Epson 4990 scanner

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While I have a 4000 dpi film scanner for 35mm slides and negatives, I don’t currently have a scanner for 120 film. Most of the medium format film I shoot is in a Holga or pinhole camera, so it seems silly to pay for a drum scan that’s more expensive than my camera. So I’ve been mulling over the choices in flatbed scanners that do a reasonable job of scanning 120 and 4×5. The choices boil down to Epson vs. Microtek in the $300-500 price range.

Epson must be getting ready to release a new model soon, because there’s a new $100 rebate on the popular Epson 4990, taking the price down to $289 with free shipping from Amazon. After scanning a 4×5 Type 55 negative on a friend’s 4990, I was sold on the Epson. There’s an extensive review of the 4990 at For those who already own an Epson or Microtek scanner, have a look at Doug Fisher’s custom film holders over at And here’s the Epson PDF rebate form.

7 thoughts on “Epson 4990 scanner”

  1. As you imply, the images you want to scan are not impressive by their high detail content. So how about a decent macro lens, a tripod and a light table? As bonus, the images will feed directly into the same workflow you already use for your digital images.

  2. Janne — That’s actually how I digitize my Holga images presently — works well for web and small prints. Tough to line everything up properly and keep the film flat. I also want a flatbed to scan some collage art and perhaps 35mm proof sheets.

    Rich — the V700 looks tempting but the height adjustment is fiddly. Why didn’t they just make it autofocus? Not sure it’s worth the extra money at this point.



  3. I’ve been meaning to get the anti-newtonian glass. I’ve been getting a lot of Newton Rings on the 4990, then I realized that by simply flipping the negs you can eliminate the vast majority of Newton Rings. Still, a good piece of AN glass will fix the only problem I see with the 4990 at this moment. I think one could easily get up to a 30″ print from a 4990 scan with a few adjustments and unsharp mask changes.

  4. Drum scanning is not silly, that I assure you. But if you are comfortable with leaving behind some of what you captured on film, then flatbed scanners will work. However, if you had one image drum scanned and compared it to the flatbed with your own image, then you would be able to make a smart decision.

  5. Hi Gary,

    I’m not saying drum scanning is silly — just that a $50 drum scan of a blurry image shot with a $20 plastic camera doesn’t make a lot of sense. A less precise flatbed scan of Holga and pinhole images works great for my particular esthetic. If I was shooting sharp images with a medium format camera, I’d have to consider the $2000 Nikon medium format scanner, or getting drum scans of images that I was going to print.



  6. Hey Joe-

    I use Christian’s $2000 Nikon, and it is impressive in the quality of the scans. The software is pretty crappy, and the film is really tough to keep flat. Been using it with ANR glass recently, and what you get is less newton rings, but they are defintely still there. Might have to try wet mounting…

    I agree with you about a more expensive scan of holga negs- unless you would consider modifying a Holga to accept a phase one back (older used one, of course), and then mounting that on the copy stand.

    Seriously tho, why not just put a piece of glass over the neg on the lightbox?

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