I just started climbing the steep learning curve of my new film scanning software.
I was introduced to digital imaging in the mid 90′s when I sent a bunch of transparencies to Prolab in Seattle to have scanned and put onto a photo CD to use on my Mac Si computer. I used a pre Version 3 of Photoshop called Photoshop SE and liked what I was producing right away. I set up a website and uploaded my images. I loved digital imaging from the start but didn’t get into digital capture till much later. When I did, it was with a Nikon Coolpix 990 3.2Mb point-n-shoot that I bought my wife and I would use occasionally for instant gratification when also making film exposures. I eventually bought myself a point-n-shoot digital camera that I could carry in my pocket and upgraded along the way when they would wear out–increasingly better files but still JPG captures.
I would still be using 35mm and large format for recording on film for another decade. I bought a Nikon film scanner to start digitizing my film archive and when each time Nikon upgraded their 35mm scanner, I did too. Then, when Canon produced a camera body that I thought would give the results I was getting from my scans competition (Canon EOS 1Ds Mk II), I jumped to total digital capture. I haven’t made a single film exposure since spring of 2005.
But, when I bought my Canon digital system, I also upgraded film scanners to Nikon’s Super Coolscan LS-5000 ED model. I continued digitizing my film archive but was spending so much time optimizing my new large RAW Canon files that I was finding it difficult finding time to share my computer with my film archive. And then, Nikon quit supporting their scanning software and the next time I upgraded my computer and Operating System, my scanner was left behind… not because it was obsolete – its still the best in it’s class and since Nikon is no longer manufacturing it, its appreciating in value, go think!
I lagged on finding aftermarket scanning software, occasionally doing some research and finding other things that needed my time instead of buying new scanning software. It seems the field is narrowed to two choices one by Vuescan and the other by Lasersoft. I investigated both and found that the Vuescan software was inexpensive and could be used on any scanner. I tried it but wasn’t impressed and so turned to Lasersoft’s Silverfast software. Most reviews I found complained that the software was difficult to use and support and documentation confusing.
I looked at their website to see that, yes, I had to agree that it was confusing and it looked like a steep learning curve. but also looked at all the features and decided it was probably the way to go… Expensive, also and with the time needed to learn the program, I put off buying or even trying a demo. I had an excellent computer system, and excellent scanner and an archive of >70,000 transparencies waiting in the queue to be scanned.
Then, last week, I happened to see a link leading to Lasersoft and decided to look around again… Wow, they upgraded their software for my scanner fairly recently and were offering a free upgrade if the older version was purchased between June and the end of the year… I jumped… and bought the old version at a nice price from B&H and then when it arrived three days later, registered it and upgraded to the new current version and saved a few hundred dollars doing so.
I scanned one image with the old software version and then after installing Silverfast Ai Studio 8, chose a transparency at random from the nearest film file cabinet and scanned it… this is the result. I’m pleased–I have a way to go climbing the learning curve and waiting for them to issue support for my stack loader but in the meantime, I’ll be splitting my computer time between optimizing digital captures and digitizing film…