My Review Of The Canoscan 9000F-Part 2  

Posted by The Simple Layman

After the scanner arrived and I unpacked it the first thing I noticed was it's bulky size. While not any bulkier than some standard flatbed scanner, it was still bulkier than our smaller Canon Lide60 that sat on my wife's desk and had become the workhorse for our family. The bulkiness did not take long to get used to and it now sits next to my computer as my newest friend.

My intitial concern was having to put Microsoft Windows back onto my computer to make the program work. The scanner comes with Canon's own scan program, Archsoft photo, and Adobe 8 photo elements. None of these programs are compatible with linux. I had opted out of using windows several years ago choosing the benefits of open source computer software over the expensive windows software and applications you had to purchase over and over with each newer operating system microsoft produced. While I am currently working on finding the necessary open source software to support it, it does run fairly functional on my Virtual box windows XP Installation which I only use for some older programs that aren't supported anymore. I haven't bought any new windows software for about 5 or 6 years now.

The scanner comes with three film holders; one for negatives, one for slides, and one for 120 format. At this point of time I do not want to go into the software and how to work it. I found the software fairly intuitive and experimentation is the only way anyone can achieve the results they desire personally. Canon does not list a D-max value for the printer but I found it capable, at least for me, where shadow detail is concerned. It was even able to pick up or differenciate between the iris on an eye in a scan of a picture I took years ago of my mother. This was not visible even with dodging techniques when I printed it on photo paper.

Scan of my mom taken from the Kodak Tri-X film negative.  Just "right-click" on the images to open a new window, then click on the image to see a fullsize image.

Below is a crop section showing the eye.

The scanner can scan up to a 9000 dpi, although as I understand it, acutal mechanical resolution is only available up to 4800 dpi and the rest is done through some kind of software doubling effect. I couldn't go into it more because I wasn't really interested. The higher quality Nikon and Minolta scanners only got aroung the 4000 resolution as I recall so that was enough for me. Dpi is only one judge of resolution. The actual sharpness of the lense is more important to me and I don't remember any statistics for this. The best way to judge it is subjective at best. I figured that since Nikon and Minolta both made cameras with sharp lenses, the Canon would do well too since it was a camera manufacturer. In my opinion, this is true of the Canonscan 9000F. It's lense is within the range of sharpness I expected and it is probably the best film scanner available within the price range which most people can afford.

The fact that most people aren't that quality concious with photography and simple 4 x6 prints are what most people want, high tech film photography will be left strictly to professionals who can afford it. Expensive film scans will eventually be the only way to go for those who cling to the format. This may be the last chance to get a decent scanner that can do all of your film before the film industry totally dies off in the wake of digital. There is increasingly less interest for film, and partly with good reason. Look at all the advantages for both the industry and the person.

  • Better detail in images
  • No dust
  • More pictures “turn out” and those that don't you just delete.
  • No waiting to see your pictures. Just view them at the store kiosk, on your computer, online, or in a photo frame.
  • No negatives to store. Store hundreds on cd or thousands on dvd and blu-ray discs.
  • No need to take them to store for printing at all if you keep a quality printer and don't mind the higher cost of printing yourself
  • Send them for printing over the internet from where ever you are. No need to drive to the store twice.
  • Reduced cost for the printing industry. No need to keep a film developing machine or film scanner. Now you can make money just printing the photos.
  • Don't have to worry about keeping film chemistry fresh of risk ruining someones negatives.

    Let's face it, even the cheapest digital camera pictures look better that the old 110, 127, and 35mm prints from the cheap consumer camera of the past.

Below is a picture of the film/slide mounts. The 120 mount has a plastic piece that slide under the negative and helps hold it up to prevent buckling of the film. They seem to be sturdy enough. My concern is whether they will hold up without breaking. Time will tell. They seem to hold the negative flat enough except for the 35 mm strip. If you are using a 4 frame negative, (which is the way most photo stores cut them), then the one loose end will curl at the end. To prevent this, turn the negative around and scan the one frame separately. I would think this would be a problem for most film scanners.

One of the considerations is that flatbed scanners generally have more of a dust problem because they are open instead of feeding the negative through soft brushes that remove some dust when the negative enters the dedicated film type scanner. You will need to be more dust diligent. There is a program called “fare” that does a decent job of removing dust. This program, as other type of programs, usually cause some loss of sharpness. Also, they cannot remove all dust and will not remove the worst cases. Whether or not you choose to use these type of programs, you will still need to prevent as much dust to begin with.

Overall, I found the Canoscan 9000F to be just what I needed. For a guy who couldn't afford the more expensive dedicated film scanners on the market that would perhaps later just sit in a closet collecting dust, this scanner meets all of my needs.  After all, who knows if film even be around in ten years?  If my film cameras break will I even be able to get parts or have them fixed?  Will I want to?  This scanner makes great regular scans too so I will have it for that if it holds up.

