Film Photography

Experimenting with ScanGear on the Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II

I have been happy overall with the scans I get from the labs I use. I punch them up a little in Photoshop but they’re usually usable as is. But as a frugal dude I’m always looking to cut costs, and lab scans aren’t cheap.

My wife bought us a Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II scanner a couple years ago. It scans both 35mm and medium-format negatives. It’s an upgrade over my previous scanner, an Epson V300, which handles only 35mm.

Life’s been stupid crazy since then and I haven’t made time to play with the CanoScan, except for the quick scans I made of my mother-in-law’s 1940s-50s Kodachromes (see some here, here, and here). They turned out well enough using the bundled ScanGear software.

I was pleased, but surprised. The software Epson bundled with my V300 was terrible, and I expected Canon’s bundled software to be, too. So the other night, too tired to sleep, I got out some recent color negatives and scanned them with the CanoScan and ScanGear. I then edited the scans in Photoshop until I was reasonably satisfied.

I was thrilled that ScanGear automatically removed the color negative’s orange mask. The Epson software couldn’t do that and it was a pain to sample and correct for the mask. I never got it right.

I’m still building my scanning skills and knowledge, so this comparison is bound to be flawed. But here goes: my first CanoScan/ScanGear image. Yashica Lynx 14e on Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400.

Fulltone Photo of La Grange, Kentucky, processed the film and scanned the negatives on their big Noritsu scanner. I Photoshopped those scans to my satisfaction, too. But even the base scans offered dramatically better sharpness, color, and tonality than the CanoScan.

Down a Zionsville sidewalk

I couldn’t resolve considerable softness in many of the images. This photo of a green house shows it best. The CanoScan/ScanGear scan:

The Fulltone scan is obviously sharper, even at blog resolution.

Green house

This negative was loaded with dust, or maybe scratches as no amount of cleaning ever cleared it up. So I turned on ScanGear’s dust and scratch removal. It cleaned up the marks, but added unsatisfying mottling on the shadowy parts of the image.

The Fulltone scan is better by a mile.

Drying dishes

The ScanGear scans aren’t good enough. Yet. I haven’t mastered this software. If I keep experimenting, I might get better scans.

Or I could buy VueScan or SilverFast. I already own SilverFast for the Epson V300 and know it to be cumbersome and frustrating but effective. The scans still aren’t fully lab quality but they’re close enough.

Unfortunately, my copy of SilverFast works only for Epson V300 scanners. I’d have to buy a copy made to work with the CanoScan 9000F Mark II. The cheapskate within me urges me to try again with ScanGear.

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Film Photography

The back streets of Zionsville

I’m smitten with the great color and sharpness my Yashica Lynx 14e delivered on Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 the day I walked around Zionsville.

Yellow box truck

It was a rare sunny day this extra-gray winter. After a heavy snow event the temperatures rose to near 50 degrees and so the streets were full of puddles.

Garage

I photograph Zionsville a lot now that I live here, usually the charming Main Street. This day I walked along some of Zionsville’s back streets and alleys looking for interesting compositions.

Garage and alley

The town was chartered in 1852 and many buildings and homes from the last half of the 19th century remain. Some of them have been repurposed, like this little church that is now someone’s home.

Parked

This green house at the north end of Main Street is probably my favorite in town, and I’ve photographed it over and over. Zillow says it was built in 1918, and has 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.

Green house

Zillow also says that this house is worth about a half million dollars. That’s a huge amount of money for a house in Indiana. The same house in Indianapolis would go for far, far less. “The Village” in Zionsville can command these prices because it’s such a charming place to live. Margaret and I would love to move to the Village, but unless we luck into an incredible deal its home prices put it out of our reach.

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Red umbrellas

Red umbrellas at the Brick Street Inn
Yashica Lynx 14e
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
2019

This isn’t one of my finest compositions, but I love how the Yashica Lynx 14e captured the light and detail of this scene. Also, the reds and blacks here are so good you’d think this was Kodak Ektar, not Fuji 400.

Film Photography

single frame: Red umbrellas at the Brick Street Inn

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Camera Reviews

Operation Thin the Herd: Yashica Lynx 14e

Down a Zionsville sidewalk

The 1968 Yashica Lynx 14e is a fixed-lens rangefinder camera that packs an incredible lens — 45mm at a whopping f/1.4.

Yashica Lynx 14e

I first shot the Lynx 14e on a road trip with Kodak T-Max 400 inside. The results blew me away. Just look at those creamy tones, that crisp detail! Even four years after making this photo, looking at it still floods my brain with pleasure hormones.

No Smoking

Here’s one more past photo from this camera, which adores being shot inside on fast black-and-white film. This time I used Arista Premium 400 (discontinued; I miss it). I photographed this Auburn Model 654 at the factory museum in Auburn, Indiana. Just look at this excellence. Look. At. It. So good!

654

All is not perfect with my Lynx 14e: it underexposes by a stop. It’s not the end of the world, because I just set exposure a stop lower (say, EI 200 when shooting ISO 400 film) and all is well. But if I keep the camera, I’ll send it for CLA and have the meter calibrated.

Its meter is powered by two PX640 batteries, of the mercury type that has been banned for years. I own no other camera that uses this battery. Fortunately, you can buy alkaline batteries of this size on Amazon for a few dollars. The voltage is slightly different but if you’re shooting negative film it shouldn’t matter.

