Category Archives: Projects Using Photography

Silverfast 8 vs. VueScan 9 Scanning Software on Plustek 8200 Film Scanner

About 15 years ago, I purchased a HP film scanner but long ago that device gave up the ghost.  I recently decided to buy a new film scanner and purchased an Plustek 8200i.  This came with SilverFast  8 software.  I had previously used this software on my Epson flat bed scanner and had even had to purchase a new copy from Lasersoft to get a version that would work on my current Mac operating system.  I knew this software had a poorly designed interface but I had learned to use it.  It has a lot of features but most of those are not easy to use or of limited value to me.

I heard about VueScan software and decided to purchase it.  Unlike SilverFast were you have to purchase a new version for every scanner, this is one license that works with both my flat bed and film scanner.

I started with scanning a Kodak Gold negative that was 11 years old.  I set both software to 3600 dpi and auto color correction.

VueScan

After inserting the negative and doing a Preview, the software did a good job of selecting the frame.  I like how you can put in the date (a guess) and other meta data that will be embedded in the file.

VueScanInterface

And here is the uncorrected image.

Visit to Navoo Illinois

SilverFast

After doing the pre-scan, it did a fairly good job of finding the frame (although my past experience is that I have to almost always move the frame).  The interface looks rich with lots of controls, but it takes time to learn them and in my opinion most are not very well designed.

SilverfastInteface

Here is the actual image without any correction.

SilverFastNeg

From previous experience, I have realize that SilverFast’s auto color is poor when using the Multi Exposure feature when scanning color negatives.  So I did the scan again with Multi Exposure turned off without making any other changes.

SilverFastNegNoME

If I match up this image with the one from VueScan you get this.  The left side is SilverFast and the right is VueScan. I prefer the right side side produced by VueScan.

VueScanVsSilverFast

Scanning 35 mm Slides

Next I found a 44 year old Kodachrome slide when I was a young guy, one I had also scanned with both my old HP Scanner and Epson flatbed scanner.

Scanned 15 years ago with my HP Film Scanner

Full-HPScanner

Plustek Film Scanner and SilverFast at 3600 dpi

SilverFast3600-2

Plustek Film Scanner and VueScan at 3600 dpi

VueScan3600-2

On a web page it is hard to see that there is much difference,

If I do small crop, you can see the difference in resolution. I also include a crop from a scan of the same slide using my Epson flat bed scanner. I have arranged these with the sharpest images first.

Very Good
VueScan7200-crop
Plustek Film Scanner and ViewScan at 7200 dpi
SilverFast7200-crop
Plustek Film Scanner and SilverFast at 7200 dpi
VueScan3600-crop
Plustek Film Scanner and ViewScan at 3600 dpi
Okay
Crop-FlatBedScanner-2
Epson Flatbed Scanner at Maximum Resolution
Mediocre
SilverFast3600-crop
Plustek Film Scanner and SilverFast at 3600 dpi
Crop-HPScanner
HP Film Scanner image.

The difference is now quite apparent. The resolution from old HP film scanner is lacking and the scan from the Epson flatbed scanner, even at the maximum resolution is soft.When using the PlusTek scanner at 3600 dpi, the VueScan software is also almost as good as SilverFast software at 7200 dpi while Silverfast at 3600 is quite lacking.

The Pluxtek scanner has an infrared channel for dusk and scratch removal, but that lengthens the time.   Both also support multi exposure.

Scan Times

The Pluxtek scanner supports infrared scan for dusk and scratch removal, but that lengthens the time.   Both SilverFast and VueScan support this feature as well as multi exposure.

These are times with the Plusteck scanner AFTER the preview has already been completed and adjustments selected. Each involves 3 scans, one for the image, one for the Infrared channel and a third for the multiple exposure, then processing and saving the image. SilverFast in particular takes a long time for “processing” after the 3 scans are finished while this is done quickly with VueScan. Time is shown in minutes:seconds using a 35 mm slide.

  • SilverFast at 7200 dpi: 12:37
  • VueScan at 7200 dpi: 5:23
  • SilverFast at 3600 dpi: 5:30
  • VueScan at 3600 dpi: 2:30
Pricing

SilverFast came free with my Plustek scanner, but I had to pay about $70 to buy it for my Epson Scanner as an upgrade for the old version that came with that scanner.  Trying to upgrade to more advanced versions of SilverFast can become very expensive, a real qusitonable thing since scanning of film is rather a one time thing for most people and not an on going process unless you are still shotting film.

VueScan offers a very reasonable price of $40, easily affordable. I selected the $80 option for the professional version that offers lifetime updates so I can avoid the issue I had with SilverFast where I had to pay to uprade to version 8 for my flat bed scanner, and even then that upgrade was not useable on any other scanner.

