My first off is that I used a Noritsu LS-600 and HS-1800 for testing, because that’s what my friend’s small lab has. Since I’m still printing in the darkroom on fiber paper, I’m far from an expert. However, I’m not a total luddite either. I have used the Nikon 9000, Minolta Dimage 5400, Imacon FlexTight Precision II, (I suppose I considered that the Cadillac of scanners), and an assortment of flatbeds. Mostly Epsons. However, even I have to admit, the Noritsus, and probably the Fuji SP-500, are in a totally different league. Mostly for ease of use once you’re setup and have your workflow down. And speed? The others aren’t even close. While you may be able to suck a few more details out of Howtek or Tango drum scanners,…I doubt it. At least not from what I’ve seen. Second, this review will be short and sweet. I’m not DPReview.
Noritsu LS-600 – Conservative Marketing?
I find the numbers VERY conservative. I.e., that a 4011 x 6048 px file will give you a 12 x 18 print. Well, yah, at 330 DPI on an inkjet printer. If you are sending it out to get a digital C-print, (LightJet or Lambda), on Fuji Crystal archive, or on Kodak Endura, you can comfortably uses 200ppi. So you can print that size file up to 20 x 30. I’ve never seen companies be that conservative with their marketing numbers. Even at the normal 300 dpi settings of most inkjet users, (some insist anything over 240 dpi is a waste anyway), that would still be a 20 x 13 print. So, scanning with even the Noritsu LS-600 should satisfy everyone.
Fact is, this is the first time I’m seriously considering usurping my darkroom. What I’ve always hated about scanning? All the prep, all the extreme dust control,…all the ‘wasted’ time. The absolute limits on detail and then prepping the print file afterward in Photoshop or some version of an image altering software, because the colors are never right! I know these are a $1000 to $2000 on Ebay. But does anyone remember the cost of an Imacon? They are as much as $25-26K! Good Lord! I just want it to extract some pixels,…not lay a golden egg.
The Commercial End
Anyway, Noritsu is a Japanese photography equipment manufacturer. On the commercial end, especially as it pertains to the old film ‘Mini-Labs’,… Noritsu, Fuji and Kodak were pretty much the kings of the castle. But Noritsu was the only one not producing film. However, it did partner with Fuji and Kodak, producing both Fuji and Kodak ‘rebadged’ mini-lab equipment. So, they know a thing or two about imaging.
I guess the Noritsu LS-600 is the low-end model, while the LS-1100 and HS-1800 are faster and can do more formats. The two other models provide additional capabilities: the LS-1100 enables faster scanning and APS, and the HS-1800 is even faster, and allows APS , plus various medium formats. The only advantage I can see with the LS-1100 is speed. 110 35mm frames per hour as opposed to 74. Eh. It also does APS,…another ‘eh’ for me. Now the HS-1800 is not only faster than both, it makes slightly larger files, (4492 x 6774 vs 4011 x 6048), and is fully capable of doing medium format, too. (plus APS)
Mostly I’ll be talking about the Noritsu LS-600 because I would guess that you’re mostly “users” as opposed to “labs”. And they can be had on Ebay for a $1000 to $1500 or so. But if you also want to do medium format film,…get the HS-1800. 64 bit Windows 10 Home works perfectly with no hiccups. (I don’t know about Mac) Load the shiny side up, (so you can read the numbers), insert the full strip, and save the files it opens automatically in Photoshop. The only thing I don’t like is having to pay extra for the EZ Controller Software. So, if you’re buying used, make sure they include that. It does 4 types of film; Color Negative, Chromogenic Black & White (C-41), Panchromatic Black & White and Color Positive Film. It will allow you to select one of three resolutions; 1512x 1002, 3024 x 2005 and 6048 x 4011. For some reason, it saves them as TIFFs by default, but you can change that.
Couple of things. Always insert the film starting with the largest frame number. Also, the default is to have Auto Contrast on. Turn it OFF! It’s almost like overexposing in digital. (loses highlights) That said, you can get an idea how it runs from the Vimeo video below. I’m a Nikon guy,…so this is not meant as a diss on Nikon. But even a Nikon 9000 is ‘painfully’ slow compared to the Noritsu LS-600. And it will produce exceptional quality scans. I didn’t try the HS-1800 with medium format film, but my buddy tells me it’s awesome. And the color is slightly warm in the shadows, but takes no or little work to get right. I can’t say enough good things about these units.
A hybrid workflow was written by a friend for this site last year. I took his word and very honorable opinion on what he said. But now that he’s reviewed these scans,…he too rescinds! Unless you have a lot of time to waste, and are fine with so-so scans, these scanners are a no brainer. Sorry, Epson. (or whoever)
Windows 7 Professional, and Up…Windows 10 Home (or Pro) recommended (64 Bit OS)
USB 2.0 connections, network connection on the EZ Controller PC
Specific to the scanner model
HS-1800 with replaceable negative carriers
Max Output Resolution
Various Carriers for HS-1800 (optional)
HS-1800 negative carriers:
Digital ICE for removal of dust and scratches