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Andrew Williams
Works at ADT, LLC
Attended Allegheny College
Lived in Collegeville, PA
2,332 followers|1,107,120 views


Andrew Williams

Discussion  - 
Lately I had the occasion to compare a photograph scanned with three different scanners. 

I had some HP5+ film developed by Ilford at their lab in California.They supplied their highest resolution scan, which is 4492 x 6774 for full frame 35 mm film. They use Dropbox to supply these in jpeg format, so it is not necessary to wait for a CD to come through the mail. You can order these on a thumb drive, too.

I also scanned the same negative twice, once with my Nikon Super Coolscan 4000ED using the SA-21 film holder (up to six frames at a time), and once with my Epson V500 flatbed scanner using Epson's standard film holder (up to 2 strips of 6 frames at a time). For these, I used Vuescan software to create both jpegs and RAW files.

The particular image involved was shot on a cold, overcast day, which is pretty much all we've had around here since Christmas. The Ilford scans were really sharp, corner to corner, but they were also very dark. They looked about two stops underexposed, and there was no contrast worth talking about. I had to do a lot of work in Photoshop to get a decent image, and even then I was not really happy. 

As it happens, this was the first roll I shot with my Nikon FM2 after getting it back from the shop, so I was not entirely certain the shutter speeds were what they were supposed to be. I was using the Nikon's internal meter and an app on my phone to set the exposure, and they were giving me pretty different answers. My usual authoritative tie-breaker, my Luna Pro, had dead batteries and so was unavailable. So, there were a lot of potentially negative factors that could have been involved. Maybe they really were badly underexposed?

So I looked at the negatives on my light table. By eye, the exposures looked fine. They seemed to pop better than the onscreen images. So I turned on the Nikon, cranked up Vuescan, and scanned the first strip of six images. After looking at those onscreen, I scanned the rest of the roll. Then, because my Epson V500 was sitting at my left elbow, I scanned the entire roll with it, too.

The Results:

Sharpness: #1 Ilford, #2 Nikon, #3 Epson

Ilford's scans were the sharpest, corner to corner. Generally speaking, even if you are looking at the grain pattern (if the grain is not sharp, the scan is not sharp enough), it is really hard to see the difference between the Ilford scan and the Nikon -- until you get out into the edges. Ilford's scans show essentially no falloff in sharpness. Nikon's scans often lose it for the last 5-10% (1-3 mm) on either side. Perhaps something in my scanner is not perfectly aligned on that axis, but I believe this to be more of a film-flatness issue. This is a real problem when I am scanning 40+ year old, poorly stored film with a lot of curl. I often have to resort to Nikon's FH-3 film holder, which can be time consuming because it limits me to one frame at a time. The Nikon hardly ever has a problem with newly processed modern films. Epson, on the other hand, is far worse because their cheap plastic film holders are really big time Crapola! and cannot hold anything flat if it is not inclined to be so. There are aftermarket film holders that I am told improve this situation greatly.

Tonal Range: #1 Nikon, #2 Ilford, #3 Epson

I have no idea what software Ilford uses to scan film. What I do know is that I routinely get better looking scans with my Nikon than Ilford can provide. I was really surprised by how much difference there was even from the jPegs. All of a sudden there was shadow detail and bright skies were not blown out. If I processed from the Raw files, even more was possible. The Epson files were passable, in that they were more appropriately exposed than Ilford's, but the Epson files looked comparatively muddy (probably because they were not as sharp) and required more work in post.


For the time being, I will continue to have Ilford process my  new work and make their hi-resolution scans. This is as much a function of my having a non-photographic full-time job as anything else. For now, anything that saves me time is usually worth funding. 

If I want to display or print something, I will probably re-scan it with my Nikon. 

When I bought my Epson, I thought it was the bees knees. And, for what it is, it does work well. However...