Without a question VueScan offers far better value and I suspect that SilverFast is packaged free with many film scanners because they want you to upgrade to a later version or one of their more deluxe versions.  I don’t like this scheme and like the more straightforward approach taken by VueScan.

Conclusions
  • The Plustek 8200i film scanner is much better than my old HP Film Scanner and my current Epson flat bed scanner.
  • When using the PlusTek 8200i film scanner, it is well worth buying VueScan software rather than using the SilverFast software that comes bundled.
    • VueScan scan times are only half as long as when using SilverFast
    • VueScan at 3600 dpi has much better image when highly cropped than SilverFast can produce at 3600 dpi.
    • VueScan is much easier to use.  Although SilverFast has a lot of features they are cumbersome to use.
    • SilverFast does a poor job of auto color correction of negatives when using multi-exposure while VueScan has no issue in this situation.
    • VueScan is easier to use and the controls, although not maybe as fancy looking, are more practical to use.  I am someone who is a semi-expert using Photoshop and Lightroom so for many users, this is even a bigger factor.
    • VueScan offers free upgrades and you can use the software on multiple scanners.
    • Upgrading to a more deluxe version of SilverFast is very expensive and the so called “upgrade” price is almost as much as the regular price.

Capturing 35 mm Film Slides and Negatives

About 15 years ago, I purchased a HP film scanner.  It was not the best scanner, but it was affordable and did a reasonably good job, although it took many minutes for each slide.  Because it was such an effort I only scanned some of the slides thinking that in the future something better would come my way.  After the HP Film scanner gave up the ghost, I purchased an Epson flat bed scanner, with a light source in the lid so yo you can scan film of any size.  I have used that scanner, along with Silver Fast software I also purchased, to scan some medium format negatives. Using the flar bed scanner is cumbersome, not only does it take a long time for each scan, but finding the frames of the photo often takes manual intervention.

25 years ago I purchased a Nikon bellows and a 55 mm Nikon Macro lens.  I was able to duplicate slides back in the days of film, but until recently I could never use that to digitize my 35 mm slides.  Having just acquired a Nikon D800, full frame camera, I thought maybe this would word.  This camera, at 36 mega pixel would finally be something that goes even beyond the resolution of Kodachrome film.  It is amazing that my 35 year old equipment works find with the latest Nikon digital camera.

Subsequently I purchased the Plustek 8200i film scanner.  Although the copying with the Nikon D800 with a macro lens and bellows works well, it will not work with my negative films.  Below is how all these different methods compared.  For the Plustek film scanner, I used two different scanning software each set for auto color correction, multiple exposure, dust and scratch removal and JPEG file output.

Scanned 15 years ago with my HP Film Scanner

Full-HPScanner

The same slide using the Nikon bellows and Micro Lens, capturing on the D800.

The red circles show all the spots from dust, even though I used air to clean the slide.

D800wspots

Plustek Film Scanner and SilverFast at 3600 dpi

SilverFast3600-2

Plustek Film Scanner and VueScan at 3600 dpi

VueScan3600-2

On a web page it is hard to see that there is much difference, except for the benefits of the infared scan to remove the dust spots.

If I do small crop, you can see the difference in resolution.  I also include a crop from a scan of the same slide using my Epson flat bed scanner.   I have arranged these with the sharpest images first.

Very Good
D800-crop
Nikon D800
VueScan7200-crop
Plustek Film Scanner and ViewScan at 7200 dpi
SilverFast7200-crop
Plustek Film Scanner and SilverFast at 7200 dpi
VueScan3600-crop
Plustek Film Scanner and ViewScan at 3600 dpi
Okay
Crop-FlatBedScanner-2
Epson Flatbed Scanner at Maximum Resolution
Mediocre
SilverFast3600-crop
Plustek Film Scanner and SilverFast at 3600 dpi
Crop-HPScanner
HP Film Scanner image.

The difference is now quite apparent.  The resolution from old HP film scanner is lacking and the scan from the Epson flatbed scanner, even at the maximum resolution is soft.  The image from the Nikon D800 and the image from the Plustek Film Scanner at full resolution are quite similar.  When using the PlusTek scanner at 3600 dpi, the VueScan software is also almost as good as SilverFast software at 7200 dpi while Silverfast at 3600 is quite lacking.

The Pluxtek scanner has an infared chanel for dusk and scratch removal, but that lengthens the time.  When using the Nikon D800 there is nothing automatic about removing dusk spots so I am left with manually removing using Photoshop or if you have Lightroom 5, as shown here.

