The Pakon F135+

Pakon-1011-1

My filmy photographic life flashed before my eyes lastnight…so to speak.

Hence, the (unintentional) quasi-review I have been promising you for quite some time.

See the image above?  (Well, of course you do…)

Notice anything unusual?

Fact is, my negatives have been exhibiting increasing signs of lines, scratching, and damage recently.

Yesterday, the whole roll came out looking like this.

I was pretty sure it was the scanner.

I have tried compressed air in the past, and even fed a cleaning cloth through it (don’t ask…)

Just to be sure, I scanned the same negative on my Plustek…

The line was not there;

I knew my baby was hurting inside.

So off I went; Torx screwdriver and alcohol swabs in hand…

I was somewhat certain I would not be able to correct the problem, as I thought the scanning chamber and transport mechanism on the Pakon was sealed.  (I have opened the unit before, but never completely stripped it down…)

I managed to get at the sensor, and gave that a wipe; The focusing lens got cleaned as well.  The chamber got opened, and everything thoroughly cleaned.

I knew there was a chance the glass or sensor might be permanently scratched.  (Worse still, I might damage it myself…)  But I had to try and save her.

Back together, and tremulously fed another strip through (the first one got stuck because I had left a wire in the wrong place).  So apart again, and back together…

The image below was the end result:

Pakon-1011-3

She was saved!!

So without further ado…

My Pakon F135 Mini-review

(Are you ready?)

(Are you sitting down with a nice cup of coffee, or a glass of cold beer?)

“It ROCKS”

Yes, that’s all.

If you’re serious about 35mm photography, you need to own one.  Now.

(Before prices go up, or they disappear…)

I actually have two.

(Yes, I know I didn’t tell you that, but just because I have a spare one sitting in a box, doesn’t mean I was just going to let this one go!)

I don’t actually even know if the second one works, as I haven’t even opened it yet.  It was $200.  They were about $8000 brand-new.  Most of them were re-purposed from old CVS Photolabs.

  • Yes, you need Windows XP (I run Parallels on my Mac…)
  • Yes, you need the software patch to allow you to scan “C-41 B&W”.  (If you need it, shoot me a line…)
  • Yes, it is simple and totally worth your effort.  You put the film in, and it scans.  Flawlessly.
  • For color it is even better: DX coded, and spot-on every time.

Most of them are quite ugly to look at (yellowed and dirty) but work just fine.  The “Plus” version (the only one around nowadays…) produces an image 3000 x 2000 pixels.  For a 35mm frame, that’s around 2100 DPI!!

For reference sake, here is the same file on my Plustek at 1800 DPI:

Plustek-1011-2

The Plustek may be slightly sharper, but this was scanned in 4 passes using multi-exposure.  The single file above took 10 minutes to produce.  With the Pakon, I would have had 36 frames saved to my harddrive, imported into Lightroom, the bad ones rejected, some minor edits done, my teeth brushed, and my pajamas on.

For high-res printouts, I still rescan a frame or two using the Plustek or Epson, but for getting a whole roll into the computer reliably, the Pakon just cannot be beat.

So there you have it.  My review is finished.  I finally did it.  I can now sleep at night.

Here are a few more from the lovingly restored F135:

2014-1012-48

2014-1011-32

2014-1011-35

 

 

 

22 thoughts on “The Pakon F135+

  1. mikeyjive says:

    Thanks – I really appreciate this mini-review… I’m not sure I would have considered the Pakon if I hadn’t read your comments. Well, I got one a few days ago. And I have to agree… it *is* awesome. This is how scanners should be… fast, easy and consistent. I was able to come very close to the “pro photo lab” look today with just a few color clicks here and there… literally: three clicks down towards yellow and one click down towards cyan. Plus two on brightness, one up on contrast, and fifteen on sharpness. I’m sure your mileage varies but without any other color tweaks or anything in post-process, I had to do a double-take when comparing side-by-side with the Noritsu lab scans from California. I’m sure things won’t always be this easy but I’m pretty impressed. So again, thanks! Now I just have to decide if it’s safe to use my C41 chemicals that have been sitting for two months.

