Competitive Comparison of an HD Film Transfer


HomeDVD has gone ahead again to check out the competition on the quality of an HD film transfer for small gauge movie film, with some surprisingly good results.

A standard 3″ reel of  color 8mm film was assembled that exhibited a range of  transfer system challenges.  The film was old and was quite grainy making image sharpness tough to discern on some scenes.  The test film reel had a mix of dark, very dark, nicely exposed, clear and high contrast scenes.

The claim that an HD film transfer for home movies will take full advantage of the supposed high end properties of film like notions of realizing its high dynamic range and the capture of details better than the film grain is not strikingly obvious.  One could conclude then that the role of an HD film conversion is to really provide a superior transfer than that of SD to bring out the the best the film can offer which at times is not always the case for a lot of the common 8mm film out there.

Yes there is fine grain industrial type Velvia film stock, (and others) that may provide a higher test standard to really exercise an HD telecine system, but represents such a low volume of film when compared to  the overwhelming abundance of the cheaper Kodak Ecta and Kodachrome product out there.  Ok, that’s my opinion, see my last post on this issue.

I picked out 4 competitive vendors (plus HomeDVD) who offer HD film transfer services and have page one standing in Google and Yahoo SERP using at least five of the most used keyword phrases to find these businesses.  They represent a mix of Canadian and US vendors.  These service vendors are the following:

Each of these film transfer service providers have a claim to fame in terms of the systems and processes they use.  The range is from high end film scanners to simple frame by frame telecine systems.  I’ll make comments on each submission as they are presented.  The results shown will be untouched – ie: not Photoshopped,  and be presented as I got them, including the HomeDVD submission.

I am in the process now of assembling the reference shots using a 12MP Nikon camera.  So this post is an ongoing work in progress.


Vendor                                                       Claim to fame

HomeDVD Custom 2K CCD imager, frame by frame
My Movie Transfer Rank Cintel Turbo II
Video Conversion Experts Don’t say, looks like Spirit or FlashScan on web site
Film2HD Moviestuff HD frame by frame
Digital Transfer Systems Spirit 2K Transfer


Comparison Tests

  • Detail
  • Texture
  • Contrast
  • Shadows
  • Crop/framing

<Put pix here>


Preliminary conclusion

Right now, when comparing the various results, there is not much difference between each the vendors work (you can see this yourself once results are posted).  I think another go around in evaluation might be a consideration using much higher grade unblemished film stock.  The results of that exercise may show the performance differences between telecine systems.  Equally, it may also mean a hill of beans when the bulk of the film stock out there can’t take advantage of the depth of telecine that is possible anyway.


  1. nice share, good job

  2. Thanks , I’ve recently been looking for information approximately this topic for a
    long time and yours is the best I’ve discovered
    so far. However, what about the bottom line? Are you sure in regards to the

  3. Regarding “claims to fame…”

    The MWA line of HD, 2K Plus and 4K Plus scanners have more than just resolution and the use of short-duration LED flashes to freeze film images.

    MWA pioneered and patented the use of lasers to replace sprockets and pulldown claws. For shrunken and damaged film, this means a greater variety of film can be transferred without problems or further damage.

    It’s a safe system which enables vendors and their customers to feel comfortable transferring film in an efficient way that produces very high quality results.

    Also, the 2K Plus and higher sensors are all 4 x 3 aspect ratio, so scans retain the full resolution offered by the width and height of the sensor.

    Since my last visit here, Tailor Made Transfers ( and Northeast Historic Film ( have acquired MWA Choice2K+™ scanners. Results at 2336 x 1752 are striking. Downconversions to HD during scanning use the full resolution of the sensor, making what can often be a better transfer than when compared to an HD sensor.

    Tailor Made (also known as serves more than 200 camera shops and other dealers across the country, so the benfits of MWA scanning are being seen by more than one might imagine.

    Hope this is helpful.
    Ted Langdell

  4. Wonderful post, I conceive internet site owners really should larn a lot from this web site its very user friendly .

  5. Jason Nova

    Have you got a comparison of the DVD Infinity (Australia) hi definition scans. I have heard from a friend (Broadcast Engineer) that they do very good HD scans of regular 8 and super 8 film.

