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OpticFilm 135: Installation Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

16 February 2016

Installing the OpticFilm 135 is pretty simple stuff. It took us quite a while to find a way to screw it up and even then we weren't really successful. If you can make toast, you can install the OpticFilm 135.

There are just two things you have to do. Plug in the hardware and install the software. Let's take a look.

Plustek suggests you install the software first but we don't think it matters. You can't actually operate the scanner without the software and the software isn't much use without the scanner plugged in.

We installed the hardware first because we wanted to know if any of our existing third-party software would recognize the scanner.


Plustek includes a large (and unwieldy) poster to held with the installation. There is also a PDF available on the install CD that lists everything you need to know.

We used the PDF.


Installing the hardware involves 1) finding a convenient spot to keep the scanner and 2) cabling the power supply and a USB data cable to it.

The unit is small enough (and at 3.49 lbs. light enough) that you don't have to find a permanent place for it. You could easily clear a spot for it on your desk next to your keyboard when you want to use it.

While side-to-side clearance is not an issue, both back and front clearance is. The scanner requires about 14 inches in front to load any of the 13-inch long film holders.

You also need a little room at the back for the holder to stick out as the film is being scanned. The holder extends out about a frame during scanning, so give it at least five inches clearance.

Plustek outlines six steps for the hardware setup:

  1. Plug the power adapter into the scanner's power receptor.
  2. Plug the other end of the power adapter into a standard AC power outlet.
  3. Plug the square end of the included USB cable to the USB port at the rear of the scanner.
  4. Plug the rectangular end of the USB cable to the USB port on the back of your computer.
  5. Switch the scanner power on.
  6. When the scanner is detected by the operation system, the installation is completed.

Protective Film. Just lift and remove.

Note that the USB cable has to be connected for the scanner to actually operate. If you try to insert a film holder without a USB connection, the scanner won't grab it.

We also noticed a protective film over the button panel that should be removed.

Third-Party Test

With the scanner connected and the software not yet installed, we launched both Image Capture and the current version of VueScan (which does support the OpticFilm 120) to see if either would recognize the scanner.

Neither, however, could find the scanner. So you really are limited to Plustek's QuickScan Plus with the OpticFilm 135.


Loading the film holders is simple enough as well, although each one locks the film in place differently.

Holders. Slide (top) and film strip.

There is one slide holder and one film strip holder provided with the OpticFilm 135. You might want to purchase additional holders to load while the OpticFilm 135 is scanning to speed the process up a bit. But the holders reload pretty quickly and you do have to wait for QuickScan Plus to process the scans anyway.

Slide Holder

The slide holder can hold up to four mounted slides. You don't have to take them out of their cardboard or plastic mounts to scan your slides.

Insert the wide top edge of the slide along the spring-like clasp of the holder with its non-glossy emulsion side down. Both horizontal and vertical orientations mount the same with the narrow end of the mount facing the scanner.

Knob. Opens the film strip holder.

Film Strip Holder

The film strip holder has a top piece held in place magnetically. Find the two small knurled knobs and lift to release the hold.

You can slip film strips up to six images in length into the bed of the holder, observing the channel and cross bars for alignment. Make sure that, like the slide holder, the non-glossy emulsion side is down. And that the top of the film when you can read the film type is closest to the hinge.


With no defect removal available, it's especially important to carefully clean the film before scanning it. The best way to do this is to simply use a can of compressed air or a blower to move any dust off the film.

For more abused film, contact may be required. But be very careful of using even plain water. A film cleaner may be necessary in extreme situations but it's advisable to first scan the film before trying any contact cleaning method. You'll at least have something to work with.


Insert the film holder when the scanner is on and connected and the scanner will grab it and pull it in.

It will advance the film frame by frame when you execute a scanner command from the software or the buttons on the top panel of the scanner.

After scanning, the scanner will eject the holder.


Plustek has a few recommendations for keeping the OpticFilm 135 hardware functioning well:

  • Keep the scanner free of dust with a cover.
  • Don't take the scanner apart. There's a cover on one of the screws to indicate if it has been dissembled.
  • Avoid shaking the scanner or subjecting it to "excessive vibration."
  • Operate the scanner in temperatures from 50 to 104 degrees F.


So it was on to the included Plustek QuickScan Plus software, which is the only software that will drive this scanner. It presents a very simple and easy-to-understand interface.

Plustek lists the highlights of QuickScan Plus:

  • Easy-to-use, intuitive user interface
  • Converts positive and negative film into digital file formats TIFF, JPG and BMP
  • Includes special image-editing features to enhance scanning results
  • Multiple ways to view editing result and see the comparison: Single-view, Dual-view, Midline-view
  • Five creative picture effects
  • One-click image sharing to Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, and Twitter

In short, you can scan to TIFF, JPEG, PNG or BMP formats in five resolutions (600, 1200, 1800, 2400, 3600 dpi). Scans can be edited with minimal automatic adjustments and uploaded to social networks directly from the application.


We installed the software on a MacBook Pro running OS 10.10.5 Yosemite. We simply put the CD in the laptop and ran the install utility.

We usually recommend peeking at the manufacturer's site for the lastest version of the software but we couldn't find QuickScan Plus on the Plustek site. The only distribution seems to be the CD.

Software Installation. Four screens.


Here's the basic interface you'll be working with. We'll discuss it in detail in the next installment of this review, which covers the scanning process itself.

QuickScan Plus. Scan Settings.

It isn't a standard OS X interface. The Close, Minimize, Full Screen buttons work but you can't resize the window itself by grabbing a corner or side, which is a real waste of the screen.

The Preferences settings includes an Auto Update option to look for updates every 30, 60 or 90 days.

Missing Tools

Unfortunately QuickScan Plus is lacking some pretty important scanning tools.

Defect Removal. Because the scanner itself can not perform an infrared scan to detect physical abnormalities, software defect removal is an important substitute. But there is none.

Multiexposure. And it only takes one pass at the film, unlike SilverFast and VueScan, which can scan for the highlights separately from the shadows and combine the two to yield a wider density range than the dynamic range of the scanner would capture in one pass.

Negative Profiles. The software does not include any emulsion profiles. So it scans your color negative the same way whether it was Kodak Gold II or a Fujfilm strip. Third party software provides a library of profiles for these different emulsions and they do matter.

Color Profiling. Finally, there's no way to profile the scanner. So what you get from the factory is what you'll have to live with.

The absence of these critical capabilities is why we can't recommend the scanner for professional or serious work.

(Editor's Note: This is the second part of a multi-part review of the Plustek OpticFilm 135. Links to the other stories are in the main table of contents at the top right of each story.)

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