Noritsu + Frontier

Noritsu + Frontier scanners! How do they compare? What are these scanners’ respective strengths? Let’s break it down:

Noritsu S-1800

  • Higher dynamic range = greater detail in both the highlights + the shadows = more information for you to work with in post.
  • Better suited to handle human-made colors (read: neon!).
  • This higher resolution = greater license to print and crop.
  • Newer technology = utilizes the current generation of image processing technology.

Frontier SP3000

  • Many associate it with a more natural color palette.
  • Tends toward a higher contrast scan (although this can be altered slightly).
  • Utilizes optical color correction (e.g. the color of the light passing through the film changes).
  • This is the same way color correction has always been done in the darkroom.

Scanner Examples

Let's see how each scanner handles the same film frames. Kristine Herman’s roll of Portra400 was scanned on both the Noritsu + the Frontier using her standard preference images.

Noritsu S-1800

Noritsu S-1800

Frontier SP3000

Frontier SP3000

Noritsu S-1800 (cropped)

Cropped Noritsu S-1800

Frontier SP3000 (cropped)

Cropped Frontier SP3000

Noritsu S-1800

Noritsu S-1800

Frontier SP3000

Frontier SP3000

Noritsu S-1800

Noritsu S-1800

Frontier SP3000

Frontier SP3000

Noritsu S-1800

Noritsu S-1800

Frontier SP3000

Frontier SP3000

The Subtleties Between the Scans

As you can see, the scans are quite close. Still, there are some important differences to note. You’ll mainly see them in how the scanner handles the highlight and shadow detail, but you can also see how the Noritsu might handle more saturated colors a bit differently from the Frontier in the flowers in the flat lay above.

It’s important to remember: no one scanner is better than the other.

Each are tools that lend themselves to a variety of aesthetics. As with most decisions in art, it comes down to YOU. What do you want your scans to look like? You might find one of your shoots looks best on the Noritsu, while another looks best on the Frontier. You don’t have to tie yourself down to one or the other. Use the synergy of the scanner + film stock to chase the aesthetic you’re after. Read that again. This is an often overlooked strategy available to every photographer! (We’ll explore this more in a future post.)

📷 by Kristine Herman on Portra400.

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