Plustek OpticFilm 120 Scanner Review – Premium Scans, but at What Cost?

Plustek OpticFilm 120 Scanner Review – Premium Scans, but at What Cost?

3000 1687 Dustin Vaughn-Luma

By the time I’d tested the Plustek OpticFilm 120 scanner, I’d tried plenty of scanners and was pretty worn out. Let’s face it – scanning sucks. It’s time consuming, and confers the same level of enjoyment as things like yard work, dusting the house, or attempting to converse with your drunk uncle at a holiday gathering; at least for me, anyway. But if you’re the type of shooter that’s interested in more than just sharing photos on social media or the web, then a consistent and reliable scanner is of paramount importance.

When I returned to shooting film a few years ago, I picked up an Epson v550. It worked fine for sharing images on Instagram, or just simply digitally archiving old photos, but as my shooting volume and printing requirements increased, it became clear that I was going to need a more professional-level scanner. Sadly, this dumped me into a rather depressing category of film shooter; I was shooting too much film to justify the cost of having a lab do it, but I needed a scanner that was going to scan both 35mm and medium format film (and here’s the important part) do so at lab quality.

Flatbeds were out. Do-it-all scanners like the Epson v800 produce decent results, but the v800 lacks the resolution I was yearning for (at least on 35mm). I looked into purchasing a Noritsu or Frontier machine, but the fear of it breaking and the scarcity of parts was just too much for me to swallow.

Fortunately, James was able to get his hands on a Plustek OpticFilm 120 to demo. I’d already achieved stellar results with my Plustek 8200i, so I figured the OpticFilm 120 would be a cut above.

Well, it is and it isn’t. Let me explain.

The Hardware

Marketed as a scanner for both professionals and amateurs alike, the Plustek OpticFilm 120 is quite a remarkable piece of hardware. The unit feels hefty and solid; like I’m dealing with a pro-level machine. It’s roughly double the girth of my 8200i (and about four times as heavy), which isn’t bad for a dual format scanner, and its aesthetics aren’t anything to turn away from either.

Scanning veterans know the importance of keeping film flat, and the OpticFilm 120 does an outstanding job at this due to its extremely well-designed negative carriers. Supplied with carriers for 35mm, and every flavor of 120/220 film (6 x 4.5, 6 x 6, 6 x 7, 6 x 8, 6 x 9, and 6 x 12), each carrier has strong magnets that snap tight and force flat even the most curled of negatives. Opening them up to retrieve the film is simple as well, made possible by a small knob on the end of each carrier; a design choice that feels both purposeful and attractive. This is in stark contrast to my 8200i’s 35mm carriers, which feel flimsy by comparison.

Plustek scanners are famous for having great dust control, and the OpticFilm 120 affirms that reputation nicely. Both the front and rear negative carrier openings are sealed by a plastic door when the carrier is not inserted.

Unfortunately, that’s where the industrial design strengths come to an end. The back of the scanner houses two plug entry points (one for power and one for data) which are confusingly hidden by a plastic flap. When the scanner is plugged in, the flap makes it impossible to sit flush against a perpendicular angle. I suspect the flap is intended as a dust prevention measure during transport, but this doesn’t make much sense to me. Moreover, the front loading entry point of the negative carriers only adds to the awkward form factor of the scanner. The carriers themselves are quite long, so the additional length is something that users with shallower desk space should be cognizant of.

Lastly, if silence is important you may want to look elsewhere because this thing sounds like a ninth grade robotics experiment gone bad. It’s loud as the carrier enters the scanner body and gets even louder when the CCD makes its optical passes over the negatives.

The Software

As a consumer paying a premium for this scanner, I expect the experience of setup to be smooth. That was not the case with the OpticFilm 120. Plustek bundles this scanner with Silverfast Ai Studio 8; a very powerful yet horribly designed piece of software. And while I understand that users might opt for VueScan instead, I wanted to test this scanner with the software that I would ultimately be paying money for.

My experience during setup may be a bit unique, but it’s an acceptable use case, and highlights what will likely be a common problem that both Plustek and LaserSoft Imaging didn’t take the time to preemptively remedy. I already owned Silverfast Ai Studio 8 and had the program installed for use with my 8200i. I assumed that since I purchased Silverfast, that it would simply recognize the scanner as a new piece of hardware and allow me to begin working with it. However, that wasn’t the case.

