Comparison: flatbed scan vs. film scan

flatbed photo scans

Below are scans of typical 35mm prints you get at your local "One-Hour Photo" or your drugstore, scanned on a medium-quality color flatbed scanner. The flatbed scanner isn't the biggest problem--it's the poor quality of most machine produced photographic prints, especially high-contrast images such as the second photo (of the green Cobra) below.

film-scanner scans

Below are those same images produced by scanning the film negative itself, on a professional-quality film scanner. The results speak for themselves. Now you can see for yourself why we urge you to send us your negative strips along with your prints!


above: the most serious problems with this photo is 1) it was shot in harsh sunlight (thus harsh glare and even harsher shadows)... and 2) it was shot on the SHADOW side of the car. Remember, color photography is about LIGHT, not shadow.


above: just the same, see how the film scanner was able to capture detail from the negative that was missing entirely from the photographic print that was scanned at left.


above: another car shot in harsh sunlight; flatbed-scanned print.



above: again, the film scanner was able to capture much more detail and better color than the print was able to provide.

above: No problem with the photography here... the problem lies entirely with the photo (print); no matter how good your flatbed scanner is, it cannot recapture or resurrect detail that's missing from the print.

Another typical glitch that occurs on "machine" prints is when part of your subject (the car) gets cut off. You may chastise yourself for having cut the fender off... but if you examine the negative, you'll usually discover that your entire car is there! Once again, the problem lies with the print, not with the negative or with your photographic skills. Because of the way the machines are set to produce prints, the entire film image is never printed, only 90-95% of it at best, often much less.


above: Here's the same image film-scanned from the negative with our Nikon LS-2000 film scanner.

above: this flatbed-scanned image was sent to us saved in "indexed color" and in 'BMP' format.


above: same image, film scanned.

above flatbed scan: Just about everything was done wrong in photographing this dune buggy; worst of all, it was shot in harsh sunlight... on the SHADOW side of the car. Using the flash (and forcing it to flash) would've helped a lot... but rotating the car 180° and shooting the sunlit side would've helped a lot more. The resulting Kodak print didn't provide enough shadow detail for the scanner to be able to capture a decent image.


above film scan: Just the same, look how much more detail a good film scanner was able to retrieve in those shadow areas,  from the film negative. We rest our case.

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