What resolution would a high street lab scan?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Dave (from the UK), Jul 1, 2006.

  1. My wife took a 35 mm colour print film into a high street lab and asked
    for it to be developed, 3 sets of prints and scanned to CD. I did not
    tell her what resolution I wanted them scanned at, but assumed they
    would use something half reasonable.

    The images have come back scanned at two resolutions - the highest of
    which is 1500 x 1000 pixels. I'm sure most people would agree a 1.5
    Mpixel camera would be poor, and even mobile phones are available with
    more than 1.5 Mpixel.

    Do you think this is acceptable? I am tempted to go back and ask them to
    scan them properly at a usable resolution or refund the money, as I feel
    its a bit of a mickey take to scan at only 1.5 million pixels.

    I'm interest in how common this practice is.
    Dave K MCSE.

    MCSE = Minefield Consultant and Solitaire Expert.

    Please note my email address changes periodically to avoid spam.
    It is always of the form: [email protected] Hitting reply will work
    for a couple of months only. Later set it manually.

    http://witm.sourceforge.net/ (Web based Mathematica front end)
    Dave (from the UK), Jul 1, 2006
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  2. Dave (from the UK)

    Steve Wolfe Guest

    My wife took a 35 mm colour print film into a high street lab and asked
    Most folks who want scans are just going to look at them on a computer,
    and 1500x1000 is as large of a viewable area as they'll have on their
    screen, and if you give it to them any larger, they say "These are too big."
    You have to remember that 99.5% of the population is clueless when it comes
    to digital imagery. If you didn't specify what you wanted, you can't
    complain about what you got.

    On the other hand, if you go back and nicely, politely explain that there
    was a mixup in the communication, they might offer to rescan them for you
    for free.

    Steve Wolfe, Jul 1, 2006
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  3. I doubt it. Quality scans at resolutions significantly higher than 1.5 MP
    are expensive, and the 1.5MP scans are so cheap as to be almost free (the
    automated commercial printers generated them as a side effect of producing a
    4x6 print, as I understand it).

    Even worse, ISO 200 and higher consumer color print film is horrendously bad
    stuff and doesn't support scans much above 1.5MP (look up "grain aliasing"
    and notice that it's the ISO 200 consumer films that have the problem). If
    you want decent scans from 35mm, you need to use quality film, such as
    Reala, Provia 100F, the (relatively new) Fuji ISO 160 professional color
    negative films, or the like.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Jul 1, 2006
  4. Dave (from the UK)

    Pete D Guest

    I tried getting them scanned once, was not happy so bought a reasonable
    scanner to do the job myself, I can now do my old slides as well. The Canon
    8400F I got does the job very nicely.
    Pete D, Jul 2, 2006
  5. Yes, and you'd be well advised to take your shots from a tripod, too....My
    5400 ppi scanner is way too good for most of my color film shots, and even
    for the ones taken from a tripod.....
    William Graham, Jul 2, 2006
  6. Dave (from the UK)

    wsrphoto Guest

    What resolution? What's the size of the files? It's likely they were
    scanned at 300 and 72 dpi so at 1500x1000 you get 5x3.5 inch prints and
    Web-sized images. If you don't specify the resolution or prints size
    you want them scanned, and they're just standard scans and prints,
    they'll likely just use 300 dpi jpegs. Just my experience with labs
    here (US).
    wsrphoto, Jul 2, 2006
  7. Dave (from the UK)

    Wayne Guest

    Kodak Picture CD images (JPG) are 1536x1024 pixels from 35 mm film
    (1536x864 pixels if from APS film). These will print 6x4 inches at 250
    dpi. I dont know about the UK, but these Kodak Picture CD scans are
    commonly and inexpensively available at processing labs in the USA when
    (and only when) you have the negatives developed. This is their option.

    Some labs can offer larger scans, independent of developing, but you
    surely must specify what you want, or at least ask what they can do.
    Wayne, Jul 2, 2006
  8. Dave (from the UK)

    Yuki Guest

    Sorry to digress, but my experience is different.

    A couple of years ago I bought a Canon T90 in eBay. It came with a Tokina 28-70
    SD lens and I put a roll of film to test it. The film was a consumer grade Fuji
    200 that was around the home for some time, BTW this is a quite hot area
    (southern Spain).

