Slide Scanners for iMacs
February 2, 2010 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a good Slide Scanner for my mother's iMac.

My mother has a collection of old slides that my late father took, and she would like to scan them and preserve them for posterity, possibly me or the uncle that does the family tree stuff. She's got a G5 iMac w/ Leopard, and is OK with technology, although not a techie by nature.

We have a flatbed scanner for her already, but I am wondering if there is something that will allow her to process a large number of slides quickly and easily, and possibly import them into some sort of catalogue (such as iPhoto, or something similar).
posted by GJSchaller to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Some flatbed scanners include plastic, 8x10 frames that hold 12-15 slides for faster scanning. Or the scanner company sells these frames for a few dollars more. If the scanner software supports it, look into the "slide frame template" to make it easier to process. Otherwise, you may have to crop each slide from the larger scan, which will consume much of your time.

Another option is a Nikon CoolScan slide scanner with motorized slide feeder, which scans 50 slides at a time, but this a very expensive single-purpose tool (~$1500). Do you know anyone at a local school with a fine arts department? They may have this hardware already and might let you use it.

Both options will let you specify a naming pattern, and from there you can just drag the image files into iPhoto for further tagging and organization.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:25 PM on February 2, 2010

This isn't an answer, but a suggestion:

My parents have a rather large collection of slides, probably 2,000-3,000 35mm slides and a couple hundred in less common sizes (110mm?). I thought about setting them up with a good slide scanner, but was frustrated both by the cost and the huge amount of time required to scan slides. There are models with automatic feeders, but it would still take hours and hours of monitoring the machine. And then there's the need for color calibration and minor corrections. Basically, a solution exists but it wasn't very attractive given how much time and effort it would cost my mom.

I wound up having them package up a batch of slides and send them off to a commercial scanner. i went with based on recommendations from friends and was very happy with their prices and service. When I was doing research into slide scanners I found a couple of Canon and Epson machines that were from $500-$1,000. It will cost around $1,800 to scan every single slide my parents have, but I can afford that over a few years and they don't have to spend time minding the scanning machine.

My parents were ecstatic when they got the first batch back, and my mom has spent a good amount of time organizing photos into albums and adding meta data in iPhoto - much more creative and enjoyable work.
posted by pkingdesign at 7:32 PM on February 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Purchased this scanner (Plustek 7500i) a few weeks ago after quite a bit of research. It yields very high quality results and has excellent reviews along with a competitive price at around $300.
posted by orehek at 7:42 PM on February 2, 2010

I have a Nikon Coolscan ED on long-term loan that I am using with my MacBook. Does a good job. You can download the latest drivers off the net for Mac or PC.
posted by Danf at 8:21 PM on February 2, 2010

i use a canon mp800 for scanning my negatives in photoshop on my old powerbook and a hackintosh it comes with attachments for slides and negatives.
posted by bravowhiskey at 8:41 PM on February 2, 2010

I have a Canon Canoscan 880OF. I bought it new, on sale on Amazon for just under $200. I use it with my iMac. It was super easy to set up and get started using. It is a flatbed scanner that does black and white or color negatives and slides. You can do 4 slides at a time. I have been scanning a lot of my mother in laws slides from the 1940s and 1950s for her and have been extremely pleased with the quality. You can also use this scanner as a photo-copier if you have a printer hooked up to the same computer.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:00 PM on February 2, 2010

I recently purchased a Canon CanoScan 8800F also, for my parents and they've found it very easy to use and it seems to produce very nice results.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:49 PM on February 2, 2010

process a large number of slides quickly and easily

No. Slide scanning is not hard, but it is not quick. At least not at any decent resolution, using a relatively inexpensive machine. Even with a flatbed, because you'll be running it at its maximum resolution, it'll be slow. Depending on the number of slides, it's possibly a very serious project.

When you say "large number" -- what do you mean? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? If it's 500 or more, and you care about quality, it's going to be a significant undertaking. Just make sure the person who's going to do this realizes that they're getting a new hobby which is going to require hours of sitting at the computer, to say nothing of the actual editing time (the fun part).

Given the prices that the mail-away services have, I'd be thinking seriously about them unless you are very obsessive about quality (and are going to use VueScan or SilverFast, RAW scan, etc.) or are extremely paranoid about your negatives.

Up until recently the usual recommendation was purchase a good used slide scanner from a reputable vendor (not the 'bay) and then unload it when you're done (preferably on the 'bay). That probably still is the cheapest solution. But if you put any value on your time at all, and have more than a few rolls' worth of slides, I think the mail-in services are hard to beat.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:41 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm also going to recomend Scancafe, not because I've used them but because scanning is definitely a slow, pain in the a** process. And unless your mother is super organized and methodical, she's going to end up with a file sorting mess if there is boxes and boxes of slides. It's going to take a massive amount of time.
posted by sully75 at 5:53 AM on February 3, 2010

Thank you for the input. The Plustek looks like what I had in mind, but given the labor, and error correction post-scanning, ScanCafe looks like what she needs most. I'm not sure on the quantity yet (We're still delving into the attic and his storage areas), but it's probably sufficient enough to make ScanCafe worthwhile.
posted by GJSchaller at 8:11 AM on February 3, 2010

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