Scanners the Achilles Heel

Click on the audio logo to listen to a rant on the future of film scanners. As mentioned in the audio, contact Kodak and let them know you want your $500 dedicated film scanner now!

Two great methods to let your voice be heard on this important topic:

Kodak CMO Jeffery Hayzlett on Twitter: @JeffreyHayzlett

Kodak Scanner Email Contact:

If you can, do both!…let your voice be heard!… remember it is our medium! Please reference this article and the $500 dedicated film scanner in both your tweets and in your emails… pass this along to as many photographers as you know…if you get it as a tweet… retweet it and pass it on!

32 thoughts on “Scanners the Achilles Heel

  1. Do you have any experience with the Plustek scanners? For 35mm, they do in fact make a dedicated film scanner in this price range, so I’d be curious to know what you think of them.

    Also, would your proposed model have ICE or something similar. Is that a necessary feature for the “working” hybrid photographer?

    Thanks for the initiative!

    1. I have no experience with Plustek so I can not comment… I would envision a high quality 35mm / 120 scanner with a range around 4.8 or do… ICE or something like that would be a nice option.

      Pass it on!!!

      1. The Plustek only has a range of 3.5, I believe, and a real-world max around 3800dpi. Still, it seems to be selling well.

        For more evidence of commercial viability, just look at the number of bids on ebay for used Nikon scanners! 30-40 bids is not uncommon, even at near original price.

    2. Thank you for doing this post. This really touches on what I have mentioned to you in the past about the accessibility of good scanners. I think it’s a great idea to at least have a “500”$ scanner at a mid professional level to allow people like me to use it to proof film. I love and enjoy using my Epson 4490 scanner. The scanner is great for positive photos but as you already know its not so great with film and the other downside is that it is slow. On the upside using the scanner has allowed me to learn allot about scanning negatives.

      I will be starting to process my own film again. It would be great to have a scanner that is better quality and more efficient so I can see what the results are after processing BW negatives. Maybe ill even print them myself.

      There are 2 types of artist-photographers. People who like to be a part of the process as much as possible and others who just like to shoot. Sally Mann does her own prints and Henri Cartier-Bresson had an assistant do his prints. I am more of a person who likes to be part of the process as much as possible. Both are Viable but like you have said choice is good.

      I have been looking at Kodak cinematography website and I have noticed how much they are pushing film and hybrid technology in motion picture film. It is encouraging.

      Just a side note: I am going to try to make digital negatives with Fuji instant film and try using the negatives in a traditional darkroom.

      Another interesting way to use a scanner.

      Thanks again…


  2. Hey Stephen,

    Just wanted to say a hello from Brazil and tell you that your idea for that RAW, $500 scanner is great and I will promptly email kodak. Who knows, we might even get what we want!

    Have a great day,

  3. Thanks, Stephen!

    I just sent my email. This is a great idea!

    I have a coolscan V, but bought a 5000 last year after hearing they might be discontinued. I have a huge archive of negatives and slides and did not want to find myself with nothing but a flatbed to scan them. Unfortunately, that’s all I have for my 2 1/2 negatives. The Coolscan 9000 (and even the used 8000’s) are just beyond what I can spend.

  4. Stephen, I’m going to post a blog entry in a day or so expanding somewhat on this post. I think it’s a great idea, one I hope EK runs with.

    But it seems almost impossible that they’d take this risk in their current fiscal environment.

    Even more egregious, in my view, is Nikon’s abandonment of their scanner users, which I’ve complained about on my blog in the past.

    Add my voice to what I hope is a clamor for this scanner.

  5. Hey Stephen,
    I will be sending my email shortly, but first an idea…
    What about an offer for pre order… It seems we need to show them that If they build it we will come, slightly bass ackwards but if they have an idea of prophets they may have more incentive to go ahead with a release.

  6. Okay, twittered and email sent. Last line of my email: “You have provided us with an incredibly sharp, impressive, and successful product in Ektar 100. Please help us get the most out of it.”

  7. Maybe it is just me, but the audio cuts out after 3 and a half minutes. You were just beginning to tell about your meeting at Kodak. I tried to listen twice with the same result. I’d love to hear the rest.

  8. Have Mercy Stephen, Some of us grey bearded old timers would be very happy if we could lay our hands on a $1000.00 4 x 5 film scanner. Where do I send my check? Thanks for all that you are attempting.

  9. I have sent the following email under the subject “Film’s Resurgence”:

    Dear Sir!

    We have seen a bold decade just passed where photography has seen a huge resurgence in popularity. Undoubtedly, much of this is owed to the spectacular rise of usable digital cameras. Sites like Flickr have allowed people to share their photography in ways never seen before. And, as the pace of improvement of digital cameras has plateaued, huge numbers of people have found or rediscovered film and are sharing that passion on sites like “Figital Revolution” and “Feeling Negative”. A whole generation is eagerly discovering film for the first time through online movements like “lomography”.