My original intent was to scan old family pictures to post on my family's genealogy website. And then someone noticed some pictures that lead to a gallery exhibition and suddenly I was shooting again and making big prints and the Epson was no longer good enough. You really do need a superior scan to make a gallery-quality print. If the image is going to be displayed only 3-5 inches on a side, the difference between 150 dpi and 4,000 dpi is irrelevant and bit depth becomes far less important. If it is a 20" print, all of that matters a lot.

So, here is my current workflow:

For newly shot film, Ilford does the processing and sends me their high resolution scans via Dropbox. Anything that I really like, I rescan in RAW with my Nikon using Vuescan. I do all my post processing in Photoshop with a variety of Topaz filters. 

For old stuff where the original negative still exists and is in reasonable condition, I scan that rather than an old print. If it is 35 mm, that happens on the Nikon. If it is any other format, or if all I have is a print, it happens on the Epson with Vuescan. I do not have or shoot enough larger format film to justify a professional quality tool. I do have my eye on getting the higher-end Epson that can do 4x5 without having to stitch together multiple scans. 

The attached photo was scanned by the Nikon. It is a Schuylkill Canal lock and lockmaster house, adjacent to the Schuylkill River, in Mont Clare, PA. I used Topaz's Adjust and Clarity filters to bring out more detail in the ice. 

As usual, your mileage may vary.
Marcus Peddle's profile photoAndrew Williams's profile photo
+Marcus Peddle, until about a year ago, I had not shot any medium format film since 1986. Since I bought my Mamiya 645, I have only shot seven rolls, two of which have yet to be processed. Maybe I will do the comparison when I get those back.

I did not mean to imply that I am dissatisfied with my Epson V500. I am perfectly happy with its scans of documents, newspapers, and photographic prints. Except for the crappy film holders and some dirt on the inside of the platen (easier to clean than expected), it is a really solid product, especially for the price.

I was perfectly happy with the medium format scans I did from old negatives. I had similar issues with the medium format film holder as I did with their 35 mm film holder. They are quite flimsy and do not have the ability to hold curly film flat.

I am told that the film holders you can get from are dramatically better than Epson's OEM product. 

In short, if I were purchasing a flatbed scanner today to do double duty as a film scanner, Epson would be my first choice. 

Just be aware of its limitations.
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North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA. A few blocks north of City Hall.
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Anyone in the general area of Philadelphia, PA, might want to check this out. It is right on Lancaster Avenue, so parking should not be a significant problem.
Andrew Williams originally shared:
My photographs of Alex Haley, Julian Bond, and Dick Gregory are included in this multi-artist exhiition. I look forward to seeing you at the reception.
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26th Street at Lehigh Avenue, Philadelphia
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Oakland is a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. I have never been to Oakland, CA.
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So great to see the darkroom then and one display of how dodge and burn isn't new. Also showing how Photoshop emerged as the darkroom now. Of course there are so many filters that just go onto new possibilities. My first wonder filter was Remove White. A humble title for the ease it gave in creating masks layers clipping paths precise to the single hair. Thank you for the reminder of my life to 35 years. Then Photoshop working alongside darkroom pros. A must see for all Photoshop beginners.
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Andrew Williams

Discussion  - 
I am really getting tired of this stuff.
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If you shoot film, this is the place.
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Andrew Williams

Discussion  - 
26th Street at Lehigh Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
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Andrew Williams

