Robert D Feinman

Scanning to Get More from 35mm Film

The latest generation of scanners provide 4000-8000 dpi resolution. This level of detail can extract information from a 35mm image that can exceed what can be done with conventional darkroom enlargement. For example, the new Minolta Elite 5400 scanner will permit an enlargement of 18x24 inches at 300 dpi.

As an example of the flexibility offered by these new scanners we will process this image to yield a final result that would be impossible otherwise.

Here is the full frame image, taken with a 12mm lens and scanned at 5400 dpi with the Minolta Elite 5400 scanner.

Original Image
Full Frame

There are several things wrong with the image. The area we were interested is only a small part of the scene. This was made worse by the use of an ultra wide angle lens which had the side effect of exaggerating the perspective distortions caused by tilting the camera upwards.

We correct this using the perspective tool. Notice the fairly extreme adjustment we are using. The top is stretched to almost double the original size.

Transform Perspective
Perspective Adjustment

After the perspective adjustment we cropped to show only the area we were interested in. In this case the faded advertising paintings on the building wall.

By scanning at 5400 dpi this image will still print out about a 5x7 inch print at 300 dpi.

Final Image
Cropped Final Image
Notice the street sign shown here in actual scanned pixels is quite readable even at though it was so small in the original.

For the curious, the original was hand held at 1/60 second and photographed on 200 speed color negative film. Thus, even better results may be expected with greater care.

Being able to scan at such high resolutions puts new life into film and sets the bar higher for digital cameras to measure up to.

100% Detail
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© 2003 Robert D Feinman