Pakon Scanner
Old 02-16-2009   #1
Tim Gray
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Pakon Scanner

So I made a potentially rash move, but I'll let you know how it goes. I already have a Nikon Coolscan V and like it a lot, but it can be a pain scanning a ton of frames, like if I shoot 8-10 rolls at an event or something. I was thinking of upgrading to 5000, but didn't really want to pay the $1000 upgrade cost for the roll adapter and scanner.

Anyway, I saw a new in box Pakon/Kodak F135 super on ebay for $1k. This thing will do will 400 frames/hour at 2000x3000 with digital ice on. It's the newer (younger?) brother of the f235 that Dante Stella talks about on his site.

The catch is that it is PC only and has basic adjustments only, but any frames that I really want to do a big digital print from I'll just rescan on the V. Or print in the darkroom.

I figure this will pay for itself in about 200 rolls for the scanning prices I pay for C41, and probably even fewer rolls since I'm going to start doing C41 at home (which was costing me $9/roll for dev and medium res scans.

I'm writing this because the seller (no affiliation) has another one listed for the same price. Just search 'pakon scanner' on ebay. Anyway, I'll report back to you guys how it goes, dealing with the seller, etc. I'll be trying to try to run it under bootcamp on my mac, otherwise I'll buy a used dell to run it.
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Old 02-16-2009   #2
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It be interesting to see how that scanner performs, especially how they stack up against the Nikons.

As for the costs, you can probably make a few bucks offering film scanning services around the forums
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Old 02-17-2009   #3
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I will be VERY interested in how the Pakon works out for you. I'm considering getting one because ALL consumer scanners either start out as junk or turn into junk. Hate 'em!
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Old 02-18-2009   #4
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I find it very convenient to scan a full roll with my 5000 ED. I develop the film, put the whole roll in the scanner and start the batch scan. Come back 45 minutes and its done.

BTW, there was a coolscan 4000 on sale in the classifieds which I think has basically the same quality as the 5000, but it a bit slower.
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Old 02-18-2009   #5
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This thing should do about 10-13 rolls an hour. Obviously not at 4000 dpi, but certainly high enough res for small prints up to 8x10, flickr, general sharing, 'contact' sheets, etc.
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Old 02-18-2009   #6
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Planning on opening a processing facility?
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Old 02-21-2009   #7
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Ok, here's the quick rundown. It's FAST.

Software is a bit crude, but you can set it up for some quick defaults. I did a jpg, a tiff, and index/contact sheet print. For example, in the first preset, I had it save jpgs named ROLL#-FRAME and make a 4x6 index print and an 8x10 contact sheet, which are saved as images. Then the other preset was set to save TIFFs. After you scan your roll and make corrections, you go up and hit package 1, and it goes through the first preset for your. Hit 2, and the second one is processed. You can do all kinds of combinations of prints/index sheets, etc., and route them to files or printers.

The software lets you do minor corrections: sharpness, contrast, brightness, and then three color adjustments, cyan/red, magenta/green, and yellow/blue. Doesn't sound like much, but the thing is that the scanner/software automatically does white balance and stuff like that. So the scans are already decent. For example, I scanned a frame that I had taken on old crummy daylight film indoors, and the white balance was already pretty close. If you have preferences about sharpening and contrast, etc., you can set the default settings to be applied to all scans. Any adjustments you make are made immediately as well.

As stated, I also have a Nikon V, which I usually use with Vuescan and Nikonscan (b&w and color respectively). So I scanned the same image in Vuescan, Nikonscan, and with the Pakon. I also tried the raw scanning workflow in Vuescan, and the running the NEF/DNG thing in Nikonscan. So there were like 5 or 6 combinations.

The fastest 'good' image by far was with the Pakon. It was also the flat-out fastest. It takes about 1 minute to warm up, but once it is, you slide the film in, and it munches the whole strip pretty quickly and immediately. I was scanning strips of 4 since that's what I had, but it does 4,5,6 frames and whole rolls. The framing was always on, but if it wasn't, you make one adjustment and it adjust the whole roll at once. It reads framing from the DX coding on the negative. There were no focusing steps, etc., that any user of a Nikon Coolscan is familiar with. The images were pretty spot on immediately and very easy to adjust in the scanning software. The image was a bit higher contrast than from the Nikon scanner, though this might be because I'm not super familiar with the software and I tend to make low contrast scans with the Nikon. Scans directly from the scanner were acceptable with no photoshop needed.

