Today my new 35mm scanner arrived – a Plustek OpticFilm 7200.
The 7200 is the bottom of the OpticFilm range, but perfect for my needs. All of the scanners in the range have the same optical resolution, but some offer features such as iSRD infrared dust and scratch removal, or MultiExposure where the scanner makes 4 images and combines them to reduce noise.
As I’m scanning brand new negatives, I don’t plan to scratch them or let them get dusty. The MultiExposure might have been nice, but it nearly doubled the price of the basic 7200 model, which set me back just £115 from Amazon.
Opening, the box I was impressed straight away. Obviously the basic were there: the scanner, power and USB cables but there was also a padded carry case.
The build quality of the scanner definitely puts it in the realm of home users but it’s perfectly fine.
There are two plastic trays: one that can take four slides and one that can take a strip of up to six negatives. I was a little disappointed by the negative tray, as it didn’t have the “dots” to help the film keep aligned and it can be tricky to get the film into it, especially if it’s new film that still has a tendency to curl.
When sliding the trays into the scanner, you can feel it “bump” into notches so it sits in the right place. These notches aren’t as precise as I would like and you can’t always tell if you are exactly in the right place until you’ve done a preview scan.
Installation on Windows was easy enough, although the supplied SilverFast software has a distinct “Windows 3.1” look and feel about it. It works well enough though and after a few minutes of playing I worked out most of the important features.
So far I’ve scanned two rolls of film and I’ve been impressed with the results. I’ve been scanning at 3600dpi which gives a resolution of round about 17-18 megapixels. Saved as a TIFF, this takes up about 55MB.
The built-in sharpening feature does a good job – I can’t tell that my scans have been sharpened which is a relief. Some sharpening software overdoes it and you end up with unsightly artefacts.
The colours are good so long as you’ve done all of these:
- Chosen the right film manufacturer
- Chosen the right film type
- Chosen the right ISO film speed
- Done a prescan to allow SilverFast to calibrate itself
In extremely over- or under-exposed photos, the software can do some funny things with the exposure. But I guess the moral of that story is to expose your photos properly…
The photos I’ve scanned so far have either been on old, grainy film or not focussed properly so it’s hard to tell how sharp the scans are. Except that some of my old negatives from a disposable camera had scratches, and these showed up lovely and sharp in the scans!
This scanner is fantastic value for the money.
Sharpness, colours and dynamic range are all very good.
Serious users should consider getting one of the higher scanners with iSRD and MultiExposure which will help with image quality even more. And they still don’t cost ridiculous amounts.
Unfortunately the lab who processed the film also scratched it, which is pretty annoying. But it demonstrates how sharp the scanner is, and highlights the reason for buying a scanner with iSRD.