Epson Perfection V600 scanner review by Brandon Huff

Epson Perfection V600 scanner

by Brandon Huff

(From Steve: Hey guys! Today I bring you an article by my Son, Brandon who has just started to get into film photography, and he is hooked for sure. He has been saving for a Leica M6 but he asked if he could post this short review of his new film scanner here and of course I said yes! He also started his own little website just for fun where he will talk about film gear, scanning, shooting and all kinds of stuff from time to time, so check it out at http://www.brandonhuffphotography.com. He works for me a few hours per week and liked it so much he wanted to start up his own little space on the web. As I always say, it’s all about the passion..and he has it! Like Father like Son!)

For over a month now I have been wondering…should I get a scanner? Should I spend all of that money and potentially not enjoy this time intensive process at all? Well, I will just tell you the old way I was doing it first. After my first roll of film I realized it would be REALLY expensive to get it all scanned at the pro lab at 10-15 dollars a roll. I decided to look for cheap ways to scan film while keeping good quality for what I was doing. I took my Nikon V1 with 18mm lens and propped it on a tripod. I then took a glass door from a cabinet and a bright LED light under with photo paper on top. I would take a picture of each frame and crop it out, this was working great for black and white and medium format but once I got around to color film and especially 35mm format it all went down hill. The contrast was horrible, the colors I tried to fix myself were horrible and it was all just not going to work. So I finally splurged and paid the $220 on Amazon for the Epson V600 scanner.

I must say WOW! This is without a doubt the best 200 dollars I have spent for film photography since I’ve started.  The V700 does medium format and 35mm plus regular scanning as well. It’s resolution for film scans can be set all the way to 12000 DPI even though I can not use that resolution as the scans come out in TIF format at a whopping 1Gig each!! Yes 1GIG! Insane!

Here is the Epson closed

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Here is the Epson open with transparency unit exposed

DSC_4541

Excuse my product shots I have no good way at the moment to do things like this.  The resolution of this scanner is fantastic, it is considered a semi pro model under the Epson V700 which is the professional line but the main reason for not purchasing this is the price jumps and I mean JUMPS this model is only 200-220 dollars while the V700 sky rockets to around 600-700 depending on who you buy it from. Enough talk, lets get to the sample images. I will be showing the old way in which I was doing it (Using my Nikon V1) and the new way as well (with the V600)…

Contax T2 old way with the Nikon V1

mom

Contax T2 same photo Epson V600 4800 DPI

Film auto008

Contax T2 old way with the V1

Brother

Contax T2 Epson V600 4800 DPI

Film auto009

I will now show you some holga shots that are color as well…when I did these color photos they were done in full auto mode with NO retouching WHAT SO EVER non at all!

Holga old way with V1

Asian man

Holga Epson V600 4800 DPI

Film auto020

Holga old way with V1

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Holga Epson V600 4800 DPI

Film auto021

The rest of these photos will be from the Mamiya 645. I do not have any color film with it yet but the sharpness if fantastic. Before I do that I would like to say one thing that is wrong with this scanner. The two photos above with the shirts… if you notice the first one is a bigger frame, you can see more shirt to the right and while the one scanned with Epson is WAY better looking it cut off some of the image because it did not see the shirt on the right side. The V600 cropped the frame a bit.

Mamiya 645 Old way with the V1 as the “Scanner”

DSC_4297

DSC_4296

Same images but with the Epson v600 9600 DPI

Film auto035

Film auto034

As you can see these photos are FANTASTIC! WAY better quality out of this scanner so all in all I will be keeping it. I love it!  it’s amazing and I think for all you film shooters that do not have the money to blow $600 on the V700, this is one of the best alternatives I know of. Here are some new photos for you all to enjoy from this great scanner!

Mamiya 645

Selife

Moped man

Momma

Grafwall

Also if you want too you are all welcome to check out my new photography blog/review site. I mostly do film cameras and film types, I am in the process of getting more equipment to review so I will try to post as much as possible!

http://brandonhuffphotography.com

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49 Comments

  1. Just an FYI – Your domain that you link to in this post (I know it’s old) has been taken over by a scam/malware site. You may want to remove the link.

  2. Great article. I am considering a v600 to capture some 2,000 slides i have. Can you give me and estimated scan time for each load of 4 slides that i put into the machine?