The second fastest image was from Nikon + Vuescan, but I've never gotten along very well with Vuescan and color neg film. No ICE (and I purposefully didn't de-dust this negative) and funky color. I tried RAW scanning and inverting and adjusting gamma in PS, but I didn't really like the results.

NikonScan is slow as crap. I scanned at 2000dpi. However, the framing is always correct and the color for color neg is always pretty good. I got a useable color pretty quickly. I adjusted in Nikon scan, which was slower than in the Pakon software. I also scanned 'flat' and adjusted in Photoshop, which I think is my preferred route with Nikonscan. However, this adds an extra step and extra time. I got the best image by taken the Nikonscan NEF (or TIFF as I discovered later) and opening it up in Camera Raw. I was very quickly able to dial in contrast adjustments that worked for me, adjust the color a little bit, and best of all, all the adjustments are non destructive. I might start using Camera Raw for all my scans, either with TIFF or DNG. Of course, there might be some Photoshop called for AFTER Camera Raw, so that might slow some things down since you are adding more steps.

So in terms of speed:
Pakon
Pakon + photoshop
.
.
.
Nikon + Vuescan + photoshop
Nikon + NikonScan + Camera Raw
Nikon + NikonScan + photoshop

In terms of output:
Nikon + NikonScan + Camera Raw
Nikon + NikonScan + photoshop
Pakon + photoshop
Pakon
.
.
.
Nikon + Vuescan + photoshop --- way down on the list and not even comparable

I want to stress that the Pakon FLIES. Put the film in and images are on your screen. No moving the negative in and out, focusing, acquiring, etc. It also produces usable images (flickr, contact prints, 4x6s) with no photoshop. If you were doing more expensive prints, obviously some photoshop is called for. But the images look good.

The Nikon Scan image looked the best after I ran it through Camera Raw. This combination gave me the best color and the best control over the tonality, and was a little quicker than doing all the tonality adjustments in photoshop. Those of you who tweak the black point, fill light, and highlight recovery sliders in Camera Raw will know what I'm talking about.

So... What's the problem with the Pakon? First, it only does 2000x3000 (and two lower resolutions). Not a huge deal for me or most I would think because you only need to do 4000dpi scans for 20x30 prints or your favorite images. The biggest problem for me is that it only does color neg film. I tried it with B&W and got some funny artifacts, but more importantly, it pukes since there's no DX coding on my film. Ilford film went through, but again, funny artifacts.

So, if you shoot a lot of color film, this baby rocks. Especially if can pair it up with a higher resolution, but slower scanner. Shoot, develop, scan, cut and file, and then go over your 2000x3000 'thumbnails' or automatically made index and contact prints, and scan the big prints at high resolution.
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Great writeup!
Old 02-21-2009   #8
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Great writeup!

Thanks so much Tim...I jumped the gun and bought the next F135 posted on eBay; it arrives tomorrow, so reading your excellent summary has removed a bunch of anxiety.

All I want out of the thing is equivalent quality to what I can get from my local Costco's Noritsu QSS and nothing more. I have 30 years of negatives to scan and very, very few of them will ever need to be printed at all...this sure looks like the best way to get it all done before I die.

Incidentally, I've spent a couple of days trying to equal Costco scans with a Canon 8800F flatbed and I can't do it. Getting equivalent or better colors is easy, but the Canon's scans at ANY resolution are really soft and not nearly as detailed as the same negatives scanned onto one of Costco's $2.99 CDs. If I run a Costco scan made from cheap Fuji Superia 400 through Dfine, it's indistinguishable from noiseless digital.

Can't wait for Monday....thanks again.

PS: Did you have ICE turned off when you tried to scan B&W?

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Old 02-22-2009   #9
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Yes I tried turning off ICE for B&W. The big problem is that the scanner doesn't work with film without DX coding on each frame. The artifacts maybe you could get around, but not the DX coding.

You will certainly get Costco quality out of it. The 2000x3000 TIFFS look good. Grain is well represented but not overblown - looked worse on the Nikon scan.

