Filed under Self scanning Fuji Frontier SP-3000


      Shooting film is pretty expensive. But the colour when scanned with the Frontier SP-3000 is super pretty. Sure, if I shot a digital camera side by side with a film one I could match the colour pretty well. However without the film shot as reference, it takes longer to get to the look I want.

      I highly recommend anyone looking at getting the Fuji Frontier SP-3000 for self scanning to go for it. If you need resolution, the Noritsu gives higher resolution, sure. However the Frontier seems to more consistently have the colours people shoot film for. That’s more important to me for most applications. I do realise that I have changed teams on the Noritsu vs Frontier debate a few times now!

      There are more thoughts on self scanning with the Fuji Frontier SP-3000 after the examples below. This post sums up our month of December. We took the month off to spend some time with our Californian family. It was my first time snowboarding in Mammoth and surfing at Oceanside. The surf hovered at the 4-6 foot mark for a solid week. It was the best I’ve seen it in my limited time in the area.

      Self scanning Fuji Frontier SP-3000
      Self scanning Fuji Frontier SP-3000
      Fuji Frontier SP-3000
      Self scanning Fuji Frontier SP-3000
      Self scanning Fuji Frontier SP-3000
      Self scanning Fuji Frontier SP-3000

      If you are worried about the self scanning learning curve with the Fuji Frontier SP-3000, the thing works amazingly well without much fiddling. You can adjust the straight scans in Lightroom until you learn what you are doing. The biggest stress for me was plugging the thing in. So many cables, each of which need to be in the right place. It may be best to have a technician install it for you if you don’t have much computer hardware knowledge. I had to replace the power supply in the Toshiba computer that sits inside the scanner twice in the first month. If you buy one, I’m happy to answer questions, just email me.

      It’s really worth it to go for the Fuji Frontier SP-3000 over the SP-2000 or SP-2500. For many reasons. Mainly though, the dust eliminating ICE technology. It saves so much time. Other advantages include higher resolution and faster scanning.

      It’s best to buy a standalone unit that has been setup to scan. Otherwise you’ll have to chase down a PIC that receives the scans from the unit. The Frontier was designed to print directly rather than save to a disk. Also worth noting is what you need for scanning 120. You’ll need a manual carrier, a 120 DF (light diffusion box), and whatever mask (6×7, 6×45, 6×6 is rare, 6×8, 6×9).

      All film was processed by Millers for $2 a roll. Amazing value and consistent results. Highly recommended.

      I bought my Fuji Frontier SP-3000 from AAA Imaging near LA. My contact was Greg Wolfe, he was very helpful setting up a PIC for me. UPDATE 2016: I’ve since sold my Frontier and moved to Australia, and thankfully James, a family member here has one nearby that I use. If you’d like to see more dreamy colours that the Frontier and film create, I recommend checking out my brother’s post here.


      By looking at the those beautiful pictures it seems they are mostly printed for the shadows (-3 / -4 in density). How do I go about getting a greenish blue tone? I have tried different mixs of minus Magenta and minus Yellow and left Cyan at zero.I normally use Portra 160 at box speed and would like to a bit of simultaneus contrast between the skin tones and the rest of the photo (just like in cinema). Thanks

      Actually on reading your comment again I’d advise on using all of the Cinestill film stocks as that is exactly what they are for – cinema grades. It’s nice to be able to get the skin tones warm and everything else cooler, that’s what looks great in so many situations to me too.

      Yes they’ve mainly been scanned for the shadows, but the density corrections varied from -3 to +3 probably.

      To get a bluish tone I’d suggest shooting just after sunset in winter to get the blue skylight, or to shoot with a tungsten balanced film like Cinestill 800T. Portra for me is all about the warmth.

      My understanding is that the scan is not the final image yet. A scanner is just a unit in the minilab complex. Print is the final image thus LR will serve a print film emulation. I assume whites/blacks and Highlghts/Shadows will do the trick in order to have clean looking whites and rich blacks.

      “but the density corrections varied from -3 to +3 probably.”

      I read that you suggest scanning a denser image and increase brightness later in PS/LR. Apparently a +3 density image is a lot dark I wonder I can restore brightness in LR without ruining the image.

      (I don’t have PP softwares that’s why I’m asking – it’s usual to me having proper brightness straight out of scanner)


      Amazing work! Just getting into film now and I keep seeing some great stuff.

