You make it sound hopeless. For the price, a flatbed scanner (I have the Epson V500) will give consistent and acceptable results. No, you're not going to squeeze every grain of silver out of your film with a $200 appliance, but for medium sized web images or small prints, they do a respectable job.
Originally Posted by clayne
That said, I've mostly given up scanning in favor of color printing anyway. Still I rely heavily on my flatbed scanner; it lets me scan a roll of film quickly and review the frames for composition, sharpness, density, etc. The results are good enough to help me decide what I want to enlarge.