Scanner recommendations
November 20, 2004 7:02 AM   Subscribe

WannaBuyAScannerFilter: I'm thinking of getting a flat bed scanner to scan in art work, negs, and slides...

The artwork would be for reproduction purposes, the negs and slides just for evaluating. I'd rather buy a cheaper scanner and get Silverfast SE or other 3rd party scanning software in hopes of doing better color correction. I'd like to spend $200 or less. I've already looked at a Microtek 8700, and the epson 3170/3200 series. Any other thoughts?
posted by daver to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
As a data point from experience, no flatbed scanner will really work very well for negatives or slides. If you have over a couple of hundred of those, it might be worth your while to look into one of the new, <$200 slide scanners for that particular use. I'd avoid HP flatbeds, due to multiple problems I've had with them in the past; I've personally known no one who had satisfactory use from one. I've had good experiences with several Canon scanners and like the Microtek you mentioned, as well.
posted by pjern at 7:13 AM on November 20, 2004

what slide scanner would you recommend, then? (I'm looking to scan in all my old travel photos, and going pu to school and hogging a computer seems rude)
posted by notsnot at 8:17 AM on November 20, 2004

Solopsist has a good point about flatbeds doing a terrible job on slides or negs, no matter what they claim about the "attachment" for this. Most people end up throwing the attachment away, it's usually that bad.
If the slides are old, you will need to clean them first or all those tiny motes of dust turn into Alien Creatures on the scan. (Been there, done that.)
What seems to kill any scanner is the number of hours of burn on the bulb, we use a separate On/Off switch on the scanner and only turn it on when we use it. (The bulbs color-shift after long enough, and you will end buying a new one because you can't stand the color of the scans, and it costs more to change the bulb than to buy a new scanner.) There's no real reason for the thing to be on the entire time the computer is on, only when it's in use.
Always allow any scanner to calibrate itself if it has the option, it makes a difference.
When we bought our slide/neg scanner, we just threw ourselves on the mercy of some young person at the computer store who reads all the computer mags, and bought what he recommended, for a couple of hundred dollars. The best ones are thousands of dollars, but there were good choices inexpensively then, and I think that was 5 years or so back.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2004

Let me present my case a bit: I'm not looking to prepare large scale prints of slids and negs, I want to evaluate what I've got. I have a thousand or so images to sort through. I expect many if not most of them are crap, and don't really want to pay a premium of cash and time to find out. which is exactly what would happen if I dropped $800 on a Nikon slide scanner.

Rather, I'd like to scan them in at a relatively high resolution, but 12 images at a time. Do some work to get the color correct (which is probably the problem most people have with flatbed scanners and negs).

This will allow me to get evaluation images of 12 slides at a time in about 3 minutes. I can select the ones I want to take down to the service bureau for real scanning, and I can scan some flat art work.
posted by daver at 9:40 AM on November 20, 2004

I want to evaluate what I've got. I have a thousand or so images to sort through.

Then why not get a lightbox and a loupe and look at the source, rather than a copy?
posted by normy at 10:27 AM on November 20, 2004

I second the lightbox and loupe combo for proofing your slides. The flatbed scanner will give you flat colour and if you plan to do colour correction, you'll need to be able to study the slide to tell you what to do.

A loupe and small lightbox will run you about $60 and for 1000 slides will be worth the investment.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:45 AM on November 20, 2004

Where's a good guide for evaluating negs w/ a lightbox? Here's what has to say on the topic. Most of my thousand negs or slides are negs. I expect the information I get out of a scanner would be almost equivalent to a proofsheet.
posted by daver at 11:20 AM on November 20, 2004

I'll third the lightbox suggestion... I wish I had done that. I picked up a flatbed for similar reasons "just to evaluate" pics. For the amount of time it takes and the quality you will get out (even for eval) it is not worth it.
posted by stp123 at 2:23 PM on November 20, 2004

our lab has an epson backlit scanner with slide attachment, does a good job with things - except i absolutely frickin' hate the goddamn thing. the scanner itself is pretty good but the epson software is crap. silverfast that came bundled with it is ok though.

as for lightbox, cheap = good especially if you aren't planning on doing the final scans yourself. on the other hand, if this is work-related can't you write off the cost of a slide/negative scanner in your taxes?

if you do go the scanner route i'd recommend a canon; canon's digital imaging hardware is in my experience real quality stuff. at home i have an old SCSI canoscan 300 that consitently gives me much better scan quality than our newer HP scanner (which came bundled with my laptop). actually it works well enough that i took the trouble to obtain a SCSI card and patch cable to make it work with my new computer (old card was an ISA type). i have never, ever purchased (or used) any canon hardware that i wasn't completely satisfied with. epson on the other hand has been crappy, every damn epson anything i've ever had to use - either because of the hardware or the software - has, without fail, driven me into fits of rage.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:41 PM on November 20, 2004

If my memory serves a friend of mine told me that "CanoScan FS4000US is da best" he ever used for slides. Uhm..I haven't got the faintest idea, but it appears to be a negatives-only scanner. Maybe specialized devices work better then flatbed with attachments ?
posted by elpapacito at 3:57 PM on November 20, 2004

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