      Hello from Portugal!
      Loved your post, and I love Frontier scans forever!
      I am having trouble having a 6×7 Mask for the SP-3000. Do you have any idea where I can find it? Been shooting on a Pentax 67 and I am so sad to not be able to scan it (been scanning it with a 6×4.5 mask which is just sad!)

      Thank you <3

      Hi! love your pictures! I just bought the sp3000. How did you get such beautiful results? Can you walk me through your settings? Tone Adjustments, Sharpness, hyper tone enable? Thanks!

      Everything is actually pretty standard. It’s more about fresh film that’s well exposed in good light! California light outdoors is pretty hard to stuff up.

      Hi! Wow what a lovely photos!
      My question is it possible to purchase this scanner and use it at hope? As far I have research it is huge! And can not find any place where to buy it.
      But result is stunning!

      I don’t fully understand sorry! If you want to buy this scanner try AAA Imaging or eBay =)

      Perfect, just sent the friend request. Thank you!

      Is is possible to join the Facebook group? Or is a private one? I use a Noritsu LS-600 scanner and have been wanting to get a Fuji SP3000. I’d love to join a group to learn some more!

      Sure it is. It’s a hidden group so you’ll have to add me so that I can add you:

      Well, I must say thank-you to you for such a great share. Its full of amazing content both pictures and information.
      I do see people asking for pestel look or airy look scans,
      Did you say scan the image twice? Please forgive me for the ignorance!
      Also i have read some where that front part of the sp-3000 desk can be dismantled? if so i would like to have your input on it.
      Once again i would like to thankyou for all the above information you have shared.

      Yes the front part can be dismantled to get it through tight doorways. I’ve only done the plastic bits, that gives extra clearance.

      Scanning the image twice is just good for learning. Red colours often look much better when scanned slightly darker and scanning each frame twice at different densities teaches you things like that.

      Great write up and so helpful. One more question. Do you ever use the “Tone Adjust” options? All Soft, All Hard, Shadow Soft, etc. Thanks.

      Only if I’m desperate. I’ve learnt a lot from just scanning each frame twice – a brighter and darker version. The way that effects colours and dynamic range is huge. I think the TONE ADJUST stuff is just too artificial looking.

      This is a GREAT write up. Just curious, what speed Portra are you shooting with? And what camera set up for the 35mm shots? Thanks and keep up the great work.

      Cheers Ryen. A mix of Portra 400 and 160, and a Nikon F6 for 35mm. I don’t think the (C41) film stock is that important colour wise compared to what scanner it is scanned on (Ektar aside).

      I have a Noritsu LS-600 but same rules apply for the Fuji. Slowly teaching myself how to get that famous “Jose Villa” look that you seem to have nailed.

      Seems like you need a minimum over-exposed 2-3 stops on film (Portra, 400h, Vision3 500T, any high end film), then in the scanner adjust density 2-4 stops, along with -1 or -2 points of cyan and add some overall contrast gets you 99% there.

      There is also an sp-500 that scans 35mm film only. It was manufactured after the sp-3000. Can you share how you rated the films and tweaks that were made to density, tone profiles to achieve this airy look? These look lovely. Thanks

      Thanks for mentioning the 500 Pawel – if you become part of the FB Frontier group there is a bunch of 500 users there too. It’s interesting to me that the 500 is faster than the 3000 by a massive margin for 35mm scanning.

      Haha its a good name! 😉
      I don’t have a facebook so I hijack my wife’s. Keep a lookout for Chelsea Sherwood. I will friend you right now.
      Thanks again! I appreciate it.

      Haha its a good name! 😉
      Ok awesome. I don’t have a facebook so I hijack my wife’s. Look out for a Chelsea Sherwood. Thanks again! I appreciate it.

      I really enjoyed this article! And I really like your body of work (especially the frontier stuff ;)).
      I have a frontier on the way and I am diving in. Were there any good resources out there that were helpful with work flow and getting to know the scanner?
      If there is a facebook group I would love to be added.

      Thank you!

      Thanks Lance – love your name (same as my grandfathers!). Happy to add you to the hidden Facebook group. Lot of resources there if you’re willing to search through the many comments. Strangely enough I can only add people if they are on my friends list. So you’ll need to add me

      As an amateur that #staybrokeshootfilm I’m not getting any of these soon, though there is a lot of appreciation for Frontier lab scans. And, as many pros and amateurs, will send out some of the film to them.

