Customer Reviews: Plustek OpticFilm 7400 Film Scanner
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on March 21, 2011
I broke my Nikon Coolscan V scanner. If you don't already know, Nikon has discontinued their film scanners. When I inquired with them about getting it repaired, I was told that they could only do it if they had the parts. This hardly seems sustainable, so I looked around for other options. I stopped scanning film about 6 years ago, so I wasn't sure what was out there. I thought by now flatbeds with film adapters like those from Epson and Canon would give stellar results, but they don't. I've tried the Epson 4490 and V500, and the scans were pretty soft. I hear the Epson V700 is better, but not by much. Used dedicated film scanners are way over priced. For instance, a used Coolscan V is twice the price I paid new. Then I ran into Plustek 7400. This scanner, as far as I can tell, is the same as the 7600i but without ICE infrared dust remover. Since I wasn't going to scan color film, I didn't think I needed it.

I've only had it a couple days, so I can only give a few observations:

-Scans are pretty sharp. At least as sharp as my Coolscan was. I can see grain!
-Pretty fast.
-dmax is good. I have some dense negatives and at least from looking at the histogram of the scans, nothing was clipped.
-The scanner is solid feeling. The body is plastic compared to the metal body of the coolscan, but I don't think that is a big deal.
-The film holder is not flimsy compared to the epson's and even the nikon's.

-It doesn't scan at advertised 7200 dpi. I'm not really sure what the real resolution is, but I can see step interpolation artifacts on scans that are 7200 dpi. It's still really good compared to it's competition in its price range.
-I wanted to do sloppy border style scans, but this doesn't look to be a possibility based on the actual scan area.

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase and am especially happy that Plustek is continuing to make this technology for this dying (though I'm seeing a recent resurgence) analog medium.
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on March 22, 2011
I was involved in a project utilizing old negatives and slides and the flatbed attachment was not making it. High end scanners were too expensive and the lower priced stuff had too many negative points in reviews. This scanner had decent reviews and so I gave it a shot. The reviews do not lie, but do it justice, this is a sweet piece of equipment with excellent packaging, and I was surprised with the handy carrying case. Yes, the negatives and slides are fed manually and the included software's interface is kind of kludgy on a Mac, but the results are excellent. In fact, I actually appreciated the simplicity of the manual feed. I had a slight problem with the included software and sent a message to tech support. I not only received a prompt response but it was by telephone, incredibly thorough and informative. What more can you ask for. High points: solid equipment, exceptional ease of use, effective software(- a star for the interface), amazing tech support and excellent results!!!
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on January 21, 2012
I read all of the reviews, and was undecided between the lower-end image-capture devices that take a single image from negatives, and the real scanners like this Plustek. In then end, I went with this model, the 7400, which is the most basic of the Plustek scanners. I figured that the increase in image quality over the picture-taking-type negative "scanners" of the Plustek would be worth the extra cost, but I didn't feel the need to go overboard and get the top of the line in these products.

After scanning about 200 color negatives, I'd say I made the right choice for me. I've got a couple thousand (at least) negatives to work my way through, but I've settled into what seems to me to be the sweet spot of this process. I experimented with the various resolutions, and wound up scanning at 900 dpi. This takes about 10 seconds per image, and produces a 1245 x 840 image (about 1 megapixel), which I have their software saving as a JPG, resulting in a file that is in the neighborhood of 300k. I tried the higher resolutions, but since I generally shot with 200 ASA film back in the day, there just isn't more resolution to be had from the negative itself, and I just wound up with a slower scan, a bigger file, and a great image of the grain of the negative. If I has been shooting Kodachrome 64, I'm sure scanning at a higher res would be worth it, but for my photo archive, there's just no benefit.

