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The XPan and Pakon Getting Along

Apr 13, 2015

I've updated this page to include a quicker work flow. Search for 'update' on this page

Not happy with scanning quality and price combinations that abound in the San Francisco bay area, I once again fell for the praises of an internet fan club. This club swears by the Pakon 135+ for it's swiftness and quality in scanning 35mm film (and it only scans this film). The Pakon 135+ scans at a 3000x2000 resolution but can scan in 12 bit raw mode via a program called TLXClientDemo. Sellers on Ebay are charging a pretty penny for this, and expect to pay upwards of 500 dollars (last year it went for ~250). If you do get one (or have one), join the Pakon Facebook group. The group members show of some lovely images scanned with the Pakon and there is a very helpful file section. My likes include Pakon Polish Lightroom action and pakon-error149-fix.zip (though I haven't done a before/after comparison for the latter)

So the XPan is 35mm and the Pakon scans 35mm. So can I? Yes, using the TLXCLientDemo program, it is possible to scan the beautiful panoramic images of the XPan. The default settings create each image as corresponding to a single 35mm frame. The XPan, as you might be aware, uses two frames per image. Most fortuitously, the user can adjust the start and end of each image within TLXClientemo. I'll describe exactly(well roughly) how to do it.

Start TLXClientDemo, you should see Figure 1, now press scan. Figure 2 should be the next screen. Since I'm scanning Tri-X 400, i checked B&W C41 (note the TLXCLientDemo doesn't scan true black and white), base 16, the number of frames in the strip. I would turn of the scratch removal option if you're scanning the B&W film. Great, now hit the scan button.

Take the negative strip (I had 6 frames or equivalently 3 XPan images to a strip) and place it in the scanner. Emulsion side facing inside, the smallest number goes in first and will appear back to front (on the top, given that the emulsion side is facing inside). Wait till the green light (farthest light in the Figure 5), starts blinking then gently guide the negative in. The Pakon will complain if you guide it in before the green light starts blinking. A little bit of patience is a useful quality to have while scanning.

Figure 3: Emulsion side of negative, how to place
Figure 4: Placed into scanner
Figure 5: Wait for the farthest green line to blink

Once the scanning is over, a box like Figure 6 will appear. If you film does not have DX Edge coding (the bar codes on the edge of the film, present in the newer color films and some B&W like Ilford HP5+), you'll see "DX Read: BAD". Also, the button labeled "Move Oldest Roll in Scan Group to Save Group" (left column) will be clickable. Click it and you'll see your images (see Figure 7)! If you got the "DX Read" error, just change the names of your files as they wont be saved with the frame numbers.

Now for the most important bit: click on the "Framing" button on the left, and change the value of "left" (see Figure 7) and click "Apply". This sets the beginning of the image and you can see a thin black edge on the left of the image in Figure 8 which means I need a larger "Left" value. Now, click on "Adjust Cropping" and change the value of "Right" to include the right end of the image. As you can see in my image ( Figure 8), I've chosen too much and have included the next image. Adjust accordingly and click "Apply".

Update: Instead of framing each shot, set left to 0 and the frame to the max width. This will scan the entire strip into one image(which i save as a JPEG without enhancements) and then cut and crop in Photoshop. You could also save this twice, once as a jpeg and again as tiff. You could then invert colors to get a nice version using ColorPerfect.

Figure 8: Scan Framing
Figure 9: Scan Saving

Click on "Save". A box like Figure 9 will appear. You can save the color images as RAW which can then be edited in Photoshop and ColorPerfect. To do that, uncheck "Use Color Correction..." (which will uncheck the options below it). Choose "To Client Memory", and check "Planar" and "Add File Header". Now click OK. The raw image will be saved to C:\Temp by default.

To save it as JPG, click on "Use Scratch Removal", check the "Use Color Correction..." boxes and "To Disk" . I strongly recommend to save a JPG if you save a RAW. You'll see why.

To open the RAW in Photoshop, enter the width and height of the image( as noted from the saved JPG), then 3 channels,non-interleaved, IBM PC format, and a 16 byte header. Excellent.

You can now click on "Framing" again to frame the next image. Whatever you do, do not click on "Four" for "Pictures Shown". For me, the framing button blanked out and I had to rescan. You can click on "Four" to view the images, but please do not click on "Framing"! Go to back to one image view and then frame.

Figure 1: TLCClientDemo splash page
Figure 2: Scan dialogue
Figure 6: Scan Warnings
Figure 7 Your image appears

Proof Picture Positive

At the end of the day, I got some nice scans from expired Kodak 800 film( found in Sheetal's box of hoarding, a person who is least interested in photography) and a roll of Tri-X 400 (taken in Seattle). I saved to JPG and touched them up in Lightroom v5.

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