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Question on scanning negatives & slides

Discussion in 'Tech Talk - Gadgets, Gizmos and Technology' started by Mike Bertelson, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I started playing around with photography in high school. We had a new, high tech (for the mid ‘70s anyway) darkroom/classroom for photography class where I learned to shoot a develop film/photos (mostly E6 & C41). When I was in the Navy one of my duties was as the ships photographer. I have several boxes of photos and slides from the Navy (personal...official stuff was kept on the boat). At the time I also had a darkroom at home so another couple of boxes of slides/photos/negatives. In all there are several thousand pictures/slides/negatives. I want to digitize a lot of this and I’m looking at scanners. I’m most interested in scanning slides and negatives.

    I’ve been reading reviews and specs on scanners for photos, slides, and negatives. Now I want to read what experiences people have had with these scanners. All the reviews and manufacturers descriptions don’t tell me what the real world use is like. They almost never include the little quirks and annoyances. Different models have differences in feature sets and that may mean a compromise in choosing one over another. I’d like to weed what compromises I can’t live with and figure which ones I can.

    If you’ve done any scanning, particularly of slides and negatives, I want to know what problems you’ve run into. What annoyed you? What didn’t work the way you expected? IOW, the kinds of things you don’t see in reviews and specs/features.

    TIA

    Mike
     
  2. clueless

    clueless Legend

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    How you tried dpreview.com for info?
     
  3. Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I have. I just thought I'd also post here with people I know as well as my other research.

    Mike
     
  4. Cholly

    Cholly Old Guys Rule! DBSTalk Club

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    I've scanned both slides and negatives with a Visioneer scanner and an HP Photosmart 3210 all-in-one printer. Both have slide and negative holders to facilitate the process and have provided excellent results. The scanner is an older model, supported only up to Windows XP, so I can't use it with my current computer (and,no, I haven't tried compatibility mode). The HP 3210 has been passed on to my grandkids' new computer. I also have a Hammacher Schlemmer slide/negative scanner that I got from Woot last year, but haven't tried it as yet.
     
  5. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    One of my tasks for over 20 years in my former career was high end scanning.

    The first thing I'll give you is the bad news: it's practically impossible to get a good scan off a transparency any more. No one makes the hardware required.

    If you want a high quality scan, find a print shop that has been in business for over 20 years and ask if they have a working drum scanner. Drum scanners use vacuum tubes and lenses to accomplish what modern scanners do with CCDs and software. By keeping the process analog for the longest possible time and using a true optical zoom it's possible to get levels of focus and detail that you won't find in a consumer scanner.

    If you want to do it yourself, the best scanner I found is the Epson Expression 10000xl. They have made them for several years so you should be able to find one on eBay. While they will never match a drum scanner, they will scan the full glass at 2400dpi, enough for an 8x enlargement of a transparency without upsampling. It is a little lacking in its ability to get shadow detail.

    I had my best results by avoiding the supplied slide trays, instead taking the slides out of the mounts and coating them with a light film of baby oil before putting them on the glass. However, be careful during cleanup not to let liquid seep into the internals. If you can get it (unlikely) KAMI scanner mounting fluid works better and cleans up better too.
     
  6. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    I think the one I have is a Visioneer too. The top lid is interchangeable, standard for paper/books/photos, backlit for slides and negatives.

    Worked well until one of the scanner slide drive gears broke.
     
  7. Phil T

    Phil T Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    Last year I bought an Epson Perfection V500 scanner and have used it to scan about 600 slides. IMO it works very well, much better then the old Walmart $99.00 Windows only slide scanner I bought about 5 years ago.

    The Epson has ICE technology that digitally removes dust from the slides taken in the 1950's and 60's. It works very well. I don't do a lot of editing but it has lots of editing features and comes with Adobe Photoshop. I do not use Adobe, I am Apple only and use iPhoto for the limited editing I do.

    While I am very happy with the Epson and it does everything I want, there are a lot of frustrations scanning slides and photos. Just finding and orginazing the slides and photos before and after scanning is my biggest frustration (not an Epson issue). You also have slide template the scanner uses that you have to switch if you go back to scanning photos. The scanner only cost me $149.00 so I have no complaints. If you want to spend more I know there are scanners with automatic feeders, but I am happy for the value I got for my money.
     