  6. Monica

    How do I know what is legitimate? I want to send my 8mm film to be transfered to DVD and find all kinds of websites and variety of prices… But how do I know what to do or where to send them? what to ask??

    • A lot of what you ask has to do with your budget and what you want quality wise. You cannot get good quality at a low price. An SD transfer using frame by frame or a scanning method is a good compromise between cost and quality. A hint, prices that fall far below $0.15-$0.18/ft are using a classic real time system which produces softer and cropped images. Colors may shift and there is a good chance of flicker. Newer pro FlashScan units excepted. If you want true archival grade, then use an HD transfer service. Prices do vary, but results are close to each other regardless of which transfer method is used. They are all quite good.

      As far as what to do. At your end, gather your films, label them in the order you want. Put a note in the shipment that describes what you want, along with your name, phone, address and email. Decide if an SD (solid, hides grain and noise due to low sampling of the image) or HD (sharper, more detail and shades) transfer will work for you. Select a vendor that has answered your questions to your satisfaction. Is shipping a distance an issue? Assess a budget and get your films done. That’s it.

  7. Several updates worth noting:

    Digital Transfer Systems’ link is dead and the domain is for sale. The company’s website merged with The Film Transfer Co., and can now be found here:

    The company purchased a flashscanHD in time for the fall film transfer season, and has been very happy with the quality and volume of film they are able to transfer. They may still have other systems in use, but have a comparison posted.

    Video Conversion Experts continues to be quite pleased with its flashscanHD. It recently acquired an MWA flashtransfer Choice2K+™ to do 2336 x 1752 real time scanning of 8mm/Super8 with magnetic sound on both main and balance stripes and 16mm with mag stripe and optical sound, along with 9.5mm silent.

    That compliments the 2K/4K 16/35 Cintel Ditto seen on the website.

    If you’re watching ABC and Fox, you’re watching 1280 x 720p from the network, unless the station converts to 1920 x 1080i for some reason. (Some do, most don’t.)

    The Cintel Turbo II mentioned earlier: It is a standard definition flying spot scanner. One might enquire about how the user is creating HD.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Ted Langdell

  8. I’ve used MyMovieTransfer’s service before and it’s great! Their pricing is reasonable and the quality is outstanding. Would highly recommend it. HomeDVD seems to have pretty good feedbacks from my friends too. Will definitely give it a try soon ;)

  9. J Smith

    As an aside, the man from Master Computer said that “everyone else just puts reel to reel on a projector, shoots it on a wall, then records it on a cam corder. He said I could do better myself. He said he did not do it that way, but never said how he did it. My one comment pissed him off, no idea why. Is that how you do it?

  10. J Smith

    I would NOT recommend Master Computer & Video under any circumstances. The man representing the company is arrogant and does not care about his customer base at all, seems to not want any business at all, imo. He hung up on me when he said that dvd’s do not degrade and I said, “actually, they do degrade”, because they do. He just hung up on me. Rude horrible man. I did not say another word before that. He never even asked me what I wanted done, he just blabbed, preened, bragged about his company, what he did before that. I would not trust him. If he cannot listen to his customer say one sentence, or talk at all, he is not in this for them at all. Good riddance. Now it is MY turn to talk.

  11. I’ve done a substantial amount of research for my 8mm film project and can confirm that VCE is using an MWA FlashscanHD for their 8mm Platinum HD service and that their “Hollywood Restoration” services are essentially what is provided by the FlashscanHD. According to Flashscan8, the US distributor, VCE was able to substantially increase their production and efficiency by using the FlashscanHD ( It’s a very good machine, but it’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    Note that the FlashscanHD scans and outputs in 4:2:2 720p (not 1080p), which is what most HDTV broadcasts are delivering anyway (some in 1080i, none in 1080p). Those broadcasts do look good on a 1080p TV, though. Interestingly, VCE doesn’t actually mention 1080p on their website.

