Frontier vs. Noritsu
One of the choices you may be facing when sending your film in to be developed is scanner preference. You may be thinking to yourself, meh, it doesn’t matter, but it does. Especially if you have a certain vision for your images. Each scanner has different characteristics in contrast, color, and just overall look, which is why it’s so important to know what it is you like and what you’re going for so that you are that much closer to getting the scans you’re happy with. In this post I want to talk about what each scanner is known for, they’re defining characteristics, pros and cons and show you a few examples.
THE FRONTIER - If you’re into great natural contrast then this is the scanner for you. The Frontier is known for it’s contrast and it’s golden tones. Because it scans in the blue/yellow channels you can get more blue shadows and golden skin tones, (not sure what type of skin tones you like? check out my skin tone boards on pinterest to see the differences HERE), depending on the lighting conditions and how you shot. The pro for this scanner is that it scans in a way that you’re almost never going to clip highlights or shadows, which is a total bonus (remember how awful digital is with that??). BUT because it is scanned one image at a time you may see some slight inconsistencies in color or contrast. Also, if you’re needing a lot of adjustments in-scanner contrast wise, this isn’t going to give you much. While there are a few adjustments that can be made in scanner they’re so slight it doesn’t do much, basically what you see is what you get with contrast on the Frontier. Although, the contrast that you can get with this scanner gives it that signature “filmy” look that it’s known for.
THE NORITSU - Those pinky light and soft images? The Noritsu can knock those out of the park. Because it scans in the magenta/green channels you’re going to get those pink skin tones almost effortlessly. One downside to the Noritsu is that because it does scan in the green channel if your images are underexposed you may see a bit more green in shadows or hair. The pro for this scanner is that it has loads of adjustments which is a total bonus, helping the technician to adjust quite a bit of contrast in scanner. A lot of hybrid photographers also love this scanner because it has the type of grain and coloring that makes it easy to match to digital.
Don’t underestimate the power of your scanner choice - it can completely transform your work. Be sure that you’re choosing the correct scanner for the type of images that you want. The best way to decide for yourself (if other visuals aren’t enough) is to send one roll in to be developed and have it scanned on both scanners. It usually is an extra cost but totally worth it if you’re not sure which scanner you prefer since you then have the same images of your own to compare side by side to see which you like best.