Incidentally, the negative I was doing the comparison on was a picture of me wearing this bright orange shirt. I was having a devil of a time correcting the color of it (came out as saturated red - don't know if it was the scanner or the old crummy film) without color correcting my face at the same time. This was true on both scanner. I finally settled on using the Hue & Saturation tool in photoshop which worked pretty well by rotating the Hues a little toward blue, making the red more orange. The problem was this affected my skin. The big breakthrough was when I converted to LAB color space first, then did the exact same thing with the Hue tool. The color of the shirt corrected perfectly and my skin tone didn't change at all. Moral of the story - try some of the color correction tools in LAB.
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Old 02-23-2009   #10
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The Pakon is a nice scanner, but its somewhat fragile, So be easy on it. Also don't forget to use a dust cover!
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Old 02-23-2009   #11
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Just ran it some again last night. Did a strip of 6 negatives. The Pakon did it in a hair less than a minute. My Coolscan did it in about 10. The Coolscan negatives did look better after Photoshop - the Pakon tends to be a bit less saturated and blows out highlights a bit more - like a minilab scanner.

This thing is really fast, but I'm not sure I can justify keeping it since I mostly shoot B&W...
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Old 02-23-2009   #12
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Mine sitting in its box, as it has for the past three years and change (since it was made in late 2005), waiting for me to rearrange my worktable. Tomorrow for sure!
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Old 02-23-2009   #13
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That's too bad the scanners cant take a larger variety of films. But I guess they specialize in doing one thing very well.
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Old 03-01-2009   #14
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I've got mine going and I'm more than happy with the scans and the 4-frame strip in 20 seconds speed; this machine is the precise, correct answer to my particular question. I have, however, had an enormous amount of trouble trying to get the scanner and software to work on the AMD Athlon 64x2 I actually want it attached to. It runs fine off a four-year old Sony laptop, but the software crashes as soon as it's started on the AMD.

Nothing is perfect.
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Old 03-13-2009   #15
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Tim - Interesting. The F235 uses DX to check its speed, but it's not a problem to scan non-DX film. My brother and I scanned about 350 rolls of black and white with nary a hiccup. The one film it choked on was on 3-strips of Vericolor from the late 1970s - because that film has index marks that look to the scanner like DX.

That said, you really have to be careful with film that has had paper handling strips glued to that. Obviously, you peel off the strips, but the adhesive goo can dirty up the DX sensor in a way that requires an expensive trip to AES service to fix. I just learned this with my F235 Plus. Ouch ($330).

The PSI software has a "raw" TIFF setting that does not blow out highlights, but the catch is that you then have to process the files back to positives. Vuescan is not bad as a bulk-processing solution.

5:00pm - I am running the PSI software on a Mac Pro quad Xeon desktop running BootCamp (on its own 500gb drive) and XP. Runs pretty well, actually. The only trick is that it seems to take a million steps to install the scanner - install CD, then USB-device-detection install, etc. But once you get it all set up, it works like a charm.
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Old 03-13-2009   #16
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Dante: I found a solution after days of misery...it turns out the problem has nothing to do with PSI; it's a hardware issue. The 2006-era Pakon USB drivers are not compatible with all current USB chipsets, which have changed a lot over the past three years (one engineer I talked to referred to current chips as "USB 2.0 2.0"). The fix is to ignore the Pakon manual's insistence on a motherboard USB port and install a Belkin 5-port expansion card, which is far more robust and backward-compatible than the commodity chipsets used on the majority of motherboards. Works perfectly...I let AES know about this, as I think a huge percentage of current manufacture PCs will exhibit this problem and the chances of updated drivers appearing roughly equals the potential of porcine aviation.

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Old 03-14-2009   #17
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I decided to sell the F135 since I do so much B&W. It definitely doesn't work with it. You can get used F235s on ebay for about the same price, so maybe I'll pick one of those up, or maybe not. It really was a great and fast scanner, but too much money if it doesn't fit your needs right.

Good tip on the USB card though.
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Old 03-19-2009   #18
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I also decided to buy one! Will be here in Austria the next week! :-)

But whoever is interested in this scanner has to be carefull, because there are some scanners on ebay without PSI software CD-ROM!

