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35mm Slide Scanner Question

Discussion in 'General Photography Discussion' started by jedorme, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. jedorme

    jedorme Active Member

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    I am wanting to find a reasonably priced ($200-$900) 35mm slide scanner to convert my large slide collection from my film days to digital images. It looks like there are a couple of Canon or Epson units that fall within this price range, as well as a few other makes that I can't find much info about them except for the after purchase reviews on B&H or Amazon. Does anybody out there have any experience doing this who might help me to make the right decision? Thanks much if you do.
     
  2. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    When you say "large collection" - about how many is that?

    Are any of them Kodachrome? If so, you might want to investigate which scanners have dust removal functions that work better with Kodachrome. Maybe it's no longer a problem, but some early slide scanners had infra-red dust tools that did not work well with Kodachrome and B&W films (due to the silver content, I believe). Unless your slides are VERY clean, you will want some kind of automated dust removal.
     
  3. tallone6ft5us

    tallone6ft5us Well-Known Member

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    Not a direct answer to your question but rather some info you might find helpful. If you happen to snag a slide scanner and the scanning software happens to no longer work on your operating system there are a couple of options. I've had a Nikon LS-4000 for years and was not in use for the longest time. The Nikon software was no longer supported. Long story short I had to fire it up and wound up having to get scanning software so the scanner could be functional with my Mac again. Ended up getting Vuescan and it works quite well and is not hard on the wallet. There is also Silverfast, which the lower end version of is often bundled with scanners now, but the more full version is quite costly. So if you happen to track down a used scanner, instead of a new one, that is mint and in fully working order don't worry there is scanning software out there that will work on current operating systems. The good news is the scanners don't cost like they used to and they are faster as well. When I got mine years and years ago it was a bit over $2000 but that was back when film was king and digital was still in its infancy.
     
  4. GregWard

    GregWard Premium Member

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    I think you need to define "large collection" and what that might mean for "reasonably priced"?

    There's a device from Reflecta called the DigitDia 6000. It might be beyond your budget but it could be worth looking for one used. It takes the kind of slide carrier you probably have knocking around already and you can batch process a full carrier in one go. It will take a long time for each set - but can be left largely unattended and "just works". If "large collection" means dozens then it's probably not worth it - but if it means 1000's then it will save you a ton of time. For me that made it "reasonably priced" but obviously your mileage may vary.
     
  5. watertight

    watertight Member

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    If you don't like the scanner route responses you get, consider photographing the slides. I copied several thousand slides -- some 50 years old. Each image recorded in RAW and then adjusted for fade, aging colors, and dust. I was using Nikon gear at the time. Used their 60mm macro lens with extension tube and their slide copying platform at the end. Camera on tripod. Extension flash aimed back at slide platform. Very satisfying project that rescued many, many memories. FWIW, the Kodachromes were spot on and Ektachrome results a pleasant surprise. My oldest slide was a Kodachrome of my grandfather that was taken pre-1946.

    I've since acquired an Epson V500 for flatbed scans. Tried out test scans on some slides. Certainly acceptable quality, but the photograph method remains my first choice. We're used to using LR, etc., and adjustments come easily.

    I suspect you can find plenty of web/YouTube info updating methods similar to what I've described. Good luck. You'll find your efforts well worth your time and some satisfaction from saving your slides from oblivion.
     
  6. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    + 1 on VueScan

    Personally, I would never buy any film scanner without first checking the Please login or register to view links to be sure the scanner is supported by VueScan (most are).

    I am using an old Minolta slide/film scanner, and by 'old' - I mean it has a SCSI interface, if you are old enough to know what that is. The last time Minolta updated their Mac driver for this scanner was almost 20 years ago. I bought VueScan once - which has kept that old scanner working through many computer hardware and software upgrades.

    In fact, I would suggest not even bothering with whatever scanning software comes with your new scanner. They tend to be either propritary - or a crippled version of Silverfast. Either way, support is usually limited to a few years. You are probably going to be looking at VueScan in few years anyway, so why not just start out with VueScan from day 1?
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
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  7. Narsuitus

    Narsuitus Premium Member

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    I am on my second scanner. My first was a Canon CanoScan 9900F flatbed. My second is an Epson V850 flatbed. The reason I switched from Canon to Epson is because when I upgraded my computer and operating system I discovered that Canon had stopped supporting the 9900F and there was no way I could get my 9900F to work on my new operating system.

    I have been told that dedicated 35mm scanners produced better scans than flatbed scanners but I decided to go with flat-bed scanners instead of a dedicated 35mm scanner because:

    1. I needed to be able to scan 35mm small format, 120 medium format, 4x5 inch large format, and 8x10 large format positive and negative film and color and black & white film. However, if you only need scans of 35mm, you should definitely consider a dedicated 35mm scanner.

