Photography News Issue 32

Photography News | Issue 32 |

49 First tests

Plustek OpticFilm 135 £250


Film is seeing a revival and of course many photographers (me included) are sitting on an archive of film images just waiting to be scanned. So the market for film scanners still needs to be satisfied and the OpticFilm 135 from scanner specialists Plustek is the latest to be launched. At £250, the unit comes with film holders, software and cables so basically it is a ready-to-go box. I tested our sample on a late 2012 2.3GHz Intel Core i7 Mac Mini with 16GB of RAM and plenty of hard drive space. Getting the unit set up and running couldnot have been simpler and minutes after unpacking the unit, the supplied QuickScan Plus software was open and I was loading the supplied film holders. These holders are excellent quality and substantial yet easy to use. With filmstrip holders keeping the filmas flat as possible is important and the

In the box Scanner, 2 film holders (mounted and unmounted negs/slides), USB cable, mains cable, software CD,

quick-start instructions Systemrequirements

Left The suppliedQuickScan Plus software is easy to navigate and use but there is notmuch control if you want it. There is no pre-scan option and the brightness controls in the Adjustmenu are basic and not very useful although you can compare ‘before’ and ‘after’ images. In the edit options, aside fromtheAdjustmenu, there is an Effect optionwhere you can get effects quickly. There are few dedicated film scanners available nowadays and most seem to be fromPlustek. The OpticFilm 135 is a good value, easy-to-use unit and well suited to quickly scanning your colour filmoriginals to reasonable quality levels so it can be recommended from that standpoint. If you want ultimate quality, however, with cleaning software, 16-bit output, multi-scan capability and pre-scan flexibility, this is not the scanner for you. Finally, onmy sample the mono scanning was disappointing and a software or firmware fix is needed. Colour 48-bit input, 24/48-bit output; greyscale, 16-bit input, 8/16-bit output Dynamic range 3.4 Scanning speed 205secs at 3600ppi Scanning area 35x226mm Interface USB 2.0 Weight 1.59kg Dimensions (wxdxh) 175x259x104mm Contact Verdict Pros Good price, easy to set up and use, build quality of the film holders Cons No previews, no cleaning function, editing controls basic, noisy, mono scans unconvincing Windows: 7, 8, 10; 2GHz or faster processor; 2GB RAM, 4GB RAM recommended; 10GB free hard drive space; CD/DVD drive or Internet connection Mac: OS X 10.8 or later; 2GHz or faster Intel processor (not PowerPC); 2GB RAM, 4GB RAM recommended; 10GB free hard drive space; CD/DVD drive or Internet connection Image sensor CCD Light source LED Optical resolution 3600ppi Scanmodes

Plustek holders certainly delivered on that front. If you plan to scan panoramic images, you will need an optional film holder as the supplied ones don’t suit. Offer the loaded filmholder to the load slot of the scanner and the unit takes over and correctly positions the holder in a matter of seconds. You are now ready to scan. The software interface is very clear with the options of positive, negative or custom and then various resolution, save and file name options. The maximum resolution is 3600ppi and the lowest 600ppi. Click on the Scan button and the unit starts up. There is no pre- scan option so you can’t make any corrections prior to scanning. Four

slides or a strip of six negatives is scanned at the highest resolution in 220secs, so speed is good. A health warning here: the scanner does emit a high-pitched whine during scanning. If your computer is in the living room and the family is trying to enjoy the snooker you might get something thrown at you. The software has no cleaning function so make sure you give your originals a squirt of air to remove as much surface debris as you can. After scanning you can select images to be saved (a select all or deselect none option would be handy here) or you can edit the scans. There are two options, Effect or Adjust. Under the Effect menu are items like LOMO, Night and Portrait with strength options under each one. In Adjust you can alter contrast and brightness among other options. If time is not an issue you could do these in Lightroom/ Photoshop but if you just want to get your images onto Facebook, this software is okay. Scans can be sent straight to your Facebook, Picasa or Twitter account or saved to the hard drive which takes around 30secs.

My slides scanned correctly while my black & white negatives looked overexposed even though the originals were correctly exposed. Using the Adjust options to correct the scans met with limited success. My adjusted negatives just looked flat and grey whether I used the Auto Exposure option or the Advanced option where there is also Auto Optimisation. Not much joy in Photoshop either. This is where a pre-scan option would be handy so you can make sure you get the information you need rather than trying to recover what isn’t there. To get more from my mono negs I scanned them in colour mode to gather more data to work with. These scans ended up with a faint orange band running down the middle of the image, although this was not visible once the image was changed to a monochrome file. I tried a variety of mono films and the overexposed effect was consistent. I also tried a bracketed series of negatives and the 1EV underexposed shot looked nearly right after a little tweak in the Advanced section of the Adjust menu. WC

Above The original Fujichrome 50 slidewas shot under industrial lighting hence the green colour cast and it was taken on a tripod so it’s perfectly sharp. Scanned on theOpticFilmscanner the eight-bit file is 47MB andmeasures 41x27.6cmat 300ppi. No unsharpmask has been applied to the image in Photoshop and scan quality is good even under critical inspection.

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