My previous installation of Ai Studio 8 failed to recognize the scanner despite my best efforts, and I was forced to fully uninstall it, and then re-install the same software with a new license key from LaserSoft (not to mention the difficulty involved with getting this key from them should you own a computer without a CD/DVD ROM drive). LaserSoft, it’s 2018! Time to hire a UX designer!

After installing the software I experienced subsequent app freezes and hardware stalls; none of which I could identify a solution for. And if you’re an existing Silverfast owner, you may know that their support team is next to useless. It goes without saying that Silverfast is a “use at your own risk” software suite, and it really does take a few hours in the saddle to get comfortable with the more powerful features of the software. But if you are willing to invest the time, there isn’t a better option on the consumer market (less a complement to Silverfast and more a lament for a lack of options).

The Results

And now for the good stuff; the scanning results. Ho-ly crap, this scanner produces some beautiful scans. Like my 8200i, the 35mm scans I created were outstanding. Sharpness and clarity are excellent, and I’d say they’re on par with anything that I’ve received from a pro-level lab.

But the real strength is the scanner’s medium format output. The claimed 5300 dpi (which I would be willing to bet is somewhere closer to 3800 – 4000 dpi) shined through in every scan I made. It resolved medium format negatives beautifully, and my results appeared sharper than the images I get back from the lab in side-to-side testing.

Boasting an eight-element lens, 48-bit color depth, an infrared channel, and a whopping 4.01 dynamic range, the OpticFilm 120 really does check all the boxes for me. On paper, it seemed like a dream come true. Regretfully, there are features that simply do not work as claimed.

Batch scanning, which Plustek states as a big selling point, did not work as advertised. The required steps involved in the Silverfast workflow are far too complicated, non-intuitive, and are sadly buried deep in the software. It took me a few hours to fully understand how it works, and even then I was coming back for rescans time and time again. The reasoning behind this is a bit complicated, but to put it simply, the batch processing feature in Silverfast was an obviously distant afterthought, and is arguably one of the greatest examples of poor interaction design.

Is it worth buying?

The short answer is – no. In fact, as of writing this, both B&H and Adorama are showing the Plustek OpticFilm 120 as discontinued on their websites, so if you are hell bent on buying one, you’ll have to look on eBay or elsewhere.

Fortunately, less expensive alternatives are still available. Pacific Image makes the PrimeFilm 120 Pro, and Epson continues to push the v800/850 (same scanner, just a different version of bundled Silverfast software). I’ve yet to test the PrimeFilm 120 Pro, so I can’t comment on that, and while the v800/850 produces acceptable results, the output from flatbed scanners can’t touch what the Plustek 120 can do.

But even though it makes great images, Plustek flat out missed the mark with this scanner. Woefully, this is not a scanner for enthusiasts, nor do I think it’s a scanner for professionals. The price point is far too high to have to deal with a clunky setup, exacerbated workflow, and sub-par customer experience from their bundled software partner. Sure, the results are stellar, but the overall user experience wasn’t thought through well at all. Frankly, every touch point that Plustek should have hit, was missed. It’s fate was sealed from the start.

I’ll continue sending my medium format film to the lab, at least for now. As my fellow Casual Photophile writer Josh commented during a recent discussion about scanning, it’s crazy that no one has produced a relatively inexpensive, quick, auto-feed scanner for both 35mm and medium format film. Pakons are still floating around, but they only do 35mm film, and who the hell wants to brave not only old hardware failures, but also inflation and (gasp!) Windows XP? Not I.

If film is going to survive and even thrive in a digital age, scanners and their software are going to require real improvement. The OpticFilm 120 was a noble effort by Plustek to address a more serious and niche market. It’s just a shame that such a wonderful piece of hardware can be crippled, and ultimately sidelined, due to a lack of assiduous user experience design. I just hope that there are others out there willing to take this as an example and improve upon it.

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Dustin Vaughn-Luma

An experience designer, freelance photographer, and competitive cyclist living in San Jose, California with his wife, three sons, and neurotic bernese mountain dog. The majority of his personal work is shot on 35mm and 120 film, and is developed and scanned at home.

All stories by:Dustin Vaughn-Luma
42 comments
  • The PhotographerPhil October 16, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    After years of trying and buying every piece of scanning software and plugin on the market, I recently sold all my medium format gear and invested in a Noritsu LS600. It makes scanning a quick, painless process, and pumps out stunning 24mp shots – although I’m now limited to 35mm. My back and shoulders are enjoying the lighter camera bag though, and developing uses less chemicals. Would never go back to a flatbed.

