Frontier versus Noritsu — which scanner is right for you? If you're new to the world of film scanning, let's take a moment to differentiate between our two key players: the Fuji Frontier SP500/SP3000 and the Noritsu LS-1800.
We already have our go to scanner depending on your film type, but if you’re interested in trying something different, this quick guide will help you make an informed decision based on your preferences.
Fuji Frontier: The Classic Look for Colour Enthusiasts
For those who predominantly shoot 35mm colour film, the Fuji Frontier is your trusty companion. This scanner effortlessly delivers the classic film aesthetic you've grown to love. Here are the main characteristics of a Frontier scan:
- Enhanced Contrast: Experience punchier contrast levels with intensified blacks and shadows.
- Vibrant Saturation: Expect your images to burst with colour. The Frontier scan saturates your shots, ensuring every hue shines through.
- Smooth Grain: Enjoy a creamy, smooth grain that adds to the overall charm of your images.
- Warm Black and White Tones: The Frontier maintains a touch of warmth with black and white scans, though this can easily be made grayscale in post.
- Golden Skin Tones: Skin tones emerge warm and golden.
- Slower Manual Scanning for Medium Format: More of an us problem, but we have to scan each frame manually for medium format, this may push out your turnaround time if you request Frontier scans for your 120.
- Sloppy Borders and Sprocket Scans: Using our manual film carrier we can do sprocket scans and black border scans on your 35mm film - this is not possible at all with Noritsu.
Noritsu: Versatility for B&W, Slides, and Medium Format
When it comes to black and white, slides, and medium format film, the Noritsu is our go-to scanner at Hillvale. Here's why it's our preferred choice for these formats:
- Balanced Images: Noritsu scans tend to be flatter, preserving a broader range of information in both shadows and highlights. This scanner is all about capturing the entire spectrum of your shot.
- Crisp Grain: If you lean towards a sharper aesthetic, the Noritsu is your go-to. The visible grain is crisper, giving your images a sharper and more defined appearance.
- Peachy Undertones: Skin colours take on a peachy undertone, adding a soft touch to your subjects' complexion.
- Green Shadows: A common criticism of the Noritsu colour profile is that underexposed shadows can often appear green or muddy.
- Detailed Black and White: Black and white scans exhibit true grayscale tones, offering more depth and detail, especially in the shadows.
- Slight Resolution Boost: The Noritsu scanner brings a slightly higher resolution to the table for large scans, ensuring your images maintain their intricate details when printing larger. See a full chart of our scan sizes here.
- Great for Slides: Generally the Noristu creates more colour accurate representations of your E6 film. It also allows us to view the film outside of the scanner during the colour grading process so we are able to manually match the digital image to your slide.
- Medium Format Borders: By allowing us to scan on the Noritsu Wide setting we are able to include a thin black border frame on your medium format shots which we cannot with the Frontier.
At Hillvale, our choice of scanners caters to various shooting preferences and film formats. If you're after that quintessential film look with vibrant colours, strong contrast, and creamy grain, the Fuji Frontier is your perfect match.
On the other hand, if you're inclined towards versatile scanning with an airier looking image, detailed shadows, sharper grain, with more information to edit off, the Noritsu is ready to bring your artistic visions to life.
We’re not even going to entertain the idea of ‘which scanner is better’. They are both great, at different things. Taste is completely subjective and what we prefer might not be what works best for you or your photos.
If you are still unsure, feel free to request we scan a roll with both scanners for your own comparison. If you’re unbothered, say nothing and we’ll decide for you.