    2. Most of the dedicated 35mm scanners in my price range only performed one-at-a-time scans and that was too time consuming for me. I needed batch scanning. My flatbed scanners can perform small format and medium format film scans one-at-a-time or in batches. The 35mm slides can also be batched scanned while mounted or while in unmounted filmstrips. My flatbed scanners can only perform large format scans one-at-a-time.

    3. The quality of the images from my flatbed scanners have been satisfactory for me.
     
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  8. CSG

    CSG Well-Known Member

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    I've got an Epson V700 but I've found that slides are easier copied using my Nikon DSLR with the Nikon 80mm macro lens, a tripod, and small light table.
     
  9. Jalandiso

    Jalandiso Member

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    I get a Proscan 10T that I use with Vuescan. Work together fine. So fast and good results
     
  10. Wintersong

    Wintersong Well-Known Member

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    I use a (now somewhat outdated) Epson V500 Photo that I have had good results with. I wanted something I could use for scanning 35mm film/slides as well as 120mm and prints/illustrations in a good resolution. I find the Epson image correction software to be pretty awful and thus far have just scanned to high-res TIFF, then reworked things in C1 and Photoshop.
     
  11. jedorme

    jedorme Active Member

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    Many thanks for all of the useful comments & suggestions. My slides probably number in the thousands, but I don't think more than 5,000. So batch scanning is a real need, preferably up to maybe 25-50 at a time if that is possible to reduce the overall time needed to get it all done. And my slides definitely include Kodachrome & have been stored in the Kodak carousels that work with my old Kodak projector. For some time they have been put in sealed boxes & kept in a temperature controlled storage facility while we RV'd for 10 years after I retired. For the last 3 years they have been in these same boxes in my air conditioned garage (I live in the CA desert). And it is my project for this summer when it is too hot to be out taking photos to get them digitized before it is too late. And I assume that they will at least still need to be blown with my lens blower to clean them up a bit after all of this time not being used.
     
  12. AnthonyM

    AnthonyM Premium Member

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    Scanning is painful and slow. Did I mention dust removal? Don't think that a quick pass with a blower will deal with this.

    I recommend culling first, and only scanning the exceptional images (whether for artistic, historical or personal reasons). Otherwise you will lose the will to live.
     
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  13. visorvet

    visorvet Premium Member

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    If you seriously have 5K slides to scan I recommend abandoning all hope of doing it yourself and send them to a service instead. Unless you don't have a day job and don't mind dedicating the next couple of years to the task!

    For scanning of some of my favorite slides, I purchased the Pacific Imaging PrimeFilm XE. It works fine, is nice and compact, and was around $250 when I purchased it on rebate - currently $330 at B&H:
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    Note that Reflecta and Pacific Imaging are one and the same, marketing the same products under different names. Reflecta is more expensive.

    Be aware that none of the consumer scanners with batch-feeders really work - they always jam so you end up hand feeding slides anyway. So save your money on that "feature".

    VueScan is workable but has a really crummy nonintuitive interface. It does the job but is super-kludgy - every time I need to scan a few slides I am struck anew by the lack of decent scanning software options in this digital age. Even my $100 Epson flatbed scanner from 20 years ago had better software. If I ever need to do a significant amount of scanning I will probably try to learn Silverfast in order to avoid VueScan, though its reputation isn't much better.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
  14. visorvet

    visorvet Premium Member

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    Read this post 10 times, and then 10 times again!
     
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  15. imagesfromobjects

    imagesfromobjects Remember

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    I got an Epson V600 a while back from Ad0r@ma for around 200. For me, it's a good balance of quality and ease of use, allowing you to scan 12 frames of 35mm in one go. Coupled with Vuescan, you have as much potential to tweak individual shots as you like.

    In hindsight, I may have gone with the Primefilm, as I've seen the files @beakhammer has posted and they absolutely wipe the floor with the v600 in sharpness, but I weighed that against the possibility of 120 film on the future as well, which the v600 also handles.

    Good luck!
     
  16. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Sending out the slides for scanning is by far the most time-efficient, and probably also the most cost efficient. Never tried it, so I can't comment on the quality. I would probably want to test the service with a few representative slides before commiting to a big job. If the slides come back without any significant dust spots and approximately the right color, then that's worth a lot.

    Let's say you have 4,000 slides, and you pick out the best 1,000 to scan. If it takes 5 minutes to clean and scan each slide, and another 5 minutes for post processing, then it's going to take about 165-170 hours. At 8 hours a day, that's 3 weeks - without a day off.