    • I hear the LS600s are amazing; although, I’m not sure I have room for such a behemoth on my desk. If medium format wasn’t such an important part of my workflow, I’d be perfectly content with this little 8200i of mine. Thanks for the comment, man!

    • Hi Cosmin… the Reflecta MF5000, Braun FS120, and PrimeFilm 120 (which I mentioned in the post) are all the same scanner. I haven’t tried it; however, I have heard that these units are being warrantied time and time again due to a banding issue. Seems like they’re being sold at a considerable discount as well now. If you have any experience with this scanner, let us know how things worked out for you when you get a sec. All the best!

  • The problem with all current dedicated film scanners other than the very expensive Hassleblad Imacon, is that they have no focus/auto-focus facility. The film to imaging device is pre-set at manufacture. If this is made very accurately, you are OK but if as on my Plustek Opticfilm 7400, it is slightly wrong, no matter what you do, the end results are going to be soft. I also loathe Silverfast and Vuescan feels very elderly. My old Artixscan had autofocus and although only 4000 pixels/inch produced very sharp results until sadly a faulty Firewire 800 to SCSI interface killed it.

    I have gone back to using an old film copying device made in the 1960’s by Leica called a BEOON. I use an LED light panel to illuminate my film, then a Leica SL full frame digital camera to take a photo of the film at 1:1, using a Schneider Kreuznach Componon S 50mm enlarging lens and extension tubes. The whole camera/extension tubes/lens is moved up and down with a fine focusing thread, so with live view on the camera and zoom, I can focus very accurately. I can scan a whole film in around 2 minutes to RAW/DNG, then do batch processing in either Photoshop/ACR or Capture One (or for those that like/use it Lightroom). The BEOON works equally well on medium format/70mm film, using different extension tubes and a different mask at the film end.

    • Interesting option Wilson, but the Leica SL brings you up into Hasselblad territory doesn’t it…? I did try this with my Leica MP 240 before I got rid of it, and I found it very clunky… I am pleased to read that your persistence paid off.

    • Wilson! Thanks for the comment, man. Bummed to hear your 7400 hasn’t been focusing spot on. I haven’t had that experience with my 8200i fortunately. The scanner produces very sharp results. Your current set up sounds insane! I’d like to try this with my 5D mark IV sometime. Happy to know it’s working for you.

      As an aside for our readers out there, http://betterscanning.com/ makes negative carriers that do allow for height adjustment on v700-850 flatbeds. I’ve heard they work pretty well.

    • The Reflecta RPS 10M has autofocus. There might be other dedicated film scanners that also have this feature, but this is the one I’m familiar with. Only scans 35mm film though.

  • Thanks for an interesting review, which seems to almost gel with my experience with this machine. I have always had a scanning issue, my scans have anything from one to three coloured lines that run the length of each scan, usually they show up on black and white scans as red and/or blue in colour. Once some post processing is carried out, it is possible to make them all but disappear.

    During this year I have been quite busy with family things and the scanning tends to be something that (as you say) is marginalised. I have only rudimentary knowledge of the really complicated software… indeed I was just contemplating buying the e-book by Mark Segal on this software, since it claims to know everything that there is to know about it.

    I have had this model for over a year now, I have recently got really cheesed off about the spurious marks on my scans and decided to have a look to see whether I could do anything about it. I sent an enquiry through to their support group and by return I received some instruction to remove their software, including some system files (Framework files). then follow a supplied URL and re-install the software.

    So I did this, and now batch processing, which used to sort of work, albeit with a requirement to rescan the worst marked results frequently, now does not function at all, and I don’t seem to be able to get it to work. What happens now, is I setup the program to scan for good results, with a naming convention, and a file size, a film type for the “negascan” feature, and it scans the first picture and then resets itself for the rest of the batch to the lowest possible quality scan. Worse than my HP multifunction laser printer/scanner that is in the attic, this is a great piece of kit that belongs to my son which he uses for bulk printing… Definitely not a good negative scanner though.

    So yesterday, I downloaded VueScan from Hamrick. I realised then that my problem with the output, is not the clunky software. There is no visible difference between the two packages. Vuescan produces JPG, whilst I set Silverfast to TIF, Vuescan sticks watermarks all over the output saying “buy me” the latter is bought and paid for….

