Scanning 120 Film with the CanonScan 9000F Mark II

Scanning 120 Film with the CanoScan 9000F MarkII (Podcast 690)

In this post, I walk you through the process of setting up a CanoScan 9000F MkII Scanner for high-resolution scanning of 120 format film.

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
12 Comments
  • Murray Foote
    Posted at 16:16h, 19 December Reply

    Hello Martin

    I’m surprised Canon have a 9000F Mark II. I have a 9950F which replaced the 9900F and is in its turn also superceded. Perhaps they made it the 9000F Mark II because there is no longer much demand for 5×4 scans.

    Assuming it’s the same as things were, my understanding is that the 4800 resolution is theoretical rather than actual and actual resolution is likely to much less. Update: I found a review in a German scanning site I had bookmarked that tested the resolution to 1700dpi though you need to scan at “4800” to get that. https://www.filmscanner.info/en/CanonCanoScan9000FMark2.html

    My experience with the 9950 was that Canon’s Canoscan software was appalling and would clip the images you scanned. My preferred software was Silverfast (current version AI Studio), which is complex and expensive. However, Silverfast stopped supporting the 9950F after Windows XP so I went to Vuescan, which is simple, inexpensive and works.

    Regards,

    Murray

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 17:19h, 19 December Reply

      Hi Murray,

      It’s great to hear from you. I hope all is well.

      I’m not buying many of the statistics that I see on that page. Firstly, the scans for a 6 x 7 cm negative at 4800 dpi shouldn’t be taking 45 minutes with the ScanGear software. A 6 x 6 cm negative is only taking 2 to 3 minutes for me. Although this might be longer for 48bit color, I can’t imagine it taking 45 minutes.

      Also, regarding resolution, they are getting their 1700 dpi from the resolution of a shot of a test chart, but I cannot find a mention anywhere of what camera/lens or film, developers they have used. As I mentioned in this post, the Yashica-D shot much lower “resolution” images than the Rolleiflex does. I have also noticed that ILFORD XP5 film is lower resolution than their DELTA film. I might be missing this information on their page, but stating the resolution of the scanner without taking this into consideration is a bit of a slippery slope.

      The resulting images that I’m seeing at 4800 dpi scans are sharper than at 4200 dpi and 3800 in similar steps, which is why I’ve settled on 4800 dpi for scanning images on good quality film from a good quality vintage camera. It’s slightly overkill, as I mentioned, but not much. Note though that everything I’m talking about is related to scanning 6 x 6 medium format images, and the post you linked to focusses more (though not entirely) on the results of 35mm film scans, where their findings are more relevant.

      The ScanGear software that comes with the printer does a fine job, and you can set how much cropping you want it to do. I’ve found that the standard cropping works perfectly, and in fact, occasionally leaves a bit of the actual frame showing. If I increase this to less cropping, all four edges of the negatives are visible, unnecessarily leaving more work to do later. Maybe the software has improved since you used it, but I am very happy with the software I’m currently using, which is why I mentioned that I’m not really looking at other options at the moment. I’d be happy to evaluate software if someone provides me with it, but there is no incentive for me to buy anything because I have no problems to fix.

      Regards,
      Martin.

      • Murray Foote
        Posted at 21:03h, 20 December Reply

        Hi Martin, yes, all is well.

        It makes sense that things have changed since 12 to 15 years ago so Scangear is probably significantly improved. It was clipping especially of the highlights I was referring to though rather than cropping. And when I was scanning 5×4 slides on my 9950, I found I got as good results on 2400dpi as 4800 but once again that may have been the older scanner.

  • William Gulker
    Posted at 11:57h, 20 December Reply

    Coincidentally, I am in the middle of a slide scanning job using my 9000F Mark II. I debated getting a newer scanner before I started this project however I decided the slides did not justify a better scanner. I am scanning about 800 family slides taken from 1948 to 1975. I decided to purchase the SilverFast SE Plus software to perform the scanning. My main attraction to the SilverFast software was the scratch and dust corrections. I think the software performs this task very well. I am also scanning at 4800 dpi and with the software settings I am using, each slide takes about 5 minutes to complete.

    Thank you for the podcast.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 12:21h, 20 December Reply

      Thanks for the information William. I have been spending quite a lot of time removing dust from some nagatives, so if that works well, it might be a reason to give SilverFast a try. I’ll check it out.