    I developed it in a local chain store (El Corte Ingl├ęs, one hour minilab) and
    they were offering negative scanning at "high quality" for 0.3 euro per frame.
    They came as 5035 x 3339 JPG (around 16Mpixel). A lot of grain as is to be
    expected but surpisingly few compression artifacts. Exif data identifies the
    equipment as Noritsu Koki QSS-32_33.

    I made some very informal subjective tests to estimate the real amount of
    information in the image simply reducing the image in Photoshop until some fine
    detail in the image is not visible anymore.

    For this film my estimation is that it starts loosing detail when reduced below
    8Mpixel, please note that those images were handheld snapshots with an old cheap
    zoom and no attempt to obtain maximum sharpness.

    I jus remade the tests with another frame shoot in Kodak Portra 400VC (Canon
    T90, FDn 20mm, handheld), developed by myself in Tetenal chemistry and scanned
    in the same place. For this particular frame you start loosing detail (ability
    to discriminate between two almost parallel cables) when reducing below 12 MPix
    although there is a lot of grain.

    BTW I own a Canon negative scanner (FS2710, 2720dpi) and its scans fare a lot
    worse at full resolution than the equivalently reduced Noritsu ones.

    Regarding grain aliasing and its ugly effects I understand that it is produced
    by the combination of a particular size of grain and some specific scanning
    resolution. In fact I had scanned in the same place some slide film (Provia
    100F, Velvia 50) and the scans do not look as good (i.e. no better that what my
    Canon scanner does). A to do thing is to scan there a low ISO negative film to
    find what happens.

    Yuki, Jul 2, 2006
  9. Dave (from the UK)

    Mark Roberts Guest

    At the last lab where I worked they used a Fuji Frontier which
    delivered 1200 x 1800 scans. That works out to a bit over 1100 dpi.

    I expect that higher resolution scans require dedicated scanning
    equipment, are more time consuming and, of course, greater expense.
    Mark Roberts, Jul 2, 2006
  10. Dave (from the UK)

    Alan Browne Guest

    That's more than adequate for a 4x6" print or for editing to a webpage
    or e-mail. It would probably print decently to 8x12" @ 125 print dpi
    and viewed at arms length.

    FWIW, I got some 6x6 scans done to 3260 x 3260 (FujiFrontier) which
    underwhelmed me a great deal, but the cost was only $1 each.

    I have a 5400 dpi scanner, but it can't do 6x6, so I'm patiently waiting
    for an opportunity to buy the Nikon 9000 ED. A 6x6 (56mm x 56mm) will
    scan to 8800 x 8800 pixels.
    For the price they (likely) charged it's probably quite reasonable, but
    you should ask if they can do better.
    Very. Drum scans (higher resolution, wet contact) will cost $25 or more
    per frame to scan.

    Alan Browne, Jul 2, 2006
  11. I'll put it down to experience then and will ask another time if I want
    decent resolution. At least I still have the negatives.
    I forget what film this was, but it is not a professional one. But the
    images are clearly limited in quality by the pixel size, and not any
    other artificts or gain size.

    Dave K MCSE.

    MCSE = Minefield Consultant and Solitaire Expert.

    Please note my email address changes periodically to avoid spam.
    It is always of the form: [email protected] Hitting reply will work
    for a couple of months only. Later set it manually.

    http://witm.sourceforge.net/ (Web based Mathematica front end)
    Dave (from the UK), Jul 2, 2006
  12. Dave (from the UK)

    Guest Guest

    When Picture CD was first introduced Kodak was still promoting its
    professional "Photo CD" product, which offered much higher resolution albeit
    at a higher price.

    Kodak positioned their "Picture CD" more toward the casual film photographer
    that wanted to be able to get digitized photos for sharing over the
    Internet--and the Picture CD resolution is quite adequate for that purpose.
    There was even enough resolution to make an acceptable 4x6 print.

    But I do not believe that Kodak ever intended Picture CDs to be used for
    digital archival purposes, or to be the source for higher-quality (i.e.,
    larger-sized) prints. Kodak always, as far as I know, marketed the product
    for amateur purposes.

