Scanning adventures

I've had the Nikon Coolscan V for a week or so now. The output is the best of the three scanners I've tried (my ancient Epson Perfection 2450 flatbed and a Plustek 7600i). Clean negatives come out nice and sharp. Old, faded negatives come out decent. Scanning is still a slow process, especially if you add more processing. But the XPS 8700 and the Coolscan V work well together, allowing me to do other things while a scan is going on (unlike the Epson and Plustek that would only let you scan when connected to my old XPS 420).

I still haven't had much luck cleaning film. PEC-12 works on some negs, but leaves bad scratches that ICE can't clean up. Old slide film holds up better than negative film. I'm not sure if it's the film itself or the quality of processing. I'm storing the negs in archival sleeves as a lot of the PVC (and other unidentified plastic) sleeves tend to attach to and damage the film. 

Film just doesn't hold up to digital; The grain structure takes away detail and sharpness when compared to today's digital cameras. The only exception would be black and white film. There's something about it that I can't re-create in digital, no matter what plugin or preset I've tried. 

My technique also sucked big time. Lots of good shots were ruined by being out of focus, or having bad exposure. AF is definitely a big help for me. Not having EXIF information, I can only guess at the camera and lens combinations along with exposure settings.

But the fun part is discovering a few gems. 

Even more toys

Things have been a little busy on the hardware front. Getting the Dell XPS 8700 set up has been a bit of a chore, from locating product keys and install files to getting the settings back to where they were before. But that's almost done. Maybe another week or so for the minor programs.

My 64GB Lexar Pro 1066x CF card finally arrived. The D3 would not fully recognize the card; I could format it in the camera (that takes a bit of time), but then the camera indicated zero remaining shots. A quick check of Nikon's website shows that I'm two revs behind on firmware updates. Another 10mins or so to download and update the camera, and I now have 1.7k (NEF + JPEG fine) remaining shots. Hopefully the buffer will clear up faster the next time I'm doing surfing shots.

My daily craigslist search has produced a Nikon LS-50/Coolscan  V scanner. Searching the interwebs gives me the drivers needed for Windows 8. The Nikon Scan software isn't too bad. Image quality of scanned Ektachrome results in vibrant colors. Sadly, the slides have some dirt on them that Digital ICE can't remove. Scanning film is a slow process, and requires quite a bit of patience. Well worth it to save those family moments.

New hardware time

For the past month or so, my primary computer (an eight year old Dell XPS 420) has been giving the BSOD on random occasions. I've tried everything (short of re-installing Windows) to stabilize the system, with little to no effect. So I bit the bullet and ordered a new Dell XPS 8700. I figured that since my old XPS lasted a good amount of time, a new XPS would do the same.

The new system arrived today, and it's a big disappointment, to say the least. The case doesn't have the elegance of the old XPS (and not even that of my older Dell 8400 that pre-dated the XPS 420). It looks just like any other case, and is actually on the cheap side. The cage for adding a hard drive didn't fit well, and I actually cut my finger trying to push it into place. The CPU fan is just a simple fan, with no shroud (unlike my other two Dell systems). There is no elegance to the design (and I say this having been a design engineer for test equipment). Sad cost-cutting measures. Hopefully this system will survive for eight years too.
XPS 8700
XPS 420
Inspiron 8400
I also got a new printer, a Canon Pro-100. My Epson Stylus Photo 2200 was in need of ink, and the $300 rebate (in the form of an Amex card) offer on the Canon (net cost of $35) made it a no-brainer to order a new printer. The Canon is surprisingly huge and heavy. It doesn't really fit on the Metro shelf that held the Epson. I thought of putting it on a bureau in my bedroom, but then I'd have to walk back and forth to get my prints (plus it negates the work-rest separation principle). So the Canon is jutting out of the shelf in the office for now.

I haven't printed anything on the Canon yet as the new computer arrived the next day after the Canon. Setting up a new PC is a pain; I don't want to migrate everything over as the older PC was having some issues.

It's going to be a long weekend.