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Stand Up Or Go To Bed? - part 1 of 1 2 3

by Paul Gallagher Published 01/08/2007

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As a landscape photographer and also as a fine art photographer it would seem logical for me to pursue the most detail from the negatives that I have painstakingly hand processed. I currently use, and am suitably impressed with, the flatbed Epson Perfection V750 PRO and frequently hear of many of my fellow fine art photographer friends swearing by their upstanding Imacon scanners and the wonders they behold.

I have always used flatbed scanners and in recent years they have clearly improved compared to the scanning results in my old files; but is the price tag of the Imacon worth it for what I would use it for, and furthermore, what are the benefits to me working predominantly in monochrome?

As a way of establishing this, one of my most recent negatives processed in the extra fine developer Prescysol EF, was subjected to testing with the good will of Calumet, Paul McMullin and our editor. For this test this 5x4 negative was scanned in McMullin's older Imacon P II, the new Imacon X5 (courtesy of Calumet - not connected with the BMW car!) and finally my own and McNamee's Epson V750 PROs. I was presented with three sets of results: namely a comparison of luminance, the results (complete with histograms) and finally the sharpness. Firstly,

I compared the results of the luminance and levels noting the flat-line scan from the Epson was, as the name suggests, an extremely flat rendering with low contrast and some way from what I would deem as an acceptable result. Secondly, I studied the results of the Imacon scanners with the PII scan being hand-adjusted using curves and the X5 on auto settings. When comparing these it was clear that they were both very similar in tonal rendition and contrast and certainly offered a good starting point from which to work dodging and burning in Photoshop. The results from the Epson, when set to auto exposure, gave similar tonal ranges to the Imacon scanners but with a slight increase in contrast which I found equally satisfying and, if I am to be honest, closer to the staring point I would be seeking as a raw scan prior to subjecting the file to manipulation.

All of these scanners can of course be adjusted using curves before committing to the final scan and all proved that they could obtain enough information and tonal range as the basis for a starting point


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1st Published 01/08/2007
last update 18/07/2022 16:31:48

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Updated 18/07/2022 16:31:48 Last Modified: Monday, 18 July 2022