    Also, fwiw, DTS only uses the Spirt 2K for 16mm and 35mm film. They are very forthcoming and clear in stating that, which is appreciated.

    Just thought I’d throw in some clarification and do my part to equal the field when it comes to what is presented and what is real.

    • Mike,

      Great info in providing a more detailed description on a vendors equipment and process. I gotta take a look at the VCE contribution on my demo clip to see exactly what they did. Bill

      • Bill,
        You’re HD system and service looks very compelling and I understand you know a bit or two about the FlahscanHD, so can you provide some quick thoughts on, and possibly even a comparison with, the Flashscan?

        • Hi Mike,

          Of the images I got from VCE I was hard pressed to see any differences in the quality when comparing to the results of my system. Then again, I’m not sure if they used their Flashscan or their Spirit telecine on my sample reel. I looked for image detail, shading gradients (particularly in the darks) and general lightness of image differences. So subtle when doing an A B test.

          Of the whole lot of vendor contributions that I compared, the only visual differences is the various degrees of cropping each vendor presented on the film frames. Each had their own definition of how aspect ratio is to be presented. No biggie in general but just an observation.

          Flashscan systems claim to fame is the fact the film images are captured after short flashes of light exposes the film frame, presumably to ensure that sharpness is maintained, unlike the chances of the film frame registration moving a fraction (pixel blurring) using continuous white backlight. Bill

  12. I’ll do 50 ft at no charge if you want another company to compare and see how I rank against the others
    Videoman Productions

    • Dave

      Sure. I’ll ship my demo reel. Where do I send it?

      I have all the competitors results now and in the process of compiling it all. Lots of work. Hope to have done shortly. I’ll add your results as I go.


  13. I’ve had telecine transfers done at Cinepost outside Atlanta that are very nice, but they are a bit pricy. Looking to transfer film to an Apple ProRes 422 .mov file. Curious about Digital Transfer System, I’m thinking of sending some film there. Any timeframe for when you’ll be posting your results? Many many thanks for doing this — what an excellent idea…Betsy

    • I’m still collecting data. What a slow process. I have a lot of the images captured and have identified categories in which to compare.

      Digital Transfer provides very nice results. You will have to call them to get a quote. What I am seeing from the returned materials I do have shows high quality work from all vendors. There are subtle differences in detail and the degree of exposure handling in the output result . I hope to have my work posted in the next month or so.

  14. I stumbled across your review while looking for a film-to-digital conversion company. I found the ‘Video Conversion Experts’ to have a detailed and compelling reason why their process (HD with restoration) would be superior. But am looking for validation that it is in fact worth the extra money. Any results yet?
    Fellow programmer…Ray

    • Ray,

      I should be posting my results soon and you can see for yourself in what I’m about to say. In review of the material I have compiled to date I can report that when it comes to an HD conversion, unlike an SD conversion, the output results of the competitive vendors were very close to one another. Though there are is some differences in attention to colour correction, degree of detail in shadows and cropping, it really boils down to your preferences in a transfer and what your are willing to pay for those attributes.

      If your are looking for added premium results, we will be offering true professional film restoration services soon. Dust, dirt and minor scratch removal to begin. We have developed our own state of the art software package of Dustbusting and will continue development into the more complex methods of film restoration for those really tough film damage cases. Bill

  15. Kent Wilke

    I am looking forward to seeing your findings! I have quite a bit of film to transfer and am looking at two of the vendors on your list so far. Having had poor experiences in transferring film to DVD I am looking for the best solution at this time. Costco is definitely worth passing on for anyone interested in their service. They even transferred one of my films upside down! Now that is quality control!

    Please email me with any suggestions you may have at this point or when the results of your comparisons are complete.

    Kent Wilke

    • Kent,

      Sure will. I’m falling a bit behind in compiling the results. I’m waiting for one more film transfer service provider. To date, there is not that much difference between the various service vendors. Good news for the customer. Of course the quality aspects of what is important is for the reader to determine.

      Just a note, I don’t think Costco (alias Yes Video) offer film to HD film transfer services.


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