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Author Topic: 120 film scanning quality ?  (Read 8193 times)
fudsylow
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« on: August 15, 2011, 11:35:08 AM »
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Hi guys, I just posted this over in the MF section too, so sorry if I am in the wrong place here, or there...

I am about to buy a 120 film camera Contax 645.

I have heard that the pro labs do a pretty good job at scanning the negatives they develop nowadays. I last shot 120 film 13 years ago, and the scanners weren't much good back then..

I am wondering what kind of workable quality that the files will be from the 120 scans ? ? ?

Also, I am wondering how much photoshopping the files will need to be "workable", or "printable".. and to what size/quality can I expect to print from a file which they are saying will be around the 40MB scanned file size ?

Please help me to clarify what quality and printability I will get from my scans ?

Thanks heaps for your answers...

Cheers
Rich.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2011, 11:51:15 AM »
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Hi guys, I just posted this over in the MF section too, so sorry if I am in the wrong place here, or there...

I am about to buy a 120 film camera Contax 645.

I have heard that the pro labs do a pretty good job at scanning the negatives they develop nowadays. I last shot 120 film 13 years ago, and the scanners weren't much good back then..

I am wondering what kind of workable quality that the files will be from the 120 scans ? ? ?

Also, I am wondering how much photoshopping the files will need to be "workable", or "printable".. and to what size/quality can I expect to print from a file which they are saying will be around the 40MB scanned file size ?

Please help me to clarify what quality and printability I will get from my scans ?

Thanks heaps for your answers...

Cheers
Rich.
Smiley


Unanswerable. Depends on the lab, the specs they scan to, the scanners they use, and most important of all the quality of what you are sending them.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
fudsylow
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2011, 11:56:52 AM »
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Thanks dude.

Appreciate your reply so soon..

Assuming a sharp negative, 67 x 50 @ 72 dpi is what I have been told is the scan resolution....

Does this help ?
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2011, 12:18:37 PM »
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Hi,

My take is that 67 slide film would be scanned at minimum 1600 PPI. I have scanned mine at 3200 PPI. From those scans it is very much possible to make really good 70x100 cm prints. That would be around 28x40". Astonishing quality on Durst Lambda.

On the other hand, I found that digital images from my 24.5 MP Sony Alpha seem to be cleaner. But I have not yet made 70x100 cm prints from those.

Best regards
Erik
 


Thanks dude.

Appreciate your reply so soon..

Assuming a sharp negative, 67 x 50 @ 72 dpi is what I have been told is the scan resolution....

Does this help ?
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fudsylow
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2011, 12:19:42 PM »
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Thanks Eric..
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2011, 12:34:07 PM »
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Thanks dude.

Appreciate your reply so soon..

Assuming a sharp negative, 67 x 50 @ 72 dpi is what I have been told is the scan resolution....

Does this help ?

My name isn't "Dude" and yes, it only helps a little. There is much more to this than that. And even that - 67*50 what - inches, centimeters? Perhaps you need to spend some time informing yourself about the basics of scanning, then you'll know specifically what questions to ask - first of lab providing the service, and then if still necessary here, where those interested in the topic and willing would be better placed to help you without taking the time to write you a thesis on scanning.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
fudsylow
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2011, 12:44:24 PM »
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forgive me Mark for calling you dude.
It wasn't meant to be a negative term...

As for the education, that is what these forums are about, right ? Ask questions and get honest and respectable answers... I spent a few hours trolling through old posts, trying to educate myself, and I couldn't find any addressing my concerns about the quality of scan/print result that I would end up with. Hence why I started a new question. I didn't want to bother self professed experts in the field of scanning who don't have time to actually be helpful and reply. I was more looking for a colleague in this profession who would spend a few moments and perhaps help someone who isn't as proficient in this particular area, and was humble enough to seek assistance...

15 years ago when I last shot 120 film, scanning was just not an option. But I do appreciate that many of the people on here, perhaps including yourself, are well versed, hence why I sort professional and friendly advice in this medium...

I have asked the lab, and it was inches, not centimetres.

But I do thank you for your time regardless...
Cheers
Rich.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2011, 01:11:58 PM »
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Rich,

Understood.

There has been scanning capability for medium format negatives since a long time back. Many of those scanners are now discontinued. Some of them were excellent equipment in terms of colour reproduction reliability and sharpness. Many of them are still in operation, but it depends. If the lab is using one of the Minolta medium format scanners or a Nikon 9000, they are well equipped to deliver very good results, at least machine-wise. If they are using an Epson V700/750 flatbed, which would be the state-of-the-art in flatbeds amongst currently available models, they will also deliver pretty decent results, especially in medium format.