Resolution and File Sizes of Scans

Nikon D800 (7360×4912) RAW and 12 bit: 36 MB
Plustek at 7200 dpi (9547×6358), JPEG format: 31 MB
Plustex at 3600 dpi (4608×3156), PSD format: 9.4 MB

You can save using a TIFF file with the Plustek but the file size becomes rather large and considering I am scanning old film, I don’t think it is worth it.

Scan Times
  • The fastest method is the D800 with Bellows and Macro Lens, where I could probably do several slides per minute.
  • Using a film scanner is much more time consuming.  Loading the slide takes about the same amount of time as using the bellows, but you need to then do a preview scan so you can adjust the boarder.  These are times with the Plusteck scanner AFTER the preview has already been completed and adjustments selected.  Each involves 3 scans, one for the image, one for the Infared chanel and a third for the multiple exposure, then processing and saving the image.  SilverFast in particular takes a long time for “processing” after the 3 scans are finished while this is done quickly with VueScan.  Of course all of this is all done in a second on the D800 camera.
    • SilverFast at 7200 dpi: 12:37
    • SilverFast at 3600 dpi: 5:30
    • VueScan at 7200 dpi: 5:23
    • VueScan at 3600 dpi: 2:30
Conclusions
  • The Plustek 8200i film scanner is much better than my old HP Film Scanner and my current Epson flat bed scanner.
  • When using the PlusTek 8200i film scanner, it is well worth buying VueScan software rather than using the SilverFast software that comes bundled.
    • VueScan scan times are only half as long as when using SilverFast
    • VueScan at 3600 dpi has much better image when highly cropped
    • VueScan is much easier to use.  Although SilverFast has a lot of features they are cumbersome to use.
  • Using the Nikon D800 with macro lens and bellows is the fastest method and produces the best overall image.  The issue is it won’t work with negatives and dust and spot removal is a manual process.

 

2014 Family Calendar

I enjoying making a new family calendar each year and this time I actually got it finished in time so it will be printed before Christmas. Sometimes I don’t have enough photos, especially of Jeff and his kids, so I have to wait until we get together a couple of weeks before Christmas. But with the family reunion last summer I have plenty to work with. John and Sara also send me photos and Sara, being a fantastic photographer, always gives me left with not enough room to include all the photos.

For the cover I used the above photo I took of the flowers at Thanksgiving point.

There are two months where no one in the family has a birthday. For May, instead of using the typical photos about Mother’s Day I included the family group photo we had taken in August. For December I like to include something Christmas related. This year I came up with an idea of doing a collage of some of the Christmas related photos over the past 40 plus years. I found a Photoshop Action at PanosFX.com that did the trick for me.

FamilyCalendar_Page_24-1024x791

2013 Family Calendar

It has become a tradition for me to create a family calendar each year, using some of the photos provide by my children of them and the grandkids, along with the photos I have taken.  I am not a user of iPhoto, except for this annual production.  I first collected all the photos using Dropbox and then brought them into iPhoto, where I use their calendar project to create the calendar.  I usually use one of Sara’s photos for the cover.

2013 Calendar_Page_01

For each month I use photos of the family members whose birthday is on that month.  For March, that means only myself.

2013 Calendar_Page_06

For the calendar it is just a matter of including the US holidays and the birthday for each family member.  I like to use iPhoto because I can then have Apple print the calendar.  It makes thew whole process very easy.  I have used other services in the past, but that means using a web interfacet to create the calendar and I find iPhoto much easier and I like the quality and size of the Apple Calendar.

 

Handmade Christmas Cards

For the past few years I have used Shutterfly to make our Christmas cards. It is rather easy, just upload some photos, decide on a layout and drag the photos there, click the buy button and spend a bunch of money. Being a bit late and not sure we would get them before we left for Utah, I decided to go back to my old method and hand design and print our cards. I used Adobe InDesign Software to do the layout. I found these large blank cards, essentially a 8.5×11 inch sheet of cardstock, that folds over, along with the envelopes. Makes kind of a large greeting card. I used these and printed on both sides.

For the front I used four photos, each done in Photoshop with an action to make them look like the edges are lifting off paper. One photo of us and the others of the grandkids. The Front looks like this, with the design grid lines showing in this screen shot.

When you open the card it shows a photo of us biking at the top of Mt. Tam, on the top. On the bottom I put a short update where everyone is now days. I finally have finished printed about 60 of the cards. It took some time, needing to print on both sides. Cost was not much cheaper than using Shutterfly and took a lot more time, but everyone is using a place like Shutterfly now so maybe this is a bit different.

Family Calendar – A Family Affair

I have been creating a family calendar for several years now, giving it to each of our kids at Christmas. Each year I pick some pictures from the past year and include them. I started out with a do it yourself approach where I would have actually printed the pages on my home printer, then take them down to the office supply store to have their wire bound.