    • Steve,

      I’ve only just alighted on this review of the V600, so I am most likely too late for you. However for more technical info regarding the V600 you may care to take a look here, and it will no doubt answer many questions you may have.

      http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/V600/V600.HTM#sho

      If you look at Frank’s post above you see he uses a dedicated 35mm film scanner and which produces a far superior scan than a flatbed ever can. 35mm only, so not for everyone, but I can corroborate everything he says.

      My first scanner, around 2003/04, was a Canon 9900F, which could scan up to 5×4 sheet film, which was a necessity for me at that time. With medium format and sheet film I was amazed at the scan quality, but with 35mm it was somewhat less impressive. I can’t use this with my W7 64 bit OS, so a couple of years ago I got a Canon 9000F, medium format capable, but no 5×4, which isn’t now a concern for me. Again, very good with medium format, but still poor with 35mm.

      What I’m leading up to is that about 3 weeks ago I found a mint Minolta Dimage Scan Elite II, review here:

      http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/DSEII/DSEIIA.HTM

      Both the Minolta and Nikon appear to be very similar in operation and their respective specifications are quite close, so I would imagine scans from either could be very similar, too. What they have that the V600 doesn’t (and I suspect not many, if any, flatbeds) is the ability to adjust focus, either automatically or manually, and this ensures an optimum sharpness with each scan.

      The Minolta film holder keeps film extremely flat, as evidenced by edge to edge sharpness of every scan. I’ve still a lot to learn about how to get the best from my Minolta, but my initial scans are very impressive indeed at 2820 dpi.

      Incidentally, I did trial Vuescan but was appalled at the scan times and for no better performance, as far as I could see..

  3. Have you compared the V600 to the V700? Is there a noticeable difference in scan quality? Is it worth spending the extra few hundred dollars on the V700?

  4. The V600 or V700 are great for medium format and they really sing for large format. Scanned some 5×7 negs on it, fantastic!

    The 12000 dpi number is fantasy. Optical resolution is 2400 dpi max. For 35mm work, a dedicated small film scanner gives much better results. If you put THAT MUCH work into scanning, you owe it to yourself to at least shoot MF film! And don’t use slide film. Kodak Portra scans extremely well and gives you much flexibility for post processing.

  5. Hi Brandon,

    Nice to sse that you discovered the beauty of working with film.
    Have you considered enlarging them, printing on real photographic paper?
    It is not that complicated, you can find beautiful enlargers for little money and the results will blow away all digital scans from ypur film 🙂

  6. Nice to see a write up from you Brandon!
    Have you tried using Vuescan?
    Worth looking at to scan that one or two special Slide or Negative.

    And have you been developing your own negs yet?

    • Thank you! I have not tried using Vuescan yet I will probably look into it later on but for now this Epson software works really well for me. I do not develop my own yet at this moment it would be too expensive for me to do so since I don’t shoot a roll day or even a roll of week usually 🙂

      • It’s seriously cheap to dev at home. Seriously! A tank, a reel, squeegie, dev, fix and stop is all you need (which will cost you no more than about $100 all in) and it lasts years.

        And then you can shoot and develop and scan as and when with much better results than a lab without the expense. Start with Rodinal!

        I haven’t shot any BW for a long while, but when I do it’s only a single roll here or there.

  7. Hi Brandon
    This is a great review. I have had good success copying 35mm slides using the Nikon slide holder that screws on to a lens with 52mm filter threads , a used Nikon40mm DX macro lens, and my Nikon D7000. The holder is not suitable for negatives as it will scratch them.

  8. Hi

    Ive been using one for almost 2 years and my only problem with it is focus. I have a feeling it focusses closer to the glass than what the film holder allows(nevermind the film being bent). From testing I have determined that scanning above 1600dpi you do not get any more usable detail though the focus issue could have affected this.

    Cheers

    • You need a glass holder with adjustable “feet”. After a bit trial and error you can find the perfect focus sweet spot.

      • Wondering myself about this. I just got a v700 to scan viewmaster reels. They are warped and my initial scan came out poor. I am planning on getting two plates of glass to sandwich the reel with and shim the bottom one up to find the focal point.

