Salvage: Kodak Professional RFS3600 Film Scanner

This post has been a while in the making – despite salvaging this a while back from my “regular place of salvage”, I wasn’t ready to make a post about it until much later.

Kodak Professional RFS3600 Film Scanner

As you can see, this was one of Kodak’s more expensive product offerings, a 3600dpi film scanner. This unit can accommodate both negative film strips of three frames or longer, and single mounted positive slides/transparencies. I didn’t expect to find this left out in the cold …

Connectivity

Connectivity SCSI

On the rear of the unit, we can see two distinct connectivity options covered by a sliding door. The unit is capable of either SCSI connection though the high density connectors with internal switchable termination, or USB 1.1. Power is by barrel connector with positive tip.

Underside

SCSI ID setting is made on the underside of the scanner on the rotating selector. The scanner itself uses 12v DC at 1.5A – quite convenient indeed.

Judging from information online, this wasn’t the best film scanner around, but it certainly wasn’t a poor one at that. It’s definitely worth getting up and running just to see.

Getting it to Work

Unfortunately, as with all salvaged stuff, you tend to only get some of what’s needed to make the thing work. In this case, it didn’t come with the power adapter or the SCSI cable. Being a Kodak device, and knowing the demise of the Kodak brand, I really wasn’t expecting to ever get it to work.

Luckily, my last dead Seagate external hard disk liberated an Asian Power Devices 12v 2A switchmode supply with just the right barrel connector. Plugging it in and turning it on – the CCFL scanner lamp lights up (yes!) and the scanner blinks it status light for a few minutes as it warms up. It then proceeds to calibrate its internal mechanism, and the status light goes solid – it’s ready.

A USB lead is easy to find – so that wasn’t a trouble. Funnily enough, the drivers weren’t hard to find either as Kodak has graciously left them hosted. Some of the Google links to them are broken though – but the one above works. One thing that had to be done was to upgrade the firmware and film terms as well – otherwise the scanner will not work with the present version of the software.

The manual does state that SCSI isn’t supported on Windows 2000 onwards, and the driver support really tops out at XP. Drivers provided are only 32-bits, so I felt confident that I can make it work under Windows 7 32-bit. As it turns out, Adobe Photoshop CS5 needs a Plugin to enable TWAIN acquiring as it supports only WIA by default. Aside from that, the software loaded up poorly complaining of miscellaneous errors and being unable to see the scanner.

To resolve this, you must run Photoshop with Administrator privledges!!! Once you do that, the scanner window pops up correctly, the firmware can be updated, and we’re sweet to go.

Unfortunately the second part is to test whether the unit is actually workable. For that, I needed strips of film. Funnily enough, I didn’t have any to hand, so I had to ask my dad to dig some up from his collection so I could put the scanner through its paces. After a week or so, I had my film and I could test it –

filmstrip3

slide7

And it was a decent result. The film rollers are a bit worn, so automated batch scanning of a strip is unreliable for alignment which is unfortunate, but the scan resolution seems to reach the limit of the film (Ektachrome from 1980 for the test positive slide, and Kodak Max 800 (nasty) for the test negative from about 2000). There was some scratching of the negative, but I think that was on there before I put it into the scanner. The scan is extremely slow as it’s limited by USB 1.1 transfer rates. It takes almost 45 minutes to scan one frame with the highest settings – i.e. 12 bit colour, 16x oversampling. With the results above, it seems clear that there’s no need for more than this level of resolution – because the camera and lenses just aren’t doing any better. The negative was shot with a disposable camera – and it’s a nasty ISO 800 film with grain galore anyway!

Being able to use the scanner allowed me to see just how much care is needed in scanning film – this scanner does film density and light source calibration, before worrying about film focus (with minute movement of the scanning frame up and down). Then, the choice of film terms affects the colour balance of the output as it’s been calibrated for the colour response of certain films. The response of the scanner on underexposed films seems to be a bit poor though, but at least one doesn’t have to get prints and scan them instead.

As the RFS3600 does not offer reduction of dust and scratches, this is both a blessing and a curse as it is faithful to the original, but might require careful retouching to make a pleasing result. At least it will be compatible with Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides with no problems. I’m happy – it definitely works!

About lui_gough

I’m a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!

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One Response to Salvage: Kodak Professional RFS3600 Film Scanner

  1. Roi says:

    A good story,but only one thing is wrong Kodak is still alive. And they still make film of course.

    http://www.kodak.com/ek/US/en/Home.htm

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