From that point on, everything depends on how the scanning is done, what settings they use and what file format they deliver to you. The issues of whether it is compressed JPEG or uncompressed TIFF, 16-bit depth or 8-bit depth. sRGB colour space or Adobe RGB (98) colour space or ProPhoto colour space are the same issues for medium format as they are for 35mm scanning. They all determine the gamut, data richness - essentially the quality of the raw material you will have for further adjustments. If you are going to do further processing, you should prefer to get uncorrected scans from them, and especially unsharpened ones. Once all that stuff is baked-in, you can have a hard time dealing with the consequences and it can be limiting in terms of further image quality improvement.

50 inches at 72 pixels per inch (they use the term dpi, but that's technically wrong - it really means pixels per inch - PPI - really samples per inch which end up as pixels), means that on the short dimension you have 72*50 total pixels or 3600 pixels. Assuming you want to print at 300 PPI or more for best print quality, 3600/300 gives you a short dimension of 12 inches. If you want to print larger than that, you will need to drop the output PPI below 300, or resample the image. Both can impact quality. If you crop the picture and still want a small dimension 12 inches or more, all the more so dropping output resolution or resampling up the data. For a medium format scanning service, I think what they are providing is "de-minimus". But that depends on your needs. The whole idea of MF is to make nice big enlargements at high quality, and/or have lots of flex for cropping and still make large high quality prints;  the scan dimensions they are providing you wouldn't cut it with me, but this is a personal thing depending on how and how big you want to print.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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fudsylow
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2011, 01:20:11 PM »
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Thanks Mark,
It is Richard's Photo Lab in the USA I am talking with. They seem to be highly recommended around the web that I have seen from various US photographers... so I guess they will be producing pretty good stuff to be getting the accolades they do.
Thanks again for your explanations... I understand the digital back end, having shot digital now for 8 years. Scanning is just a whole new process once I go back to 120 film...
Cheers
Rich.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2011, 01:28:14 PM »
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I looked over their pricing. I don't know how much free time you have - and interest, because scanning itself can be pretty boring - but you know, at 6 dollars per high quality scan, after about 150 of those you've bought yourself a decent scanner and software and with a bit of learning can have the whole thing under your total control.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 02:19:58 PM »
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Hi,

Just a few additional comments. I shot Velvia in my MF epoch. Velvia is nice but not easy to scan, because it having excessive density and high contrast. I'm about trying MF color negatives right now, so have no comments on that issue, yet.

File size tells very little! The files can be in TIFF or JPEG, TIFF can be 16 bit or 8 bit and compressed or not. In addition JPEG can be compressed at umpteen different levels. A good rule of thumb is that you need 180 pixels/inch for really good prints.

Best regards
Erik


Also, I am wondering how much photoshopping the files will need to be "workable", or "printable".. and to what size/quality can I expect to print from a file which they are saying will be around the 40MB scanned file size ?


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pfigen
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2011, 02:10:41 AM »
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Rich,

If you're going to go to the trouble of shooting film with Contax lenses you really owe it to your images to have a few really great scans made as a reference - high end drum scans by someone who knows how to scan. The Fuji/Noritsu scans offered by most labs, frankly, suck, compared to good drum scans. If you want to record everything from your film, you generally need to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 4000 ppi (even for Ektar color neg) and the dynamic range of a good old vacuum tube for a sensor.
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fudsylow
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« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2011, 04:06:30 AM »
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Hi Pfigen,
Are you happy to recommend anywhere that DOES do excellent scans as you described ?
Rich.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2011, 08:15:16 AM »
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Doesn't take much effort these days to find out: http://www.dannyburk.com/drum_scanning.htm.

That said, in principle yes - it should be better. How much better and whether the quality difference is worth from 3 to 10 times the price is something to determine by ordering a scan from each service, putting them up in Photoshop and comparing. It would be an interesting exercise. I've never done this so I don't know the answer. I only consider I know such an answer after comparing the results with my own eyes - not what even the most well-intentioned people say on the internet without providing the evidence. It's not that they're necessarily wrong - in fact to the contrary - but in many of these kinds of things, so much depends on end-use purpose, standards and expectations, which vary so much from person to person.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
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« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2011, 12:10:19 AM »
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"Are you happy to recommend anywhere that DOES do excellent scans as you described ?"

