Lockett Sommerville, Bon Vivant. Blue Point, Isle of Man

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with scanning lately – I hate scanning and I love going to the pub to drink beer. I just don’t have the time or patience to scan negatives. I was using an Epson V500, but I wasn’t happy with the results, not even when using it with Vuescan software. I even bought ‘The Vuescan Bible’, apparently all you need to know about this super-dooper scanning program. I may as well have bought a copy of the Old Testament written in Swahili, for all the sense it made.

After a few weeks I gave-up scanning and gifted the V500 to my good friend, and fellow photographer, Andi ‘Bodi’ Howland. I also vowed never to attempt negative scanning ever again. I started sending all my films to a pro lab to be developed and scanned straight to disc, but that’s an expensive business – £16 per film. I’m not sure if the lab I’ve been using has sacked the old scan-man, but if they have, they need to get him back, because the quality has gone right down the shit-pan. Anyway, I decided I could do a better job…

At the end of September, this year, I’ll have completed a photo-essay in Canada and will be returning to the UK with 130+ rolls of 120 colour film, and they aren’t going to process themselves for free. So, I’ve bought another scanner…I know what you’re thinking – “This guy’s an idiot!”, but there is method in my madness. I’ve just gone for a better scanner, the Epson V700. The two scans here are infinitely better than the ones I originally got back from my pro lab and they only took a few seconds to scan. But for me, the main advantage is the cost – the V700 was only £400, that’s the cost of a process and scan on 30 rolls of film.

So, I can kiss goodbye to to October and most of November. I’ll be in my basement saving myself a small fortune.

(both images made with a Mamiya 7II and 80mm lens. Film was Kodak Portra 400 and Tri-X 400 b/w)

Tim Burgess, DJ and ‘The Charlatans’ frontman. Euston, London


  1. I know how you feel about scanning…I hate it as well, and much prefer to send it out to have it done. Still, it isn’t cheap! I go back and forth too–sometimes scanning, sometimes sending it out–and suspect I will for the duration.

    Nice shots!


  2. Yeah, I’m on the lab-processing-to-disc ride, and it really is expensive — and slow. But the idea of that initial cost to purchase a scanner just makes my stomach burble! Let us all know how the V700 works out in the longer-term.


  3. If at first you don’t succeed, buy better equipment and try, try again… What was the problem with the V500? You have me worried now as I was considering getting one myself to scan negatives as my local place produces terrible quality scans.


    • Hahaha! I’ll be totally honest, I didn’t like the V500 because I couldn’t get decent results with the Vuescan software. So I bought the V700 and still I can’t get decent results with Vuescan, BUT, I’m getting excellent results with the standard Epson software.

      Also, I have a lot of 4×5 inch film that I need to scan, you can’t do this on the V500.

      For the money, the V500 is great.


  4. Love the results you’re getting with Portra. Would you mind sharing your scanning method/workflow? I’ve tried Epson Scan and Silverfast SE and am getting horrible results. I’ve tried scanning as a negative with no other auto settings enabled and also tried scanning as a positive 48bit HDR and then setting individual RGG levels and inverting in PS with crap results. The Negafix profiles in Silverfast didnt look that good with new portra either. Whats the secret sauce? 🙂


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