How to find a quality film scanner

While most photographers (at least, avid amateurs) have made the jump to digital photography these days, many of us still have boxes of film negatives lying around. And with older formats, having them scanned and printed at photo shops can be quite expensive, especially if you have a lot of photos you want scanned.

While most photographers (at least, avid amateurs) have made the jump to digital photography these days, many of us still have boxes of film negatives lying around. And with older formats, having them scanned and printed at photo shops can be quite expensive, especially if you have a lot of photos you want scanned. If you're scanning several dozens or more for a project, you might want to consider getting a film scanner for your home office. Today's question is related to just that:

I am currently doing a documentary of all 85+ years of my Grandad's history. He has brownie film from way back when, and I need a reasonable way of scanning them.

I have looked at a few flatbed usb scanners and was wondering if these that handle that type of film would work. I would rather go this route than paying the only local studio that does this at $2 per negative. Especially as these are non replaceable.

Many Thanks, Joseph

To see my response,

First off, Brownie (medium-format film) cameras typically used 127 or 620 film. There aren't as many scanners for these rarer types in comparison with standard 35-mm film. Here are three scanners with promise, of which the first two can handle medium-format negatives:

1. Epson Perfection V500 The Epson Perfection V500 has been reviewed to take high-quality scans at 6400 dpi and 24 bit color, and its very versatile as it can scan prints, slides, transparencies and negatives. It can also scan a variety of format sizes including four slides, two 6-frame strips of 35mm film, or one frame of medium-format film (6-by-12-centimeter, 2.25-inch, or 120/220) in one sitting. This flatbed scanner also features Digital ICE, a hardware-based feature that can find and digitally remove dust and scratches from while scanning film. Beware that this USB scanner only compatible with Windows-operated computers. (Lowest price: $134.10)

2. Epson Perfection V700: If you have more money to spend and want a more powerful scanner, check out the Epson upgrade: the Perfection V700. CNET has reviewed this model as an "excellent choice for a deep-pocketed photo hobbyist or a pro who needs to scan originals in a mixture of sizes." It can scan much more at one time, with including a bracket for 12 slides, another for four six-frame film strips, another for two 4x5 transparencies, and finally one for eight medium-format frames. Also featuring Digital ICE, the V700's scan speed ranges from 300 to 600 dpi, depending if its color or B&W. Plus, it can be connected to either your PC or Mac via USB. (Lowest price: $373.50)

3. Canon CanoScan 8800F: Although this one can't handle medium-format film, I'm including it anyway for those of you interested in scanning both 35mm film strips and prints. The Canon CanoScan 8800F is a simple, well-priced scanner compatible with both Mac and Windows users. It's also a good deal if you're focused more on prints than film, but would still like the ability to scan both. For prints, it can scan a maximum resolution of 4800x9600 at 48-bit color. As for film, it can scan a maximum of four 35mm slides or two six-frame strips of 35mm film at one time. (Lowest price: $162.99)

Do you know of any other scanners that would work with brownie film? Have you used film scanners before, for other sizes, including 35mm? How have they worked for you,