  9. What softwares are you using Brandon? I’ve been struggling to get correct/nice colors fro different film stocks. It seems that the software does the some kind of processing to the scans.

  10. That’s what I call coincidence. I just started to do a little film photography and I’m standing in the exact same situation. Either pay fortunes for pro scans or get away with less spending but also much less quality.
    People say, you better photograph your negatives with a macro lens and a projector.

    http://petapixel.com/2012/12/23/why-you-should-digitize-your-film-using-a-camera-instead-of-a-scanner/

    But heck, I’d say your samples are just fine. At least for getting started. It’s not that you couldn’t do a pro scan on top if need be.

    Thanks a lot man.
    Daniel

  11. Your review and demo came just at the right time, Brandon. I have the Epson V600 sitting on a shelf here waiting to be installed – exactly for the same reason as you took the plunge. And it’s really encouraging to see the quality coming out – though your first method was ingenious! I aim to work with a Leica IIIf for 35mm and a Zeiss Ikonta (bought mint recently in original box!) for medium format.

  12. Hi Brandon,
    Congrats with your site,
    Using this scanner is good option but when I saw your Nikon V1 samples, I think you are overexposure when did with it. Once you get right exposure or slightly underexposure, it would be easier to fix the color in photo editor

  13. Hi Brandon, great review!

    I had the V600 too for about a year, and is indeed good if you scan 35mm and MF negatives…… but……

    I was never very contant with the colors it gave me. They were inconsistent, even within the same roll of film, and expecially slides came out very baldy. I used the Epson scan software as well as VueScan (Even tried Silverfast, though it’s absurdly expensive and you can’t use it on another scanner if you change, you have to buy a new license – I call that a scam.

    So I decided to try something else, and I found the venerable Nikon Coolscan IV ED (LS40) used (the thing must have 10 years), but not abused, and I am simply dumbfounded by the quality of the scans. Where I had to sharpen the Tiffs before, they come out tack sharp. Color is beautiful with no fiddling, both from slides and negs.

    The resolution is ‘only’ 2900 dpi, but don’t let that fool you! The Epson’s real resolution is NOT greater. The 12000dpi that are possible are created by software, not real!

    The V600 is OK for B&W if you disregard the fact that you have to sharpen in post, losing quality. It’y good as well for scanning MF, but it stops there.

    For me, the Coolscan IV is definitely better, though you have to scan filmstrips of 6 negatives individually, which takes more time. But it’s doable with the automatic film loader provided.

    Now I guess the Coolscan V or later models might still be better, but for the price of a V600 (OK, a bit more…) I have a fabulous scanner.

  14. Great to see you shooting and scanning film Brandon, enjoyed the write up and I’ve been happy with epson scanners for a long time too. This made for interesting reading / comparisons. There’s really nothing like medium format film either… wonderful stuff!

    • I’d also highly recommend checking out a used Hasselblad 500 camera, they can be found at good prices these days and I’ve enjoyed using mine from day one! I’m off to check out your blog…

  15. Does this scanner have an infrared channel to aid with noise removal? I know its on the V7XX series. If it does great, if not how good does it do dust and scratch removal?

    On the better negative scanners there is a hardware infrared channel since white light and infrared see different things which make the dust and scratches detectable and then ICE software can remove them. This is what typically separates the OK ones from the ones that really work.

  16. Congratulations Brandon!… excellent first article. And good for you, for jumping into film as well as launching your own site.

    If you’ve already been bitten by the Mamiya bug, have a look at the Mamiya RZ67 — it’s a beast of a camera (in size and weight), but together with the 110/2.8 lens, it is the best portraiture-creating piece of gear I’ve ever used.

    Peter.

    • Thank you! I’ve heard of the Mamiya RZ67 though since I do more street shooting, well try too I might try something like a Mamiya 7!

    • I own the rz67, I can attest! I sometimes shoot handheld, but primarily it’s attached to a tripod. Negatives are incredible.

  17. I own a V500, and a friend of mine has the V600.

    That said, if you have old slides/negatives of the family or vacation than this scanner is good. If your serious about film and want to digitize your negatives/slides for ink jet print, these scanners are underwhelming. For print and high quality scans, drum scanners are still the SOLUTION. But what’d you expect for a couple hundred dollars?