      Read through and really amazing results. Also, your brother’s Italy work looks impressive together with the fabled P67. I have a Fuji 6×9 but home scan in an Epson V550, which can get decent results but no way such pastel look.

      Incredible how with the advances in these decades scanner tech stagnated. Methinks something could be done with Arduinos and new sensors.

      Let’s hope Fuji decides to put out a new machine with current tech! Thanks for the comment.

      I too would like to be added into that facebook support group for this scanner. Please add me in there. Thanks.

      Sure – look me up on FB and I’ll make it happen

      Hi I just stumbled upon your site by a Google search, and I wanted to say thank you for writing this. I purchased an sp3000 from Greg over at AAA and so far I’ve been pretty happy with it. I have a few questions for you that I hope you may have some answers for. First off, when your images are scanned do you make your adjustments at the scanning computer or over at the PIC? Second, when adjusting at the PIC did you ever use image intelligence? If so, did it work as supposed to? When I click on image intelligence the images look pretty amazing however when I export them in any file type (tiff/jpeg) I get these vertical bands on all of my photos, color or B/W. If I don’t use image intelligence, the images don’t have the vertical lines/banding at all. Just wondering if you might have an idea what could be going on. Thanks again and I love these images…very cool

      Good to hear you’ve been happy with it. I fix major casts (if any) in the scanner. I’d have to see the images with the banding to let you know what I think is up. If you like, write to me on FB and I’ll plug you into the forum, searching there you’ll often find solutions.

      Does anyone know how to scan into 300dpi, I always get 72dpi scans, for an example 5400×3600 @72dpi. My software is FE3.

      Also i have a problem in scanning reversals in stripes. System says
      135 Reversal Film was selected.
      Remove the 135 insertion section
      upper guide during processing the
      135 Reversal Film.

      What do i need to remove?

      Write to me on FB and I’ll connect you with the forum. Most issues are on there and can found with a search. Otherwise a lot of nice people to help.

      Hi Heath!
      I just received mine from AAA. Greg set up a PIC for me also. Still trying to get the hang of it, but there are some things I stumbled upon …
      How do you judge colors? The resolution of my monitor is set to 800×600 in order to have the software go full size – so it is not that sharp. Apart from that there is absolutely no color management enabled. The same goes for the monitor of the PIC 2.6. The first time I get accurate colors is my final workstation. In this regard, what’s the purpose of those CMYK and densitiy keys? And how do you cope with that?
      Also, is it possible to export real 16-bit .tiff files? I can only export 8-bit files. Maybe someone in the scanner group could help me?
      And what software do you use? C4/C5, FE or MS? I assume, both, FE and MS are newer versions.
      Best regards,

      Hey Fabian.
      Glad to hear you took the plunge. Colors can be tough to get right. Some people use Eizo’s to better see what they are getting. Others use a iPad so after they have scanned they can check on a sharper screen. The CMY keys and density are fine once you get used to them, just try to get the image close to what you want and they may still need a tweak if your monitor isn’t good with color. I’m not into calibration, I’d prefer to use the grey and white on the screen to see the screen’s bias and work with that. 16 bit is not an option, I haven’t had issues with stepping in gradients even after pushing the files around so I don’t see it as necessary. TIF exporting is useful to me though as I don’t want JPEG artefacts. I don’t know what software my first SP3000 was, and now I use my brothers unit ( and I keep forgetting to check it!

      Great pics, hat’s off! I envy your SP-3000 😉

      Hi there, would you happen to know if Fuji still manufactures new Sp-3000 scanners? Or is everything pretty much old and second hand right now? I’m trying to find out how I can purchase an SP-3000 in my country (Singapore), and even Fuji Singapore themselves are clueless as to how I might get one. There are a few labs that do scan on the SP-3000, but their units are super old. I’d prefer to buy a brand new one for my own use if possible. Thank you!

