Why so few dedicated film scanners?
Old 09-26-2018   #1
Takkun
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Why so few dedicated film scanners?

Between seeing the Ektachrome announcement and searching out some parts to keep my Coolscan alive, I got wondering that, with all the resurgent interest in film, why aren't there more mid-range options for scanning? Are most going the develop+scan route from labs?

I've used the V700 and Plusteks, and owned a DiMAGE and Coolscan. Never really got a hang of the workflow or satisfactory results from the former two. The two i've owned were 35mm only, but more than made up for it with automation.

I know I'm daydreaming, but I'd love to have another batch-scanning option that wasn't a flatbed these days.
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Old 09-26-2018   #2
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@Takkun I highly recommend sending your Coolscan to this eBay seller: nikon_coolscan

He does cleaning, refurb, and has parts. He's a great guy, quite quick turnaround, and ships back at reasonable cost. He's in Maryland.
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Old 09-26-2018   #3
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I have an Epson 700 for 'contact sheets.'. And then I use a digital camera to photograph the negative, stitch, and process if I need grain-level detail. Simple enough and I don't have to live in fear of a $1000 plus machine breaking down and not be fixable.
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Old 09-26-2018   #4
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Good question. Besides Plustek there's just Noritsu and Pacific Image. I've wondered why the quality flatbeds (Cézanne) and Pakon's never even survived their original manufacturer/company. The demand seems stable, and global, albeit low. There are more than enough companies around with all the required skills, manufacturing and a global sales channel to warrant a few more scanners on the market (Canon, Ricoh, Kyocera, Brother, Seiko/Epson, ...). My guess is that all these companies assumed fifteen years ago that it would be highly unlikely that anyone would be asking this very question in 2018.

And there's the perennial "I want all slides/negatives from my parents' collection scanned" question. What if that would actually be feasible, instead of "have you got any idea how much time that will take?".

I treasure my nearly twenty year old Dimage; I might even try the recent Plustek 120, since I don't have a digital camera capable enough for doing justice to 120 film. My local labs only have poor flatbed scans or worse. My guess is that all their somewhat serious clients immediately buy their own flatbed or something better.
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Old 09-26-2018   #5
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Originally Posted by jeroenp View Post
I've wondered why the quality flatbeds (Cézanne) and Pakon's never even survived their original manufacturer/company.
I have two Cezannes. For one they were extremely expensive new. I believe in the realm of "cost of a new car" kind of expensive. I think new, high-end flatbeds would be phenomenal at the 3-6k price-point but at the old prices charged to high-end pre-press houses, no one could afford them.
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Old 09-26-2018   #6
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First, I see no reason to have more scanner brands if here is two major and one so-so already on the consumer market.
Second, many scan with digital cameras.
Third, if you need it special here is Hassie
Market is saturated .
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Old 09-26-2018   #7
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Originally Posted by jeroenp View Post
I might even try the recent Plustek 120, since I don't have a digital camera capable enough for doing justice to 120 film.

I am using an Olympus E-P5, 16 mp. I shot at about 1:2, do a series of shots, and stitch in Photoshop. Photoshop has a simple setting for stitching- no attempt to correct for lens error, nodal points, etc. 'Reposition.'
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Old 09-26-2018   #8
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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
First, I see no reason to have more scanner brands if here is two major and one so-so already on the consumer market.
Amazing logic, didn't know that more than 2 brands in a specific market are a bad thing for the consumer Not to forget that there's only one 'new' scanner on the markrt which scans a whole roll at once, but sadly, extremely slow and unreliable, I had 2 of them, both send back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Second, many scan with digital cameras
Many don't have a digital camera, besides, also kind of slow process and not suitable if you shoot a lot of film.

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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Third, if you need it special here is Hassie
Good joke

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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Market is saturated .
No, its not, or why do you think people are paying over 1K for old Pakons despite all the software hassle and only 2400 dpi, if you can get a working one (nearly impossible in Europe for example)?