Although I am a big user of Adobe Lightroom, and rarely use the iPhoto program that comes with the Mac, I gave it a shot last year in producing the family calendar. That turned out to be a great process and much easier than some of the online services I had tried. Right from within iPhoto, I am not only able to create the calendar but click a button to have it printed and mailed to me. In past years the calendar was only 8.5 x 11 in sheets, but this new one is much larger format and the quality is very professional.

I didn’t have to give it an second thought to use iPhoto once again to create the calendar but since two of my kids have digital SLR cameras and my daughter takes far more and much better photos of her family than I ever was able to do, I added a new approach. I created a photo gallery on Mobile Me for staging of all the photos. I had a title slide for each month, not to be included in the final product, but to help me sort the photos so I would have several candidates for each month. With our children living all around the country, I needed a method for them to easily give me their photos.

Calendar-MobileMe

Then any in the family could use this gallery to upload their photos directly. Then using iPhoto 09, it was easy to drag the photos around inside the web gallery to get them sorted by month.

Calendar-iPhotoSort

Between Anne and I, our four kids and our eight grand kids, we have birthdays on most all of the months of the year. I grouped the images so those who had a birthday in a particular month could see the pictures of themselves on that month.

Next step was to use iPhoto to create the calendar. I just selected the Mobile Me gallery and clicked the create calendar button. I did not even have to download the photos to my local hard drive. I selected the Picture Calendar format to use, which has a photo page on the top sheet and a calendar on the bottom. ON screen I could work which each month and all the images from the Mobile Me Gallery on the left side. I started out with the cover page and picked an image to include and changed the title.

Calendar-Create

Then for each month, I would first enter any birthdays on the calendar portion (I had it insert the US holidays when I first started). Then for the top picture portion, I would first select a layout, from 1 to 7 images. Then it was a simple matter of dragging the photo from the left bar into one of the image placeholders. If I wanted to try some other photo, I just dragged it over and it replaced my first attempt. Once inside the placeholder you can zoom and pan the image if you wish.

Calendar-March

When Anne and I were happy with the final results, I clicked the Buy Calendar button at the bottom. The cost was about $20 per calendar, plus shipping. I will get them in time to hand out to the kids at Christmas time.

Someone Had a Birthday

Someone special in our family reached a new milestone, birthday wise. I decided to make a birthday card, instead of buying one. I wanted to get an image from each of the 60 years of Ann’s life but we don’t have any images of many of the early years. I know that is something our kids may not understand and certainly something our grandchildren would never comprehend. But I was able to get an image for a few of the early years and then every year since 1966. I put them all as thumbnails on a single 11×14 page, which I had printed. Click this image to see it enlarged.

Ann seemed to like the card and gift. She can take her new camera on our upcoming cruise.

Later we decided to go for a walk. Since we are no longer on day light savings time, we did not have much sunlight. What a good chance for Ann to try out her new camera. Here are a few of the pictures Ann took with her new Canon SD790IS camera.

Those are pretty good pictures in low light conditions for a point and shoot type camera, don’t you think? By the time we were about back home it was getting quite dark. I had brought my Nikon D300 big camera along and took the picture below of Ann with very low light conditions, hand held at 1/30 second without a flash, at ISO 2000. A flash would have made the background look black. Yea, my Nikon D300 Digital SLR still has a role!

Sara – 100 Days of Photos

Our daughter, Sara, has started a new new photoblog called “Sara’s 100 Days of Photos“. Every day she posts a new photo with information on how it was taken and the camera settings.  I love the idea but am not sure I would have the discipline to post a new photo every day. Wonder if I could just collect 100 photos and then post one of them each day.  It is a great idea to get more involved with photography.

Here is just one example of her work that I really like.  With the blurred background and the composition of the photo, tipping the camera at an angle changes this from a good photo to a great photo.

Photo was taken with a Nikon D80, f/5.6, 1/60 sec., ISO-100, 175 mm

Creating 2008 Calendar using iPhoto

I usually create a family picture calendar each year for ourselves and each of our family members. I started the tradition some years ago when I would create individual pages and print them in color on my ink jet printer. I would then hand assemble the pages and take them down to Staples to have them bound. Last year I used an online service which worked rather well but it took a lot of time uploading individual pictures and it was hard to see how it really would look. This year I decided to try the iPhoto program on my Mac. It was the slickest experience ever for creating a calendar.

I first went through all the 2007 photos I had and selected about ten times more than I would eventually use. For each month you can select a template from 1 to 7 photos. The photos I had preselected all appear in a bar on the left and you just drag them to the picture area. You can add any text to the calendar portion. When we were all satisfied, we just clicked the Buy Button. It assembles everything and uploads to Apple for printing. This screen shot shows what it looked like inside iPhoto (click to enlarge)

Creating a Calendar in iPhoto