Scanning: Porto

Porto, Portugal – March 2012

I have been doing some scanning over the past few weeks, now that I am finally settled in my new house. Although I have already ordered a new scanner (Pakon F-135 if you must know), I have been squeezing every last drop out of my old Epson V500. Truth be told, I have never been impressed with the output of this scanner; in fact, this is what drove me to send my film out for scanning last year. But the costs of having film scanned professionally do mount quickly with the volume of film that I shoot.

So I set up the V500 and began trying to scan with it again. It’s still hit-or-miss, to be honest, but I’ve managed to get some better output from it after playing with it. However, even after figuring out how to set things up for the best files I can get from it (the V500 is by no means high-end in the scanning world), I find myself face-to-face with the biggest hurdle I have always found to my shooting film.

Porto, Portugal – March 2012


Basically, scanning sucks. There’s no two ways about it. It’s time-consuming, mindless work that often does not do your photos justice anyway. It is the times that I scan the most that I find myself most pulled back to shooting digital. Then, inevitably, after shooting digital for a while, I feel unsatisfied and go back to predominantly film. And so the pendulum swings again.

And so, for the past few years digital and film have coexisted in my life. I shoot both, and both have their advantages. There is nothing that can mimic the high-ISO ability of digital nowadays–it’s pretty amazing, considering where the technology was even a few years ago. My 2010 Lumix GF1 struggled at anything above ISO800; my 2013 RX1 shoots ISO12,800 without breaking a sweat.

Porto, Portugal – March 2012

Digital is easier to manipulate after the fact, easier to shoot in greater volume, and has a far faster turn-around rate from start to finish. But the files aren’t ever quite what I want. And that’s to say nothing of the shooting experience, which I find just short of distasteful, when compared with classic film cameras.

So I hope the new scanner will help me get more out of my film cameras. It allows me to scan a roll at a decent resolution very quickly–an entire roll in around 3 minutes–which gets me away from scanning too much, but also allows me to continue shooting film without the tremendous cost of having my film scanned professionally (of which the quality can be hit-or-miss too, despite the high cost).

Do you have a scanner recommendation, or perhaps ideas to share on your digitizing workflow? I’d love to hear them!




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