The Portable 35mm Negative Slide Film Scanner (FS-502T) available at cd-r king stores wouldn’t merit a second look from a professional photographer looking to digitize old negatives. But hobbyist photographers who still regularly shoot film should find this product useful. While there are photo developing services that offer film-to-cd scanning, most of them charge about 100 pesos per roll. If you’re looking at 30 rolls of film to digitize, then this scanner has already paid for itself. It may be especially useful for digitizing libraries of 35mm film for archiving purposes.
The FS-502T scans color, black and white and 35mm slides, with settings provided for each. Actual use is quite straightforward. Feed the negative or slide into the machine with the provided appropriate holder. Plug the scanner into a power source, either to your PC or laptop via USB or directly into a power outlet with the provided adaptor. Push the orange button to turn the scanner on. You may either rely on the 24MB internal memory for saving the scanned images or insert an SD card into the slot provided. Minor editing controls are provided, such as rotation and flipping, which you can do prior to saving the scanned image. A preview is shown on a 2.4″ LCD display on the front side of the scanner.
Operation of the scanner is so simple that only a cursory examination of the accompanying user manual is necessary. The manual itself is almost only a repetition of what can be found on the side of the box that goes with it. What is remarkable is what the manual does not contain, which are technical details on the resulting scanned images, details which may be important to a photographer.
For example, the scanner churns out a positive file out of your negative with the following metadata:
which cannot be changed on the scanner itself, but possible with the appropriate exif editor such as that present in Adobe Lightroom. Also the raw output pales in comparison with a developer service’s scan to CD results. However, if the user is not averse to making a few tweaks with a photo editor, the best possible adjustment can be made with a few clicks within Adobe Photoshop. The secret is in the auto levels adjustment, auto options, Enhance Per Channel Contrast.
Sample results, before and after levels adjustment:
A few caveats. A pro photographer looking to digitize old negs and have had it with the hassles of a high-end film scanner had his day with the FS-502T. He warned me against using the enclosed film roll holder, saying it would damage the negatives. He was right.
Also if you decide to buy this scanner for scanning new negatives, tell the developers to just process the film without cutting them up and putting them into the transluscent plastic sleeves. The fewer times the negatives are put through something stressful, the better. Use the enclosed flim holder, and just let the ends hang out on either side, moving only when you need to “advance” the film.
The first time I used the scanner my output was dusty and pockmarked. I remedied that with a hand held blower and the included “cleaning wand.” After a few bursts of air and a few sweeps of the wand, the output became much cleaner.
So, is this scanner worth forking over a little less than PHP 3,000 for? If you have more than 30 rolls of film to digitize, it might well be. The lack of moving parts in this scanner may actually be an advantage. Manually advancing the negative holder removes chances of damage to any internal conveyance. The fewer the moving parts, the better it is in my book. If you have image editing software that will allow you to tweak the raw output, then you will not be too disappointed with this little stand-alone scanner.
The cost is a far cry from any flatbed scanner with an attachment for scanning film such as the CanoScan, the Epson Perfection and way way cheaper than the Plustek 7600i. This scanner is exactly the same one marketed as the ION Audio Film2SD, and is manufactured by Meree Technology Co., Ltd. of Guandong, China.
Product Name: Portable 35mm Negative Slide Film Scanner (FS-502T)
Image Sensor: 5 mega CMOS sensor
Lens: F no. =2.0, 4 Glass elements
LCD: 2.4” Color TFT LCD
Internal memory: 24MB NAND Flash (for saving images)
Focus Range: Fixed focus
Exposure Control: Automatic
Color Balance: Automatic
Scan Quality: 1800/3600dpi
Data Conversion: 10 bits per color channel
Scan Method: Single pass
Output Image: JEPG format
Resolution: 2520 X 1680 pixels
Light Source: Back light (3 white LEDs)
Interface: USB 2.0, TV-out (video 3.5mm jack)
USB Configuration: Mass Storage Device Class/MSDC
Power: 5V adapter, or USB power(100-240V)
External memory: SD/MMC compatible
Video Out Cable
Instruction Book – English
Roll Film Tray
Negative Film Tray
Power Adapter (100-240V, 50/60Hz)
Author’s Note: The unit reviewed was purchased at a cd-r king outlet in Davao City, paid for by the author herself. This review also appears on techkitchen.ph.