      Hi Nathan,
      I just moved to Singapore and am also quite interested in getting a frontier. I’m a hybrid shooter and usually don’t have massive amounts of film to scan, so I haven’t been able to justify the cost of getting my own just yet. I’d personally be quite happy to share a unit with another photographer, if you’d be interested in splitting cost. One problem for me is space to put the thing, I really don’t have any haha. Just hit me up if you’re interested or maybe just wanna grab a coffee sometime and talk about film or anything :). Cheers, Flo

      Hey Nathan. They don’t make them anymore, and the price tag brand new was $40,000 or more in Australia (or so I’ve been told). So if buying one new was an option I personally would still prefer to buy 8 second hand ones. They are commercial grade solid machines and nothing serious ever happened to my SP3000 or my brother’s unit (James Bennett). If you look around there are some that seem a lot newer than others 😉

      Very nice! I own a Pakon but would love to upgrade to a Frontier someday, so it’s nice that AAA has them, though if I can afford medium format gear, maybe I’ll be able to afford a Noritsu by then 😉

      Cheers Joe – I took a look at your website – lots of good articles and good thoughts there. Bookmarked.

      Thanks! I do what I can 🙂

      Finally got a break work wise to send the film out to Millers and got over 30 rolls developed. Working my way through the scanning on the sp3000 and am slowly getting the hang of it. Every once in a while I get the weird orange skin tone frame. Anyway, I have one question about one of the comments that you made above about messing with the density to get the pastel look. Just wanted to clarify whether it was a + pr – density that you were tweaking. For me on my scanner, it seems like it would be a – density to get the pastel look. Appreciate all the advice and info.

      Hi Steven good to hear. I find when you are getting the hang of it, scan each frame twice, one at the brightness you want and one darker. The darker one will be able to be brightened in PS or LR later and you’ll tend to like the way it looks better. Red saturation is particularly improved.

      If you are getting too much yellow it could be overexposed Portra. Just correct it in scanner and tweak later, it doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem as people make it out to be.

      The Frontier basically always scans at 300 dpi. Go into Settings custom printing sizes and you’ll see all the 5×7 8×10 options.
      5×7 will be 5*300x 7*300 pixels or 3.15 megapixel. If you want to find out the largest possible scan size just make up your own “print size” with mine it seems to be around 21 MP. I have a tutorial on my site.

      Hi Eric,

      Couldn’t seem to find the tutorial on your site…Could you point me in the right direction?


      Hey Eric – love your work on your site. Can you explain which tutorial you mean? I don’t have tutorials on my site, more just short articles on things.

      Amazing post… finally someone spelled it out clearly. Ive never used either just always had my lab do it. However lately I am interested in getting a frontier. What is the speed on the 35mm and 120. If its manual is it a slow process? I do realize that would depend on the user. But for the average person.. The noritsu is about 3 times the price of the frontier isnt it? Is it three times faster?

      Cheers! I would say the Noritsu is probably three times faster, but that’s not to say the Frontier is slow. The Noritsu is just fast (but the colors aren’t as nice in my opinion). The Frontier SP-3000 auto-feed scanning 35mm is reasonably quick unless you choose the largest 20MP scans. Medium format is fairly quick despite the manual feed because the resolution isn’t as high as what can be scanned for the 35mm (unless shooting 6×9 format). Odd for sure! The printer resolution is limited by 12 inch tall printing, so the narrower 35mm format scans at higher resolution because it is a wider format (6×9). So if you were shooting the less commonly used 6×9 medium format film it would be the same resolution as the top 35mm setting, because they would be the same sized final print. If that doesn’t make sense, let me know why and I’ll try to say it in a more clear way!

      heya – I’ve been debating the sp-3000 for years as a workflow enhancement. I’m curious though about a couple of things. I gather that the 35mm rolls can be autofed and scanned? For 120 do you have to feed every frame manually? Also, why is the 6×6 mask rare? That seems like a bummer.

      thanks for putting this post up

      Hey James – thanks for writing. 35mm can be auto fed or manually fed to get a slightly larger crop. 120 is all manual. If you want auto 120 you’ll need a Noritsu. I’m sorry I have no concrete reason the 6×6 is rare, but I would guess it would have to be that it was an option that people who bought them originally were least likely to choose. Some people just use the 6×7 one with good results.

      Thanks for this post. I’ve been wavering over the past few months whether to get the SP3000, Noritsu, the Kodak HR 3000, or one of the retail Plustek Opticfilm units. I do know a few pro labs that use the Kodak and yield killer results. Do you have any experience or knowledge on that unit? Thanks guys!

