After my guide on how to develop film and the one on how to scan your negatives, I think it’s time to make a review of one of the tools I use the most to produce my 35mm work: The Konica Minolta DiMage Scan Elite 5400!
What it does
This is a dedicated scanner for 35mm negatives, unfortunately isn’t in production anymore and it’s becoming researched and consequently pretty rare on the used market; but you still can find some occasions, like the one that allowed me to own one of them (found at 200€ in perfect conditions).
Allows you to scan 35mm negative and slide film at an effective resolution of 5400dpi, I repeat “effective” because scanners like the Epsons, usually have an effective resolution way inferior than the maximum resolution declared and especially way inferior than 5400dpi.
Except the resolution it still a particular scanner and for sure different from what the most of people are used to.
In fact it has a sort of magazine to load a strip of 6 photograms (35mm film), with individual “cells” for every photogram.
Once you have loaded the film strip and inserted the film carrier into the scanner, it will be able to transition between frames automatically.
So yes, another difference between this and a classic flatbed is the scansion limited to a single frame.
How I use it
As I said in the introduction, I use it to scan all my 35mm work; color, b&w or slide film, if it’s 35mm it pass through this scanner.
To be more specific, i use it coupled with the VueScan software (for my guide on developing negatives click here), because its “original” software is way obsolete and has numerous compatibility problems with recent OS.
Compared to a flatbed
Comparing it to every flatbed scanner there is “no comparison”, you can easily find comparison between the Konica Minolta DiMage Scan Elite 5400 e various Epson, even with the V850 (the “best” from Epson at the moment of writing this review) and the “winner” is clearly the Minolta.
I can only show you some example of scansion made with the Konica Minolta and the Epson V600, both in my possession.
Konica Minolta DiMage Scan Elite 5400
As you can clearly see from the images, the level of detail that you are able to extract with the Minolta from a 35mm frame is outstanding (only surpassed by drum scanning and/or Flexlight, but we are talking of way higher costs and footprints on your desk…).
The Epson still a really good scanner, perfect to publish your work on the various social media, but don’t expect to make big prints from its scans.
Talking more specific, the Scan Elite 5400 has as a pro the fact of being a film dedicated scanner and it does it wonderfully, plus it has various advantages from a construction point of view:
- There is no glass between the lens of the scanner and the negative
Unlike the Epson, where the negative is placed on top of a glass and scanned through it, losing sharpness.
- The Grain Disolver
A dedicated glass that filtrates and reduce the grain visible in the scansions, without reducing the sharpness (only applicable to b&w film, unfortunately).
- The resolution
Clearly we are talking of 5400dpi of optical resolution, versus maybe 3200dpi (but probably even less) in case of the Epson V600.
One trait that both scanners have is Digital ICE that in both cases seems to work pretty well and helps saving some time when scanning color or slide film.
If you want to find a defect to the Minolta, it’s without a doubt the fact of being limited to 35mm, while with an Epson flatbed you can go from 35mm (even 110 if you need) to 8×10 if you have a V850.
It’s a superb scanner if you want to work only with 35mm; really hard to beat the quality outputted by this Minolta, without using solutions way more expensive.
In my case, not shooting only 35mm, I’ve accompanied it with an Epson V600 (really great scanner too), with which I scan all my medium format work.
If you are interested in buying one, be conscious that there are two models of it, the one I own and that you saw in this review is the first one, you can recognise it by its full metal construction, while the second model has a “cheeper” construction made of multiple plastic components.
Personally I do not have any experience with the second model so I’ll stick to recommend you the first model.
If you are interested in some of my work scanned with this Konica Minolta DiMage Scan Elite 5400, I invite you to visit my Instagram profile and the Shop; if you are interested in this type of content but in video format, take a look at my YouTube channel; see you in the next article!