How film-based cameras work explained

Kodak Scanza film scanner
$169.99 | Kodak.com

The Kodak Scanza is a simple, non-professional film scanner. It wears the Kodak logo, but has no affiliation with Kodak Alaris, the company bringing back Kodak T-Max P3200 and Ektachrome.

Key features

  • Tilting 3.5″ LCD
  • SD card slot
  • Video out, HDMI and USB connectivity
  • Works with: 35mm, 126, 110, Super 8 and 8mm formats

What’s included

Opening the box you’re greeted with HDMI, USB and video out cables, an AC adapter, user manual, the scanner itself (in bubble wrap below), a toothbrush shaped surface cleaner and a handful of plastic film holders. Pretty much everything is plastic and feels a little cheap in its construction quality.

Format compatibility

In terms of film format flexibility, the Scanza is. okay. There’s no option for medium format, though you can scan 35mm, 110, and 126 formats as well as 8mm/Super 8. The 8mm/Super 8 option is misleading, though. This is not for scanning a whole reel of 8mm film, this is specifically for scanning individual frames of 8mm or Super 8 slides.

In use

The biggest thing the Scanza has going for it is ease-of-use. Even if you’ve never scanned film before, you can expect to be up and running in around 10 minutes.

To operate it, plug in the power (the scanner uses a widely available micro-USB to USB cable for power) either to an AC outlet or your computer, insert an SD card (this is where scans are saved), press the power button, select your film type, load the holder with your film, insert it and press the capture button. Done. Scanning takes only a couple of seconds per negative/slide.

If you’re plugged into the wall and the 3.5″ LCD feels too small to view your images, don’t fear: In addition to the Micro-USB, you’ve got Video-out and HDMI-mini ports (cables included for both) so you can view your scans on a TV or monitor screen. This additional connectivity feels like a bit of an unnecessary feature, but I’m not going to count it against the Scanza because connecting it to a TV reminded me of using a slide projector and that is the most Kodak thing about this product.

The scanner is 14MP but offers a 22MP scan option that interpolates the images and ups the resolution from 4320×2880 pixels to 5728×3824 pixels. In use, we found the 22MP mode entirely unnecessary. There’s no option for TIFFs or DNG, only JPEG. (Prosumer scanners like the Nikon CoolScan 9000 and Epson V-series accommodate TIFF and DNG workflows, giving your film scans a lot of editing flexibility). Also, the scanning area ends up slightly cropping your photos, mostly horizontally – if you’re a perfectionist, this may bother you.

When scanning you’ve got the option to perform color adjustments which includes Brightness, Red, Green, and Blue levels, all on an arbitrary scale of -3 to +3. In testing, just +1/-1 on any of these scales was too drastic a change to be used effectively. Unless your film is severely expired and has a significant color shift, I’d stay away from these settings to keep your scans as accurate as possible.

Scan quality

The scans in the gallery above are from a 35mm roll of Fujifilm Natura 1600. Below is an example of an image scanned using the Scanza (left) next to the same image scanned by a local photo lab here in Seattle (right). For what it’s worth, said lab charges $18 for processing and scanning a roll of 35mm color film.

Scan quality isn’t terrible, but a quick comparison to a professional lab scan shows the limits of the Scanza. For simply preserving memories, or scanning to share on social media, the Scanza’s quality should be good enough.

Bottom Line

This is not a bad product, it’s just an overpriced one for what it is. For similar cash, you can invest in a decent flatbed scanner with film trays – like the Epson V550 – which offers higher-quality scans and greater versatility, but at the cost of speed and ease-of-use.

For those simply wishing to painlessly make digital copies of years of photos, the Scanza is a decent option. But we have a hard time believing it is much better than this similar option with no Kodak label, priced half as much.

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