    No, the erroneous lines and artefacts are being produced by the scanner…

    I await some kind of answer from PlusTek.

    I bought this scanner because I was getting fed up waiting for Abe Fettig with his Kickstarter project “Film Lab”, and a couple of weeks ago, about 18 months later than promised, we have version 1… It is easily as good the OpticFilm 120, from a software point of view, and that is using an old iPhone, handheld over the negative on a lightbox. The issue here of course, is that it takes for ever to run through a roll of film… And also you cannot beat a proper (working) scanning camera to get the best from any negative… However it is early days for FilmLab, and what is more, I didn’t need a mortgage to buy into it!

    My view, which must be fairly clear, is to avoid this until they address some of the issues. I am not sure whether my red and blue lines are common, I have read quite a number of comments regarding a “banding issue”. Every review I have read though talks about the clunky over complicated software.

    I have to say, that my Nikon Super CoolScan 4000 ED was far better, it even produced a standard raw file that I could manipulate with my favourite raw processor, Iridient Digital, after the owner of that software responded to my request to add the filetype to his supported list. The problem with that was that the driver software only worked with MacOS Risc up to Leopard (don’t know about windows), and eventually the power supply petered out and that was the end of that… boo hoo!

    There is a company in Germany that is offering a new Nikon 5000ED for nearly €7000.00, it seems to be a rebuilt Nikon scanner, as it emphasises the new scanning camera and CCD sensor along with the inclusion of Silverfast softwares.

    Oh, and there is of course, Hasselblad…. ouch!

  • Yes, scanning is a pain, and since there are zero options that are affordable and easy enough to use, I have decided to have a lab scan all my film for the time being, and – hard as it is – shoot less so I can still afford it.

    FilmLab is really nice, though you do need a macro lens attachment in order to preserve resolution. I’ll give “scanning” with my Canon 5D a go in the near future, since FilmLab apparently is getting an import feature in a future version.

  • I just looked on bhpotovideo and they have 3 new not yet released film scanners from pacific image for 35mm film. anybody have any experience with pacific image? I wish they had one for 120. I like shooting my Texas Leica but I know I am not getting the full image quality with my epson v550. they really do need to come up with better software for these scanners. my epson software looks like 1990s Mac operating system haha.

    • Thanks for the comment, Robert. James has a PacImage scanner. He might be able to weigh in on that. As for a 120 model, that is the PrimeFilm 120 unit I mentioned in the post (same scanner as the Reflecta MF5000 and the Braun FS120). As I mentioned to Cosmin above, I haven’t heard great things about these scanners. Nearly every review I read on them mentions that they develop a banding issue and need to be sent back for warranty.

      Although resolution might not be as good as the PrimeFilm 120, I’m seriously considering an Epson v850 with negative carriers from http://betterscanning.com/ for my MF film. Seems like the best value at this point.

      And yes, Epson’s software is looking rather long in the tooth 🙂

      Take care!

  • I have a scanner that works perfectly for all formats from 35mm to 4×5. It does have one limitation: for some reason it will only work if you turn out the lights. I’ve never had any issues with the software – unless “software” means “bulb” and that does have to be replaced every five years or so. The particular model I use is around 20 years old but is completely compatible with all current storage (boxes) and presentation (frames) solutions. These types of scanners are dirt cheap or even free.

  • Good Review, I was one of the early (second batch of shipped scanners) buyers of the Plustek 120, and all the negatives that you’ve listed have been a pain in my side for the almost 5 years that I’ve owned it. But, the scans! The market is screaming for a high level prosumer film scanner on the level of the Nikon 9000 (If Nikon was smart they would have looked into bringing an updated version of that machine back), and lord knows we all thought that this scanner would have been the answer we were looking for!

    • Dustin referred to it earlier in the review but the market is screaming for an updated auto-feed scanner in general. Noritsus, Fuji Frontiers, Nikon Coolscans, and Pakon F135’s are well over a decade old. I see no reason why a company wouldn’t be able to put that old tech into a new scanner with updated compatibility with today’s OS’s. Having to rely upon scanners with unreliable autofeed designs/UX issues and jerry-rigged DSLR slide copiers is a travesty.

  • Herman Klein Nagelvoort October 17, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    For years and years I am still scanning old 35mm film. I use the Reflecta Pro RPS 7200 Film Scanner with Vuescan software. It works like a charm. The only downside for me is it doesn’t scan 120 film! I use the Epson Perfection V600 Photo for that. I used the Nikon 9000 scanner as well, hired it from someone, but the scanner was to old and he used parts from other nikon scanners to fix it.

