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Plustek OpticFilm 135 review

Simon Handby
10 May 2016
Plustek Opticfilm 135
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
250
inc VAT (as of 4th May)

The OpticFilm 135 is a promising 35mm film scanner, let down by restrictive software and imperfect results

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Specifications

Scanner type: Film scanner, Maximum optical scan resolution: 3,600x3,600dpi, Dimensions (HxWxD): 105x175x260mm, Weight: 1.59kg. Buy Now from Park Cameras

If you're older than 30, you've probably got boxes of old photos cluttering up your loft or garage. Apart from getting in the way, there's a chance your precious memories could be fading as they age - all the better, then, to find a neat way to digitise and archive them. Step forward Plustek's OpticFilm 135, a high-resolution scanner, dedicated to capturing 35mm film - but it can't scan photo prints.

The OpticFilm 135 is about the size of a middling loaf of bread, and not much more interesting to look at. On the top panel you’ll find plasticky silver switches for ejecting the film holder, performing certain predefined scans and turning the power on and off, while at the front and rear are flaps protecting the entry and exit points of the film holders. On the rear panel, the film exit is high enough above the power and USB ports that the holder shouldn't snag on the cables.

There are two holders: one accepting up to six frames of 35mm film, and one for up to four mounted slides. For the most part, they're quality items: they're properly hinged, for a start, and are held shut by magnetic clasps rather than the nasty plastic clips you often get on this kind of device. Unfortunately, the film holder has no notches to engage with film's perforations, so positioning negatives correctly is a bit hit and miss - the more so because there are also no orientation markings.

Once loaded, the holder is motored into place ready for scanning. Unfortunately, this is where things start going downhill. The first thing you'll notice is that there's no TWAIN driver, so you can't scan directly into your photo editing software of choice. Plustek explained that aim was to provide 'an intuitive and simple solution', but to me this seems like a simplification too far.

Plustek Opticfilm 135 Page Scan Plus software

^ Page Scan Plus has limited pre-scan options: there’s no preview, and you can’t change the JPEG file options

Instead, you have to use Plustek's own QuickScan Plus software, which is imperfect. It has no preview mode and no option to select just one or two frames: the entire film holder is scanned at your selected resolution even if only a single negative is loaded. This took 92 seconds at 1,200 dots per inch (dpi), and nearly four minutes at the maximum 3,600dpi resolution. This could quickly prove tedious if you're only trying to scan selected shots.

Plustek Opticfilm 135 Quick scan results

^ The entire film strip is scanned, even if you’re only interested in one frame

My other criticisms are you can't switch between negative and positive exposures once a scan has completed, and you can't enlarge thumbnails to get a better view: on a typical screen they're only two or three times the size of the original frame. More significantly, there's no noise or dust reduction available, and there are no options for the chosen output file format: for JPEGs, the bias seems to be toward small files rather than high quality. I wasn't overly impressed with the results, anyway: while the focus seemed good, detail wasn't very well preserved from the extreme lightest and darkest areas.

Plustek Opticfilm 135 Adjust screen screenshot

^ You can quickly fix the exposure and white balance of your scans

In all, I can't recommend the OpticScan 135 when rivals such as Epson and Canon make excellent, film-capable flatbed scanners that cost less. While Canon's CanoScan 9000F mark II does have more flimsy feeling film holders, it manages higher resolutions, supports a wider range of film types and reflective originals, has far better software and includes an infra-red dust reduction system all for about about two-thirds of the price. Buy Now from Park Cameras

Hardware
Scanner typeFilm scanner
Maximum optical scan resolution3,600x3,600dpi
Output bit depth48-bit colour, 16-bit greyscale
Platen size35x226mm (maximum scanning area)
Transparency adaptorSix-frame 35mm film adaptor, four-frame 35mm slide adaptor
Automatic Document Feeder capacityN/A
DuplexN/A
Standard interfacesUSB
Dimensions (HxWxD)105x175x260mm
Weight1.59kg
Operating system supportWindows 7 or later, Mac OS X 10.8 or later
Buying information
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Detailswww.plustek.com/uk
Part codeICDOF135

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