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.

13 thoughts on “Silverfast 8 vs. VueScan 9 Scanning Software on Plustek 8200 Film Scanner”

  1. Thanks for a very interesting and informative review. I also have the Plustek 8200i with Silverfast 8 Ai, but am considering buying VueScan. And also considering an Epson Perfection V800 Photo for bulk scanning and old medium format negatives.

    What model Epson do you have?

    1. I have an Epson Perfection 2450 Photo flat bed scanner, which I purchased some years ago so I am not sure they still sell it.

      1. Thanks for your reply.

        Last night I downloaded a trial of VueScan and found it a bit confusing at first but after an hour or so I found it east to use. So tonight I decided to scan some slides with SilverFast which came with my Plustek 8200i and within 30 minutes I had no hesitation in buying VueScan. It makes scanning easier and more pleasant to do.

      2. I am testing the Silverfast vs VueScan now. Silverfast was my favorite so your article here is very valuable. Your visuals do make all the difference. Thank you

        SIDENOTE: I love my Epson Perfection 2450 Photo Scanner. It would not longer work on my newer 64bit computer, couldn’t find a driver for it. Here’s the link to a epson driver that does work so you can keep your 2450. http://www.gollyjer.com/2010/12/installing-epson-perfection-2450.html

  2. Hi. Thanks very much indeed for your comprehensive and helpful article. I have a Plustek 8200i arriving today by courier and I decided to look for advice on which software to use (hearing that the bundled Silverscan is clunky!). I could not have hoped for better advice than yours!

    I have hundreds (no, thousands) of slides and negatives stretching back over 40+ years, so this is going to be a long winter project. Like you, I’m happy with Lightroom and Photoshop, so not only quality, but speed of scan processing before I get my hands on the file for final editing is important.

    Looks like Vuescan all the way then!

    Thanks again,

    Nick

    Cowes, Isle of Wight, U.K.

  3. I too have struggled with my Plustek 8200i and Silverfast 8, the results are dark compared to the preview. It takes a lot of fiddling to get a good result and often I can’t. I downloaded Vuescan and it is so easy. No fiddling I can get a good quality result every time with no effort. Why don’t Plustek include this instead instead of Silverfast. Multiple exposure and dust correction is supported as well.
    As a bonus it also works with my Epson Perfection for medium format scans.

  4. Does anyone have experience with the difference in quality between scanning a print on a flatbed vs scanning the negative with the Plustek? I imagine it taking months to scan prints that way, but reading some reviews of Plustek it sounds like the scans don’t go quickly, either, though apparently quicker with one software package vs another.

    1. I think if you have the negative you will get a much better scan than scanning a print, especially if it is a small print. The typical negative contains more resolution than the Plustek 8200 can capture while the print contains much less.

  5. That’s exactly what i felt after using Silverfast with my Plustek 8200ai scanner. I’m only digitizing my father’s archive of 50+ years old slides and negatives, so i’m not willing to invest too much time in learning the UI. With Vuescan, everything was natural and i’m very happy using it since. With Silverfast i never knew what was coming (what the end result will be) while Vuescan almost never surprises me. If only i was able to remove dust and scratches from old B/W negatives..

  6. Thank you for this review, it confirmed my feelings about using Silverfast, one of dread at the complicated hassle. I had not used my now old Plustek 7600 model for quite a while and due to upgrading all my laptops to Widows 10, the Silverfast version I had was no longer compatible. I was faced with paying Silverfast again or scrapping a now useless though barely used scanner. I tried Vuescan free trial in desperation and finding it so easy to use, just like doing a document scan or document copy on my printer. I had not realised either that I can install it another three of my laptops which is a bonus. I get the impression that many scanner users have found Vuescan to save their old scanning equipment from redundancy. I opted for the full professional version that was offered at a 20% discount so now I think about it the decision was a no brainer. I intend to upgrade my scanner to a Reflecta model that can scan medium format. You can by an unbundled version without Silverfast and it saves around €300 and I do not have to buy more software to use the scanner. I am pleased to see from your extensive tests that the scan results are no way second best to those obtained using Silverfast.

  7. Hi there. Thanks for a very interesting analysis. I’m wondering whether or not to buy vuescan for my nikon coolscan 5000 scanner since their own software is no longer updated and I can’t use it on my new OS for the Mac. My question is, is there an option for reducing grain, dust and scratches when using vuescan because i can’t seem to find it in the free trial option? If so how long does it take to scan a slide approximately using this feature, at 3600 or 7200dpi? Many thanks
    Karl

    1. I don’t believe VueScan offers dust and scratch removal since some of that is hardware based. For this reason the Nikon software may be better, too bad they don’t update it. I use Photoshop to touch up and reduce grain. If you use the trail version you should be able to find out how fast it scans. For my film scanner as I recall it was less than a minute.

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