Rich - I've been making my own drum scans for about thirteen years now. It's definitely as much art as craft, but it's really worth it to have the best. There are drum scanners and there are drum scanners. The only two I would consider would be ICG and Howtek/Aztek, particularly for ultra high res. The scanner operator makes as much difference as the hardware, but even the best operator cannot overcome certain hardware shortcomings like minimum aperture size or number of available apertures when it comes to scanning color neg. As far as commercial scanning shops go, the reason I bought my own scanners and learned how to use them well was that I was never satisfied with what was available at even the so called "best" shops in Los Angeles, where I live and work.

And yes, good scanners and good software do make a difference in the final product. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that the scans I make are the best they've ever seen. And just last month I ended up scanning a 6x7 Velvia that had already been scanned by one of the biggest places in L.A. (Crush). Their Fuji Crossfield made a scan that was approximately 1.3 gigs in 8 bit RGB, or about 8000 ppi. The same 8000 ppi scan from my Howtek had noticeably better tonality and dynamic range, but to my surprise, it was also a lot sharper with more real detail and crisply defined grain in the image. I can't wait to go see the subsequent print, which is at the L.A. Natural History Museum and something like twelve by eighteen feet (I think).

Peter
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lenny_eiger
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« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2011, 01:16:15 AM »
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Hi guys, I just posted this over in the MF section too, so sorry if I am in the wrong place here, or there...

I am about to buy a 120 film camera Contax 645.

I have heard that the pro labs do a pretty good job at scanning the negatives they develop nowadays. I last shot 120 film 13 years ago, and the scanners weren't much good back then..
I am wondering what kind of workable quality that the files will be from the 120 scans ? ? ?
Also, I am wondering how much photoshopping the files will need to be "workable", or "printable".. and to what size/quality can I expect to print from a file which they are saying will be around the 40MB scanned file size ?
Please help me to clarify what quality and printability I will get from my scans ?
Thanks heaps for your answers...

I do this stuff for a living. The answer is an 8,000 ppi scan. I might suggest a Mamiya 7 II over the 645, just a bit more film area, which makes a nice difference. Lenses are amazing....

I just did some 6x7's. The file size is 2.2 gigs, at 16 bit RGB. 2.75 inches at it's largest dimension yields 2.75 * 8000, or 22,000 total pixels. Divide that by 300 and yu should be able to make a 73 inch print at full resolution without interpolating. There's nothing like it. I use the Aztek Premier, which is one of only two drum scanners that can scan at an optical resolution near 8,000.

Pro labs generally do not do a good job at scanning. What any one of the pros will tell you is that the scanner operator is of key importance, and I concur. The labs usually (not always) have a young fellow doing scans who isn't experienced. There are all sorts of inexpensive scans where they don't even look at the image. I only do full size scans. I don't charge by the megabyte. It's a very different mindset...

I hope this helps,

Lenny

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deanwork
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« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2011, 12:22:36 PM »
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Lenny,

What do you have to say about this man's statement on resolution :- ). And how a 8,000 ppi scanner is useless for small format film, etc. Maybe he doesn't have one.

Look at the prices on those scans. How does he make a living?

"DRUM SCAN PRICES

You'll note that my sizing and pricing schedule is more detailed than that listed by many services: some, for example, suggest a blanket 300 MB scan for anything larger than 35mm. I don't believe in a "one size fits all" approach! My own testing indicates that usable detail is not obtained by scanning at resolutions greater than 4000 dpi: this is scanning at film grain level, clearly visible in the resulting scan. Don't be fooled by services that offer scans at greater than 4000 dpi resolution - they are happy to take your money, but they are merely providing a larger file with no actual benefits. For example, a 200 MB scan from 35mm gives you nothing that you can't obtain by interpolating my 70 MB scan in Photoshop, and my price for this scan is much lower. My sizing and pricing schedule is tailored to individual format sizes. I offer a choice of resolution on large originals such as 4x5, 5x7, 8x10."



http://www.dannyburk.com/drum_scanning.htm
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lenny_eiger
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« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2011, 01:21:06 PM »
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Lenny,

What do you have to say about this man's statement on resolution :- ). And how a 8,000 ppi scanner is useless for small format film, etc. Maybe he doesn't have one.

Well, there are a couple of issues here. The first is the scanner hardware. There are many claims that are based upon people that used Tango's, primarily labs, in the old days. They suggested that 1) you couldn't get anything past 4,000 and 2) that you couldn't scan negatives (at all). Both of these claims were hardware based. The Tango is a good scanner, but it was limited by being a "6 micron" engine, meaning that its components were rated to that tolerance. There are approximately 4,000 6 micron slices in an inch, so its understandable how they got their numbers.