Since I wanted to see how this lens likes color film, I loaded some Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400. Also, it was the dead of winter and the gray days called for fast film. I started shooting stuff around my house.

Drying dishes

This lens finds whatever’s interesting about the light, and enhances it.

Centerpiece

These images are short on shadow detail. I tried to bring it out in Photoshop but it just wasn’t present.

Graflex

We got a rare day of full sun in early February so I took the Lynx into town to make a few photos. I dropped the camera’s ISO setting another stop for these photos, for two reasons: this film loves to be overexposed, and I wanted a little exposure flexibility as otherwise every shot would have been at 1/500 sec. and f/16.

Brick wall with iron stairs

I’ve never seen Superia X-tra 400 look this good. I got Portra-like color from it.

Florist

Other reviews of this camera have panned how you activate the camera’s meter: you press the amusingly named “Switch” button on the front of the camera. The consensus is that it’s awkward. But I’ve never had any trouble.

Colorful storefronts

What I did have trouble with, on this full-sun day, was reading the red OVER and UNDER indicators in the viewfinder window. They light when exposure is wrong; you adjust aperture and shutter speed until they disappear. They blaze bright in muted or inside light. Direct sunlight washes them out.

Zionsville house

See more photos from this camera in my Yashica Lynx 14e gallery.

When I evaluate a camera, I like to take it on a solid photographic assignment so I have a chance to bond with it. Unfortunately, cold and snowy February is the worst month of an Indiana year for photography. It took me weeks to get through the roll, sneaking in a shot here and there as I could. It didn’t create the best experience with this heavy camera.

Moreover, even after thinning my herd as far as I have, I still own more cameras than I can shoot regularly. It is just a flat shame to own a good camera I seldom or never use. I’m not sure how often I’ll get around to shoothing my Yashica Lynx 14e.

Still, I continue to be bowled over by the sharpness, detail, and tonal range this lens delivers. This camera deserves more of my time.

Verdict: Keep

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Prince Albert in a can

Prince Albert in a can
Yashica Lynx 14e
Kodak T-Max 400
2014

Fellow camera-collecting blogger Peggy Anne reviewed her Yashica Lynx 14 recently, and it led me to look back at my photos from my nearly identical Lynx 14e.

This camera’s lens is simply incredible. Just look at that sharpness and clarity! And this is with the lens either nearly or fully wide open, thanks the the dim antique-store light.

When I restarted my collection in 2006 I intended to collect fixed-lens rangefinders. I had bought eight or ten of them when someone gave me an SLR they no longer wanted. The SLR bug bit me hard and that was pretty much that for my rangefinder obsession.

As I shrink my collection through Operation Thin the Herd I will to keep just one or two rangefinders — ones I will use and love. If I had to guess right now, I think I’ll wind up with my Canonet QL17 G-III and my Lynx 14e.

Not that either camera is in fully working order. The Canonet has always needed new light seals. The Lynx 14e’s meter is off by a stop. But for cameras I’m going to keep, I’m willing to invest in repairs.

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Film Photography

single frame: Prince Albert in a can

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Old Cars, Photography

Bespoke in black and white

Yashica Lynx 14eI wished I had an f/1.4 lens for my Nikon F2 last month when I visited the classic car museums in Auburn, Indiana. My f/2 prime would have left me with a mighty narrow in-focus patch; I wanted that extra stop of exposure. I had just had good luck with my Yashica Lynx 14e indoors in available light, though, so I decided to give it another try.

I also wanted to shoot black and white, given that I’d shoot endless color with my Canon PowerShot S95 on the trip. I had just bought a ton of Arista Premium 400 so I loaded up a roll. This film is heavily rumored to be rebranded Kodak Tri-X. It behaves much the same to my eye.

And then the light in these museums moved frequently and quickly between bright areas and deep shadows. I knew getting good exposure would be tricky, and that the Lynx’s viewfinder would not help me figure it out. I really wished I had an SLR for its through-the-lens viewing.

All day, I framed shots and hoped for the best. After the photos came back from the processor, several were beyond saving. These turned out all right, though. This photo of an Auburn’s fender and wheel required no Photoshopping.

Turned wheel

That luck didn’t last with photos of a pair of step-down Hudsons in the National Auto & Truck Museum. Light blasting in from intermittent skylights left deep dark areas in what had once been the Auburn factory. My Lynx did the best it could.

Hudson in the shadows 2

Despite the difficult light hiding many of this Hudson’s details, I like the mood that lighting creates here.

Hudson in the shadows 1

Dim, even lights in the National Auto & Truck Museum basement meant wide-open exposures and the narrowest in-focus patches, but with care I made some of them work. Here’s a 1952 Chevrolet.

52 Chevy

I lingered over this wine-colored Nash Healey, the first one built.

Nash Healey

Inside the neighboring Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum, shooting away from the enormous plate-glass windows gave the best chance for good exposure. Always a contrarian, I tried a few shots facing them. This was the best of them; the rest could not be salvaged.

Parked by the big windows

Getting down and close worked, too.

654

Here, I made one of the great windows work to my advantage.

Duesenberg reflecting in the Auburn

Upstairs, faced with illumination entirely by spotlight, I all but gave up on the Lynx. I did manage this one photo.

851

I wish I could say that I enjoyed the challenge in this difficult light. But I’d face this frustration again, because I want to prove I’m photographer enough to handle it.

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