Film Photography

First impression: Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE film scanner

My wife bought me a Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE scanner for Christmas. She had heard me lament the long scan times I was experiencing with my otherwise acceptable Minolta Scan Dual II and decided to help a film photographer out.

I scanned a strip in the Plustek from each of the last five rolls of film I shot. Holy cow, is the Plustek blazing fast compared to the Scan Dual II!

My Plustek came with SilverFast scanning software, but I didn’t install or use it. I used to use it with my old Epson flatbed and found it to be so cumbersome as to be unpleasant. I just stuck with VueScan, which recognized the Plustek instantly.

I scanned strips of Fomapan 200, T-Max 100, Kodak Max 400, Fujicolor 200, and 50-year-expired GAF 125, aka Ansco Versapan. I’ll share a scan from each roll here from the Plustek, and for black and white a scan from the Scan Dual II, and for color a scan from the lab’s scanner. The Plustek scan is always first in each pair.

This is just a quick comparison. All photos were Photoshopped to my liking at the time of scanning, and my liking does vary over time.

If you’d like to pixel peep, click any image to see it on Flickr, where you can see it at full scan size.

First, a frame I shot in my Pentax ME SE with my 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens on Fomapan 200 @ EI 125, developed in Ilford ID-11 stock. Right away, you can see that the Plustek captures more of the frame than the Scan Dual, as the Scan Dual scan was not cropped.

Lucy Walker
Lucy Walker

Nikon N90s, 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor, GAF 125 (Ansco Versapan) x-7/72, HC-110 B 6 minutes. These are hard to distinguish from each other at blog size. Both scanners did a great job of cutting through the base fog of this very expired film.

Morristown, IN
Morristown, IN

Nikon N70, 28-80 mm f//3.5-5.6D AF Nikkor, Kodak Max 400. The lab scan is warmer with more contrast. I could probably have Photoshopped my scan to get exactly the lab scan’s warmer look. But I’m not sure which look I like better.

Boone County Courthouse
Boone County Courthouse

Nikon N70, 28-80/3.5-5.6D AF Nikkor, Kodak TMax 100, HC110 B. Other than a slight difference in the crop, these are hard to distinguish from each other.

Video Saloon
Video Saloon

Kodak VR35 K12, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200. Once again the lab scan has stronger contrast. The colors are much more alike than in the previous color comparison. The Plustek yielded a more turquoisey hue in the vehicle than the lab did.

Cherokee
Cherokee

So far I’m happy with the Plustek. It does fine work with black and white, and yields scans much larger than the older Scan Dual — 7200 dpi vs. 2820 dpi. I didn’t use my Scan Dual for color film much as I didn’t like the look right off the scanner. The Plustek does a better job with color and now gives me the option to have my lab only develop my color film so I can scan it myself.

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18 thoughts on “First impression: Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE film scanner

  1. arhphotographic says:

    Hello, it’s always a bit scary when trying a new scanner. Looks like your on to a winner with the Plustek though. I’ve had a few in the past and they have always served me well.

    • It is rather compact. I regret choosing the Canon 9000F flatbed several years ago – the Epson V700 seems to do fine work with both 35mm and MF, and it would have avoided all of these dedicated 35mm scanners I’ve been trying.

  2. I got a Plustek 7600i just about 10 years ago, after my Canon FS4000US suddenly died. The 8200i is supposedly the same scanner, but with an updated version of SilverFast and a blue case. The Plustek is a decent enough scanner, but it’s decidedly a step down from the Canon. I also use VueScan with it, though I tried SilverFast and wasn’t impressed with it. I scan 35mm film at 3600dpi, since 7200dpi produces enormous files that don’t seem to have any more usable detail. I scan 110 film at 7200dpi. The file size is reasonable, and that format could use whatever incremental amount of detail the higher resolution provides.

    I have an article on my Web site with my impressions and some useful information for people considering this scanner: https://www.tedsimages.com/text/plustek.htm

    • Interesting that the Plustek isn’t quite as good as your old Canon! I’ve been scanning at the full 7200 dpi but am likely to back off to 3600 as well for the same reason you cite. Thanks for the link to your excellent site!

  3. Merry Christmas to you! I’ve heard before that the Plustek scanners might be a bit low quality, but I would take one over a flatbed anyday. I didn’t want to pixel peep every image but think it might resolve grain a bit better than the Minolta; that said I don’t see any more detail in the Plustek scan. But if it saves you time than it’s an improvement. You could try a full res scan and then downres to 4000dpi or less, might make things appear sharper but then again…time.

  4. My wife bought me a Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE scanner for Christmas.

    Wow! What a difference. I have severe G.A.S. I wonder if my wife would be ok with me trading up from my Epson Perfection V600.

    I use what I think is a fantastic scanning process for negatives using SilverFast 9 SE and Negative Lab Pro. I hope you’ll change your mind about SilverFast. I think it’s better than VueScan.

    https://www.35mmc.com/16/08/2021/picking-your-color-negative-film-stock-an-alternative-approach-by-matt-wright/

  5. Congratulations. It’s a nice scanner, though mine is currently in a box in storage somewhere while we relocate. You were wise to skip the very clunky and user unfriendly SilverFast. I used it for a year or more until it started generating strange colour tints. When I switched to VueScan it was far superior in user experience and equally good for output. My review of the Plustek is at https://emulsive.org/reviews/scanner-review-plustek-opticfilm-8200ise-35mm-film-scanner-by-olli-thomson and my experience of SilverFast v VueScan is at https://ollithomson.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/from-silverfast-to-vuescan/

    • I have some experience with SilverFast as I bought it for my Epson V300. I didn’t enjoy the experience, so when I upgraded to the Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II flatbed, I switched to VueScan – and have stuck with it.

  6. Kodachromeguy says:

    I agree with Ted above. I also use a Plustek 7600i scanner and have tried both 3,600 DPI and 7,200 dpi. I agree that the 7,200 DPI does not offer much more real image data. Possibly, if you used a really fine grain film, like Acros, and top quality lenses, like Leica lenses with a tripod mounted camera, you would see a minor difference.

    I think the old Nikon Coolscan 4000 did better with dense negatives and slides. But I suspect most of the old coolscans are now broken.

    Jim, give Silverfast another try. It very powerful in it’s capabilities.

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