Monday, August 20, 2012

SilverFast Version 8 with Microtek M1 Scanner

Glacier National Park, overlooking the Illecillewaet Glacier, July, 2012.
I have been a long time user of LaserSoft Imaging's SilverFast scanning software. Back in 2004 I bought a Microtek i900 scanner and it came bundled with the SilverFast software, its was hit for me right out the ball park when I first started using it, I have tried other scanning software including the scanner manufacture's own software and others, but I feel that SilverFast does the best job for my scanning work. For quite some time I have been using version 6.4 up to 6.6 with my Microtek M1 scanner which I acquired in March of 2008, recently LaserSoft has released a brand new revamped version 8 and looks very good, very nice interface and a host of great features. I must say right off the bat that this new software loves to gobble up lots of RAM, I was using 2 gigs of RAM with my 2008 era Macbook LaserSoft Imaging recommends that Version 8 should have 4 gigs of RAM although it will run on 2 gigs of RAM, surprisingly I was able to find some RAM locally here in Kelowna, BC, Canada and maxed out my well used computer to 4 gigs. It made big difference in scanning times, my 16 bit grayscale images @ 115 Mb were taking 9 to 12 minutes with the 2 gigs of RAM and after I added and extra 2 gigs of RAM the scan time was cut in half to 4 to 5 minutes for the same 4 x 5 negative and output settings. My scanning work flow goes something like this, I scan my 4 x 5 inch black and white negatives ( and 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 too ) with Transparency setting ( the only setting for any negatives or slides ) I then use either the "positive" or "Kodachrome", setting either is fine , although Kodachrome has a nice nostalgic ring to it , I like to scan my negative as a negative, I usually chose the "HDR 16 Bit Grayscale", setting, I chose this because I have found that I can get every bit of information that the negative has to offer, I don't want to clip the highlights or shadow areas. Although I could invert the image in SilverFast and chose the various film type settings I prefer the simple and straight forward approach, it makes the scanning go quickly especially if I have a lot of negatives to scan to scan. SilverFast 8 also offers a huge amount of options, kinda like what Photoshop is like, there is more tools than you might need, but they are nice to have if the occasion ever arises. By the way I have made my own custom made negative holders for the M1 scanner ( which also fit in the i900 ) they are made of a flat piece of aluminium with a precision square hole cut so I can get as "full frame" as possible with my negatives, they fit in the open tray that slides in the middle part of the scanner. Once I have a batch of negatives scanned into my laptop, I then use the Mac automator program to invert and assign a profile to each image, I am then ready to open each picture in Photoshop (CS3) I crop, set my level adjustments, a lot of the time I use the lasso tool to adjust a specific area of an image, once I have it where I want it, I close the image and save and go onto my next image. This is a very quick run down of my scanning/work flow using the new SilverFast Version 8, I hope this info is of some help. Below are a series of screen grabs of my work flow starting with SilverFast Version 8 and into Photoshop CS3.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Gary. Wow; this post is timely! This past weekend I upgraded my 6-yearold PowerMac to a new (Intel-based) MacPro. The MacPro won't work with the manufacturer's software that drives my Nikon film scanner, so I'm in the market for new scanner software. I'm considering either Silverfast 8 or VueScan; but there's a substantial price difference between them. Just wondering: have you ever used VueScan? It sounds as if Silverfast 8 works great for you - and judging the glacier photo, I'd definitely agree. Wonderful photo. I've really been enjoying your frequent posts over the last few months. Thanks very much. David

Gary Nylander said...

Hi David,

Thanks very much. Yes I have used and own a copy of VueScan, works well, but I could never find a way not to clip the highlights, its a bit quirky in the way it works, a lot of people really like it because of the low cost, and for what is and what it does, its quite good. But I find that SilverFast is a much slicker product, they also have very technical support.

I hope that info helps.