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Steve K Feb 20, 2005 1:14 PM

Based on a conversation with a local photo lab who used to offer Kodak Photo CD's (not Picture CD's with jpg's, but the Photo CD *.pcd format, 100 images per CD), that format has been discontinued. A Google search seemed to confirm that. The lab said they offer something similar, an 18MB scan (one size only, not the "image pack" of the Photo CD) at $2.50 per image ... a little steep, I think.

Another advantage, if you believe Kodak's statements, is that the Photo CD process offered long CD life, vs. iffy life from the drugstore.

I guess the answer is to buy a film scanner, but at a reasonable price I still might like to have the option of getting hi-res scans from 35mm print film, done as a service and with long life CD's. Any options out there?

Meryl Arbing Feb 20, 2005 2:10 PM

Film scannera are the great digital secret that THEY don't want you to know about! Imagine that for around $630 you can get a KonicaMinolta Dimage 5400 film scanner you can see why they would sooner that you spend $8,000 for a Canon EOS 1Ds Mk II. The trouble is that the $8,000 camera is only 16Mp...(haha ONLY 16Mp :? ) and gives a 4992 x 3328 pixel image while the $630 scanner gives you a 7800 x 5232 pixel image from a 35mm frame or slide (oh..that is 41 (Forty-One) Megapixels!!!).

The advantage of the dSLR is that it is faster but...$8,000 for 16Mp vs $630 for 41Mp...I can live with it!

eric s Feb 20, 2005 3:34 PM

Meryl Arbing,
While I agree that the camera makers would rather you purchased a digital camera vs. a dedicated scanner... I have to say that your description is missing so many things I'm not sure if you're actually being serious. There are several more advantages to digital cameras than them just being "faster" than film and a slide scanner.

Steve K,
I'm kinda surprised that they kiled that format. I would be surprised if the photo cd process lasted longer. Now, if it required better media... that would be another matter.

If you get a film scanner, make sure you get one with really good digital ICE built in. From all I've read, Nikon makes the best scanners (but expensive.) Meryl's comment about the 5400 might be a good one. I've heard good things about their products too.


Meryl Arbing Feb 20, 2005 5:23 PM

Hi Eric,

I feel that digital photography includes film/scanner setup as well asdedicated digital cameras. I have both and have been using a scanner for years. There isn't much about the process that I haven't experienced.

Where time is an issue, the dedicated digital camera is definitiely the choice but, where there is no time pressure (and I don't think that the world is holdingit's breath waiting for the next posting on smugmug) then a scanner/film arrangement hasadvantages.

It is a shame to abandon a perfectly viable technology when it can provide such exceptional results.

eric s Feb 20, 2005 9:17 PM

Oh, I agree that film can produce exceptional results (with or without a scanner.) I know some people who produce amazing pictures with film and a scanner (way better than I with a DSLR.) I also agree that film has it's advantages… but very few. Short term costs are cheaper (even the best 35mm film cameras are much cheaper than the best DSLRs) and when done correctly the output requires very little post-processing. But I (and this is opinion, as I feel there is too much opinion/feel about this) really don't see any other significant advantages.

You seem to suggest (maybe, intentionally or unintentionally) that other than speed digital cameras don't have any advantages. And I can guarantee you that is not correct.


Alan T Feb 21, 2005 12:41 AM

Steve K wrote:

I guess the answer is to buy a film scanner, but at a reasonable price I still might like to have the option of getting hi-res scans from 35mm print film, done as a service and with long life CD's. Any options out there?
A filmscanner will do the job, but it's a lot of work. I have one and I used it intensively for a couple of years before I bought my first digicam. Since then it's been used only occasionally, to do the job properly on a good neg when the PhotoCD didn't.

My wife & family often use disposable 35mm cameras when they don't dare take our second-string very cheap point&shoot digicam with them. These throwaway cameras, costing about 4 ukpounds, can produce stunning results - wide angle, fast film, large depth of field. When I take them to my local camera shop (Wrexham, N.Wales, UK) for processing I always opt to have the CD done as well (very cheaply), because it usually saves me the hassle of scanning the neg myself.

So here in the UK, PhotoCD, or something very similar, is alive & well.

I had a meal withmy family in a French restaurant in Edinburgh 2 days ago. I must have looked like a photographer, because I was approached by a nearby 3-generation family to take their group photo, with their two different cameras. One was a state-of-the-art point & shoot digicam, and the other was a 35mm disposable with built-in flash. I wouldn't like to bet which produced the better result.

So my advice is "shop around, and find a processor who will offer a CD as well as the prints & negs." Buy a filmscanner only if you really need it. If you haven't got a digicam yet, now is the time to buy. Look at apparently downmarket brands, esp Casio.

Good Luck, Alan T

Meryl Arbing Feb 21, 2005 6:07 AM

Well, I think you are exaggerating the difficulties with scanning. I agree that it takes time but, considering the time that people are willing to take playing with their RAW images from dSLRs, I can't see much advantage.

In any case, the 'bang for the buck' equation remains...

