Scanner bargain Epson 4990 from 2005

Marley

Active Member
Registered User
I picked up a old Epson 4990 that scans negatives up to 10x8 on ebay for £100. It seems to be somewhat of a bargain ... below top is a tiny section of an image scanned via my old method: using my sony A7 and extension tubes/copy stand and Negative Lab Pro.
Docklands 2 section.jpg
Below is a similar section of the same neg scanned using the 4990 and using Silverfast.

Untitled (2) section.jpg
The Epson seems to have a fraction less contrast ... but is actually sharper - the telephone number seems more readable.
 

Marley

Active Member
Registered User
I used to use a 4990 years ago (V850 now) and found it excellent.
I agree the V850 is a great machine, but at around £800-900 it's cost is a huge bar to entry to large and medium format film photography for lots of young (and not so young) people.
I think if we want to see film continue not only for our own lifetimes, but into the future we have to attract as many young people as possible to 'analogue' photography (as they would call it).

My wife was babysitting a whole bunch of students at a drama school the other week - they pretty much all film SLRs (mostly Olympus OM10s) in their backpacks ... one asked her if she had any idea about loading film cameras. She - having been married to a photographer for 30 years simply popped a film in ... wound a couple of frames and handed the camera back. they were gobsmacked - then when she said her husband shot up to 5x7 they were fascinated.
It's selfish -If we can get young people to start using more film then it's future will be secured - they will also have the pleasure we have had from it.
 

Stephen Batey

Well-Known Member
Registered User
At the risk of taking this way off topic...

When I started in photography I was about 8 years old, and we were poor. Economies were the order of the day, and making money stretch as far as possible was needed. To get the most out of the expense of buying a magazine or book, I used to read every word, which is how I acquired knowledge on a lot of photographic topics that frankly bored me to tears. Colour was too expensive to use. But those were the days of box cameras and people getting contact prints. So, I started my DIY processing with contact prints, using saucers for dishes and, in those days of gaslight papers, an existing nightlight as a safelight.

This was possible because people were unused to enlargements (special photos only, and probably low quality from a box camera anyway) as contact prints were either two and a quarter square or two and a quarter by three and a quarter inches. Easy enough to see and easy to pass round. Contact prints died away as 35mm took over (my first camera took 35mm size photos, and I got those back from the chemist contact printed though).

Now that larger formats than 35mm are relatively affordable, surely it should be possible to return to contact printing for a small outlay. A sheet of glass (I used one borrowed from a picture frame each time when I started) instead of a contact printer, and cheap containers instead of dishes won't cost too much. The problem is most likely the "big print" expectation, added to the idea that film = 35mm. People might even find that seeing an image appear on a blank sheet of paper is fascinating...
 

Marley

Active Member
Registered User
At the risk of taking this way off topic...

When I started in photography I was about 8 years old, and we were poor. Economies were the order of the day, and making money stretch as far as possible was needed. To get the most out of the expense of buying a magazine or book, I used to read every word, which is how I acquired knowledge on a lot of photographic topics that frankly bored me to tears. Colour was too expensive to use. But those were the days of box cameras and people getting contact prints. So, I started my DIY processing with contact prints, using saucers for dishes and, in those days of gaslight papers, an existing nightlight as a safelight.

This was possible because people were unused to enlargements (special photos only, and probably low quality from a box camera anyway) as contact prints were either two and a quarter square or two and a quarter by three and a quarter inches. Easy enough to see and easy to pass round. Contact prints died away as 35mm took over (my first camera took 35mm size photos, and I got those back from the chemist contact printed though).

Now that larger formats than 35mm are relatively affordable, surely it should be possible to return to contact printing for a small outlay. A sheet of glass (I used one borrowed from a picture frame each time when I started) instead of a contact printer, and cheap containers instead of dishes won't cost too much. The problem is most likely the "big print" expectation, added to the idea that film = 35mm. People might even find that seeing an image appear on a blank sheet of paper is fascinating...
I don't imagine we are terribly far apart age wise (I'm 62) and my first intro to photography was my dad letting me take pictures on his old 6x9cm Agfa Billy Record - again a size where contact prints were perfectly viewable. From then I saved up and did summer jobs to buy a Zenith E and with that I was hooked. I was lucky in that my grandfather who had been a keen photographer in the 1920s allowed me to convert his old 'coalhole' into a darkroom (bloody hell was it cold in winter). I used to buy Amateur Photographer when I could, and knew every photography book in our local library backwards.

I think we need to face the fact that young people - who we really do need to encourage to join our ranks - often live in far less free homes than we did, and dabbling with chemicals is less easy for them. They have less choice of materials, and the e bay driven bandwagon of over inflated prices for old equipment has made the bar seem awfully high (my granddaughter wants a career in photography so I have a vested interest).
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
The 4990 is an excellent scanner, but the film holders seem rather fragile. The 800/850’s holders are much more robust and the 800/850 scanners warm up much more quickly.

My father gave me his old camera when I was quite young, but I had no money for film so I had to wait until I earned my own. Developing and printing were a mystery; I had no idea at all that you could do it yourself with quite simple equipment.
Does anyone remember the Johnson’s Exposure Calculator? Surprisingly accurate, even for Kodachrome.
 

Marley

Active Member
Registered User
The 4990 is an excellent scanner, but the film holders seem rather fragile. The 800/850’s holders are much more robust and the 800/850 scanners warm up much more quickly.

My father gave me his old camera when I was quite young, but I had no money for film so I had to wait until I earned my own. Developing and printing were a mystery; I had no idea at all that you could do it yourself with quite simple equipment.
Does anyone remember the Johnson’s Exposure Calculator? Surprisingly accurate, even for Kodachrome.
I was lucky that my dad was an optics engineer and where he worked had a lab ... my childhood B&W films used to get chucked through with rocket engine test photographs.
For exposure I used to borrow my dad's Weston Master 5 ... and often forget to return it ...
 

Stephen Batey

Well-Known Member
Registered User
When I got my first camera where you could actually adjust aperture and exposure (one of these) I carried around a British Journal of Photography Almanac which had exposure tables in it. Once you got to the right page for the latitude, time of year, and time of day, you could then read off the exposure once you'd estimated the light (bright, hazy, dull etc.). In some ways carrying a Crown Octavo 1 inch thick book with a rather smaller camera was slightly disproportionate. A Stitz light meter (3 15/-) soon followed.
 

Marley

Active Member
Registered User
I remember clearly that my first SLR - a Zenith E cost £29.00 and it took me ruddy ages to save up for. As soon as I got it I determined I was going to get something better, and set about chasing about at all the local carnivals and regattas (I was raised on the Isle of Wight) and photographed all the pub tug of war teams in action. I then made 10x8 prints (I had acquired a Russian 'suitcase' enlarger) and got my dad (I was too young) to go into the pubs and flog my prints for me. I made enough to buy a Praktica - then worked even harder to buy a second hand and battered Mamiya C33 - With that I did the outside of the pubs at night to sell to the landlords.

Anyway ... ever since then I've been super keen to show kids (and anyone else) that if you are determined you can find ways into photography even if you think you can't afford it. Just because some digital review site says that any scanner/camera/lens over a couple of years old is only fit for consignment to the rubbish heap - doesn't mean it's right. Hence the Epson mention.
 
Top