APML Film Scanner Comparisons

(Nikon LS-1000 Results)

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Chuck Vaughn

Cameron Tully-Smith

John Blakney

Robin Casady

Dave Churchill

Wil Milan

Howard Anderson

NOTE: After these tests were done, I contacted Nikon technical support to ask them about the results I got from my scanner, and their conclusion was that there is something wrong with my scanner. Until I can run some "before" and "after" repair tests, you should consider these to be "worst" case examples! -- Dave

Background Info and General Comments

The APML film scanner comparison effort originated in January 1998 on the Astrophotography Mailing List (APML) on the Internet as a way to compare film (slide and negative) scanners for suitability in scanning astrophotographic images.

As is the case in most aspects of astrophotography, we push the limits of equipment generally designed for a different market. In the case of film scanners it is especially desirable (due to the cost), but also especially difficult to compare products. Few stores stock film scanners, and even fewer will have several brands available for side-by-side comparison.

An additional complication of comparison is that it takes a considerable amount of time to become proficient using even a single scanner. The APML comparison effort therefore tries to include multiple volunteers with the same scanner. Hopefully in this manner, individual skill differences and unit defects will be averaged out. The last message I saw from Chuck Vaughn had the following list of scanners scheduled:

  • 4 - HP PhotoSmart
  • 1 - Minolta QuickScan 35
  • 1 - Microtek Scanmaker 35t Plus
  • 1 - Microtek Scanmaker 35t
  • 1 - Nikon LS-10
  • 2 - Nikon LS-1000
  • 3 - Nikon Coolscan II
  • 1 - Nikon LS-4500AF
  • 1 - Kodak RSF2035 PLUS
  • 1 - Polaroid SprintScan 35ES
  • 1 - Polaroid SprintScan 35 Plus
For myself, I have found participating in the exercise to be very instructive! I certainly learned more than I expected about my scanner (maybe more than I really wanted to know).

In the results below, I have also added in some results using an HP6100C flat-bed scanner which came with a slide adapter. This is not the way to go for serious scanning of film, but a number of people have asked, so I thought I'd show some side-by-side results (black and white USAF target test and M8 astrophoto). The color negatives were not included as the HP scanner does not have the necessary software to scan a color negative and create a positive output image. (For anyone interested in a comparison of a color image, I've scanned an astrophoto slide which is not part of the APML test package.)

Acknowledgements

Chuck Vaughn took the trouble to organize this whole effort and his scanning instructions are included here for reference. The USAF target slide used for resolution comparisons was contributed by Philip Perkins. The Noritsu test film was contributed by Jim Janusz. My personal thanks also to the other participants who are taking the time to run the film through their scanners so that I can see the results!

Test Results
Monochrome Scan Resolution
Color Scan Resolution
Color Reproduction
Monochrome Astrophoto
Color Astrophoto
Nikon LS-1000 Specifications

  • Film type: 35mm color/monochrome, positive/negative
  • Illumination: RGB LEDs
  • Maximum scan density: 2700 dpi
  • Scan color depth: 12-bits/color
  • Output color depth: 8-bits/color
  • Interface: SCSI-2

HP6100C Specifications

  • Film type: 8.5x14" color/monochrome prints, 35mm color/monochrome positive transparencies
  • Illumination: fluorescent
  • Maximum scan density: 600 dpi (optical)
  • Scan color depth: 10-bits/color
  • Output color depth: 8-bits/color
  • Interface: SCSI-2