Just a couple of notes.  First, if the film is placed in the holders correctly, then the scan will be reversed of the way the picture will look.  In other words, you will have to "flip" the photo over for it to look correct.  Otherwise, the picture will be backwards and any words in the photo, (signs, printed material, etc.), will read backwards.  The proper way is for the emulsion side to face down.

Second, if you can get used to the advance feature instead of the basic, then you can do a lot of preliminary adjustments to color and dust removal before you actually scan the photo.  This is made possible because the preview feature of the scanner makes a quick pass for previewing all the photos you are scanning.  I do not use the bundled Adobe & Archsoft photo processing programs although they are fine programs.  I have been using Google's picassa & Gimp which are open source programs for years and am used to them and prefer them.

A few more scans from the Canoscan 9000F:

A pic of my wife, (center), and a enlargement of just her from a slide, (sorry, the complete fullsize image shown here is a low quality pic so don't try to get a full size view of it).  I have manually  touched it up.

An unretouched scan from a 120 black & white negative. Not sure what film type; seems to be an off brand. Sorry, the slide and the 120 are not professional shots and I did not take them.

An un-retouched scan from a color polaroid film negative I used to test a camera I repaired.

Coming up.  A comparison of a couple of scans done locally compared to the scans from the Canoscan 9000F.  How will it compare?  Do-no at this time. Got to go cut grass and run some errands.  Let you know when I get back.

My Review Of The Canoscan 9000F-Part 1  

Posted by The Simple Layman

For a long time I have wanted to convert our negatives and slides to a digital format but have been unable to do so because of money constraints and dis-satisfaction of the quality tranfers from local labs. For good quality transfers the cost increases dramatically. Because the cost for even the poor quality transfers I was seeing from local labs was so expensive for the amount of tranfers I needed done I just couldn't justify it. It seemed the only way to get the transfer quality I wanted was to send them to really expensive labs and also risk negatives getting lost or damaged.

Years ago I ran a photo-lab and during this time was able to financially afford photography as a hobby as well as on a semi-professional level. I also accumulated more than the average families share of photos. This, and my art background made me picky about quality. For the most part, even before that time, I developed my own photos leaving the color film development for a good lab. I did all of my black and white developing from start to finish. Digital photography slowly began to creep in and I am glad it has. For those who don't care or unknowingly don't know the differences between living in a digital photo world let me briefly explain. The sometimes hours of physically removing dust and making sure your darkroom is spotless so dust doesn't show on negatives is done away with because in a digital camera there is no dust to accumulate on a negative. Every time a negative is handled it can get dust and scratches that will appear in the photo. Sure, there are contraptions on the market made to aid in dust removal. But as long as you keep your digital camera in reasonably clean condition then dust will never be a problem for digital photography.

Another thing that is better in the digital photography world is having to deal with highlights and shadows. In film photography there is such limitations much time must be spent in the field trying to decide where highlight and shadow detail should be placed on a zone scale and then compensations made in development so the most detail on both ends of the scale are visible in the print. Then hours may be spent burning and dodging areas in the enlargement process to further add this detail in a print.

One of the first things I noticed when buying my first digital camera was the greatly increased background, (in room shots without flash), from that of film photography. The ability of the digital camera to pick up details in darker areas of a room during flash photography was a added side benefit. Well, the sensitivity of ccd imaging in a digital camera was boosted in the first place making it so hand held shots in darker rooms was possible so you didn't even need flash in many instances where you would have needed it in film photography. But with film photography, the background would go immensely dark in comparison to the forground with heavy shadows; something that happens less often with digital. The greatest difference, perhaps, is you have to treat digital more like slide film; shooting for the highlights instead of the shadows in outdoor sunny pictures or pictures where you want to retain highlight detail.

Enough about the photography end of things. Here was my problem in short. I couldn't afford paying someone else to scan all of my negatives and I wasn't happy with the scans I could get. I didn't want to sink 2 to 4000 dollars into a Nikon film scanner to do all of my photos and the cheaper ones didn't have the quality. I tried some dual flatbed film scanners available through photo and office stores but the quality still wasn't there. So what I did was sit on the idea and lived without until I could find one that would do the job. In the mean time, the two best scanners in a semi-affordable range, (Nikon & Minolta), stopped making film scanners all together. The only ones on the market now are way too expensive or just not worth it for me.

While reading about scanners again a few days ago I came across an article about the Canoscan 9000F. It is a flatbed scanner that does both film and regular printing and I thought, “can there be any good flatbed dual mode scanners out there.” Upon reading the article I was impressed by the scans they were showing, and all from a scanner costing less than $200.00 dollars. The scans were within the quality range I was looking for, all because of the adjustable spherical lens developed by Canon. One of the main drawbacks with previous dual purpose scanners was the preset/prefocused lenses used in all the models. I had taken two back because they just couldn't produce sharp images. While this was fine for low quality images on the internet, it wasn't fine for me. Now here was a scanner that answered the call. More on this scanner in my next post.