    While it's true that the VueScan interface is not the most intuitive, you only have to learn it once. Whether using my flatbed or my film scanner, it's the same interface. New scanner? No problem, you already know how to use it. (Assumes you buy only scanners supported by VueScan.)

    If you do buy a scanner, no matter whether you use VueScan or whatever software comes with the scanner - my advice is don't waste your time trying to tweak the scan settings so you get perfect images straight out of the scanner. I've found it to be more efficient to adjust the scanner settings just enough to be sure I'm capturing as much information as possible without clipping any shadows or highlights - then set it and forget it. It's much more effective for me to do all color correcting, levels, etc. in a real image editor.
     
  17. imagesfromobjects

    imagesfromobjects Remember

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    Whoa, 4000?

    You shoulda started 10 years ago, man!

    Just as a reference, it takes me - with a good deal of practice and proficiency with my scanner and software - about 3hrs per 36 exposure roll to scan. Mind you, I scan at 6400ppi, then downsize by a factor of 3, so it takes a bit longer, but that's still 3 hours, start to finish. On a *straightforward* roll. Throw in some weird lighting conditions and dust and it's more like 4-5hrs. I usually split this up over a two day period - load up a batch of 12, do the tweaks and let the scanner do its thing while I occupy myself.

    You may be best off outsourcing this, or narrowing it down SIGNIFICANTLY.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
     
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  18. GregWard

    GregWard Premium Member

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    The Reflecta scanner I mentioned earlier will take magazines of 50 slides. So, with one of those, the times mentioned above are not really relevant. Sure it will take the scanner/computer quite a bit of time to scan each slide but OP can go off and do something else in the mean time. To scan 5,000 slides is 100 x a 50 slide magazine. This is all completely do-able because it's basically what I did. I've not done a comparison with the cost of getting slides professionally scanned but I'd believe the Reflecta (especially if you can find one second hand) would be a significant saving.

    Personally I would use an Air Blower can across the loaded magazine (carefully) to remove the worst of any dust. I also didn't bother culling the slides (at this stage) because I found it easier to check the scanned images. Any particular favourites can then be manually - and more carefully - re-scanned.

    I can't remember exact timings - but it probably took 1 to 2 hours per magazine. But with me not needing to spend more than 5-10 minutes maximum. So 5,000 slides is, at a guess, 150-200 hours elapsed time but only about 12 hours human time.
     
  19. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Greg, the Reflecta scanner sounds amazing! I'm tempted to replace my old Minolta.

    I have quite a few chromes which are somewhat underexposed. (Didn't discover I was underexposing until I got home from a 3-month bicycle trip.) Some shadow detail which can be seen when the slides are projected is not recovered in my scans. I think the Minolta lamp is too weak for dense slides.

    Was the Reflecta able to automatically remove any residual dust lft behind by the blower? Any problems with Kodachromes? Did it do a pretty good job with highlights, shadows, and color balance?
     
  20. GregWard

    GregWard Premium Member

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    Yes - I think it's pretty amazing - expensive (so not worth it for a casual user) but I just checked and it was 5,589 slides that I scanned in total.

    Bear in mind that I just set it up in (as it were) "fire and forget" mode. So anybody - most definitely including myself - could easily criticise any one scan. But also bear in mind that these were the slides that I had already sorted (in the old days) to be worth keeping. In effect I'd already culled them and these were the survivors. So my reasoning was that I'd like to see all of them scanned and would then go back and re-scan anything a. I really liked and b. that hadn't worked ideally through the auto-scan.

    Most of the slides were 20-30+ years old at the time of scanning and, I'm afraid, hadn't always been kept in ideal circumstances. So my rough air blast certainly didn't do a prefect job of cleaning and there are certainly some slides that clearly have dust on them in the scan. But - like I say - there was nothing to stop me re-scanning where I wanted to do so.

    Almost all of the slides were Kodachrome 200 - many, though not all, shot on a Nikon F4. I think they were generally well exposed - so not a great example for you perhaps? I have a photo of my Wife taken on a sunny balcony that might help? I'll need to try a different Browser though because I can't seem to upload images at the moment (Opera on OS X).

    [EDIT - it was uploading the file - just not telling me it had done it!]

    I think shadow detail, white balance etc are pretty decent - especially when you accept the auto-scan process.

    Looking at file time stamps it seems to have taken c. 3 minutes per scan. So 150 minutes for a magazine of 50. Then a relatively minor amount of time to swap magazines, air blast etc. A bit boring and repetitive but plenty of time in between magazines to do something else.

    Mag1_0009.jpg
     
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