A S C R A P B O O K O F S O L U T I O N S F O R T H E P H O T O G R A P H E R
Reviews of photography products that enhance the enjoyment of taking pictures. Published frequently but irregularly.
7 March 2013
Our first scans report has been delayed as we await updates to SilverFast 8 to resolve a few issues. But meanwhile, we've been examining the OpticFilm 120 holders a little more closely. They present some interesting possibilities -- and one nasty little problem.
We like the holders, as we've previously said. They're well-built with magnet latches and one geared side so the OpticFilm 120 can position them. The handles helpfully identify the film they are designed to hold. And a small white patch at the leading edge is apparently all that's required to calibrate the scanner before each scan.
FIRST FRAME? | Back to Contents
Finding that leading edge, however, is a bit confusing.
It turns out it isn't the frame closest to the handle, even if that end is where a few holders outline discrete frames. The first frame is actually at the other end of the holder.
So the far end of the holder is where you should load single frames. Which makes sense. That's the first frame to enter the scanner.
120 INSERTS | Back to Contents
The 35mm holders have a slightly different design than the 120 film holders. The 35mm slide holder is a simple one piece holder. The 35mm film strip holder has a hinged cover like the 120 film holders but like the slide holder molds the frames in the unit itself.
The 120s have, in addition to a hinged cover, seeral plastic inserts that form the frames. These are mated to matching pieces that form the hinged cover. So they provide a ledge to lay the film on that also masks the film.
Tabbed into the holder on the side opposite the hinge, the inserts are threaded onto the same hinge that the cover pieces are, so they aren't removable. Not, that is, unless you flip the frame over to unscrew the hinge holder.
Why would you do this?
Well, say you want the full length of the holder available to scan film for 6x17 scanning. The largest frame size in a holder Plustek supplies is 6x14.
But if you pop out the frame and rearrange the frames, you can get to 6x16.5.
If you need the whole thing, you could presumably raid the kitchen for a drinking straw to space the two ends out and skip the spacer insert. But you do need the inserts to support the film.
That's good news because unlike a flatbed, you really can't make your own holders for non-standard size film on the OpticFilm 120. The holders have to be manipulated by the scanner itself. Which is what that geared track on the side is all about.
How this plays out in SilverFast is another subject, but you would have to be able to set up your own frame size for scanning.
FILM FLATNESS | Back to Contents
As film frames get larger, the amount of curl becomes an issue. It's the holder's job to flatten that film.
The 35mm frames, for example, are secured by the magnetic clasp well enough to scan sharply from corner to corner. But how about 120 film?
Our 120 film does have a slight bow to it, the emulsion a bit tighter than the base. In the 6x7 film holder that bow disappears. The frame divider no doubt helps. But the clasp is secure, too. So we haven't had any problems.
There's no actual tension applied to the film. So that 6x17 frame might not flatten out as well as the 6x7 frame. We framed a strip of two frames as one in one holder to compare the difference in flatness with a 6x7 frame. There is a difference but it doesn't appear to be significant.
In our flatness images, the lines you see on the film are from the Venetian blinds on our light source. They're parallel (as they are on the light table) when the surface is perfectly flat.
MASKING | Back to Contents
The one problem we have is with the 35mm slide holder. It does take mounted slides but how it masks them limits its usefulness.
If you have a non-standard size film in a 35mm mount (there have been a few in the history of photography), the holder crops the image to standard 35mm dimensions (1x1.5 inches) because there is a black plastic mask on each frame.
The plastic mask really serves no purpose. Which suggests it would be nice if Plustek redesigned the holder to eliminate the mask, letting the slide mount itself do any masking.
Meanwhile, where did we put that Dremel?
REAR SLOT | Back to Contents
With an earlier version of SilverFast 8, we noticed our holders sometimes ejected through the back slot. But with recent versions, that hasn't happened. Everything is through the front slot. So we're less convinced you need a full 14-inch clearance in the rear.
CONCLUSION | Back to Contents
Let's be clear about this. Our admiration for the OpticFilm 120 holders is undiminished, even if they could stand a slight improvement or two. They really are among the best we've used.