I’ve started shooting wet plate recently, and I’m quickly realizing that the scanner built into my printer is grossly inadequate. I’m interested in any recommendations for a decent scanner I can buy used that’ll play nice with modern versions of Ubuntu out of the box, if such a thing exists. I’m not exactly sure how much money I should be looking to spend, but 16 bit output will be a necessity given that these are basically grayscale images, and it would be nice if I could get, say, resolution comparable to a modern DSLR out of a 4x5" plate. I’m especially interested if you can recommend one that you’re currently using without issues on a Linux machine
Have you considered getting a lightbox and shooting them on your DSLR?
I have considered rigging up a copy stand and pointing a digital camera at them, God knows I’ve got plenty of lights to do it with, but if possible I’d prefer the convenience of having a flat bed scanner always there and ready to go vs. arranging a copy setup every time I want to digitize some plates. Especially because when I’m scanning them I’m usually fresh done with shooting and cleaning up my chemistry, just about to start varnishing them, and the last thing I want to do is take more photos
There is a caveat though with these reports. The resolutions they quote are taken much too seriously! The accuracy with the USAF1951-target is only on the order of 10%. And, very important, the resolution is valid only for the specific device under test, not for the whole series, since the resolution critically depends on the adjustment of the optics. Of course, the upper limit is the nominal resolution determined by the sensor. But all values below that are possible if the optics in not well adjusted. Example: My slide scanner has a nominal resolution of 5000 dpi. The first machine I got had a resolution determined with the USAF1951-target of 2300 dpi and got immediately be replaced by the manufacturer. The test at ScanDig quotes a resolution of 3300 dpi and the one I now have has a resolution of about 4500 dpi.
As you can see from these test, the measured resolution for most flatbed scanners is considerably below the resolution specified in the data sheet of the device.
Finally the tests have a very strong preference for SilverFast, with the extreme statement that the resolution with SilverFast is better than with other software, which is nonsense, since the resolution is a hardware property.