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Old 09-26-2018   #9
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ColSebastianMoran—Thanks for the link! I don't think/hope there's anything physically wrong with the scanner but I'll keep in mind. It kept disappearing from my device list and I think the 99¢ FW600/800 adapter from Goodwill was the cause. A trip to Frys to get a new one and we'll see tonight what's up.

jeroenp—it's an interesting market that doesn't seem to be keeping up with the current trends in film. From perusing here and visiting my local camera shop, it certainly looks like more and more are shooting film but not necessarily wet printing at home, so one would think there's more of a market for film scanning.
Nikon long got out of their non camera/medical optical/outdoors industries (I recall seeing a Nikon Hi8 camcorder at Goodwill years ago), KonicaMinolta is effectively dead, and Canon's sticking to document and low-end general purpose scanners. Other than the Nikon F6, none (or the Sony successor) are doing anything with film, so it's probably not in their best interest for core business. With the decline of casual film photography and the minilab market, it seems like Noritsu could make something out of a desktop-sized scanner.

My guess is that the same people who have hundreds of Grandma's slides that need digitizing also have a lot of silver prints and the like, hence the focus on flatbed/transparency combos, and the high end goes the Imacon/Hasselblad route. (I'm finding myself quickly in the former camp, with my parents discovering their parents, and their own, 6x6 slides and wet prints and asking me for help going through them)

Still, that leaves out the middle of the road. I know it's anecdotal but I think I speak for a lot of photographers when I say I shoot a lot of film, develop at home but don't have adequate wet printing facilities, nor do I have the desk space for a flatbed nor time/patience for a DSLR copying rig with the volume I shoot. I love having a bulk setup for the Coolscan and getting thumbnails of a whole roll before going back to scan my picks at high resolution, or just keeping favorite snapshots.

Flatbeds, at least in stock form, aren't ideal in sharpness and resolution, and drum scanners are beautiful but a hassle and cost beyond my budget. There's a handful of low-res (ie, the Kodak models) and smartphone scanners, but these definitely cater to the aforementioned 'grandma's slides' and Lomography crowd than serious film enthusiasts.

There's a relatively inexpensive 8mm telecine by a brand called Wolverine—maybe bulk film scanners are not entirely dead?

Maybe I'd be more convinced if someone made a copying jig with a controllable backlight and automated transport—but then I'd need to buy another new digital body.
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Old 09-26-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mod2001 View Post
No, its not, or why do you think people are paying over 1K for old Pakons despite all the software hassle and only 2400 dpi, if you can get a working one (nearly impossible in Europe for example)?

Juergen
Because there're not enough people paying over 1K for old Pakons for any potential manufacturer to make the commitment. It's always that simple.
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Old 09-26-2018   #11
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Because there're not enough people paying over 1K for old Pakons for any potential manufacturer to make the commitment. It's always that simple.
That's what it really likely comes down to. We're all buying old Pakons, Coolscans, and the like and keeping them alive and running, much the same with 35mm cameras, if Nikon and Leica are really the only two still selling new film setups.

I've been debating selling my DiMAGE 5400 that's sitting in storage, but I think I'll sit on it for a while...
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Old 09-27-2018   #12
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Amazing logic, didn't know that more than 2 brands in a specific market are ...

why do you think people are paying over 1K for old Pakons despite all the software hassle and only 2400 dpi, if you can get a working one (nearly impossible in Europe for example)?

Juergen
It is as much as it could sustain. You can't have many manufacturers for tiny market.
Many have digital cameras, only few have and using film.