When it's arrived I will also tell you my expierience with it!

Peter
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Old 03-20-2009   #19
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Let us know how it goes.
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Old 03-24-2009   #20
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Does anyone have access to the PSI Software? I just purchased the F135 off ebay and it didn't come with the CD. Any help or suggestions would be great. Thanks!

David
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Old 03-24-2009   #21
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I've worked with my F135P quite a bit now; with just a bit of tuning I can easily exceed the IQ of my local Costco's Frontier scanning station. Images are overbright and colors tend to be a bit on the dull side with the default settings, but most subjects can be nicely toned and re-saturated in PSI with minimum effort. Brightly colored subjects like flowers Photoshop extremely well, to the point where I can't tell the difference between the Pakon and expensive NCPS Enhanced Scans of the same negatives.

I am totally sold. Unless you need absolute pixel-peeping perfection and have all the time in world to achieve it, this thing is a steal at about $1K.
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Old 03-24-2009   #22
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It is, isn't? Unless you shoot mostly B&W. Haha.

I'm impressed by the color correction in it. It hits colors pretty spot on most of the time with a minimum of tweaking. You can set default adjustments too in the software if you find yourself always adding in saturation/sharpening etc.
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Old 03-24-2009   #23
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C-41 B&W films? :-)
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Old 03-24-2009   #24
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Haha. Well yeah.

I like traditional B&W. Processing at home is easy and I like the look.
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Old 03-24-2009   #25
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I love the IDEA of shooting B&W, but the reality has never worked out for me for some reason. To me, even this brief series of what is left of the Bay Meadows Racetrack seems to benefit from color, although it's really a classic B&W subject: http://*******.com/cqkuty
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Old 03-24-2009   #26
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A lot of times I like color images on screen, but when it comes to prints, I really like B&W prints.
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Old 03-24-2009   #27
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Yeah, I tend to agree. There's NOTHING like a B&W print by someone who really knows what they are doing.

That wouldn't be me. :-)
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Old 03-29-2009   #28
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I installed mine last days:

The software installation doesn't work on another language version than english Windows XP pro... now I have one! ;-)

What version of scanner driver and PSI software do you use?
mine is PSI 2.4 Build 0.3
USB driver 3.15
Scanner serial 4039
-> on PSI classic view -> Help -> About...

@5:00 PM
what kind of problems did you have with the USB controller of the mainboard?


Peter

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Old 04-10-2009   #29
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bedaberger: I couldn't run PSI at all until I installed the Belkin USB card, so you're not having the same problems I did. But if your PC was made after 2006, I'd go ahead and get the Belkin card just to eliminate the possibility of a USB driver incompatibility; it's less than $30. Here it is at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hi-Speed-USB-2...9429120&sr=8-1
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Old 07-15-2009   #30
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Hello,

I am new to this forum and I need help to find SW for my F235.

My computer crashed and all I can find is the original CD and upgrades that I'd downloaded up to V2.1 build 0.4 beta and PSI 3.0.

In order to run PSI 3.0, I have to install the other upgrades.

Can anybody help me with that or point me to any site that has the software as Pakon's ftp site is no longer available.

Thanks.

Charles
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Old 08-08-2009   #31
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Hello,

I recently purchased the F235c with it's original computer 2000 pro and it works well. I just got the PSI 2.4 from Kodak and installed it in a xp computer the software works but when I scan the images are stretched. I ran through all the calibrations nothing failed but still getting stretched scans. I also wanted to know if there is a way to remove the "AA000" that gets added to the neg # when exported.

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 08-08-2009   #32
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My sister is borrowing my setup, so this is from memory, but the AA prefix is fixed through a sub-menu of the save dialogue. You can make that prefix anything you want, including the roll number. That AA thing goes to AB, AC, etc. every time you do a roll so that you don't accidentally save two rolls on top of each other by inputting the same roll# twice.

If your images are stretched, you need to run the tracking test. Generally, it optically reads the DX codes (or sprocket holes) to keep its speed calibrateted. I had issues with short frames and it had to go to AES for cleaning of the DX sensors. Not cheap. Cost me $350. I think the diagnostics were something alone like $150. But I had it back within 10 calendar days.

