6-Dec-2002 (Fri)
Wherein a scanner is whined about, and photos are presented.

I've posted an assload of new pictures to the gallery, and boy is my ass tired.

Those pictures:

This took forever, because we've been having a total nightmare of a time getting photos scanned in any reasonable way. When you're sitting there with 18 or 19 undeveloped rolls of film in your lap, you find yourself really not looking forward to manually loading prints into a flatbet scanner...

We had been getting photo CDs from Wolf Photo. Their prints always look great: they do a fine job with color, which is where 1-hour places generally screw up. But their photo CDs have, on the whole, sucked ass. The most common problem is that the images on the CD are mis-cropped! Like, on the print (the print that they made) the image looks fine, but on the CD, what got scanned was 2/3 of one picture, and 1/3 of the next picture, plus the black stripe between them. Apparently whatever negative scanner they use is just awful at figuring out where the pictures begin and end, though their photo printer does a fine job of it.

This seems to only happen on pictures that are really dark, or have a lot of black in them around the edges. But guess what, these are photos taken in a nightclub: that's like. All of them.

So, about a month ago, Angela bought herself a film scanner, a Kodak RFS 3600. It sounded pretty nice: it can batch-scan whole rolls of negatives, sucking them in the slot and spitting them out on USB. It can also scan individual slides.

Well, it sucks ass too.

She's got a Mac, and to use this thing she had to downgrade to OS9, since it doesn't work with OSX. Well, she tried to run it under OSX in the OS9 emulator dingus, and it scorched her computer bad: like, kernel panics at boot, time to reinstall. So she downgraded to OS9. There are apparently only two pieces of software in the world that can talk to this thing (it's not just the predictable TWAIN pain): the package that came with it, which is awful, and Silverfast, which is also awful. In fact, both are completely incomprehensible garbage. Even figuring out how to set the scan resolution took days. This was not helped by the Silverfast manual, which is written in Deutchlish (3rd grade English written by a German.)

Sometimes it would stretch the scanned images (repeating a scanline, as if the slide had moved.) This sounds like a hardware problem, except that it only happened with one of the software packages and not the other! Sometimes it would decide to only scan the first picture on the strip, and pretend the rest of the strip didn't exist. Sometimes it would decide to scan everything as if through a blue filter. Sometimes it would roll through the whole strip, sounding like it was scanning, but not writing any files.

Then on top of that, sometimes it would dig a long scratch along the negatives as they passed through. Joy.

So after Angela finally gave up on trying to get the scanner to work, we took the negatives back in and had photo CDs made. They were asstacular, as usual, plus this time the black levels were too high on lots of images. Plus, due to their repeated trips through the scanner, the negatives were kind of dirty by now (plus the aforementioned scratching) so there was lots of manual de-speckling to be done on the scans. It so would have been faster to have just scanned the prints by hand (not to mention about $100 cheaper...)

Things are a lot easier when just using a digital camera from the start, but to get a digital camera of comparable quality to a film camera costs more than $3000. I've got a Nikon CoolPix 990, and it's pretty good as digital cameras go, but it's just not fast enough. The biggest problem is that it takes forever to get a focus lock in low light (sometimes you press the button, and it decides to actually take the picture a full three seconds later.) Plus the delay after you've shot when it transfers the image to the card. It's also not high enough resolution for print work, which we occasionally need.

Don't we live in the future yet? What's taking so long?

5 Responses:

  1. brad says:

    Don't we live in the future yet? What's taking so long?

    I hate to tell you this, but the future brings only cheaper products for dumber people, with the ruse of buzzwords like Digital.

    If you want quality, it's only going to cost more.

    • compwiz says:

      I hate to tell you this, but the future brings only cheaper products for dumber people, with the ruse of buzzwords like Digital.

      *cough*like livejournal*cough*

      • brad says:

        Bitch, please. :P

        Every public project I make is made with the assumption that there are two distinct clases of users: the hacker dorks and those who are clueless.

        I've never made anything targetting just the clueless.

        Want me to dumb LiveJournal down? I can remove the protocol support, requiring people to post from the web. (because, you know, the web is the internet!)

        • compwiz says:

          The problem is that I don't think there has ever been a single application which has successfully targeted both the clueless and the geeks - Windows tried that and ultimately failed in both categories (fail in terms of actual usefulness, not in terms of gross sales.. that's just pure business). The hacker-types hate it because it shelters you from everything, preventing you from fixing a lot of trivial problems yourself. The clueless just have problems doing even the simplest of tasks; e.g. only in Windows XP & Office XP did Microsoft finally fix the stupidity of allowing any user to drag the taskbar and toolbars all over the place or resize them to half the screen. But what did they introduce in XP? even MORE stuff on the screen to confuse the hell out of newbies. A stock XP installation is like looking at the CNN Headline News channel.

          AOL makes it obvious that they're targeting the clueless ("EVERYONE's got AOL"), so the hacker types can just find an ISP which doesn't suck so much.

  2. mhat says:

    Wow! Your film scanner experince sounds exactly like mine. Only my OS problems were between WinXP and Win2K, and I was using a Nikon LS1000. Oh and for extra fun, its SCSI.