16Mp for $8,000 vs 41Mp for $650

People will have to decide if theextra steprequired to scan is worth getting those kind of results. I have both digital and film and so I understand the advantages of each...but some digital users are so committed to the new technology that they refuse to see any benefits in the older technology. I am merely pointing out one advantage...250% higher resolution for 8% of the cost.

robbo Feb 21, 2005 6:16 AM

But doesn't film grain show up at even much lover resolutions? Some of the reviews of film scanner that I have read have mentioned problems with noise because of film grain.

Meryl Arbing Feb 21, 2005 7:44 AM

Technology hasn't stopped as far as film is concerned. Now grain size has been dramatically reduced over early emulsions. I have several calssic is a post-war Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B which is a 6x6 Medium format folder...the manual talks about what film speeds to use and it starts at ASA (the old name for ISO) 6 and goes up to the ultra high speed 100 ASA. And it warns that grain size increases with speed.

Today ISO400 film is amazing in the fine detail that it can capture and it is only until we get to ISO3200 that grain becomes distracting.

In any case, just like scanning software like Digial ICE can reduce dust and scratch like Grain Melter can also remove visible grain from film making it as clear as any pure digital shot.

Visible grain (like CCD noise) is something that can now be controlled.

What I wanted to tell people is that digital photography extends to film/scanner setups as well as pure digital setups and the images are just as able to be processed through Photoshop as any other digital image.

This is ISO 400 film scanned with a cheap 2400 dpi scanner.

eric s Feb 21, 2005 8:02 AM

Ok, so that is the comparison. It isn't "what type of shots can I get with a DSLR than I can't easily get with film?" It's "look at the cost difference..." Now that I know where you're coming from we can talk.

First off, you are forgetting the cost of the film camera. You might have already spent it, but it was there. The only things that fairly compare to the 1Ds MkII, are the best film DLRs. That would be the F6 from Nikon ($2,299.95, or the F5 - $1,899.95) or the EOS 1V ($1,639.95). If you're going to say "I don't need a film camera that good, then why are you buying the 1Ds MkII?! Buy the Canon 10D at about $700 used (you can probably still buy it new for a bit more, but it's been replaced.) If you don't print over 8x11 the 10D is fine. If you do, ok, then I agree you need at least the 20D/D70 or a Pro model body.

The cost of lenses is moot, so lets ignore that. (Although it is arguable that the 1Ds MkII needs the best quality lenses 'cause it resolves so much detail that lesser quality ones seem to produce softer images. So that means spending more on lenses.)

Don't forget that if you're getting a 16-bit 41MP image you will need to spend money to increase your ram and CPU on the computer. That will use a LOT of memory. RAM is fairly cheap now a days but a good CPU might require a new system. I won't speculate on the price of this one.

If you really want to compare the output of the 1Ds MkII, you will need to use the best films. Probably Provia F100 ($4 a roll) or Velvia 50 (almost $5 a roll at B&H) and it will cost a bit for a good developer but I truly don't know how much, including a push - if you do that. I should include the cost of a CF card, about $90 will get you a 1G 80x card now adays. For me, that is 110 shots or 3 1/2 rolls of film per download... for years. Including developing I save money after about 400 pictures, which is about 2 - 3 weekends for me. Of course I wouldn't shoot that many shots in a weekend if I used film so the comparison isn't fair.

The cost of prints are the same either way, so that is mood.

Now, I haven't seen a comparison between the scanner you are suggesting at that price as the Nikon CoolScann 5000 ED at around $1050 (which while double still isn't near the $8K of the 1D MkII.) but it is my understanding that it is the best on the market with 2 or 3rd generation ICE and great color balanced results. So debating scanner choices seems moot (I looked it up, so I included it... I wasn't sure what the Nikon cost. Most people that I know that would by the 1Ds MkII or an F5 would buy the Nikon scanner.)

And we're not even talking about the actual pictures. I do avian photography almost exclusively. This means I'd buy the 1D MkII at above $4K (still a lot of money) but I still wouldn't buy even the EOS 1VHS instead because there are things I just couldn't do with it. As the sun sets, I'd switch to ISO400 and still get good quality (on par with Provia 100F pushed to 200, after post-production, but I'd get double the shutter, which makes the shot.) I can take a burst of shots on the chance that bird would do what I want. I couldn't risk that with film. One would argue that I'd have to develop a keener photo sense with film... using that limited resource more wisely. And they'd be right. But all I can say is how it is right now.

Most people that I talk to say that scanning is more time consuming that you make it out. I've never done it (I have some old slides, but I haven't converted them yet) but the conversation is more like "it takes so much time" or "when am I going to find the time to scan all 5000 slides?". Maybe you are better at it or they have really high standards and that slows them up, or maybe they don't have the proper equipment. I don't know.

You are right about the trouble of film grain. If you use lower quality film a higher resolution scanner will just scan more grain. It will resolve more than the film has detail (not resolution, detail. There is a difference.) If Meryl is talking about getting the highest resolution, most expensive digital SLR I'm assuming we're comparing to the best films out here (which are very low noise but also very low ISO.)


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