    I have a Holga 120N, and a Brownie Flash Camera from Kodak, very old but it works (pretty ok!).

    Thx for your reviews, I love them. Keep it up!

  • Pacific Image Electronics has developed a new 35mm scanner called PowerFilm. The specs look very interesting, as it can batch process 10 stripes 35mm film containing 6 frames and it uses its own software instead of SilverFast. It features 3 pass scanning for better dynamic range and a resolution of ca. 4000 dpi resulting in 24MP 16 bit tif.

    They tried to promote it via Kickstarter.com and failed horribly. This didn’t come as a surprise at all, as their marketing material implicates that they want to sell the scanner to elderly ladies who wish to digitalise their archives (… on kickstarter 😀 …)

    There is actually such a discrepancy between the spec sheet and the promotional material that I got confused about whether this is a low-end or high-end scanner. I wrote an e-mail to Pacific Image asking when they will sell it in Europe and whether it is going to be branded by Reflecta, but never got an answer.

    -Sebastian

    • I’ll look into this.

    • The PowerFilm is currently selling under Pacific Image brand name on Amazon US and UK. This scanner offer adequate resolution at 24MP (4000×6000) with hardware dust and scratch removal (MagicTouch), and most importantly, the convenience of scanning up to 10 strips at a time automatically, which is unique in the market. I’ve scanned hundreds of rolls of negative which are all in cut strips. With other scanners, I’d have to either sit around the computer or come back to it frequently to change the film strips. With PowerFilm, I’d put in one roll which is usually 6 to 7 strips, click start, go do other things, and come back with a whole roll scanned, each frame cropped automatically, and saved in a folder. It’s really the way to go if you have lots of films.

  • Since I started to scan my film with my DSLR (first a D750, now a D850), I haven’t looked back. For MF film I use a copy stand and light pad, for 35mm film I use Nikon’s ES-2 holder and light pad. I can scan a 36 exp roll at 8000 x 4000 (whatever the highest rez on a D850 is) in about 10 minutes.
    I do this in RAW because while the D850 offers a film conversion setting, Nikon has not optimized it. It blows highlights and kills shadows some of the time, and weirdly the JPGs are often less sharp than the RAW capture. I wish Nikon would update this.
    One massive bonus is your scanner is also a camera!

  • Stellar images. Beautiful family. Have you used this scanner with VueScan?

    • Thanks, Merlin. I’ve used VueScan in the past on my epson v550, but did not try it with this scanner. Hope all is well, sir!

      • Thanks for your response. I use VueScan with my Plustek OpticFilm 8100. I did not like the SilverFast software, though I did not put much effort in learning how to use the software. Thanks for a great review of this scanner.

  • Joe shoots resurrected cameras October 17, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    I’m kind of bummed to hear that the Plustek 120 is no more, it was the cheapest acceptable medium format scanner. The Nikons and Minoltas are over a decade old now and cost more, but were on the same level. I don’t think I’d ever get one myself, because I’ve caught the Pakon bug. I came right on the tail-end of them being affordable machines, and managed to snag two F335 scanners, which I considered a long-term investment in my own photography and also a long-term commitment to 35mm photography. If I had a spare $15,000 then I could get a Noritsu and start shooting medium format, and if I had a spare $6000 then I could get Moviestuff’s Retroscan Universal and would shoot a lot more super 8 film. And while the Retroscan Universal is a much better machine than the Workprinter XP in every way, you are paying I think 4 times more for it.

    I’m not sure why someone like Kodak hasn’t built a new scanner (that’s worth buying) is beyond me, you’d think they would want to encourage people to shoot more film. The only thing I can think is that people were fine with scanning film the way it had been done since Minolta and Nikon were the top dogs in the scanning world, and when enough people found out about the Pakon and the price shot up, they discovered a need that they didn’t know they had, and this has created a demand for something that doesn’t exist yet. AAA Imaging was selling Pakon F135+ scanners for something like $300 originally and while their market value is much higher now, we must remember that the Pakon models sold for $20,000-40,000 when they were new (and that’s not accounting for inflation either). I don’t know where the perfect acceptable price is in the range of $300-40,000, but probably, hopefully not much more than the Plustek cost. I hope someone can figure out the transport issues and get a machine that can be manufactured large-scale at some point.