      I’m curious as to what you considered better than the CanoScan 9000F MkII. Even $2,000+ film scanners are only scanning up to 3200 DPI.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Itzik Eitan
    Posted at 20:19h, 20 December Reply

    Hi
    https://www.amazon.com/Archival-Negative-Pages-Strips-Frames/dp/B00009R8ZP/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Negative+Pages+Hold&qid=1576840599&sr=8-3
    Archival 120 Size Negative Pages Holds Three Strips of Four 6 x 6 Frames, Pack of 25
    Regards

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 20:21h, 20 December Reply

      Excellent! Thank you for sharing that Itzik! Very much appreciated.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Rich Ball
    Posted at 07:44h, 21 December Reply

    Martin – I really like you minimalist photo in the example. I was wondering if your Rollieflex work was going to make into your professional portfolio. Several comment about your process:

    I believe the sensor for film scanning is actually in the lid. For three reasons. One, given that you place the film in the holder with the emulsion side up, if you are scanning downward you are scanning through the film base. In a traditional wet darkroom you always place the negative with the emulsion side down toward the paper. Otherwise you end up with a softer photo and any printed items in the image backwards. Two, the resolution required for scanning documents or photographs is much lower. Typically 300 to 600 dpi. Three, it would be cheaper to manufacture a relatively short sensor to put in the lid for film scanning. A relatively more inexpensive longer sensor for document and photographs in the base.

    Have you ever had or considered having the photos drum scanned? This is supposedly a much higher quality. it might be an interesting experiment.

    With respect to scanners. I’m using the original 9000F. Canon doesn’t support negative scanning with this scanner anymore. It forced me to move on to SilverFast 8 SE. It works but it is cumbersome and somewhat quirky. I won’t go into all the faults. I can get useable scans from it though. Each 120 negative frame takes about 5 minutes. Part of this is due to my geriatric 2010 17″ MacBook Pro. I plan to replace it after the first of the year. Hopefully a new significantly faster processor will help.

    With respect to other scanners the Epson V600 has been recommended to my a couple of different people. It does have fairly high resolution. The price is reasonable.

    You might find it cheaper for filters to buy a step up ring for Rollieflex Bay 1 to a conventional screw filter. They are available on ebay for a reasonable price. As a side note I finally figured out that Bay was an abbreviation for bayonet.

    Finally, You might want to look at some Youtuber Nick Carvers videos on scanning. He is using an Epson V750 (expensive) but does introduce some interesting concepts. When I first saw the videos on the buildings he was photographing I was sort of put off. However, They have grown on me and I like them.

    Sorry for this relatively long comment.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:01h, 21 December Reply

      Hi Rich,

      Thanks for the comments, and for the kind words about the work. I do intend to include some of this work in my portfolio as time allows.

      Regarding your comment about the sensor being in the lid, this is incorrect. The lid contains an LED light unit that moves over the film during the scan. The images come out back to front when you accidentally load the film shiny side up, so I’m pretty sure my comment here is correct.

      Also, while I agree that resolution required for scanning documents or “printed” photographs is typically 300 to 600 dpi, the comment is irrelevant in the context of scanning negatives or positive film. As you’ve included this in your list of three reasons for believing the scan unit is in the lid, I guess you are hinting on it being a different unit because the resolution is different, but that’s not necessary. One sensor can be used for all resolutions. Finally, on this, the plastic over the light slit in the lid is not clear, it contains a diffuser. You could not perform an optical scan through it.

      I have considered drum scanning, but I am not going that route for two main reasons. 1) I prefer to scan myself, rather than send images out for scanning, and 2) I’m getting incredibly good quality scans this way. It doesn’t seem necessary.

      I may have checked out Nick Carvers videos, but don’t remember the names of the people I watched. I’ll check him out at some point, but right now, I’m happy with the results I’m getting,

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Sean
    Posted at 08:47h, 12 February Reply

    My Epson scanner died on me recently too so I’ve been looking around Amazon Japan and Yodobashi for a replacement. It doesn’t look like there’s a a lot of choice out there nowadays (for quality scanners). I’ve been tempted to buy one of those dedicated film scanners (Kenko etc.) you can find online for ¥12,000 or so but they look so cheap that I’m not sure how long they’ll last.

    What made you go with the Canon over the Epson? I’m thinking of buying an Epson GTX-830 as a replacement for the GTX-980 I used to have.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 15:42h, 09 April Reply

      Hi Sean,

      Sorry for the delayed reply. Just catching up on comments etc.

      I can’t remember exactly why I went with Canon over the Epson, but seem to recall it being easier access to higher resolutions or something like that. I didn’t go for a cheap dedicated scanner for the same reason. None of them have high enough scanning resolution to do a medium format negative justice. I’ve been happy with the Canon so far, although it would be have been nice to have more choice in this space, as you say.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Baz Anderson
    Posted at 15:48h, 21 June Reply

    Hello Martin,

    Although it has taken a while for me to get to it, I have just applied your suggestions to my scanning with the Canon 9000F Mark 2 and I am super happy, many thanks.

    Only sorry I cannot use the FARE (Remove Dust and Scratches) software in Monochrome Negative mode, why is that do you think?

    Cheers,
    Baz

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