Sometimes You Can Scan Film Better at Home

Recorded on December 5th, 2016

All the trouble required to scan 35mm at home can be well worth it. The image below is a “high res” photo, scanned from a well-known film lab on a pretty high-end scanner. It’s one of the first pro scans from a roll of Tri-X 400 I shot on my dad’s Nikomat FTn with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I was way underwhelmed when I saw it. It in no way resembled 35mm film. Blown-out highlights, smoothed-over textures, and murky, dingy shadows. I knew film should look better than this:


Shortly after, I got the Plustek scanner. What a difference. I scan in a way that preserves much more of the highlight and shadow detail, and the glorious film grain is still there. I have to tweak levels and contrast in Lightroom, but there’s a point to it because the details are still there, waiting to be drawn out. It costs much more in my time than paying the lab less than 50 cents per scan, but it’s so worth it:


I don’t think that my Plustek is better than the Noritsu or whatever it is at the lab, but I do think that the particular process and/or technician they used on that roll didn’t let the pro scanner rise to anywhere near its full potential.

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