The Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai is the highest tier 35mm scanner Plustek has available at the time of this review. It is built entirely to scan 35mm film and nothing else. Usually, that kind of specialization leads to great results. After over 400 frames of film scanned, I’m impressed.
Finding a good film scanner in 2022 isn’t as easy as it was 20 years ago. I’ve never been entirely happy with scanning 35mm film on my flatbed scanner. Film scanning with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera isn’t bad, but it can be a pain to set up and get consistent results. The Plustek Opticfilm scanners are some of the few dedicated film scanners left on the market. Can this film scanner destroy flatbed scanners?
- Able to render excellent detail
- Small footprint
- Well designed film carriers
- Comes packaged with Silverfast scanning software
- Compatible with modern computers
- Great dynamic range/Works with Multi-Exposure mode
- Excellent hardware based dust and scratch removal tools
- Some people complain about the learning curve with Silverfast
- Slower to scan entire rolls than a flatbed
- Some reports of the scanners developing banding issues
Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai film scanner — Technical specifications
All product specifications are taken from the B&H product page:
- 7200 dpi
- 48-Bit Color Depth
- Integrated Infrared Dust/Scratch Removal
- Built-In Color Calibration
- Programmable 1-Touch Scan Buttons
- Includes SilverFast Ai Studio 8
Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai film scanner — Ergonomics and build quality
The Opticfilm 8200I Ai has a nice and small footprint. It measures 4.7 x 4.7 x 10.7″ which makes it much smaller than my Epson flatbed. I’ve been able to just set it on an end table and scan film while watching TV with my wife.
The scanner features few physical controls. It has three buttons on the front: Intelliscan, Quickscan and the power button. On the sides are the ports for inserting and ejecting the film carriers. Underneath are some rubberized feet that do a nice job of keeping the scanner stable. In the back, you’ll find the power adapter plug and a USB port.
This film scanner seems built quite well. The case of the scanner itself feels similar to a PC Tower case. It has a metal undercarriage and the plastics used elsewhere seem good quality. The side ports for the film carriers have flaps that close when no film is inserted. These seem like a good way to prevent dust from entering the scanner.
Speaking of the film carriers, the Plustek 8200I Ai film scanner has some of the best I’ve used. The strip film carrier does an excellent job of holding film flat. It can hold strips of up to 6 frames of 35mm. A potential negative, however, is that it uses bars between frames to accomplish that. If you shoot panoramic film or sprocket holes, these carriers won’t work for that.
The 35mm slide carrier is also thoughtfully designed. It has what seems to be a spring-loaded tab that firmly holds the slides in place. In addition to the carriers being well thought out, they also seem to be built to last. They don’t feel as flimsy as many of the Epson ones I have used.
Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai film scanner — In use
Using the Opticfilm 8200 is overall a good experience. The initial setup could be improved upon, however. Silverfast’s website isn’t the easiest to navigate if you don’t have a CD drive and need to download the software. I also had an issue getting the drivers to work properly. However, that very well could have just been my fault.
Once everything is installed, using the Plustek film scanner isn’t bad. Silverfast has a bit of a learning curve, but once I learned what everything did I came to appreciate it. It has built-in profiles for scanning many different negative films. There are easy-to-use color correction modules. Also, it unlocks the potential for excellent infrared dust and scratch removal. There is even more in the software, but that could be its own review.
How fast the 8200I Ai can scan film varies based on settings. If using the multiple exposure mode, infrared dust removal, and scanning at 7200 dpi, a frame can take upward of 5 minutes to scan. However, when scanning without those modes enabled at 2400 dpi, a frame can take around a minute and a half.
When compared to the Epson flatbeds I’m familiar with, the speed per frame is quite similar. However, with the Plustek film scanner, you have to advance each frame manually. Being able to batch scan on the flatbed scanners gives them a slight speed advantage overall. Although, that wasn’t a huge issue for me. The Plustek is small enough that I can just set it up next to my laptop and scan away while doing other tasks.
Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai film scanner — Scan quality
This is where the Plustek 8200I really shines. With the Ai version, you’re able to fully IT8 color calibrate the scanner. I didn’t notice much difference with this for a color-negative film. However, when scanning slides, this seemed to help get the true colors accurate. When combined with Silverfast, I am extremely happy with the results I got.
When it comes to fine detail, this film scanner stands out. The Opticfilm 8200I Ai blows the Epson flatbeds away. When I compared a scan from the Plustek to one from a lab scan (done on a Noritsu), I was impressed. The Noritsu scan barely edges out the Plustek scan when viewed at high magnification. That’s high praise when comparing a sub-$500 film scanner to one that can cost over $10,000.
When paired with Silverfast, the Plustek film scanner does an excellent job at cleaning up scans as well. I’m not sure how much is due to the hardware or software, but it is impressive. I had some negatives that were last through some older C41 developer. They had a good bit of junk embedded in them. The Plustek 8200I Ai did a great job cleaning them up without weird artifacts.
To really see what this film scanner could do, I put it through its paces. I scanned films of all types. From Ektachrome slides to Lomography 800, to Ektar 100 and several black and white films. It performed great on them all. I even printed a few 11-by-17 inch prints of the scans, and they look excellent. If you’d like to see some of these scans in more detail, I’ve created a Flickr album just for that purpose. All images seen here and in the Flickr album are straight from the scanner to demonstrate what it can do.
Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai film scanner — Final thoughts
This film scanner met and exceeded my expectations. It may not be blazing fast, but if quality scans are the goal, Plustek delivers. In fact, I’m impressed enough that I’m looking into buying one for myself now that my time with the test unit is over.
However, there is one slight concern I have. In researching others’ experiences with the Plustek, I did come across some reports of reliability issues. A few people complained of their film scanner developing banding issues. On the plus side, most of those reports stated that the scanners were either replaced or repaired by Plustek. I don’t know if this is a prevalent issue, but I did feel it is worth noting. I also had no issues with this during my testing period.
Outside of that one concern, I am exceedingly happy with my experience using the Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai. I’d go so far as to say this is the best 35mm film scanner currently on the market. It makes me wish Plustek would sort out their 120 version and get an updated multi-format film scanner back on the shelves. If they could pull that off as well as they did the 8200I Ai, I would buy one in a heartbeat.
Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai Film Scanner
The Plustek Opticfilm 8200I Ai is a 35mm film scanner with unmatched capabilities for an at-home scanning solution. It can scan up to 7200 dpi resolution and delivers on dynamic range. The 8200I Ai comes bundled with Silverfast scanning software, fully unlocking the scanner’s potential. In actual use, this scanner’s great specs on paper transfer into phenomenal results. It delivers detailed scans on par with professional film lab scans. While it can be a little slower than a flatbed, it blows the flatbeds away in scan quality.