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Scanning 35mm film with Pacific Image Prime Film XAs super edition

photography
scanning

November 28, 2020

xas-espon

XAs on the left. v600 on the right.

The Pacific Image Prime Film XAs super edition scanner is one if not the best at home scanner in terms of DPI for 35mm negatives.

I have been scanning 35mm film at home on a v600 and I have been wanting more resolution at home. After a lot of research I finally settled on the Prime Film XAs. Here is a chart of scanners taken from /r/analog. It was originally generated from filmscanner.info.

Scanner Type Price New (USD) Aprx. Price Used (USD) Advertised (dpi) Actual (dpi) 35mm 120 4x5 8x10
Braun FS-120 Dedicated $2000 N/A 3200 3270 Y Y N N
Canon CanoScan 9000F Flatbed N/A $140 9600 1700 Y Y N N
Canon CanoScan 9000F MK II Flatbed $170 $140 9600 1700 Y Y N N
Epson Perfection v500 Flatbed N/A $100 6400 1250** Y Y N N
Epson Perfection v550 Flatbed $200 $180 6400 1560 Y Y N N
Epson Perfection v600 Flatbed $230 $200 6400 1560 Y Y N N
Epson Perfection v750 Flatbed N/A $475 6400 2300 Y Y Y Y
Epson Perfection v800 Flatbed $675 $700 6400 2300 Y Y Y Y
Epson Expression 10000 XL Flatbed $1000 N/A 2400 2170 Y Y Y Y
Epson Expression 11000 XL Pro Flatbed $2459 N/A 2400 2170 Y Y Y Y
HP Scanjet G4050 Flatbed N/A N/A 9600 1300 Y Y Y Y
Nikon Coolscan V Dedicated N/A N/A 5000 3650 Y N N N
Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED Dedicated N/A N/A 5000 3900 Y N N N
Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 ED Dedicated N/A N/A 4000 3900 Y Y N N
Plustek OpticFilm 8200 Dedicated $370 N/A 7200 3250 Y N N N
Plustek OpticFilm 120 Dedicated $1900 N/A 5300 3450 (*4598) Y Y N N
Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7200 (EUR: Reflecta CrystalScan 7200) Dedicated $179 N/A 7200 3300 Y N N N
Pacific Image PrimeFilm XE (EUR: Reflecta ProScan 10T) Dedicated $329 N/A 10000 4100 Y N N N
Pacific Image PrimeFilm XA (EUR: Reflecta RPS 10M) Dedicated $399 N/A 10000 4300 Y N N N
Pacific Image PF120 (EUR: Reflecta MF5000) Dedicated $1299 N/A 3200 3050 Y Y N N

From this list of devices that filmscanner has tested it is the 2nd highest DPI. This is excluding lab scanners because not everyone has the means to get a lab scanner at home.

Workflow

I am using this scanner with Silverfast 8.8 SE. Mine came with a copy of it when I purchased it from bhphoto. I recommend either using Silverfast or Vuescan with this scanner. The scanner and software both support batch scans. I usually cut film into 5 frames and this works well with the scanner. They have advertised that you can automatically scan an entire 36 frame roll but I have not tried that yet. I would be somewhat skeptical because the scanner does not perfectly align the frame within the scanning region at times. Overall I have really enjoy scanning with this scanner and cannot wait to scan more. Here is my typical workflow.

Load the film into the scanner. Position the film with the forward and backwards button to perfectly align the frame within the scanning region. In Silverfast I setup negaxfix for my film stock and I scan at 5000 DPI.

If I use Silverfast to scan the film as a positive for a DNG file to convert within Negative Lab Pro (NLP) i'll crop the side of the frame with the scanner to make sure I get some of the border. One downside with scanning for NLP is that you lose dimension because the scanning region perfectly fits the 35mm frame. It isn't that big of an issue but sometimes you will lose a bit of your frame for the border.

Output

When scanning the negative as TIFF or DNG at 5000 DPI you will see an image around 150-200MBs. This isn't that bad.

Comparisons (pixel peeping)

The left image will always be the Pacific Image Prime Film XAs super edition and the right image is the v600.

You can see the zoom percent in each photo as well as the size in inches and the DPI. Each photo is directly from the scanner. There is no added sharpening. Scanned without sharpening as well. I scanned the photos using Silverfast to DNG then converted with NLP.

first image, XAS on left, v600 on right

Zooming all the way into the road sign.

second image, XAS on left, v600 on right

third image, XAS on left, v600 on right

Zooming into the center of the image, the santa is directly in the center of the frame.

fourth image, XAS on left, v600 on right

The results are amazing. The amount of detail and color blows the v600 out of the water. Adding sharpening for sharing and printing makes these images even better.

Results

Exported original TIFF scans as PNG. There is no sharpening added in these photos. Scanned without sharpening as well. I scanned the photos using Silverfast to DNG then converted with NLP.

spinning-j

Contax RTS // Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm 1.7 // Porta 400

6965x4720 -> 3500x3500

car-shot

Contax RTS // Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm 1.7 // Porta 400

6991x4733 -> 4001x2710

macro-plant

Contax RTS // Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* (c/y) 35-70mm // Porta 400

6919x4696 -> 4000x2716

flat-irons

Contax RTS // Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* (c/y) 35-70mm // Gold 200

7045x4684 -> 3750x2494

Why I bought one

I wanted to get as high of a resolution scan at home so I can get film developed at the lab without scans. This saves costs so I can shoot even more film. I have enjoyed controlling the scanning process. Usually I will scan my film on the v600 to get a contact sheet and for web sharing. If I want to print or share a high resolution image I will scan only a few frames from the original roll to save time. I usually don't need the entire roll to be scanned at a high resolution. This allows me to pick and choose what frames I want scanned at high resolution for I am not sitting for hours rescanning all of my film. The DPI increase from 1560 to 4300 is amazing. I will be able to print large sizes now.

Is it worth buying one?

I would say yes, it is worth buying one. I paid $499 without shipping and tax at the time of this post. I was easily able to setup the scanner on Windows 10 with Silverfast SE (I don't have Vuescan). The results of the 4300 DPI scans are out of the world. It blows v600 out of the water for 35mm scans. This scanner will be slower than most flatbeds and DLSR/mirrorless scanning. I would use this scanner for specific images instead of an entire roll to save time. The button interface on the scanner has been pleasant to use. You can easily load and eject film from the scanner. Aligning the frames within the scanning region is also very easy. Overall I am pleased with my purchase and cannot wait to scan more film.

Other resources for the Pacific Image Prime Film XAs super edition

Youtube video : A Modern Day Pakon Film Scanner - Pacific image primefilm XAs super - Shootswithcoops

Blog post : Pacific Image XA Review – I Scan at home, and this is why – Guest Post by Mark Sperry March 15, 2017