35 mm color negative film

Where the 3170 truly comes to its own is the ease of scanning 35 mm film. After inserting two strips of film (usually 4 or 6 frames in each) to the film holder and pressing "preview", you'll get 8 or 12 cropped thumbnails in just half a minute. Upon this you can adjust the scanning parameters (orientation, color depth, histogram, color restoration, USM, dust removal) for each image separately or for all at the same time. Again, there's the full auto and home mode available, but I tend to use professional at all times. 

The actual scan takes around 3 minutes per frame. Reasonably fast, but still not fast enough to sit next to it. So it's coffee time after you press the "scan" button. USB 2.0 is supposed to be considerably quicker, but I didn't have the chance to test this. The amount of time the scan takes also depends also on the post-processing. Dust removal slows things down as does color restoration. This is how it works:

The following are examples of color negative film. All scans were done at 3200 dpi, 24 bit color, ca. 2800 x 4400  originals

Bookshelf, incandescent light, Fuji Superia X-tra 400, Minolta XE-7 w/MD Rokkor 50 mm @f8 , orinal file 2800x4400 pixels. 


Epson automatic color correction (again, a little blue)


I found that while being a little crude, the Epson USM works well enough to be automatically applied to what transparencies I scan:

100% crop, no unsharp mask               

  USM set to medium                  

USM set to high


The 3170 comes with a software-based dust and scratch removal. Having seen what and IR-based system can do, this one didn't really impress me. It works to a degree, but when set to high it can produce nasty artifacts (not visible below). If your negative isn't in really bad shape, I'd pass this one and manually fix the worst scratches in Photoshop.

100% crop, dust removal set to low           

DR set to medium                   

DR set to high


35 mm slide film

A good majority of my work with 3170 has been 35 mm film. Most of the time I'm getting a little better results with color negatives than with slides. I wonder whether this only due to their difference in relative transparency. But, since the 3170 is advertised having a dmax of 3.4 I thought only a dark slide would really tell. For Comparison I had one of my films scanned at Kuvapussi to a Kodak PhotoCD. Having used half a dozen or so photo labs, this seems to be as good as it gets. PhotoCD files have a maximum resolution of 2048 x 3072 pixels.

Empire State building, Fuji Provia 100F (slide), Canon EOS 300 (rebel) w/EF 28-90 mm, noon, September 2003


100% crop from PhotoCD original

Epson 3170 output resized to match 6 mpix of PhotoCD

Epson 3170 original

Provia 100F is a film very rich in color. I don't know how much of the blue cast in the 3170 scan can be attributed to this and how much to the scanner itself. It was a hazy day, but still the colors on the PhotoCD image are a little washed away. True color would be somewhere between the two images above left.

The really dark part:

100% crop from PhotoCD original

Epson 3170 output resized to match 6 mpix of PhotoCD

3170 after levels correction


As you can see, it's here where the 3170 falls short of its film-only competitors.  With due post-processing you can save a lot, but not quite match the quality of PhotoCD. I must however say that this kind of slide with a mixture of sunlit and shadow detalis is really as bad as it gets.

Example #2

Midtown Manhattan. A view down from the Empire State Building viewing platfrom. Provia 100F, Canon Eos 300 (rebel), EF 28-90 mm, early afternoon, September 2003

3170 scan resized from 2800 x 4400 original

100 crop from Photo-CD original

Epson 3170 output resized to match 6mpix of PhotoCD

With an image easier on the dark end the difference isn't that big any more. Resolution seems to be on par with the PhotoCD. Again, color isn't really right in either one of the images.With a minute in Photoshop this is what you'll get:

100% crop from Photo-CD original (same as above)

Epson 3170 output resized, levels corrected, color cast removed and slight sharpening applied.

same as above at 200%

same as above at 200%

What can you say? Clearly the 3200 dpi isn't there and the images do need some post-processing, but to be honest I didn't expect the 3170 to do this good. If you really want to pick on the details, the 3170 does resolve less shadow detail in the road passing behing the building. I could've pushed this a little more in Photoshop but I didn't want to increase noise - which is clearly visible in the PhotoCD image. 

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