Why Pakon? Just because. For just because on same market some are scanning with digital M and old Leica copy stand.
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Old 09-27-2018   #13
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I would kill for an updated pakon for under $1.5k usd. I make do with a chintzy little plustek 8100 but it's so bloody finnicky and getting colors right on negative film is such an eternal struggle.
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Old 09-27-2018   #14
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because we are not as many as we think (film shooters) and also because once you have a scanner you will probably wont change it as often as the rest of your gear.
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Old 09-27-2018   #15
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There are so few dedicated film scanners on the market today because there isn't enough consumer market audience to make manufacturing and selling them profitable any longer. The good ones still available are targeted at much higher end, commercial uses, and are generally out of reach of consumer spending budgets.
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Thanks for the info!
Old 09-27-2018   #16
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Talking Thanks for the info!

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Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
@Takkun I highly recommend sending your Coolscan to this eBay seller: nikon_coolscan

He does cleaning, refurb, and has parts. He's a great guy, quite quick turnaround, and ships back at reasonable cost. He's in Maryland.
Thanks for this info! As I look into the possibility of going back to film, my one concern was my Nikon 5000 scanner and getting it repaired. Cleaning I have done but if something fails electronically, I would be out of luck. Got nikon_coolscan bookmarked in my eBay sellers now for future reference!
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Old 09-27-2018   #17
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There are so few dedicated film scanners on the market today because there isn't enough consumer market audience to make manufacturing and selling them profitable any longer. The good ones still available are targeted at much higher end, commercial uses, and are generally out of reach of consumer spending budgets.
That is my theory, as well. Dedicated film scanners aren't flying off the supplier's shelves in record numbers.

Face it, film scanning and post processing are not very consumer friendly.

Also, to build a new film scanner with the optical quality and life expectancy of the old Nikon 5000 would place it at a price level well over $1K in USD. I wonder how many Plustek OpticFilm 120 film scanners are sold each year.
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Old 09-27-2018   #18
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When discussing film scanners it is important to not think of "black box wizardry" and break things down into the hardware with its very limited but fixed functions and the software functions which can be upgraded in many cases.

The scanner hardware performs only the basic functions of positioning the film, shining a non variable light source through it, and reading the R, G, B, and black values on a sensor, then transmitting that unprocessed pixel data back to the CPU. The quality of this resolution and dynamic range data is dependent only on the mechanical precision of positioning the film and the quality of the optics and electronic components. These and the surface area scanned are the cost factors. There have been no major technological breakthroughs in the modern era.

Software in the CPU takes that unprocessed stream of X's and O's from the scanner that represent those R, G, B, and black values from the sensor pixels and convert it into a usable file. This software can be from Nikon, Epson, Pakon, Plustek, Imacon. Additionally, 3rd party software such as Vuescan or Silverfast can be substituted totally for scanners using a USB interface from the scanner to the CPU.

This scanner software, typically replaceable, is what makes your output a negative or positive, if it is greyscale or a color file, sets all those various color values, determines if it is a JPEG, TIF or other file type, what size it is, and a multitude of other variables.

Always keep in mind that what comes out of the scanner software is not your finished product, just a file capturing the maximum amount of detail that can later be made into your actual final output in an image processing program such as Lightroom or Photoshop. Assign no significance to how the image coming from the scanner looks. It is not your final output. In fact, most of us find a dull flat looking scanner file produces the best looking final output.

So if you think the output from your scanner could be better, try a replacement for the scanner software to see if that does the trick. Vuescan has a free trial version that works exactly like the paid version.
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Old 09-27-2018   #19
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Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
@Takkun I highly recommend sending your Coolscan to this eBay seller: nikon_coolscan

He does cleaning, refurb, and has parts. He's a great guy, quite quick turnaround, and ships back at reasonable cost. He's in Maryland.
Thanks for that info. I have a 5000 I need cleaned. It works great but definitely needs a tune-up.
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Old 09-27-2018   #20
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I have an Epson 700 for 'contact sheets.'. And then I use a digital camera to photograph the negative, stitch, and process if I need grain-level detail. Simple enough and I don't have to live in fear of a $1000 plus machine breaking down and not be fixable.
Which lens do you use, Dan?
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Old 09-27-2018   #21
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The Pakon is pretty interesting for pretty good scans in volume. I'm using it to scan boxes and boxes of old films.

