Film Scanning: A Comparison of Epson Flatbed, Drum Scans, and DSLR Scans

For every modern film photographer and every digital photographer who occasionally shoots film, having scans of your images is a must-have. The question remains, however, which method of scanning is best?

In this video, Nick Carver covers three different techniques of digitizing one example of color negative film and one example of color-reversal film. I found his breakdown of the results to be rigorous and very educational. I've never cared for comparisons that provide one example and a summary of results and to this end, Nick evaluates the ups and downs of each method from a variety of perspectives. 

I'd be lying if I said that comparisons like this haven't been immensely helpful in my journey as a photographer. Without in-depth comparisons such as this video, we are often left to wander through the world of film photography hoping we're doing the best job we can but always wondering if there's a better way. Personally, I use an Epson V600 and have been incredibly happy with it over the years. After getting into 4x5, I've found myself no longer being able to utilize my Epson for all of my scanning needs and have resorted to digitizing with my Sony a7rii

What have your experiences been? Do you scan at home? Have you scanned using more than one method?

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Adriano Brigante's picture

I've used an Epson V600 for years and I'm very happy with it.

Jason Berge's picture

Oh dear. That is all I can say. So many wrong assumptions, such poor technique, and a 6D OMG. Where is the facepalm emoji?

Jan Holler's picture

I agree. E.g. "high details, high contrast pushes the scanners to the limit" (3:00) is pure nonsense. A colour film has not much of a dynamic range compared to any (relatively modern) scanner or camera. And the same is valid for resolution: the scanners resolution will normally be much higher than that of any colour film.
And what I missed most is reference to any profiling. No wonder are the colours off.

But what made me stop watching was that he said (18:00) that a drum scanner would scan the image on a granular level. Please give us a break!
Edit: typos

Jason Berge's picture


Not sure why FS posted this. It came out originally at the beginning of the year, and it was rubbish then. Just so many basic errors and omissions, like profiling.

I gave Nick some stick about it when he first posted it, and to his credit he did reply and engage, but to be honest he is a lost cause. By that I mean, whilst he engaged in a conversation, when challenged about his obviously poor technique, specifically referring to the "camera scanning" he couldn't grasp that he was the problem. Shitty technique will produce shitty results. Reminded me of my teenager, as she knows everything as well.

Jan Holler's picture

Haha, I got such a teenager as well and in a year or so it's two of them. I know exactly what you are talking about. :-) Cheers!