The Aztek Premier and the ICG 380 are 3 micron engines, with a tested resolution of 7300 or more, or one could say, close to 8,000. The PRemier has an 18,000-step stepper motor and could have offered 18,000 ppi but chose to offer the max of 8,000 instead, because that's what it can actually deliver, in real resolution. When you have a 3 micron device, all the parts work better, like a large lens that has to retain its perfectly sharp polish across the entire surface. Regardless of what aperture you set things at, its still better at overall optical resolution.

Further, it is foolish to suggest that there is a max of 4,000, as the number of samples is only tangentially related to resolution. The resolution is primarily connected to the aperture the scan is set to (and the micron tolerance of the device). One looks all the way down to the grain of the film and sets the aperture to match the size of the grain. The Premier has the ability to set the micron size of the sample in 3 micron increments, for example, 6, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 19 microns. It goes much larger but this is the range film lives in... The number of pixels you end up with is a key to being able to make a print at a decent size from small film. 8,000 ppi gives you 12,000 pixels from a 35 mm neg, at the full resolution the scanner is capable of. That's a 40 inch print at 300 dpi. IF you are working with a scanner that is only capable of 6 microns, then its interpolating. However, if you do that with a scanner that can do the 8,000, it isn't. I have done many large prints from smaller negs, altho I prefer at least med format, these prints hold up very well.

Finally, it takes some time to do a scan properly. At least an hour of my time, ina ddition to the time its on the scanenr. It is not an automated thing, where you can set high and low points and let 'er rip... If someone is charging you $40 or less, they aren't even looking at your film. It has been said many times, and I concur, that the operator is a major factor in doing scans. Why is this? It's because there are many decisions that can be made, and the good operators know how to set up the file so that you can make the kind of print you want to make. That's why I would never suggest you send your film to a lab to be scanned. They don't want to study your work to see what your aesthetic goals are. The art of scanning starts with knowing what kind of print your client wants. Then it is an operator's job to make that possible. This is done primarily with curves, making sure that key areas of tonality separate properly - so that they can be masked in PhotoShop and controlled. If I don't like the say the scan turned out for the goals to be reached, I do it again. All work here is guaranteed.

My philosophy is that I never deliver a junky scan for this much, a little better for that much, and if you want the whole thing, oh my g-d, it will cost you a fortune. I'm a photographer. Like all of you, I want only to deliver my best work. So I charge by the size of the original, deliver full resolution, 16 bit RGB scans. The 35mm's are usually 500 megs, the rest between 1.7 and 3 Gigs. That's unless you need some more. I can do a 4x5 at 6 Gigs or an 8x10 at 24 Gigs, something I just did for a guy who wanted to make a full-rez 35 foot print.

I hope this helps clarify some of these issues... for some.

Lenny

EigerStudios
Museum Quality Drum Scanning and Printing
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deanwork
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« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2011, 03:21:23 PM »
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There are so many good points in that statement that it totally speaks for itself as a good thing to print out and save for future reference. There are not many people left who have even taken the time to study this stuff. Everyone is immersed in digital camera capture, but there is still nothing more glorious than a great drum scan of a well exposed piece of large format film.

But as someone who had done drum scans for art photographers for the last 8 years, the one thing I would say is that there IS no substitute for someone taking the time to look at your film, evaluate it, and make concrete informed decisions based on how the final print will be perceived. And, that takes time. No machine can do that, no software can make those decisions. This is the same with scanning as it is with great printmaking. The equipment is just the beginning.

And no, a 4000 dpi Howtek is not the same as an 8000 dpi Howtek or Aztek or any of the other highest-end pmt scanners, especially if you are using a really good software like DPL (and that goes double for color negs). If it were I wouldn't have just upgraded from the former to the latter. And as he says the smaller aperture makes a huge difference when it comes to small format film grain and resolution especially. A few years ago I didn't believe that either but I was proven wrong.

john
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2011, 02:09:53 AM »
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I posted two scan from Ektar100 (negavtive color film) I made for a test a couple of weeks ago.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=58067.0

Actual pixel crops at 3200 PPI from Pentax 67.

Best regards
Erik

Hi guys, I just posted this over in the MF section too, so sorry if I am in the wrong place here, or there...

I am about to buy a 120 film camera Contax 645.

I have heard that the pro labs do a pretty good job at scanning the negatives they develop nowadays. I last shot 120 film 13 years ago, and the scanners weren't much good back then..

I am wondering what kind of workable quality that the files will be from the 120 scans ? ? ?

Also, I am wondering how much photoshopping the files will need to be "workable", or "printable".. and to what size/quality can I expect to print from a file which they are saying will be around the 40MB scanned file size ?

Please help me to clarify what quality and printability I will get from my scans ?

Thanks heaps for your answers...

Cheers
Rich.
Smiley

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