    Also, the dedicated negative trays are thin plastic and can’t hold a negative flat, which is an issue well known if you shoot film. There is a company if you do your research that sells high quality glass cut specifically for laying on your negative strip in the tray, could be around $50. But I learned long ago that these scanners weren’t a viable solution for analog-digital print process.

    • Hey, Sean — I’ve heard all this before, and it must be right because so many people say it. But, honestly, I have a V500 and get terrific scans that blow up to 8×10 (I could go larger) and print beautifully. The 120 negs are, admittedly, a little tough to handle, but I have no problem with 135, unless I’m shooting TriX, which tends to curl.

      I think the solution is to use one of these inexpensive scanners – then, when you get that shot that’s simply amazing and you want to print very large for your portfolio or display, you go to the best lab/printer you can find in your area and have them drum scan the neg and print it. I also give them a printed example of the post work that I’ve done on the photo to guide them in their printing stage. That way they can get close in the proofs before your input and printing on the final ($) stock.

      • I believe that. I shoot exclusively 120 and I’ve heard others testify to 135 being adequate and even good at times while 120 can be close to useless for a print that does the 120 negative justice. I’ve printed traditional silver gelatin and scanned with the same 120 negative and the scans are usually underwhelming in my experience. Admittedly, the glass for negative curl would be a cheap improvement.

        I like your solution, we make do with what we have!

      • That said ^

        This scanner is still a vital tool and process for me in viewing and proofing my negatives. The alternative being contact sheets with much smaller images.

  18. Look forward to more reviews from you! I have the same scanner but never used it for film, will definitely try it out on some old rolls

  19. I use the V500 for 120 film and that works fine. As for 35mm negs I think a dedicated film scanner such as my Nikon V ED works a lot better and has better dynamic range. If you are planning on scanning a lot, you might want to look into buying a dedicated film scanner such as a Plustek or a used Nikon V ED.

  20. This looks like just what I need for all the old medium format transparencies I have. Thanks for the review

  21. Hi Brandon, thanks for the nicely crafted article -having a scanner that does 35mm and medium format is a real bonus.You can now obtain such a wide variety of superb film cameras very easily and cheaply -even high spec medium format models which were de creme de la creme in their day- that your fun is going to continue that’s for sure.
    I used to use 35mm and used a Nikon Coolscan which had a thing called digital ice which was able to scan negs with minor dust spots such that no spots were visible in the scanned image. Only works on C41 films not silver negs -pity! I recommend you check out Vuescan software as well (it is supposed to work really well across a wide variety of scanners)
    I would also recommend C41 black and white films as they scan beautifully as does the new film types like Kodak Ektar.
    Good luck do it your way and have fun -remember it’s all about the image. By the way I always thought that you Dad’s best photos were done with his film Leicas !!

    Best Wishes

  22. That link to Brandon’s website doesn’t work. A little fix is needed!

    This Epson V600 seems reasonable. I had a Canon flatbed once that I tried scanning my old negatives with, but it was horrible. Color and sharpness were bad and it was way to slow — also not TWAIN compatible. Optical density of flatbed aren’t that high, but it is the cheapest way to scan. When film was still prolific, there were a few reasonably priced quality dedicated film scanners.

  23. Hi Brandon,
    Congrats on your first review!
    I was wondering, how long does it take for you to scan 35mm film? Is it a difficult process?
    Maybe I should get one of these since scanning film in lab is getting very expensive nowadays…

    • it depends on your resolution setting, if you choose really high resolution it can take hours if you select a low resolution it won’t take that long at all.

  24. There’s a box labeled “thumbnails” under the preview button (assuming you’re using the epson scan software that came with the scanner). If you uncheck that, you can manually select the part of the negative you want scanned. I’ve had issues with my V500 cutting off important portions of negatives and slides for some reason, but the above method is a nice workaround.

  25. Brandon; thanks for the info. I have been considering a scanner, but had no idea which direction to go,considering my limited budget. Will this scanner work for 35mm slide film? I have thousands of slides in kodachrome / ektachrome. I hope that all goes well with your new adventure.

  26. Awesome!! I have the same scanner for 35mm and MF negs. Do t need a digital camera with this awesome set up.

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