Some people love scanning their own negatives. Others avoid it like the plague. I actually like it - but I also don't mind a healthy dose of computer work. If you really hate scanning, you could get someone to do it for you. But there goes that creative control again.
Many also find scanning film quite daunting. There's too many buttons and options. What scanner do you choose? What software do you use? It's all a bit too confusing for many analogue shooters, so they just let the lab do it for them. And while some labs do a fairly decent job of scanning, you will end up paying an arm and a leg for the privilege - especially if you want hi-res scans (why wouldn't you?).
|Setting up a Drum Scanner|
|Dedicated film scanner from Plustek|
This is also, however, their major drawback. If you also shoot medium format 6x45, 6x6, 6x7 etc, then you won't be able to scan them in these dedicated 35mm film scanners. You also have to be a little careful about the age of the scanner. If you pick up a Nikon Coolscan from the 1990s you will probably have a hard time getting it to talk nicely to your iMac or Windows 10 PC.
|Epson's V700 Photo Flatbed scanner|
They are a lot bigger than the dedicated film scanners, so take up more space in the office. But what they lack in compactness, they more than make up for in versatility.
Not all flatbed scanners can scan film. For a flatbed to be able to also act as a film scanner, they tend to have a second scanning light for the film in the lid of the scanner. This makes them quite a bit larger than ordinary flatbed scanners. And quite a bit more expensive too. Top-of-the-line photo flatbeds like the Epson V700 Photo will cost around $1000NZ. They are certainly an investment. Yet as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. And when you consider how much a decent drum scan will cost (upwards of $50 per 6x7 scan), then flatbed scanners pay for themselves fairly quickly.
Top end flatbed film scanners like the Epson V700 or V850 advertise themselves as having 'drum scan quality'. While this may be stretching the truth a tad, the fact is you can get exceptional files using these scanners - with a little effort. In Part Two I will detail how I scan negatives using the Epson V700 Photo flatbed scanner.
Shoot film - scan the negatives - process the digital files. This 'hybrid' workflow is the best of both worlds. And at its heart, is the humble scanner. If you're a film shooter and don't own one, you might want to rectify that real soon. Just saying....