      You mean Kodak HR500

      Hey Nathan, no I have not had any experience with the Kodak HR 3000, or knowledge for that matter. All the best with your decision. My thoughts: Noritsu has the best speed, Frontier the best color, and drum scanners have the best resolution.

      Are these straight from the camera or did you color correct each one?

      The SP-3000 allows adjustments while in scanner – I do some changes here, and minor ones afterwards also. This probably doesn’t need to be done, but it’s that last 1% that I like to polish up.

      Very nice. So I bought myself a Frontier SP-500 and need some help setting it up. In a previous post, you mentioned that there is a facebook group with loads of knowledgeable persons. Can you connect me to them?

      Sure – you’ll need to add me on FB so I can add you to the group.

      Hi! What software you use? C4/C5 or FE or MS? Thanks.

      Also if you need to get more technical than I know I’m happy to connect you with a Frontier Facebook forum where people have more in depth knowledge than I.

      What’s that Facebook group? Still existing two years later?

      It’s an unlisted FB group so you’ll have to add me to get into it. Still exists and is bigger than ever =)

      Hi Andrew – sorry – are you talking about Frontier software or some kind of operating system? Please be more specific.

      Just how small can the sp-3000 get?? I mean, can you take it off the desk it comes with and place it on another surface?

      The plastic sides can come off if you need to fit it in a narrow door, but the whole desk is filled with wiring and computers so you can’t take it apart. The SP-3000 is a big, serious, commercial machine. If you can only fit something small, a drum scanner like a Imacon is comparatively small, as is a Noritsu I believe.

      I was afraid that’d be the case…
      I’m being offered one for free if I pay the freight service, but I definitely can’t fit it in my place. I asked a friend and he said yes, but backed out when he saw a picture haha. And yes, the drum scan would be a great option, but not only do I *love* the sp-3000 tones but also I couldn’t possibly justify (nor afford) the price of a drum scan right now.

      Oh well, my kitchen will have to do for now! who needs an oven and a frige anyway right?

      Haha! I’d prefer the Frontier any day over kitchen appliances 😉

      Thanks. Density…got it. Do you ever mess with the CYMK settings at all for Portra?

      Sometimes but the scanner is pretty smart.

      Very helpful post and great captures and scans. Had sent you an email via your contact form, but I think it might have gone to your spam folder. Essentially, I was just wondering how you were getting such amazing skin tones and colors scanning Portra via the sp3000. There are a lot of articles online that suggest that Fuji 400h should be scanned on a Frontier and Portra should be scanned on a Noritsu. Your results clearly contradict that notion. Any advice and info would be greatly appreciated in helping me get better Portra scanning results on my sp3000. Thanks…

      Thanks Steven. I’ve never heard that Noritsu was more suited to Kodak films than Frontier. I just think Noritsu is the king for resolution and BnW. Frontier has less realistic but more pleasing color to me and to most others, regardless of the film stock. Make sure you bring up the density to get the pastel look.

      The Frontier can be tricked into scanning at a very high resolution too. Just add custom paper sizes. Don’t use the presets.

      Where and how did you add the paper sizes? The scanning computer or the PIC? Also, what sizes did you add? Thanks.

      Hi Steven. You do that on the scanner, not the PIC. It’s in the settings menu. The password is 7777 unless it has been changed from standard.

      Sizes (Largest):

      6×45 film:
      Mag – 99%

      6×7 film:
      Mag – 98%

      135 film:

      Are there any other sizes you need?

      This is perfect. Thanks!

      Can you scan at higher than 20MP? The manual does suggest you can go as high as 50MP but even the Fuji technicians don’t seem to know how.

      Really lovely pictures and the colours look amazing! What cameras, lenses and film were used for these?

      Thanks Gavin. Mostly Pentax 67II, 105/2.4 lens and Portra films.

      Great pictures! I love the one of the mountain range with the trees. Nice layers! Do you have an in depth review of the Frontier? I am also considering it, but it’s expensive and not many reviews of the thing out there.

      Hey Eric – thanks for that – I’m overseas for the next two months, but when I’m back I would like to do a more detailed review with perhaps a video. Let me know if you’d like any particular info about the scanner… I’m very happy I bought mine and I’m not particularly very good at computer hardware stuff.

      My goodness.
      These are amazing, Heath! Really makes me want to start shooting more film again. Keep it up.