Scanning & Printing

For about two years, and for the majority of my 35mm image catalog, I used the Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED which features 4000 ppi resolution, and, perhaps more importantly, a dynamic range of 4.2. This allows considerable shadow detail, and the ability to handle the most difficult positive transparencies from Kodachrome and Velvia films. I used the Nikon Scan software as a plug-in to Adobe Photoshop.

When working towards prints, I scan the originals at the maximum resolution and word lenghth allowed by the scanner (4000 ppi and 16 bits per color channel), then after cleaning up the image (removing scratches & spots, etc.), I then do whatever other post processing I find necessary. Typically, I use Levels, Curves, Color Balance and Saturation tools to approach the overall image density I'm looking for. From there on, I use layer masks to increase the precision of localized tonal values and contrast. Once I have adjusted the image to bring out the best tonal values and relationships, I make a version for printing by resizing to the target print size and resolution.

Although I have now switched to a digital camera (Nikon D200) for most of my work, I still need to do some scanning now and again. For medium-format or larger scanning, I have used a variety of different machines, depending on availability and quality requirements, including the Nikon Coolscan 8000 ED. To scan images from 9x12cm originals, my father has helped me with his Epson 2450 flatbed scanner. This unit works well for larger-sized negatives, and is particularly good with B&W originals. However for smaller, color negatives and positives I find that this scanner introduces some noise and color registration artifacts. I now own the Microtek Artixscan 120TF and the results are quite good.

I have mostly sworn off any high-quality printing. It's just too frustrating! I was using an Epson Stylus Photo R1800. The print quality can be amazing but I have found it to overall be a pain in the butt. Mainly, it is finicky with media and the driver software is just terrible. It always defaults to the most ink-using settings, and continues to think that it should use roll paper, even though I have NEVER used roll paper. I could go on... but the bottom line is that I have recently gotten rid of this printer. Now, I have a humble HP for plain paper and CD/DVD printing, and that's it.

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2002, 2003 Karl Winkler