  2. mewanchuk says:

    MJ:

    So glad to hear it!!

    It is actually *crazy* how good the scans are for how little effort and cost.

    The only problem now will be the bazillion rolls of scanned and uncut film that will pile up on your desk!!

    One further tip I have found to be useful: Keep the scanner covered with something when not being used, and keep a can of compressed air handy; Blow a couple of shots through the film inlet right before scanning. Don’t worry…you won’t damage anything; the scanning pathway is very robust.

    (Chemicals should be fine…I keep mine for a month or more as long as I am under 10 rolls…you may want to increase development time by 15-30 seconds).

    All the best,
    M.

      • mewanchuk says:

        Johnny,

        Thanks for the comment!

        The files are equivalent to 5.8MP, so for anything 4×6 or 5×7 (cropped and enlarged slightly) the files from the Pakon are MORE than adequate for 300 DPI printing–especially if you initially save them as TIF files.

        Cheers,
        Mark

  3. mikeyjive says:

    Thanks for the tips! Do you notice that there isn’t a color profile assigned to the images when exported from the scanner? I’ve been just assigning Adobe RBG profile when I get them over to the Mac. A simple step but I’m now looking streamline the process down to as few steps as possible after seeing how fast this thing is. The TIFFs also appear to be 8-Bit when I open in Ps (thought they were supposed to be 16-Bit but maybe that’s only during the scanning phase). Anyhow, I’ve got a roll of Portra 400 hanging to dry now so I’m looking forward to doing the first non-testing roll this evening.

    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks Bea…

      I’ll keep that in mind! (Keep an eye out for AAAimaging Solutions and SerranoRey Enterprises…sometimes they have stock!)

      Cheers,
      -Mark

        • Joe shoots resurrected cameras says:

          Yeah, I was all set to get one too, I’m kind of disappointed that AAA ran out. Serrano Rey wants $1500 for their scanners! You might try the Pakon 135 user group on Facebook, there’s a guy on there that might have just found another supplier.

  4. devlin cook says:

    Hi Mark,

    Great review and I loved going through your blog!

    Sadly my Pakon seems to be doing the same thing yours was, dark streak across all scanned negs.

    I’m considering opening her up in the hopes I can clean it and get back to scanning.

    Was it relatively easy?

    Cheers,

    Devlin.

    • mewanchuk says:

      Hi Devlin,

      Sorry to hear! Before I embark upon a more lengthy response: have you tried blowing canned air (the “Duster” from a place like Costco with the long red nozzles seem to work well…) into the film entrance window?

      You can’t do any damage, and that may be just enough to dislodge the dust particle on the sensor readout.

      I’ll try and respond in more detail later.

      Best regards,
      Mark

  5. devlin cook says:

    Me again 🙂

    So I’ve been tinkering around and have so far used compressed air, opened up the top cover and used manual air blower then lastly cleaned the lens with some lens tissue. But, alas, the streak is still in the exact same spot on the scans.

    I now suspect the sensor must have some dust on it.

    What did you use to clean yours?

    Thanks again,

    Devlin

    • mewanchuk says:

      Hey Devlin,

      Well, great to hear you’ve basically been through the, um…basics.

      …Not so great to hear they didn’t work out.

      🙂

      As for the sensor, it is the linear array on the circuit board that you have probably discovered by now. (I was going to say from the outset that a perfectly horizontal line through each picture is likely a spot on the sensor itself…) I cleaned mine with a standard alcohol swab the first time, but Cura lens tissue and cleaner has also worked out. A few swipes in one direction should do the trick.

      (Hope it works!)

      -M.

  6. Devlin says:

    Awesome! Yes I had a look at the thing behind the lens and thought as much! I was going to give it a wipe but thought I’d check wth you first!

    I’m going to buy some sensor cleaning swabs tomorrow and will strip the little pakon down again, hopefully this will do the trick! I was fearing the worst and started looking at some other scanners online, there really isn’t another option that offers the same quality/speed for the price (they’re now 1,500usd !!!??)

    Thanks again and have a great weekend,

    Devlin.

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