scanning old photo slides
November 2, 2005 12:13 PM   Subscribe

I need to scan hundreds of old slides.

These slides are from the 1970s, so I'm not sure what the official format is. Does anyone have any experience scanning slides? And if so, can you recommend a scanner?
posted by tom_g to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I like the epson 4490 - it's about 200 bucks and can scan them fairly quickly.
posted by guruguy9 at 12:15 PM on November 2, 2005

What is the end use of the scans? How are the scans currently stored? If in sheets, the Epson 4490 might be a good choice if highest qulaity is not required. If the slides are in loose "stacks", consider a Nikon Coolscan with an auto-loader for higher quality and convenience.
posted by Dick Paris at 12:25 PM on November 2, 2005

Depends on the slides. Kodachrome isn't too scanner friendly. Also depending on if the slides are faded, you may want to get a scanner with ROC technology. Definitely get one with ICE but again, it seems that Kodachrome doesn't play well with ICE. I have had some weird effects with it and my ICE3 scanner.

For that many slides you will probably end up doing digital retouching so make sure you have a good program like Photoshop CS and I highly recommend having a Wacom tablet. A mouse is a pain in the ass to do retouching with.
posted by JJ86 at 12:31 PM on November 2, 2005

"What is the end use of the scans? How are the scans currently stored?"

I am trying to save these slides for my family, and I figured that I could scan them and distribute a DVD(s) containing the images. Currently, they are sitting in those round holders (standing vertically) that the old slide projectors used. They spent years in a basement and have some mold/mildew on at least some of the paper around some of the slides.
posted by tom_g at 12:38 PM on November 2, 2005

Do you want to do them individually or one by one?

Nikon sells Coolscan 4000 and 5000 scanners with 50-slide feeder attachments. Nikon's software doesn't work well under Mac OS X, but it will automate batches of scans.
posted by Rothko at 1:16 PM on November 2, 2005

No to hijack the thread, but do your recommendations stand if the medium is 35mm negatives, as well? Like, Tom_g, I have a bunch of slides, but more negs, that I would like to save for my family.

Also, from those in the know, how does the end result look? I am taking all my new pictures at 8mp jpegs (at about 3.5 megs each)--will the scans be comparable? Can you enlarge them the same? Thanks!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:18 PM on November 2, 2005

Thanks for the suggestions.
posted by tom_g at 5:26 PM on November 2, 2005

I was in a slightly similar position (lotsa slides and the need to preserve them for posterity) and rather than waste my time and energy scanning them myself, I paid somebody else to do it.

(there is an entire story behind it, but here are my reccomendations)
1. Don't go to a crappy 1-hour photo place to get them to scan it for you. The quality is terrible and they won't care. Always ask to see the scans before you pay for them.

2. Price shop very carefully. I found a professional photo store that would do it, but they wanted to charge me $1000 dollars for low resolution scans.

3. I eventually went online and found a slide scanning specialty business which had a really nice high powered scanner, and then did all kinds of post processing too. and for pretty cheap. I sent my slides off (in the carosel), and a week later, my slides and a DVD showed up on my door, and I was very happy with the quality. And it eventually saved me from buying a scanner and scanning them myself and dealing with all of that hassle.
posted by geryon at 8:55 PM on November 2, 2005

Admiral Haddock: AFAIK, you can't batch process negs but the results are the same as slides. A high resolution scan of film at 5400dpi is a very big file and is typical of the newest scanners. Jpegs are really not the best way to archive pictures, you are better off saving them as tiffs. They have none of the compression of jpegs and are a more robust file type.
posted by JJ86 at 11:53 PM on November 2, 2005

I would email tom_g this morning for he might not again check this thread... what is it with people not putting email addresses in their profile? I was about to suggest what geryon did -- have someone sxcan them for you. This could be a problem if the numebr is huge (but I am guessing not since these slides are in carousels). The scan quality will be good and if you have no other need for a scanner you will be all the happier. (I also have doubts that an inexpensive flatbed scanneer will give you the quality you seek.)
posted by Dick Paris at 5:02 AM on November 3, 2005

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