Hi, I have been scanning all my pre-digital camera prints (family etc) using a flat-bed scanner, 300 dpi, to TIF files. I would now like to address the slides (especially ones I've inherited from my dad) and some of the film negatives that remain (especially where prints have deteriorated but the negatives are in good condition). I realize it's a much slower process that scanning prints. I understand that I could buy another flatbed with film & slide attachments, e.g. Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner but I don't really need another flatbed. However I've found it really difficult to find reviews/recommendations on dedicated film/slide scanners. Often it's just recommended to take them to a professional photo lab - but that's prohibitively expensive. Could you recommend anything in the $300 - $700 range?
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Since posting the above question I've come across a couple of possibilities but each have drawbacks. I'd be interested in any thoughts: 1. The Plustek Opticfilm 7400 - drawback is it doesn't have ICE hardware dust & scratch removal. About $460 2. The Reflecta CrystalScan 7200 - very good review but not available in NZ. About 230 British Pounds
If you are on a budget and don't want a new flatbed scanner, then the Plustek is certainly an option - there is a positive review of the 7200 model, which is still available in NZ, at http://www.ephotozine.com/article/Plustek-OpticFilm-7200i-4248. The value of the dust and scratch removal really depends on what material you are scanning. If you have mainly Kodachrome slides and black and white film, Digital ICE does not generally work with these - it's best for more modern colour film. There are some very cheap (quality and price) slide scanners available that are widely advertised in electronics and appliance stores, but we do not recommend them for anything other than very basic needs. The image quality is generally not very sharp, and there can be issues with the image colour and cropping. In reality scanning slides and film is all about trade-offs you are willing to live with. Professional quality slide and film scanners are becoming quite rare as demand drops, and currently start at about NZ$6,000 new for the Nikon Coolscan. However they can be found second-hand much more cheaply, and it's possible you may be able to find a photography lab or camera shop that will rent one to you. Part of the price issue is that manufacturers are pulling out of the market, which was mostly kept afloat by professional photographers that used film. Now most have turned to digital for 35mm format photography, the demand just isn't there to keep prices down. The Epson V700 flatbed scanner has some advantages over other flat-bed scanners for scanning slides and film. It allows you to scan up to 12 slides or 4 strips of film at once, plus it has dust and scratch removal and a dedicated lens for scanning slides and film. This may be beyond your budget however as it sells online between NZ$800 and NZ$900 new, and is not as useful for you given you have a flatbed scanner already. An often-cited review of this can be found at http://www.photo-i.co.uk/Reviews/interactive/Epson%20V700/page_1.htm. Which ever scanner you use, unless you only have a few dozen items to scan, spend some time working out a workflow for your copying and description processes. Some important things to consider are: >> Keep a clean work environment. Use a camera brush and some canned air to brush off dust from the slides, and make sure the scanner and surrounds is dust free. This can help a lot with getting a good final image. >> Avoid cleaning the film with solvents (including water!) or touching with your fingers. Cotton gloves from a photo lab are ideal to use. >> Scan at a high enough resolution to see all the detail in a slide or negative. Our Creating guide has a formula for calculating scan resolutions. If you use a dedicated film and slide scanner, scan at the 'native' resolution of the scanner sensor for the most accurate image, not necessarily the maximum advertised resolution, which is often interpolated (and therefore only a 'best guess' by the scanner). >> If it is at all possible that someone might want to edit or restore your images once they are digitised, ensure you scan even black and white film at at least 24-bit RGB. This gives more working room to digitally remove noise, stains and scratches in a photo editing programme. >> Organise and annotate your slides and film before starting. The real archival value may be in how long these originals survive rather than your digital copies. Some film can last up to 100 years if kept in the right conditions. Good organisation will also speed up your scanning and sorting processes. >> Calculate how much storage space you will need for your scanned images using an image calculator like the one we link to in the resources section of our Creating guide. If you are saving as .TIFs (which we recommend for longevity and editing purposes) the filesize for one 35mm image may be around 50 megabytes. >> Decide on a naming convention and file structure for your images once they are scanned so they can be easily accessed. You can easily resize and convert .TIFs to .JPGs for putting copies on the web using free software such as FastStone's Image Resizer http://www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm
Thank you very much Lewis, sorry I've been slow to reply. I bought a Reflecta Crystalscan 7200 with the SilverFast SE Plus (separately) and so far I'm very pleased with it. Almost as expensive as the Epson V700, which I might look at next if necessary. The Digital ICE seems to be working fine on Kodachrome slides. Thanks so much for all your advice - it's been very helpful.