  8. Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    We have a place that has a drum scanner but the sheer volume of stuff I want to scan makes it cost prohibitive. I realize that there will be a compromise in quality but DIY is really the only way...however, that Epson, while still cheaper than taking my stuff to a pro, is about two grand more than I’m willing to spend. :grin:

    Mike
     
  9. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    I totally get that. The smaller epsons also do a good job when you scan down the center of the glass but that means 3 or 4 slides at a time.

    Digital ICE works well if you don't have the time to do it yourself but if you really want top quality then disable all automatic image controls and do it manually in Photoshop. The uncorrected photo will look dull and weak but a few adjustments will make it look great.
     
  10. bsprague

    bsprague Legend

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    In the 70's I had a suitcase full of Nikon lenses, two bodies and a Mamyia C330 with 3 lenses. I built a positive pressure darkroom (to keep the dust out) and equipped it to do everything up to 16 by 20 prints in color. Before the darkroom, I got to fly a Navy airplane all over the Pacific. We even landed in Iran a couple of times. Every trip was a photo expedition. I also have a couple of kids that I documented. I have boxes of proof sheets, negatives and slides. Some of it is even pretty good.

    Last year my mother-in-law died. She left behind 5,000 slides taken all over the world on trips with her husband. He was a Boeing engineer instrumental in the 707. His hobby was to ride on them as a tourist for vacation. My wife got the job of "digitizing" the slides for family.

    My first though was to get a Nikon slide scanner and spend lots of money. Instead we got an Epson Perfection V500 flat bed. Currently it is about $140 at places like Amazon. It comes with its own software, will do printed photos and has racks to hold negatives or slides.

    The goal used to be to take a picture worthy of framing and hanging it on someones wall to admire. The other choice was to load them into a "carousel" and project them so a group could admire them. Everyone and every organization had a Kodak projector.

    Now we have "multi-platform delivery". There are too many ways to look at pictures to list. The high resolution required for "wall hangers" is not necessarily the goal it used to be. The expensive Nikon slide scanner is too single purpose.

    This is where the Epson V500 shines. It is multi-purpose. Depending on how you use the software, you can get digital files for any delivery platform you're aimed at. My wife found a setting to scan the 100 best of her parent's pictures that play well on a DVD on any TV. I found a setting to turn a Kodachrome from Iran into an 8.5 x 11 ink jet print for an old Navy buddy that was stuck in the hospital. The ink-jet print is "better" than the darkroom copy I still have. I also found a setting and process to scan and reprint a faded 43 year old wedding picture. The result is nice. I apologize to the professional with his stamp on the back, but I can't find him for reprints.

    To your question, real world experience of scanning personal slides and negatives has been a positive experience. The relatively cheap scanner works well. The software is great. I can now deliver my old stuff to any platform from smartphones via Flicker, or to my 55 inch TV via a thumb drive in a USB port on my Blu-Ray player.

    The only frustration is that it is never as fast as I might want. I will never get all my stuff scanned. The goal has to be to select the "good stuff" and enjoy the process like it used to be in my darkroom. In the end, the significant annoyance is that my content and my skills as a storyteller might not be creative enough that anybody will want to look at what I make.

    The V500 scanner is certainly good enough to use my old Iran slides, apply the so called "Ken Burns" effect, add a narrative track and make a 3 minute YouTube documentary.

    The reviews, specs and features list did not address my ability to be creative!

    Bill
     
  11. Cholly

    Cholly Old Guys Rule! DBSTalk Club

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    I tried installing the Hammacher Schlemmer scanner (made by Viewpoint Solutions) and it appears that Windows 7 doesn't like the driver, because although it gets installed, when I attempt to run it for the first time (calibration), the scanner name is grayed out and nothing happens. Windows recognizes the scanner as a webcam with driver by Omnivision Technology, dated October 2007. :(
     
  12. billsharpe

    billsharpe Hall Of Fame

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    I've had reasonable success with the Hammacher Schlemmer slide scanner for 35 mm slides but it can't handle larger sizes easily.

    I was able to scan a few large black and white negative using my HP 1310 All-in-one. The trick was to leave the top cover open and put a bright light above the glass plate. I used Photoshop Elements to adjust the picture a bit and was satisfied with the result. However I had no luck at all with a large color positive. These are 60-year-old slides. I sent the color positive to a photo lab and they came up with a fairly decent print but advised me to digitize the photo ASAP as there was some foreign substance on the slide that they could not remove. I have since scanned the lab's print, which was 5 by 7, with good results.
     

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