For really precious images, I'll use something different.
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Old 09-28-2018   #22
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Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
The Pakon is pretty interesting for pretty good scans in volume. I'm using it to scan boxes and boxes of old films.

For really precious images, I'll use something different.
That's what I love about the Coolscan, though I want to get a bulk mounted-slide feeder, but theyre more than I paid for the scanner itself these days. My grandfather was a prolific and accomplished photographer and my mother has a literal footlocker full of his work, though a good number are mounted 6x6 slides.

And then there's my own (admittedly crappy, but nostalgically interesting) stuff from high school and college, much of which I left in uncut rolls. Yesterday, with the SA-30 I developed and scanned 15 rolls; scanning one while developing others.

I suppose that's why I'm perplexed; Kodak and ADOX are sinking money into new film lines and production plants and what we average joes (ie, those who don't have the cash for an Imacon) have are flatbeds with clunky batch film holders. As bob described, the basic function isn't particularly complex. But on the other hand, it's also plausible that with good and affordable lab scans now available and the format versatility of flatbeds, the market is a bit diluted.


As an update to my original post: A new FW400-to-800 cable, connected through my external drive, did the trick and all is well in the world.
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Old 09-28-2018   #23
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I just checked in the app store and found quite a number of apps available to download and scan film with a device.

Could it be that not many scanners are available as the demand for the hardware is low?
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Old 09-28-2018   #24
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https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/film...m/id1215777349
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Old 09-28-2018   #25
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If you go to B&H, there are any number of 35mm film scanners for not much money that will give you significantly better resolution than flatbed scanners. If you are waiting for a Nikon Coolscan for $99, it ain't going to happen.
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Old 09-28-2018   #26
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Got the email from them. Fantastic tool to preview images.
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Old 09-28-2018   #27
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I use my old 5000 ED Nikon, so far it's ok specially for B&W.
I'm only afraid one day it will stop to work and none where I live can repair it.
The link provided in onde of the first post could be useful but ship a scanner from Europe to USA and back doesn't seem an option because of cost, fragility and probably custom problems...

Now about no or very few new scanners on the market I'm afraid the answer is in the numbers...not enough request to justify the R&D, engineering, developing ...cost.
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Old 09-28-2018   #28
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You would really think that Kodak would be all over this...

For film to survive in the digital era you need to be able to get it into a computer and then onto the net.

Kodak should design a direct replacement for the discontinued Nikon 5000/9000ED and price them similarly. Maybe even something like the Pakon 135+, which was a Kodak product to begin with. They would sell like hot cakes.

Right now it's Plustek or flatbed scanners that are not as good as the old Nikon scanners or a Hasselblad the costs as much as a new car.
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Old 09-28-2018   #29
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You would really think that Kodak would be all over this...

For film to survive in the digital era you need to be able to get it into a computer and then onto the net.
I was thinking FujiFilm - but the film part of their brand name is on the decline.
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Old 09-28-2018   #30
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because we are not as many as we think (film shooters) and also because once you have a scanner you will probably wont change it as often as the rest of your gear.
Plus one on that. I bought my plustek about 3 years ago and havent update it.

As for medium format scanner, there is a lot less demand for them to warrant the development/design investment.

Sad, but this is what it is.

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Old 09-28-2018   #31
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................ and also because once you have a scanner you will probably wont change it as often as the rest of your gear.

I have been using my Minolta Multi Pro about 15 years now. But then I am still using the same MF camera (Mamiya 7) I used back then although I did switch from my ContaxG 35mm camera to a Zeiss Ikon.
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Old 09-28-2018   #32
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Now about no or very few new scanners on the market I'm afraid the answer is in the numbers...not enough request to justify the R&D, engineering, developing ...cost.
Very similar to film cameras, so many quality units available on the used market for low prices that they have decimated the market for newly manufactured units.

