Sunday, June 5, 2011

Canon Canoscan 9000F

Once I found out that there was such a thing within my price range, I decided that I wanted a film scanner to back up - and restore if possible - my large collection of photographs.

I am no photography buff and know little about it, but I do know that I have thousands of photos that I have taken over the years and I wanted to digitize them (at least the best of them), and save them on discs. My plan is to hopefully lighten up some of the too dark photographs. So many were too dark when printed, whether it was my point and shoot Fuji 35mm cameras fault, poor lighting or the film developers fault I am not sure. I also want to retrieve the full photo image, many of them I KNOW were cut off when printed because at the time I knew I had the subject framed just so then when the photos came back, they were cut off.

Once I have the photos digitized, I can easily make digital scrapbook albums with them. I have always wanted to scrapbook certain photos but have never gotten around to it. The time, the cost, dragging out all of the supplies, so on......I just never really got into it despite the desire to. With the fantastic new digital scrapbooking options available today, I hope to finally get some scrapbooking done. Even if they stay digital pages on a disc and never get printed, at least I will have them done with the memories journaled on certain photos, hoping that one day my children will appreciate them. I plan on making four  copies of all of the digitized photos: one copy to give to each kid when they move away from home, one for myself to keep in the safe along with the negatives and a set for my parents, too!

Yes, this is going to be quite the project. My plan is to get two rolls a day done. While the machine is taking its time scanning, I can work on another project, housework, read the newspaper, etc. 

I did some research on scanners and had two picked out: the Canon Canoscan 9000F and the Epson Perfection V600. I couldn't decide between the two, both had good and not so good reviews, both were priced similarly, both could be difficult to come by (back ordered or overpriced if in stock at certain places at the time I was looking to buy one). In the end, I decided to go with the Canon.

Of course once I had it ordered and was waiting for it to arrive I found a different, better review comparing the two units I was looking into. Just my luck !!! And it was a video review ! Why couldn't I have found that review before ?! Oh well, didn't matter at that point because I already ordered the Canoscan and wasn't going to pay to return it. By the way, there was nowhere local to buy one of these units from in person, which would have been my preference. Even the specialty camera store didn't carry them; they only had the cheaper film only scanner that could do a single frame at at time, NOT what I wanted.

So I finally hooked it up and tried it out yesterday. It took 12 minutes to scan 4 negative frames with the auto fix feature on and I still had to go back in to remove "dust", etc. I only tried it once before writing this and I used the included software MP Navigator. There is a ScanGear program/ scanner driver program that comes with it, but I couldn't find it, there was no shortcut / link to it. I was impatient and wanted to try it right now ! I may also try using Photoshop Elements 9 to see if it is any better (PSE8 was included with the machine, but I already own PSE9). 

There is a program called VueScan I came across, but I haven't made the decision to spend that money yet.  Then again, what I have is probably just fine for the scanning of average photos. It isn't like I am a professional photographer with years of high quality slides and negatives that need archived !

By the way, yes, there are cheaper, easier, smaller dedicated film scanners, but I wanted a larger flatbed scanner that was more versatile and I hoped created better quality scanned images. 

All in all, for having only used it once so far, I can't really complain. As with anything, there is going to be a learning curve. My plan is to scan in all of the negatives I want as is (there are likely hundreds that I won't waste my time on) then save them. Once (or should I say IF?) I start scrapbooking the photos, I will take the time to clean them up. I am hoping that I find the perfect setting that will create great scans with minimal work on the scanned images, but I am afraid it will change with each strip of negatives. 

So enough of the chatter, here is a sample of one of the first images I scanned:

This is the original printed photograph as received from the film developer. It was shot with a Fuji point and shoot 35mm camera. I photographed it with my digital Fuji camera to post here. It is kind of dark, gray. Yes, it was a cloudy day when it was taken and the reflection in the window tells me that the flash fired on my camera when the photo was taken. 

This is the scanned image, scanned by pushing the Auto Scan button on the front of the unit. It scanned it fairly quickly and made adjustments as it saw fit. There is no control over changing any of the scan settings by pushing the Auto Scan button. 

The file size was 511KB. There is a bright "string" on the left jacket cuff as well as several bright polka dots throughout the photo. I assume caused by specks of dust on the negative although I blew them off before scanning. 

This is the image of the scanned negative, scanned at 4800 DPI,  Auto Fix and Unsharp Mask on in the MP Navigator Software. The Canon has the capability to scan negatives and slides up to 9600DPI, photographs at 4800DPI. It is a 4.52MB file. Probably not necessary to scan so high, unless I was planning on printing out a poster size image. 

Much brighter, same little spots on it that will need to be removed. I don't care for the skin tone color, at least the way things are looking on my Samsung monitor.  Depending on how much time I want to put into this project, there are surely ways to do more editing in the Photoshop Elements program, too. Something else I need to learn more about !

There are some black lines along the edges of a few, caused by the plastic frame that holds the negative in place. Those can be cropped out.

Here is one more sample, the Auto Scan button image of the negative above looks very similar to the printed photograph, kind of dark.

This is the scanned negative with the Auto Fix, Unsharp Mask options on in MP Navigator. Still some bright spots to remove, but once again, the colors are brighter. Now I am sure in some cases as I go through my negatives I am not going to like the Auto Fix colors, they won't look right to me where other times it will look fantastic in my eyes on this monitor. The next test will be to see how they print out.

Now to take the time to find the ScanGear driver software that has the FARE (Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement) feature in it. It came with the machine on the driver disc, but I did't see a shortcut to it right away - and I wanted to try the scanner right now ! This is supposed to be a better editing program, it even has an advanced tab to adjust different settings as well as the automatic dust removal feature. Time to dig out my owners manual to find out how to open that program, give it a try !

Thanks for reading =) 

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