, please let me know!
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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    i am at wits end with my nikon 8000 and have seriously considered throwing it out the window on multiple occasions.

    i am considering selling it off (and a kidney) to get an imacon of some sort.

    now i do not sell any photos or make an money from them (yet). but i do strive for the best.

    which imacon do you guys recommend for needing something better then the nikon 8000 in terms of consistency, exposure and sharpness?

    i will be scanning 35mm, MF 6x6 and XPan b&w color and slide film.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    If you know that you are not going to ever need to scan 4x5 or above 3200 dpi in 35mm, then the 343 is a good deal. The maximum resolution for all imacons is 3200 for medium format, and you get that with the 343 as well. The 343 will scan at 3200 for 35mm, which still is quite a lot (and more real detail than most other 4000dpi+ scanners). I have not used the Nikon 8000, but the 343 has most all of the advantages of the larger imacons, barring the speed, the very highest resolution for 35mm and the ability to scan 4x5. It sounds like it might be a good fit for you.
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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Quote Originally Posted by drazin View Post
    i am at wits end with my nikon 8000 and have seriously considered throwing it out the window on multiple occasions....needing something better then the nikon 8000 in terms of consistency, exposure and sharpness
    With my 9000, using the glass carrier is the key to getting as much sharpness as the scanner can muster, while consistency and exposure has been a matter of finding scanning software I can live with and figuring out how to use it.

    So can you be more specific about your workflow, what problems you're having and what you've tried to fix them? Perhaps the collective wisdom here can come up with some other ideas to try before you give up on the 8000 and surrender that kidney.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    good point.

    i have all the glass carriers including the rotating glass carrier which i bought specifically to scan my xpan negs.

    i get burnt edges and an overall dullness and what appears to me to be blurry scans..

    this one is decent but you can certainly see the burnt top and the dullness all around



    full size here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dankste...31835/sizes/o/


    this is just one of the problems i am having

    i use both vuescan and nikon scan and find it very hard to get consistent results. sometimes vuescan will work great and other times not...

    i for some reason i feel that the glass carriers make my scans look ****tier.

    here is anohter example.




    what do you guys think? is it just me??? does my scanner need service or am i just crazy?

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    OK, a few quick points off the top of my head:

    * What kind of film are you scanning? In terms of pleasing color and overall "look", I've had better luck with some films than with others, though some of that may simply be that I've stumbled on to the best settings for the ones that seem to work well and haven't yet put enough effort into optimizing scanning parameters for the other ones.

    * I've never used an 8000, but in my experience both the 5000 and the 9000 are prone to flare artifacts in densely exposed areas near the edges of a negative frame - bright skies, for example - if the clear areas surrounding the image on the film aren't masked. Perhaps that's what's happening in these as well.

    * I tried both Nikon Scan and Vuescan but found both frustrating to use, though in different ways. Ultimately I swallowed hard and shelled out the $$$ to get SilverFast Ai, which has worked out much better for me. The general advantage is that SilverFast offers a much finer level of control over what the scanner and software are doing - or at least more control that I've been able to figure out. And in particular, the film-specific default color masks plus the assorted custom adjustments make it pretty easy to capture the full density range of a negative and get color balance in the ballpark. The rest I leave to Photoshop.
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 18th November 2009 at 12:42.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    thanks for the reply.

    i am mostly using Ektar 100 or porta 160NC. the colors i havnt really had much luck getting good results from but i think my main gripe is with the hardware itself. however, i could be wrong and it could all lie within the software... i can try the silverfast software i believe i got a copy with the scanner.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    I have a Minolta Scan Multi Pro, which still produces fantastic scans - not quite as good as my drum scanner, but it's an option I'd recommend you explore - no parts etc available, but mine has not blinked in the 7 years I have owned it. Definitely one of the best photographic items I have ever purchased. There's a guy in Croatia who can have custom film masks made for very reasonable expense (had some done a while ago for Xpan negs)... There's a Yahoo group which covers most of the bases on the scanner.

    BTW, that burning on the edge is usually the result of light travelling through the edge of the film and diffusing into the image area - hence the orange hue. You can usually solve that issue with masking.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    i bought the expensive rotating film holder with the xpan masks and i usually have to spend 5-10 minutes setting up the negative on the mask and its almost NEVER perfect.

    i usually resort to taping the film to the mask (which ive done for the image i posted above) but it still burns.

    here is a full screenshot of my scanning process.... just check out those light bleeds! this is WITH THE MASK!!!!


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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    That does not look very nice. Have you considered an imacon? Kidding of course. I am not sure what is happening here, but I doubt it is the normal operating procedure for the Nikon. You might want to forward that photo to Nikon service and see what they say. Otherwise, like I said above, a 343 might be a good option as they are not nearly as expensive as other Imacons (when you can find them). Don's recommendation of the Minolta Scan Multi Pro is also great -- I had that scanner before I had the 646, and I found it to be a very good scanner. I prefer the Imacon in almost every way (other than no ice), but it is a great scanner if you can find one.
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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Thanks for posting that screen shot, drazin - it certainly tells the story. I've been happy overall with my Nikons, but the masking/flare problem is their Achilles' heel.

    I've had plenty of instances of flare through the frame gaps in the FH-3 holder I use with my 5000, which I can suppress by using a piece of the black plastic mask material that Nikon supplies with the 9000 to mask off the gap.

    With the 9000, I've never had a flare problem that couldn't be fixed by getting the film positioned just so relative to the mask. In particular, I've never seen that sort of flare across edges away from the gap in the frame/mask. With the rotating glass holder I've used the 645, 6x6, 6x7 and 6x9 masks without insoluble problems. But I haven't had occasion to try the panoramic 35 mask. Also, FWIW, I've scanned 35mm film in the glassless 35 carrier in my 9000 and haven't had flare problems despite film strip misalignments here and there exposing the clear negative base.

    I believe there's a mirror in the optical path that can get dirty and make the flare problem a lot worse. Having a technician clean that is one thing that might be worth trying. Another thing to try would be to use black paper or other thin, opaque material to mask the edges of the negative completely, around all sides, and see whether that makes a difference.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    ... or i can just throw it out the window ...

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Quote Originally Posted by drazin View Post
    ... or i can just throw it out the window ...
    Yes, there's always that option...

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Out of hundreds of scans from the Nikon 8000 I've never seen defective scans like these. Perhaps you need to get your serviced?

    I'd love to own an Imacon but the outlay is insane for a non-commerical photographer. Does the 343 run on Snowleopard via firewire? It might be a good option in the interim for me instead of going the whole hog on one of the big boys.

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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    FlexColor does not support Snow Leopard yet, but I asked Hasselblad about this, and they said January...
    The 343 does use firewire.
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    Re: 4x5 & 6x7 film+Imacon X5 vs MFDB

    Interesting comment from Hasselblad on SL....I run Flexcolor on SL and yesterday double clicked on a 3F scan in Adobe Bridge. It opened in Flexcolor and I was able to process it output to TIFF-16.

    This is the scan opened in CS4 resized to 6.5x10 with border after conversion to sRGB from ProPhoto RGB mode to 8 bit and saved as JPG.

    So may not be supported but it does work...as does my 343 scanner underfirewire. I did not spot this but wanted to post it as an example. Final post processing is far from done with this pic.

    Hasselblad 343 is great but in not a 949 or X5 however I shoot so little film at the present time that it meets my needs. I have extra bulbs and carriers so it should last a very long time. 343 in addition has a set focal path so calibration will never be an issue. Dust is an issue and speed is much slower than the 949...plenty of time for reading and coffee.

    Bob
    Last edited by docmoore; 16th May 2012 at 19:04.

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