    • Thanks for the comment, Joe. It truly is a bummer. I’d love to see Kodak or even Plustek create an affordable scanning ecosystem, but in order for it to work, scanning software itself needs to be completely reimagined.

      As for the original price of Pakon scanners, I can’t imagine we are talking about the F135, or even the F235 or 335 series, right? Those prices seem, um, unreasonable.

      Keeping fingers crossed …

      • Joe shoots resurrected cameras October 19, 2018 at 9:15 am

        Well, I think the software has been imagined with Vuescan, and every review of modern scanners says that you should ditch whatever software it came with and get Vuescan. At least for black & white, I’d want a flat scan so I can add contrast and curves in Photoshop.

        As for Pakon prices, I can’t be entirely sure of my accuracy because I can’t find where I read that and it was years ago now. But these were machines not built for individual consumers, but minilabs in drugstores, etc. $20,000 for the F135, and then I can’t remember if it went up in increments of $5,000 or $10,000 for each successive model, so maybe the F335 only cost $30,000. And this was in the late-’90s/early-’00s, a huge investment for a photography store, though a big company like Walgreen’s or CVS probably got some kind of volume discount. They’re designed (and built) to be running 16hrs a day continuously scanning film, which is why the specs always focus on how many frames per hour can be scanned. Even today if you were to buy a Noritsu brand new, it would cost you 5 figures. Believe me, if I could save up that kind of money I’d totally buy one as it’s an important investment, but barring a screaming ebay deal I’ve got a long time to wait. The main drawback to scans off one of these machines isn’t from the technology itself, but that you can’t control your scans unless you have one. The average minimum-wage employee at Mike’s Camera (not to single any store out) doesn’t give a flying fuck what your scans look like, and you usually can’t order flat scans, TIFFs, or anything else, the scans are made one way for everyone.

        The scanners built for consumers were things like the Minoltas and Nikons that you had to mess with plastic film holders and the scan times were minutes per frame, plus they had to be babysat quite a lot. Plustek and Reflecta really aren’t a design improvement over the scanners being made 15 years ago, and it seems the specs are somewhat inflated. However, if you’re printing larger than 8×10 you’re going to need a Plustek/Reflecta/Minolta/Nikon kind of machine, because the Pakon is only about 2000dpi.

        Maybe someday they can duplicate the Pakon transport and give us a 4000dpi scanner that can scan a roll of film every 5 minutes without being babysat, I just hope it isn’t priced out of the reach of the average film photographer.

    • Hi, the only reason why this is being discontinued is because a new version, with autofocus and better dynamic range, has been introduced at Photokina 2018 and will be out in 2019.

  • A few remarks:
    1) In 2019, the Plustek 120 will be replaced with a newer model, the 120 Pro which offers adjustable focus and better dynamic range. It was announced at this year’s Photokina.
    2) I had similar issues with the Setup and batch scanning. I.contacted Silverfast and they updated their software in three weeks to make it work. They were very helpful and explained to me in detail how to set up the system for proper batch scanning. Feel free to contact me for further details.

    This is why I would definitely recommend the Plustek 120 – it is a formidable machine (with a learning curve).

    Thanks for your great review!

  • I have the Opticfilm 120 – having seen my Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED die in front of me. Having used Silverfast on the Nikon – well TRIED to use Silverfast on the Nikon – I knew that would be the WORST part of the whole experience. I use Vuescan with the Opticfilm 120 and can say it is both easy to use and delivers images as good as you note here – and better than the Nikon in most cases. It is in fact easier to use than the Nikon, as the film holders are significantly better designed and the batch scanning works much better than on the Nikon (although not as well as Nikonscan 4.0 used to be on the Nikon). I rate this as the best scanner I have used to date and I rate Vuescan as the best software to drive it. I haven’t even opened the Silverfast CD (yes! a CD-ROM) that came with the scanner. I scanned over 26,000 frames in 35mm and MF on the Nikon and have just reached 1,000 on the 120 – so I think I have worked it out.

    Thanks for the effort on the review.

  • This is a fantastic plugin to digitize film after scanning w ur dslr

    https://www.negativelabpro.com/

    No need for scanners!