Dante

Quote:
Originally Posted by ckphoto View Post
Hello,

I recently purchased the F235c with it's original computer 2000 pro and it works well. I just got the PSI 2.4 from Kodak and installed it in a xp computer the software works but when I scan the images are stretched. I ran through all the calibrations nothing failed but still getting stretched scans. I also wanted to know if there is a way to remove the "AA000" that gets added to the neg # when exported.

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 08-08-2009   #33
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Dante thanks for the fast reply, I have done the track test and it passes also when I have the scanner hooked up to the windows 2000 computer I get good scans no stretching. Could have something to do with the usb port?

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 08-08-2009   #34
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I know it has nothing to do with the OS - since I was last running it on a Mac Pro quad core running Windows XP (though without the scanner here I can't boot up PSI).

So maybe you have a bad port? If you read the published requirements for PSI, the port has to be on the motherboard. I don't think that's 100% true, but it may react to some USB controllers better than others.

Dante

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Originally Posted by ckphoto View Post
Dante thanks for the fast reply, I have done the track test and it passes also when I have the scanner hooked up to the windows 2000 computer I get good scans no stretching. Could have something to do with the usb port?

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 08-10-2009   #35
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Hi Chris,

Can you please tell me where you got your PSI 2.4? I have tried Kodak's site without luck and the Pakon FTP site is not working (I guess they were shut down by Kodak).

Thanks.

Charles

Quote:
Originally Posted by ckphoto View Post
Hello,

I recently purchased the F235c with it's original computer 2000 pro and it works well. I just got the PSI 2.4 from Kodak and installed it in a xp computer the software works but when I scan the images are stretched. I ran through all the calibrations nothing failed but still getting stretched scans. I also wanted to know if there is a way to remove the "AA000" that gets added to the neg # when exported.

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 09-10-2009   #36
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I just picked up a F335 on eBay, installed all the drivers and the software and I'm getting hard app crashes on XP SP2 whenever it tries to connect to the scanner (I think). Both in PSI and the testing tool: "Pakon Scanner Interface has encountered a problem and needs to close."

Using ports on the motherboard of a fairly new PC. Wondering if the Belkin card would help, or installing 2000 SP2? or different software?
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Old 09-21-2009   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willcodeforfoo View Post
I just picked up a F335 on eBay, installed all the drivers and the software and I'm getting hard app crashes on XP SP2 whenever it tries to connect to the scanner (I think). Both in PSI and the testing tool: "Pakon Scanner Interface has encountered a problem and needs to close."

Using ports on the motherboard of a fairly new PC. Wondering if the Belkin card would help, or installing 2000 SP2? or different software?
Did you install the english language version of the operating system?
I uses XP SP3 in English, that worked well.

I sell my Pakon F-135 at the moment in ebay! (for Europe)

best regards
Peter
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Pakon ?Digital ICE?
Old 07-17-2013   #38
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Pakon ?Digital ICE?

Does the Pakon 135 definitely have Digital ICE and does it have automatic focusing?
If not, is there a manufacturer or other model that does? I have a V700 Epson scanner. It's fairly good but not in the same class as a dedicated film scanner. Would a Pakon (or similar) be a definite step up from the V700?
Thanks,
Ian
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Old 07-17-2013   #39
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The f-135 does have ICE and it has auto focusing. You need to run calibrations every now and then. It takes a few minutes.

The Pakon f-135 only scans perforated 35mm rolls or strips at least two frames or longer. I don't think it can do 240/APS like the 235 and 335.

It also only goes to 3000x2000. But it does that quickly and well.

The v-750 can scan anything from 8mm to 8x10. It also has higher resolution. It can also scan prints and mounted slides. The Pakon can't do any of those.

The v-750 is slow but flexible, the f-135 is fast but limited.
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Old 07-17-2013   #40
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Reading through the older posts I am confused.

I have a Pakon F-235 and it scans black and white film beautifully. It doesn't require DX coding. I have scanned 30 and 40 year old film without problems. I did have trouble with some 70's Kodak color with the weird edge printing. I scanned it as positives and fixed them in photoshop. I am going to try a magic marker over the weird edges and that should fix it.

So anyone reading this, the Pakon is just as good at b/w as it is for color.
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