    Once higher-resolution film scanners became available, the Photo CD product
    really became a bit dated. Who was going to spend a dollar or two PER
    FRAME, and travel to and from the processor (or pay postage), when they
    could scan in-house?

    So now we are left only with Picture CD, and who knows how long even that
    will last? It may serve as a poor man's "Photo CD," but its limitations are
    Guest, Jul 2, 2006
  13. Dave (from the UK)

    Wayne Guest

    Probably true just as you wrote it. But the point remains, if you take in a
    roll of film today and simply say "also put it on CD", then there is a really
    good chance that 1536x1024 pixel Kodak Picture CD is what you will get. This
    is the equipment that they likely have.

    If you have higher expectations, then you should get it settled before, not
    after. And if they can do it, you should expect to pay more too.
    Wayne, Jul 2, 2006
  14. Dave (from the UK)

    jeremy Guest


    With the exception of a small percentage of labs that offer specialty
    services, one should expect no more than a consumer-oriented scanning

    And for good reason--most consumer labs have little call for anything other
    than the equivalent of Picture CD, because most consumers that want digital
    images probably already have digital cameras. Photographers that want more
    resolution from digitized film are probably already doing it themselves,
    rather than paying for film, processing and scanning per frame (plus the
    transportation costs of dropping off and picking up the film), just so a
    film processor can do it.
    jeremy, Jul 2, 2006
  15. I've mainly used the Frontier 340. The standard setting on these when
    doing customer prints and CD's is to do a simultaneous print & scan. In
    this mode, it will scan at 300dpi for prints 5x7 and smaller, or 280 dpi
    for larger prints. Basically, what it is doing, is burning to CD the
    information that it scanned in order to do the print. So if the lab
    prints 6x4's as their standard print size, 1800x1200 scans is what it
    will do. If 5x3.5 is their standard print size, then you will get
    1500x1050 scans. 8x12's come out as 2240x3360, which is the highest res
    the 340 will do from 35mm. This is what happens if you do _simultaneous_
    print and scan, which is what most labs will do to save time. You can
    however do a print at one print size, and a scan at another, but you
    have to feed the film twice. To simultaneously print 6x4's and scan at
    1800x1200 res takes about 2 minutes for a 24 exposure roll. To print
    6x4's, then re-feed the film to do a scan at 3360x2240 res takes about
    30 minutes for a 24 exposure roll. While the machine is scanning
    something it can't do anything else, so this is the reason why you are
    unlikely to get anything better than 1800x1200 from one of these
    machines. Some photofinishers will offer the high-res scan, but charge
    accordingly. As you can imagine, getting a dozen rolls of film to scan
    at high res (6 hours) would really mess up the throughput for the day.

    Some other minilab machines may operate differently, and so have
    different effects on througput but my experience is with the Frontier
    340. I believe the frontier 570 is capable of simultaneous digital
    prints and film scanning, so a photofinisher with a 570 would probably
    be a bit friendlier to the concept of high res scanning.

    Interestingly, the scan resolution of the Frontier 340 doesn't seem to
    be DPI based, but rather based on the output size. The machine allows
    you to zoom/crop prior to printing, so if you select 8x12 as the print
    size, crop in on about half the neg and print it, you will still get a
    3360x2240 scan of that smaller area - which of course corresponds to
    scanning at a higher DPI compared to scanning the whole neg.
    Graham Fountain, Jul 2, 2006
  16. Dave (from the UK)

    jeremy Guest

    When Kodak offered the Photo CD their labs used a separate workstation for
    scanning the films and burning CDs. I recall that some photofinishers were
    charging $2.00 per frame, plus the customer had to purchase what was
    purported to be a special CD blank, at a cost of $10, to which additional
    frames could be added. The lab was not permitted to burn the files to just
    any CD blank--not even a Kodak-labeled one.

    So, using your example, it would have taken 2 CDs for 6 24-exposure rolls
    ($20.00 for the CDs), plus 24 exposures x 6 rolls = 144 prints ($288 for the
    prints) or a total of $308 plus tax, assuming that the photographer wanted
    all frames scanned--and that is before the cost of processing the film or of
    making even a single print!