Developing and Darkroom  - 
I was part of a recent conversation with someone who had picked up an enlarger that used 3-1/2" filters. I found a set of Beseler 3-1/2" color filters in my basement and am willing to send them but I do not remember who needed them. Please PM me with an address.
Kelly-Shane Fuller's profile photoOshi Shikigami's profile photoAndrew Williams's profile photoHolger Drallmeyer's profile photo
+Kelly-Shane Fuller Hey thanks for the heads up!
+Andrew Williams​ yep it was me. I'll message you in a few...
Thanks a lot guys!
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  • Allegheny College
    English, 1968 - 1972
  • Schuylkill Valley HS
    Honors, 1964 - 1968
Basic Information
"You are what you pretend to be. So be careful what you pretend to be." Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
1. I have been shooting and developing my own film for more than 40 years. I finally quit doing the chemical parts in-house and sub all that to Philadelphia Photographics at 139 S 13th Street in Philadelphia, PA. If I am too lazy to drive downtown, I use Ilford's mail-in service in San Clemente, CA.
2. Except for the occasional snap with my phone or my Nikon S9500 point and shoot, I shoot almost everything with a pair of Nikon FM SLRs with 24mm, 50mm, and 105mm Nikkor lenses. Recently, I acquired and have been having fun with a 1970s era Mamiya 645 with 80mm and 150mm lenses. I also have a Leica M4, an Ikoflex TLR, and a Cambo 4x5, none of which have been loaded with film in more than a decade. The best camera is the one you have with you, so carry your best camera.
3. After telling everyone for years and years that I would never buy a zoom lens, I did. Sorry.
4. I do not have anything against digital cameras, but I already own really good film equipment, and I am too damn cheap to change. 
5. Mostly I prefer black and white. This may be because when I started in 1957 it was practically impossible to do color in a non-commercial darkroom. It did not become practical to do color until Unicolor and Beseler (via Tetanol) introduced their products in the mid-seventies. I had already been imprinted.
6. Most everything I show is full frame. I think of it as a discipline. My wife tells me it is a conceit. As usual, she is almost certainly correct.
7. Most everything I do is in landscape orientation. Vertically oriented images seem unnatural, with the exception of formal portraiture of faces almost all of which are vertically oriented. I think this is the result of watching too much television and going to too many movies, all of which are in landscape mode. My wife says it is a conceit. As usual, she is almost certainly correct.
8. Mostly, I shoot by available light. However, as W. Eugene Smith famously said, "A flash is available light, but only if you have it with you."
9. If you add me to a circle, it is likely I will look at your profile. But, if you are not a photographer doing interesting things, I will not add you to my circles. Life is too short.
10. I break all of these rules whenever I feel like it. Live with it.
Bragging rights
I have been married to Susan for 35 years. She is a very busy freelance writer and editor. Our daughter, Lauren, is a 2012 graduate of St Josephs University in Philadelphia. She is now in Costa Rica with the Peace Corps. I am exceptionally proud of both of them.
My first career was in the photographic equipment business, starting behind the counter at Boscov's Department Store in Laureldale and ending as a manufacturers representative (Beseler, Ricoh, Tamron, etc.) in 1984. Since then I sold computers, custom Hazmat packaging (not so much of a career outlier as you would think), and currently engineer and sell commercial security systems.
Business-to-business sales professional. Team builder, coordinates internal and external resources, focuses on measurable performance.  Proficient in the engineering/sales of access control, analog and IP-video CCTV, intrusion, fire alarm, and intercom systems for commercial customers.  Proficient in many computer software applications used in identifying prospects and preparing proposals.  Created Microsoft Access database system to identify opportunities to update obsolete systems, renew service agreements, and to supply additional services to the existing customer base.  Creates bids and detailed estimates using Microsoft Excel and Word, ADT’s Compass, and WeSuite software.  Creates floor plans and engineering drawings in IMSI TurboCad for installers’ guidance and permit submittals.
  • ADT, LLC
    Commercial Sales Representative, 2014 - present
  • ASG Security
    Commercial Sales Representative, 2011 - 2014
