A Limited Review of the Minolta Scan Elite 5400

First created on 24th Jul 2003.

This webpage contains a limited review of the Minolta Scan Elite 5400 film scanner. I have no intention of doing a full review of it, but only bits and pieces that relates to how I use it.

Scan Elite 5400 Film Scanner
Not scanned with the Scan Elite 5400 ;-)

This is probably the last 35mm film scanner you need! 5400 dpi; 100% of the frame; high dynamic range; ICE; grain dissolver; manual focusing; batch scanning; in short, everything you need! And it's affordable! (US$900 at B&H)

Note: this is what I told myself for the Minolta Scan Multi Pro. It scans at 4800 dpi. I didn't get it because it is very expensive (US$2800 at B&H), and initial reviews said it gave grainy scans. However, it is the last film scanner you need if you scan medium format -- each 16-bit image is almost 1-GB at 3200 dpi!

How does the Scan Elite 5400 perform? You be the judge. The following sections are available:

Additional comments:

The body is metal, so it is very good at dissipating heat, and it does not get hot.


Are we maxing out film's resolution yet?

PPI Pixels1 lp/mm2 48-bit image size (MB)
Horz Vert
8000 11338 7559 157.5 490.4
5400 7654 5102 106.3 223.4
4800 6803 4535 94.5 176.5
4000 5669 3780 78.7 122.6
2820 3997 2665 55.5 61
2400 3402 2268 47.3 44.1


1 Approximate. Image size is usually slightly bigger due to borders. Even so, most film scanner do not scan the entire 36 x 24 mm frame.

2 Theoretical. Actual lp/mm is lower due to imperfect scanning: lens optics, scanner DOF, CCD dynamic range and image contrast. However, one thing is for sure: this is the maximum resolution that the scanner can pick up. It is not possible to benchmark a lens that exceeds this resolution. It is still possible to test other aspects of the lens, such as the lens contrast.


At 5400 dpi, a 16-bit scanned image is 7800 x 5232, or 233.5 MB. This is too large to use for every scan. Then, what is the point of using such a high resolution film scanner? Good question! I'm still trying to find out! For one, I want to see if it scan the grain better.

With this film scanner, it is time to redefine my scanning procedure. I have a Scan Elite II and used to scan raw using Vuescan. Then I scan the images through Vuescan again to get the positives. After that, I downsize them using Photoshop. As you can see, this is a lot of work and lately I have been thinking if this is why I seldom scan anymore.

Thus, I am going to simplify the steps to scan straight to positive. No more raw scan for me. While I lose some control, I realize that I seldom make use of the raw scan anyway.

Comments, please email nhyone@singnet.com.sg.

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