The product itself seems very solidly made. As others have noted, the manual feed for the negative tray does require continuous effort to keep the assembly line rolling, but it also feels like it will last forever. The negative tray is made of high-quality plastic, and has a very simple, low-fuss design. The scanner itself feels like a quality device, and makes "good" sounds when it scans, like the gears inside are happy and it's all made to tight tolerances. I've used some other devices that grind like they're about to eat themselves up, and this doesn't sound like that at all.

The basic version of the SilverFast software is fine for me. The negative conversion function produces an image that's quite comparable to the prints I have, and doesn't seem to have much trouble with images that aren't perfectly exposed. It handles single scans, or lets you set up a file name prefix and will increment the file name with each successive scan. The options are pretty basic, I figured it all out without the manual in an hour or so. It comes with some other software to edit images and organize files, but I like IrfanView to mess with images, and I can organize my own files, so I did not bother with that.

Overall, I'd say this is a winner if you want near-pro quality negative scanning at a reasonable price. It's worth noting that I have very few slides, so I can't really comment on that, other than to say I'll bet the output is pretty similar.
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on October 15, 2010
The unit includes 35mm slide and negative carriers, the power adaptor, USB cable and a case. There's no film strip carrier.

Got it to primarily scan slides, so these comments apply to scanning slides only, and the results so far are very disappointing (using the SilverFast software). There's a decrease in sharpness; images have a slightly out of focus look, with none of the focus "crispness" of the original slide. Colors have a dull and lifeless look, and no amount of adjustment brings them to where they match the original slide. The auto-adjust (in SilverFast and the rest of the bundled software) totally distorts the colors. Reds have the typical overblown digital look, and getting a nice white seems impossible.

The slide and negative carriers have a slight amount of play when they're inserted in the machine; if they're not correctly oriented, the scanned image is slightly askew so a preview scan is a necessity. The scanner is very slow, especially in the multi-scan and multi-exposure modes, and the higher resolution settings. I thought lower resolution scans (below 3200dpi) were marginally acceptable, so dropping the resolution below 3200 to speed up the process wasn't an acceptable option for me. For a simple, "Straight" scan of a slide, the results seem better to me using "quick scan" which doesn't use the SilverFast software.

It occasionally "crashes" giving a message saying the scanner is not ready (apparently this has been an ongoing issue for Plustek OpticFilm scanners for a while now, judging from what I found when researching for a solution); the only thing that fixed the problem was to restart the computer. Regarding the construction: I wonder about the quality of the plastics used; was dusting off the slide carrier with a large soft makeup brush, and found that a small piece of plastic broke off the carrier.

From everything I've read about the SilverFast software, I expected better. The user interface is too busy, with 5 separate windows opening when the program is launched; the programmers sure didn't take into account the end user. Some settings just don't want to work; example, it refuses to take a different output setting for the image size (again, when scanning a alide). There's no confirmation some of the other tools/features are either accepted or being made after clicking on the appropriate button (such as multi-scan, multi-mode, the iSRD dust removal). The other bundled software included is Presto PageManager and Presto ImageFolio. (Today, 11/5/10, I searched Amazon for Silverfast software to see what I might find; sometimes reviewers post some good, helpful info. Found SilverFast SE with 4 reviews and a unanimous 1-star much for that idea).

Software and drivers installed easily with no problems (on a Windows Vista computer) and the desktop footprint is much smaller than a flatbed scanner; those are the best things I can say about it. This is my first dedicated film scanner; until now I've used flatbed scanners. I once did freelance commercial and advertising photography, did all my own darkroom work, and been an avid photographer since I was in high school, so I have a definite idea of the kinds of results I want, and the 7400 doesn't give me what I hoped for. Maybe once I master the SilverFast software I'll think differently, but in my opinion it shouldn't take that much work to make a straight, accurate scan of an original (slide) that was fine to begin with. Last of all, I think it's overpriced even at the $240 I paid for it (new).

Update 12/3/10: Color calibrated my HP w1907 monitor with a Spyder 3 Express Datacolor DC S3X100 Spyder 3 Express. Slide scan colors still aren't as close as I would like to the originals but are a bit better.