  • I own the Opticfilm 120, and the scans are super fantastic! Unfortunately it has developed a line on the right side of my scans, and sending it back to Plustek is a nightmare as I don’t live in the US and there are no Canadian repairs centres. I just feel like opening it up myself to see if there is dust on the sensor, lens or mirror but the scanner cost a small fortune so I am reluctant to do this. Fortunately, I also have a Plustek 8100 which also produces great scans but only for 35mm. I have stopped shooting MF as there is no way for me to scan :(. Lab scans are just too expensive and only a few labs will provide a tiff file, and frankly I thoroughly enjoy scanning my own film. Using a DSLR to scan is not an option for me as I don’t shoot digital. I am in a quandary as I do think the line issue is more than just dust. It’s too bad, as the 120 is really a stellar scanner.

  • I started out using my Canoscan flat bed for all my 35 and 120. The results were okay. I then bought an adjustable holder for the 120 and the results improved quite a bit. Not having an adjustable for 35mm, I had to make do with scans that were ‘off’. Recently, I bought a 100mm Macro and put it on my K3. The results are astounding. I already had the body and a tripod and the lens, extremely sharp, cost me about $200. I am getting 24mp RAW files for every frame. I thought about picking up a dedicated scanner but the flatbed does okay with the 120 and the DSLR handles 35 easily. If I am willing to stitch, it could create large 120 RAW files as well.

  • Here is a Google-generated German->English translation of a recent announcement this fall:

    At the Photokina Plustek shows the enhanced version of its film scanner flagship Optic Film 120th
    Plustek is next to Braun / Reflekta one of the last remaining film scanner manufacturers for photographers. Demand has been constant for years according to information from both providers.

    Plustek presented the OpticFilm 120 Pro at Photokina this year. It offers a scanning resolution of 5300 dpi with a color depth of 48 bits. Its scan area is 60 mm × 120 mm. The unit comes with seven original 35 mm framed slides, 35 mm film strips and medium format film from 6 × 4.5 to 6 × 12. The film holders are each encoded in the Pro version so that the scanning software automatically detects and positions the slides.

    Also new is that the focus can be adjusted manually. The user defines a pixel on which the focus is set. Furthermore, the scan duration is shortened by a faster film transport, and the effective dynamic range has improved. The scope of supply includes the professional scanning software SilverFast Ai Studio 8 with infrared-based dust and scratch removal (iSRD) and IT8 target for automatic color calibration.

    The OpticFilm 120 Pro should be available in early 2019. The price is expected to be around 2000 euros.

  • I used a Plustek 8200i scanner for some time, but it was so slow to scan an entire film that I abandoned it when I started shooting more. The follow up was an Epson v850, which was faster but gave softer scans and was so prone to dust (Perspex back negative carriers) that the time saved in scanning was completely lost in editing the scans afterwards.

    I now scan with an Olympus digital camera and macro lens, using a copy stand with a home-built light box and Perspex-free Plustek film holders. It scans more quickly and without the dust problems of the Epson. The scan resolution is significantly better than other techniques that I have tried (limited by film flatness), and as a bonus the Olympus RAW files are substantially smaller than 16 bit TIFF output from dedicated scanners. Processing is in LR or CO, so none of the hassle of either Silverfast (possibly the worst software I have ever seen in any context!) or Vuescan.

    The only downside to this is that you have to manually adjust colour for colour negative images. In CO this is fairly quick (invert the curves, use the white balance tool, then equalise the red/green/blue histograms in the levels tool), but it is very subjective. It would be nice to have an automated tool that could be calibrated with an IT8 target or similar.

    • I may be in the same boat as you…just now seeing how well I can get Kodachrome slide dups using a Sony a7riii with Nikon 55mm macro and ES-1 slide duplicator accessory (and Lume Cube with filter as light source). Resolution looks great, but I’m going to quantify with a USAF 1951 resolution test slide to see if it is in the 4000 DPI range of top film scanners such as the Nikon 9000 ED. Then it is a matter of getting the colors ‘right’…I’m fortunate to have one of the IT8 Kodachrome calibration targets made by Silverfast and going to see how the process described in the following article works out (I do have Capture One software that I normally use for RAW processing on the Sony):

      http://www.steves-digicams.com/knowledge-center/profiling-a-camera-with-an-it8-target.html#b

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Dustin Vaughn-Luma

An experience designer, freelance photographer, and competitive cyclist living in San Jose, California with his wife, three sons, and neurotic bernese mountain dog. The majority of his personal work is shot on 35mm and 120 film, and is developed and scanned at home.

All stories by:Dustin Vaughn-Luma