    Unless one did only one or perhaps 2 rolls of film per year, the cost was
    prohibitive. Perhaps 10 years ago, when film scanners were expensive, it
    might have made sense, but it is easy to see why Kodak discontinued the
    Photo CD.

    Frankly, with the relatively high per-shot cost of film, it is easy to see
    why so many photographers have shifted to digital. 30 years ago, we tried
    to economize by shooting slides rather than pay for prints of entire
    rolls--when we knew that the majority of the images were not going to be
    keepers. Some of us experimented with inexpensive Eastmancolor movie stock
    that was respooled into 35mm cartridges. The film cost $1.00 per roll,
    versus Kodacolor II that was sold for $3.50 per roll. I was disappointed to
    see my images fade into virtually nothing as the years went by. That was
    certainly no bargain.

    Some guys did their own darkroom work, but the cost of chemicals and paper
    often was more expensive than letting one of the major photofinishers do the
    job. Some of us used discount mail order finishers, like Clark Photo, whose
    bright yellow mailers were stuffed into our Sunday papers just about every
    week. But their results were often washed-out, or had a gray cast. I read
    that they routinely used the chemicals beyond the recommended exhaustion
    time, as a means of saving money. So one gambled whenever he sent his film
    to places like that. Sometimes they were all right, other times they were

    We also had those little drive-in booths in strip malls, "Fotomat." They
    were on a par with drug store processing. And the cost of paying the girl
    to sit there all day long probably ate into the revenues--how many rolls of
    film had to be processed just to pay the overhead on each of those thousands
    of little booths? They used to be located everywhere. Then one day they
    just seemed to disappear.

    If I were a high-volume shooter I'd have to abandon film. Judging from the
    way that prices have tumbled on decent digital cameras it appears that PRICE
    will be the factor that drives the nails into film's coffin. The amateur
    photographer today probably already owns a computer and has an Internet
    connection. All he needs is inexpensive editing software like Elements or
    Paint Shop Pro and a digital camera and he's in business. I still do not
    own an inkjet printer--I get better results by using online printers that
    print on silver halide paper.

    Somehow the thought of shooting on film, then having it digitized onto Photo
    CD, seems way out of date.
    jeremy, Jul 3, 2006
  17. Somehow the thought of shooting on film, then having it digitized onto Photo
    This is true if you are starting from scratch. But if you are 70 years old,
    and have boxes and boxes (several thousand) slides, already taken and
    processed, and you want to scan them into your computer so you can clean
    them up, crop out significant images, send them to your children and
    grandchildren, and archive them, then you would be well advised to buy a
    good film scanner. And, having done that, you might as well continue to take
    slides and digitize them with your scanner, rather than purchase another
    camera. Or, at least, put off purchasing a digital camera until it is
    terribly evident that they can produce much finer images at a much lower
    price, and your film camera is completely obsolete.
    William Graham, Jul 3, 2006
  18. Dave (from the UK)

    jeremy Guest

    I was referring to having Kodak digitize them, at $2.00 per image.

    Much of my type of work can be done with a simple point & shoot digital
    anyway. And I always have all my film stuff for more demanding situations.

    I don't think I'll ever get a DSLR. I realize now that I am a minimalist at
    heart, and that I usually don't want to carry 25 pounds of gear around.
    I've been looking at the Casio Exislim, in fact. Rockwell gave it a good
    review in comparison to his Nikon DSLR--and the Casio fits into a shirt


    To me, small digital cameras are analogous to when photographers put down
    their speed graphics for the Nikon-F.
    jeremy, Jul 3, 2006
  19. Dave (from the UK)

    no_name Guest

    Nikon Coolscan IV ED does 4000 ppi & it only cost about $600 when I
    bought it new. They really should be able to get better than 1200 x 1800
    from 35mm negative.
    no_name, Jul 5, 2006
  20. Dave (from the UK)

    no_name Guest


    The IV-ED does 2900 ppi, the Coolscan 4000 does 4000 ppi.

    For some reason the IV-ED will let you enter 4000 ppi in the the menu,
    but it only scans up to 2900.
    no_name, Jul 6, 2006
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