The Variable Height Holder Advantage

Variable Height Versions allow you to customize the film suspension height to best match your scanner's particular optics for better focus.  It is like adding a focus adjustment function to your scanner.

A Snippet of the Scan Made Using the Standard OEM Epson Holder

Full Image

A Snippet of the Scan Made Using a Variable Height Holder that Has Been Calibrated

The images were scanned on an Epson 4870 using the OEM Epson holder (left) and the single channel Variable Height MF Holder adjusted +1.8 mm (right).  It was captured using a Mamiya 645 1000s with an 80 mm Mamiya Sekor C 2.8 lens on Ilford Delta 100 film that was developed in Kodak Xtol developer.  The scan was made using EpsonScan without any sharpening, etc.  EpsonScan computed the settings for the first scan.  Those exact same parameters were noted and then used for the second scan.  Both images were scanned at the same approximate position on the scanner bed.  The "snippets" are unmodified other than being cropped (not resampled) plus being saved as .jpg files at the highest quality setting available in Photoshop.  On the other hand, the center "Full" image has obviously been downsized, sharpened moderately and subjected to .jpg compression in order produce a reasonable image size for this page. 

Norm Koren's site has been promoting the benefits of testing a scanner/holder height combination for years, and this site is where I most likely learned of the possibilities.  Visit Norm's great site to see an in-depth discussion and more image focus comparisons by clicking here.

Will Everyone See the Same Benefits with Their Particular Scanner?

Most, but not all, scanners will benefit from a holder whose height can be varied from the standard 1 mm height of the OEM Epson® holders (pre V Series).  The amount of benefit can vary from scanner to scanner.  Any extra resolution that can be obtained from these scanners can be valuable.  A variable height holder will not turn your scanner into an expensive dedicated film scanner but it will help you obtain all of the potential resolution your particular scanner offers.  The benefit of sharper scans is more likely to be noticed when you need to crop a film frame down to a just small portion of the original full image and/or when you print larger sizes (e.g., a 5x7 inch print made from a "full film frame" scan will not show the benefit as much as an 11x14 print).  An additional benefit of better resolution is that unsharp masking is more effective on an image that is sharper from the beginning. 

REMEMBER, you can't correctly adjust for focus when scanning an image that is unsharp on the film itself!  Therefore, the test image used during holder setup needs to be a really sharp film image.  This requires an image that has been captured on sharp film via a camera using a tripod, mirror lock-up, sharp lens, optimal f-stop, etc.

What If My Scanner Actually Needs a Holder with a Lower Film Suspension Height than the Normal Holder?

A version is available as a special order item (no additional charge) that allows the film suspension height to be as low as .5 mm above the glass.  (Click here if you want to skip ahead to see additional notes on the two height versions.)

Do You Always Recommend the Variable Height Holder over the Fixed Height Version of the Same Holder?

Not necessarily.  Obviously if you have tested your scanner/holder combination and know that shimming will not improve its focusing, then the fixed height MF Holder models will work just as well as the variable height holders.

Does a Person Need Special Skills to Set Up the Holder?

Before a variable height holder is used for the first time, the user will have to make a small investment of time and effort up front to set up the holder.  Most people should finish in 60 minutes or less (depending on how fast their computer completes the test scans).  The procedure is not difficult but it requires reading of instructions, attention to detail and making some test scans in order to do it properly.  The reason I mention this is because some people just don't take pleasure in these types of activities, so this holder may not be their "cup of tea."  In this case, a person might want to consider the fixed height version of the holder.  (Click here if you want to skip ahead to view the simple variable height setup instructions page now.)

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Pricing for that Particular Variable Height Holder Model




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The Variable Height MF Film Holderä

Your Solution for Better Flatbed Scanning of Single Medium Format Film Strips



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The Variable Height Dual MF Film Holderä for Epson® 4870 and 4990 Scanners

Two film channels give you twice the batch scanning capabilities




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The Dual MF Film Holderä for the

Epson® V700, V750 and V750-M

 Added control with troublesome film and the longer film channels add flexibility




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