Final update: I ran out of patience trying to get the results I wanted and gave it to a friend to play with.
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on March 19, 2012
After a day of boring research, I ordered the Plustek 7400 Film Scanner based mostly on Amazon reviews. I don't have any slides, just a ton of 35mm negatives collected over 45 years or so. The Plustek has performed flawlessly so far (about 200 scans). As others have noted, the film strip holder could be only opens up a little over 90 degrees, so it's easy for it to flop closed when you don't want it to. That's not a biggie, just an aggravation. Once the film is in place, operating the scanner is a snap. The LaserSoft Imaging Software bundled with the scanners takes some getting used to, but is very powerful and does an excellent job. So, I'm happy. The Plustek lets me see some images that have not been seen for years, and without using one of the services that are so spendy to do the same job.
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on August 21, 2011
Despite using this scanner on an old (not recommended by Plustek) slow computer (Xp Home, 866MHz, 256Mb ram and USB 1.1) the performance was surprisingly good. The Silver Fast software will occasionally indicate that the scanner is not ready or indicates an error that requires another attempt; but does not lock up and continues on. Because of the slow computer I perform a prescan and make manual color and exposure adjustments limiting the resolution to 500 dpi on a 4"x6" output. This setting produces a raw 17 Mb file that when compressed by the software yields a final 1.5 Mb file. The dust and scratch removal tool works well if your settings are not too aggressive. The ease of use is good and produces much more throughput than the flatbed scanner I used to use. The quality of the unit and accessories is good and should last if reasonable care is exercised. I can recommend this product to anyone wanting to digitize a large archive of 35mm slides or negatives.
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on April 5, 2011
Scanning decades of B&W fim...I was able to retrieve grossly underexposed negatives which I had given up on. This alone is of great value. Quite an advantage to have this tool when wet chemistry (and my light meter) fail to produce a satisfactory image. And, it's safe!
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on September 13, 2011
I ended up with a thousand family slides that no one reallly wanted or had the equipment to view. Some being over 50 years old they were physically not good and the content was hit or miss. The Epson v500 scanner I had would work and do an excellent quality job but takes a long time and the effort wasn't worth the return. I have a Mac and waned to just do it. The Plustek 7400 is simple to use and the quality is well within my acceptable range. I basically ignored all the features of the silverfast solfware because it was beyond my desire to do anything but get the job done. I also didn't find the software too clear. I did call them with some startup questions and talked to a live person who was too happy to help. If you have really artsy type stuff or if you're anal you might not have the same opinion but it you just need to archive slides in your lifetime I would recommend this item.
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on February 8, 2012
I used to be a professional wildlife photographer living within three miles of Yellowstone National Park. Life took a turn and I don't shoot much anymore. I do however have a huge collection of slides that are almost useless to me. I decided to get them into a digital format so that I could enjoy them easily on my computer. I did some research, and for the money this unit is the bomb! I scanned a couple hundred of my favorites as soon as it arrived. I was quite happy with the unit's ease of use and blown away with it's performance. If it is in your price range, do not hesitate to pick one of these up!
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on December 9, 2010
I bought the Plustek 7400 scanner as a potential replacement for an old Polaroid scanner to try to solve the problem that comtemporary PCs and Macs now barely support SCSI interfaces, if at all. I use an Epson 700 for all formats except 35mm, but have found that dedicated film scanners work better than the Epson for small film. This is barely true for the Plustek, even with some sharpening. I found the resolution disappointing and the software to be overly complex and horrible-looking compared with what I'm used to. Plustek should develop better software that is simpler and easier on the eyes--something understated like Epson's or even Photoshop. They should also improve the film holders--negatives move around in them and they mask too much of the image. The world still needs good scanners that are less expensive than the current Nikon model and Imacons, especially now that Polaroid is gone. Plustek, step up to the challenge so I won't have to return your product again!
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