Exceptional for a scanner in its price range, the 3170 comes with a medium format adapter. It's best suited for 6x9, but you'll manage to insert a 6x6 negative too. The obvious downside is that you can scan only one frame at a time. This is especially so since scanning medium format is fairly slow. The image below took 4 1/2 minutes to scan and post-processing slows things down even more. Here USB 2.0 should come handy, since the scanner stops several times when transferring the data to the computer.
Boys and the car, Flexaret twin-lens reflex, ca. 1965, 6x6 color negative, film unknown, 24 bit color, 7500 x 7500 pixels
|Original negative with a color cast||Manual(click-on-white) color correction in Photoshop|
100% crop with levels and color correction in Photoshop
Birthday party, Flexaret twin-lens reflex, ca. 1963, 6x6 b&w negative, film unknown, 8 bit, 7500 x 7500 pixels
100% crop, no post-processing
Again, we're far from 3200 dpi, but looking at the 100% crops it's not that bad either. And while these images look small here, in reality they are huge, around 55 megapixels each. So there's plenty from which to downsize. You really understand this when you open even a mere 35 mm scan at full resolution. A single 6 x 6 color negative scanned at 24 bit results in a whopping 170 Mb file which translates to 340 Mb at 48 bit.
Something to consider though is that not all old negatives have that information in them. And what isn't enough for someone else might suit you just fine. I wasn't able to run a comparison with a dedicated MF film scanner, they're in the $1500 range, but you could assume that some of the softness in this case is from the Flexaret lens or the negative itself. And, there aren't too manu sub-$200 scanners that can scan medium format at all.
One thing you clearly need with this scanner is raw computing power. My 800 Mhz Athlon with 256 Mb of ram and Windows 98 fared well, except when working with medium format files. I got the job done but I felt sorry for my hard drive for all that swapping it had to endure. It's obvious that any new system with USB 2.0 will be faster, especially in post-processing.
Still, most of the time during scanning the computer does the work and you'll do something else. That being the case it doesn't really matter whether it takes 5 or 8 minutes to scan a set of negatives. But when the hard drive starts to crunch while post-processing you really want more memory. 512 Mb should do, at least with Windows 98. For MF work and Windows XP you'll probably need more.