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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 41,735

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My new scanner arrives Tuesday!

I really like shooting on color film. Printing it is the problem in today's marketplace. Prints from negatives in sizes over 8x10 are almost a thing of the past and paper for printing slides no longer exists. Black and white shooters have it almost as bad; b&w paper is expensive as hell and all the brands that still exist are the same ones you could get at any communist camera store.

The New Modern Way to photograph on film is "hybrid" - shoot on film, scan it and print it on a big inkjet like an Epson 3880. This has a worse problem: every scanner made in the last five years sucks worse than the Republican Party. They figure everyone has gone to digital and just wants a scanner so they can look at their old pictures. That's fine if you did that, but when your "old pictures" were made in April 2014, you need something a little better. Something that was made when Film Was What We Had.

This is what I got.

The Dainippon Screen DT-S 1030AI scanner is a bit more involved than a flatbed. Kid yourself not: drum scanners are a grade-A pain in the ass to operate, but the images they generate make up for it. The metal device at the left end of the machine is the chuck. It connects to and rotates an acrylic "scanning cylinder" which has your original art taped to it, usually under a sheet of acetate with a mixture of naphtha and mineral spirits squirted in there to cover up the scratches in your film. (I'm not kidding. It's called oil mounting.) The tube-looking thing at the right end is the scan head. It moves back and forth. There's a halogen bulb in it to provide light - the Screen engineers either had a sense of humor or one of practicality; the "special $500 hand-selected bulb" I bought two of a year when I was running one of these at work is actually a 35-watt headlight bulb available for five bucks at any auto parts store, but with the Internet in its infancy then we didn't know it. The light travels through or reflects off your image, is picked up by a focusable lens (the knob on the scanning head is used to focus it, and through experience I can assure you it can be focused extremely well), and travels through fiber optic cable to the heart of the system: four photomultiplier tubes - one for red, one for green, one for blue and one for sharpening. Yes! You know how they tell you to always sharpen a scan? This thing does it for you. You can even choose the amount to apply, in five different levels - "soft" is more than plenty.

When you print inkjet, you set your images to 150 dpi. This machine will magnify 34 diameters at that resolution.

It is a machine that will make images that will cause grown men with $7000 digital SLRs to cry, and I only paid five hundred bucks for it. I already have my software downloaded and installed. Once the scanner arrives, it'll take a couple hours to calibrate it (you put a 21-step transparency wedge called a "Stouffer Scale" on the drum, scan it, read the color values at three specific points, and adjust the highlight, halftone and full tone levels until they match values the manufacturer gives you) and then I'll be in business.
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