The first thing you need to know about this item is that it is not manufactured by Agfa - its a generic made-in-China film scanner sold in the early to mid noughties and marketed under a variety of names - Agfa, Ion, SVP, Innovative Technology, EU3C, Otek and Plexgear to name a few. It is also known by the various brand names as the FilmScan 35i or by the boring model number SCND502E1231. The one thing these companies have in common is a complete disinterest in providing legacy support for their scanner. If you have lost the disc it came with and are running something more up-to-date than Windows XP Service Pack 2, you are pretty much screwed.
I trawled the internet for a fortnight finding a driver for this thing. Windows 7 did its best to find a driver (which was useless) and others failed. I was about to give up when I chanced upon a driver for this which actually works in Windows 7. If by some way you are reading this because you are looking to get this thing working on Windows 7 then I am about to make your dreams come true.
1. Firstly, get rid of any previous attempts to load a driver and make sure the scanner is unplugged.
2. Next, download this little beauty FilmScan35i Driver WinXP - WinVista - Win7
3. Run the installer
4. REBOOT YOUR COMPUTER
5. The installer should have created a shortcut on your desktop - Image Scan Tool
6. Right click on the icon, choose properties, choose compatibility, and then choose 'run this program in compatibility mode for Windows Service Pack 2' Make sure the box is checked. Save.
Connect your scanner and click on the icon. You should now (pray) have a working FilmScan35i on Windows 7. You will know its working because there will be light in the negative carrier slot.
With that, I had a working scanner. I had to wait until daybreak to venture into the spider-kingdom which is my garage to find some slides. Following the fairly simple user-interface I managed to capture this slide in glorious digi-vision for eternity. This, if you are not aware, is the prototype Concorde taking a test flight.
|Date Unknown, Unbranded E6 Process, Photographer - Herbert Chester|
OK, maybe I should have invested in a can of compressed air. The scanner does come with a velveteen brush which is good for getting hairs out of the scanner but hey - nothing moves dust like a blast of air from a can.
The good thing about this scanner is the speed in which you can get stuff done. Once you are in the rhythm you can digitise quite quickly. Not bad for £12 on Ebay!
The bad points - there is absolutely no adjustment. You can do 1800 or 3600dpi, and thats it. The scanner automatically adjusts the exposure - in some cases quite badly, obliterating skies and skin tones in the process. You can 'cheat' the scanner by pressing 'scan' as it is adjusting. But its not ideal. The whites can be a bit pixellated and blown out. If you need control you really need to fork out for something golden like a Nikon Coolscan. Am I expecting too much from a £10 scanner?
Budget alternatives include the Lomography scanner for smartphones which uses the same technology, this may or may not have adjustment but will certainly have full frame capture if I know anything about these hipster moneygrabbers. Alternatively you can get an LCD monitor to display white light, tape your slides or negs onto it and snap away with a digital camera. Finally a backlit flatbed scanner will certainly scan slides and negatives and many come with slide and negative carriers.
Final verdict - bargain. But if you want perfection you will need to pay more. Much more.
No matter, I'm off to find some more negatives to scan. Now where did I put that spider-repellent?
Sean Chester - At my kitchen table.