I had a couple of days off work, a week or so back, so I had a day out at Montecute House in Somerset. Nice steak pasties!! Of course I took along one of my film cameras, this time loaded with a roll of Portra 160. A good day out was enjoyed!
My film scanner has been getting worse for ages and slowly developing faults, that at first, meant a little more effort in photoshop, then it got to the point of no return, I dumped it! It was old and didn’t owe me anything – especially since starting this blog it’s work load has increased! It was time for a replacement. After a bit of research I purchased a Plustek 8100. Then began the (completely un-necessary) drama.
I am a photographer, my main hobby is photography. I do not have a PHD in computing, nor do I want one! I un-packed the box, I’m one of those people who keeps the box and everything that comes with it, the loft is full of them! I set it up, loaded the driver supplied, and off I didn’t go! After an hour of google etc I determined that my computer is 64 bit, but runs on Windows 32 bit (Why? What’s the point of that?). So I loaded the other driver – nothing. I went to the website and installed that driver, nothing, so I loaded the fourth, the 64 bit from their website, finally the PC could see the scanner. So Just to recap an hour of computing, to deduce that I have a 64bit PC running 32 bit windows, but uses a 64 bit driver! Really??
The software supplied is Silverfast 8, (also 64 bit in case you are wondering!) I tried a “quickscan”, a button located on the front of the scanner and it produced a reasonable image, thumbnail size. Who would want such a small file eludes me but there it is. I entered the software, and tried a full size scan. Terrible, really awful. I tinkered with controls that looked familiar to me from photoshop, but it’s littered with controls, USM, AAC, SRD, SCC, GCC, ACR, and so on. After another hour I had 3 poor scans, and gave it up as a bad job.
Not one to be beaten I did some web research, written by humans who try to use this stuff, first thing was to “re-set” the software. I set a sensible quality, and made a scan, on auto, with the Portra 160 setting.
Much better than the first attempt but as this is Portra 160 on the Portra 160 setting, a little disappointing. I ventured into the GCC (global colour correction!), and set in a correction I thought about right, and made another scan.
Better again and getting there. Too light so I tied the densitometry, and histogram. From what I can see there is no-where near enough range for this and this scan is made on the setting at the darkest possible! No doubt there is further control somewhere in there but I resorted to photoshop at this point.
My point to all of this, is that the ONLY thing this does, is scan film. It can’t be aimed at anyone other than a film user! Why doesn’t it have controls that are understandable? I appreciate that we all have different levels of knowledge, that’s fair enough, I’m not even arguing that it should be made “simple” for a lowest common denominator, or that we shouldn’t want/be prepared to learn something, but while us “film” users all understand aperture, light/dark, colour, even with photoshop most of us would understand “levels”, why the babble? Finally I’ve got a half decent scan, and of course I shall proceed to develop my knowledge. I’m pleased with the scanner so far, the last scan above is OK. I pity anyone who attempts to use one who has less knowledge than me. I came a whiskers away from sending it back as unusable!