    Commercial Sales Representative: Responsible for sales to commercial accounts, primarily in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties in Pennsylvania. Products included access control, CCTV, intrusion and fire alarm systems, and related service agreements. Performed site surveys, pre-sale design specification, system engineering, negotiated with subcontractors and general contractors’ project managers, prepared fire alarm permit submittals, and acquired formal approval of local authorities as needed. 70% sales were with existing accounts and 30% was new business development. Generated significant recurring revenue by contracting more than 40% of acquisition customers for the annual inspection of their fire alarm systems and other services.
  • ADT Security Services
    Commercial Account Executive, 2001 - 2011
    From 2005, Core Commercial Account Executive: Responsible for sales to existing and new commercial accounts in assigned zip codes in west Philadelphia, Montgomery County, and Delaware County. Resale Representative: through 2005, responsible for re-signing agreements with canceled accounts or with new tenants in buildings with existing ADT systems. National Account Customer Representative: Through 2004, had primary responsibility for local sales to national accounts in the Philadelphia market; coordinated with ADT National Account Managers. Conversion Team: Through 2002, replaced acquisition customers’ obsolete, proprietary systems.
  • The Protection Bureau
    Project Manager, 1998 - 2001
    Project-managed out-of-state installation subcontractors for national accounts with multiple locations. Project managed all access control projects Managed MAMA (Modem Account Management) remote managed access control systems. Product Manager for sales of access cards and accessory items. Programmed and supported new and existing Casi Rusco and Radionics ReadyKey access control systems. Provided marketing and project management support to sales and installation teams. NBFAA (National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association) Certified Level 1 Alarm Technician. Certified technician for Casi Rusco Secure Perfect, Picture Perfect, and Portrait Perfect software.
  • Tandy/Radio Shack
    Senior Computer Specialist, 1984 - 1991
    Doubled store sales, increased computers from 25% to 50% of store’s gross sales. Consistently highest productivity salesmaker in district, top leasing rep in Philadelphia region, 4 times in the national top 10.
  • Multi-Systems, Inc
    Director of Marketing, National Sales Manager, 1991 - 1994
    Managed successful Breaker Finder® introduction; first year sales exceeded $1,000,000 through more than 400 electrical distributors in 49 states. Recruited, trained, and managed a national network of independent manufacturers' representative agencies. Wrote representation agreements, sales commission, bonus, and promotional plans. Conceived and managed production of all literature, instruction manuals, and tech bulletins, including coordinating designers, photographers, and printers. Produced and narrated sales training videos. Designed electrical products exhibit and participated in trade shows. Placed Storm Alert™ lightning early warning system in multiple direct-mail catalogs. Arranged for press coverage in multiple publications, including POPULAR SCIENCE as one of “The Best of What's New, The Top 100 New Products of 1990.”
  • Allflex Packaging
    Director of Marketing, 1994 - 1998
    Supervised national and regional advertising and marketing efforts. Conceived, wrote, designed, and placed all advertising. Managed all literature design and production.
  • Shestack Associates
    Sales Representative, 1982 - 1984
    Represented manufacturers and importers of photographic, optical, and electronic products to catalog, mass merchant, mini labs, and photographic specialty retailers with locations in DE, NJ, PA, and WV. Doubled RICOH's regional camera dealer base in 1982-83.
  • Beseler Photo Marketing
    Territory Sales Manager, 1978 - 1982
    Increased darkroom sales by 60%+ during 40%+ industry-wide, multi-year decline; increased audio-visual sales by 25% during 1982 recession. Presented “Beseler Color School.” Wrote and photographed audio-visual product demonstrations given during hundreds of dealer promotions and sales training for retailers’ personnel.
  • The Williams Company, Ltd.
    Director of Sales/Marketing, 1995 - 1997
    Designed and executed client acquisition marketing plans for corporate communications and publications management services. Acquisition techniques included direct mail, telemarketing, and in-person presentations. Products include book series, internal and external newsletters, product brochures, and speech writing.
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Collegeville, PA - Reading, PA - Meadville, PA
We have eaten there many times over the last 7-8 years. They were very early in the renaissance of downtown Phoenixville. It has never been a disappointment. Always surprisingly good. Reasonably priced for what you get (more than McDonald's, less than the you would expect for this quality).
Food: ExcellentDecor: Very GoodService: Excellent
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