I just took a quick peek on E-Bay at Nikon film scanners. With the price they seem to be going for, who would consider buying new?
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Old 09-28-2018   #33
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Iphone camera is never good enough for a good scan I am afraid. For preview or quick sharing Facebook it would be okay.


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Old 09-29-2018   #34
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Got the email from them. Fantastic tool to preview images.
I totally agree. FilmLab 1.0 isn't a substitute for a scanner--and isn't meant to be. But I did some playing with it last night, and I think it will be wonderful to use as a 'digital loupe.' I could also imagine using it to quickly share images on Facebook (if I were interested in using Facebook), but mainly I see this as a useful tool in the darkroom. Well worth the $6. I hope future versions add a slider to adjust contrast. By adjusting the exposure, I can see that even my old iPhone 5 is doing a good job of picking up details in the highlights and the shadows, but the default contrast setting seems a little too high to me.
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Old 09-30-2018   #35
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...I got wondering that, with all the resurgent interest in film, why aren't there more mid-range options for scanning?
...
There is a global resurgence but it is dominated by INSTAX film.

Negative and transparency scanning remains a niche market.

Using a dedicated DSLR with a macro-lens is a viable alternative to traditional scanners.

If people thought they could make money by entering the mid-ramge market, they would.
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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 09-30-2018   #36
Dan Daniel
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Originally Posted by stevierose View Post
Which lens do you use, Dan?

I am using the Olympus 60mm macro lens on the E-P5. Nice lens, sharp, haven't noticed any distortion leading to strange overlaps as the software tries to correct, etc.


The biggest problem I have in using a camera for scanning is getting the camera mounted at a true parallel position. But once that is set, it's pretty simple. Boring but simple, pretty standard for scanning all in all.


I had access to a Flextight a few years ago, and the camera scanning matches it. And with the $15,000 I saved I can buy a lot of film....
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Old 09-30-2018   #37
willie_901
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Originally Posted by Solinar View Post
I was thinking FujiFilm - but the film part of their brand name is on the decline.
No, it is not on the decline.

This is from FUJIFILM Holding's most recent quarterly financial report.

"In the photo imaging business, sales were strong, particularly in Europe and the U.S., for instant photo systems such as the instax series and instax films. The sales volume of the instax series totaled 7.7 million units, exceeding the previous target of 7.5 million units. The newly released instax SHARE SP-3, a smartphone printer that employs a square format, offers a new photo printing method that will boost demand among smartphone users. Wall Decor, Photobook and other value-added printing businesses also enjoyed solid sales."

Of course very few people who buy INSTAX film are interested in scanning their prints. If they want digital images they use their smart phones.
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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 09-30-2018   #38
willie_901
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Originally Posted by kiemchacsu View Post
Iphone camera is never good enough for a good scan I am afraid. ...
Why not?

When lots of light is present the disadvantages of a small sensor area are minimized.

There are several Apps that will produce raw files or flat TIFFs from iPhone cameras. Surely even a 3:2 format crop from a 4:3 format 3024 x 4032 pixel raw file is sufficient for 135 format film media.

When lots of light is present the disadvantages of a small sensor area are minimized.
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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
Garry Winogrand
williamchuttonjr.com
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Old 09-30-2018   #39
mod2001
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Originally Posted by Dan Daniel View Post
I had access to a Flextight a few years ago, and the camera scanning matches it. And with the $15,000 I saved I can buy a lot of film....
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Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
Why not?
When lots of light is present the disadvantages of a small sensor area are minimized.
.
This thread gets ridiculous

And just to remember, the TO misses a batch scanning solution, means the whole roll at best, and there's currently nothing new on the market which is usable.

Juergen
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Old 09-30-2018   #40
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Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Got the email from them. Fantastic tool to preview images.
Best way to make digital contacts!

I've been following Abe since he started this project!
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