    Sadly, many are feeling extremely limited in their ability to share the great photos they are producing on your film. They can see but not share. In the past they would have dropped the film in their projector or passed around prints but today’s sharing is digital. What they need is a high quality scanner that will produce high quality scans like the Nikon Coolscans did. There are no currently available scanners that will:

    • Provide a sharp high res scan that can be used to print at large sizes (most flatbeds have high dpi numbers but low optical resolution)
    • Provide ICE to remove the inevitable scratches, defects and dust
    • Provide a high “DMAX” to show the true depth captured in the shadows on the film (and so easily seen on a light box)
    • Provide batch scanning so that it is not a chore to scan a roll
    • Scan with good speed
    • Handle 35mm and medium format (medium format is MUCH more popular these days since the price of used equipment is low)

    Unbelievably, the market offers nothing at all to fulfill this need which is common to a very large number of current film shooters. So many new film shooters are trying film, scanning it on bad scanners, and failing to recognise the image quality available. So many current film shooters are struggling to make ancient scanners perform as it is the only way to get good representations of their images out.

    Please try to imagine what a surge you would see in film sales if film really caught on. And please imagine that it caught on because YOU made the scanner that everyone says is great and is using. You would be well positioned with your new films like Ektar 100 to capitalise on this popularity and would have an additional profitable product in the scanner. You could probably even sell the scanner at a loss and make it up on film sales. In either case, this market is desperate (just look at eBay for “Nikon Coolscan scanner”) and the spoils will go to the company that moves first and best into this space!

    Yours sincerely,


  10. The response so far has been amazing… one of the busiest days yesterday on FR and twitter has been active with tweets… keep up the hard work today and we as a community can make our medium responsive to our needs…

    Viva la Revolution- Stephen

  11. I’ve just sent off an short but precise email to Kodak, I wait in eager anticipation!

    In Solidarity,

    Kishor Krishnamoorthi,
    University of Essex Photographic Society.

  12. You should go on the bandh, Adorama etc sites and post this in the appropriate product reviews. I will email as you requested.

  13. Thank you for your idea. I think it’s a good way to make Kodak notice but any corporation will want some proper data in order to pass a cost analysis on productizing such a beast, even supposing that already have a technology or even a working prototype in place. What I mean is that a market survey might give them some valuable information to press the case. ex. income of the respondents, spending habits, comparable products they have purchased in the past year, film spending habits, formats, etc. On Kodak’s end, they already have an idea of what is selling and what is not in their own product lines, plus, what I didn’t hear mentioned, was response from retailers and distributors. Kodak is not going to sell these directly so they must have input from buyers as to what they think of the diminishing market for such scanners and possibilities for new ones.

    One more thought on why some may already settle for the existing flatbed scanners is that they may only be scanning for the screen, in which case flatbeds are totally fine. Whereas if you are scanning for print, that is a different matter altogether. I currently only scan for the screen and while even at that point I can see some quality differences from my consumer Canoscan 8400F and the better flatbeds, so far that is good enough. Upgrading to an Epson V750 would be my next step, especially because I shoot 4×5 as well as the other formats.

  14. Having worked for Kodak for five years, in Kpro, I would guess that this scanner will not come from The Great Yellow Father. Nor will it come from Fuji.
    A scanner like this will be third party, smaller, offshoot company. I don’t think it will come from a big three or big five photo-entity, but that is my best guess.
    While they enjoy selling and profiting from film, in my estimation, they are also looking beyond it. We are small in number, which in the end is the ONLY thing that matters.
    When Ektalure paper was discontinued I was in the middle of the trenches in Los Angeles and the backlash was strong. However, when I cornered angry photographers, most of them admitted to last using Ektalure during their college days.
    Same holds true with film. A lot of photogs talk a great game of “loving film,” but haven’t used it in years. Same with analog printing.

  15. Here’s hoping you are right and they can be convinced. A new dedicated 135/120 scanner would be very cool at that price point. I’m skeptical that it will happen though. For my part, Kodak will be getting an email. You never know, right?

  16. In a related matter…could this new content-aware tool in CS5 (nearly) obviate the need for dust/scratch removal in a low-end scanner?

    Not as ideal as ICE, but it might be an awfully useful compromise.

  17. even if they had the money and the inclination it would cost millions and take 2 years design to ship.
    better idea is to partner with a company like plustek.
    they have working built units that can be upgraded sensor electronics etc.. a machine like the Plustek OpticFilm 7500i SE.
    as you remember kodak use to buy nikon f5 cameras and make them digital..
    kodak could even license scan technology and boffins to a company like plustek.

  18. Could this late, but just sent an email to Kodak, referencing this article. I would be first on line for a dedicated, high-quality film scanner at that price point!

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