Batch Scanning About 1000 Old Slides

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by ed_farmer, Oct 4, 2018.

  1. I am getting ready to move my father's slide collection (from the early 1960's) from Airquipt cartridges in Kodak trays. I would love to scan them as I move them but, as I understand it, the task is daunting.

    I know that I can have a service do this but I think that there are enough slides that I can pick up a scanner for less cost.

    Any recommendations? I thought about setting up a projector without a lens and using a macro lens to photograph the slide in the projector. While this sounds workable . . . I'm sure you can see where that statement ends up.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Haven't done as many (yet), but have scanned quite a few hundred. First method was using the camera with macro and Nikon ES 1 adapter - results were very good once set up, and quick - add a slide take a shot with camera and repeat. I got a Canoscan 9000F primarily for negatives (the ES 1 can't reasonably handle them), but used it for slides as well - a bit slower but since you load a slide holder with 4 slides and start the scan. Results were also very good but slower. You can speed up the work flow as I did for negatives by buying an extra slide carrier and loading / cleaning during the scan in process, lets you multitask a bit. In either case, cleaning the media with considerable care is important. Not a bad winter task!
    Moving On, Ed_Ingold and ed_farmer like this.
  3. Do the latest Epson Perfection scanners (850?) have the resolution to do a good job with 35mm slides?
  4. The best, consumer flatbed scanners top out at about 2000 lpi, or about half the resolution needed to capture a slide. Furthermore these scanners are slow, even compared to a dedicated film scanner like a Nikon LS-5000. A digital camera (24 MP or more) and a copy attachment is at least 10x as fast. Even sorting and cleaning each slide, I can do 5-10 rolls an hour with a macro lens and ES-1 (or ES-2) adapter. The color is excellent, and the camera will even compensate for under/over exposed slides.

    The Nikon ES-1 is for slides only. The ES-2 handles both slides and film strips of up to 6 frames in a holder. The best way (IMO) to convert negatives to positive images uses the back end of Silverfast HD to process the results. I have written extensively on PNET regarding the tools and process for this conversion.
  5. My old scanner can't batch slides. It's a Nikon Coolscan V (4000dpi) and it can only hold 1 slide at a time, but you can still go through them pretty quickly. 1000 would definitely be a long term project. I did something similar with my Dad's slides once upon a time.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
  6. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

  7. Today, I came across this which might be worth a weeks rental later this winter. I can clean the slides and move them to trays over the winter and then do this at the end. I can even look for a few others interested in splitting the cost. | SlideSnap X1 Rental
  8. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Don't have experience with this unit, possibly others do. Sounds like a lot of money for a rental - there are a variety of devices you could buy & own & do the job for less. On the subject of cleaning the slides - we keep a pretty clean house for dog owners, but unless you have dust free storage, I'd clean as close to scanning as possible. I have many moving boxes full of slides, Dad's and my own, in trays & not. I and have barely made a dent. Considering doing a sort for the best 10 (or some)% percentage and leaving the rest as is. Heck of a project - good luck with it!
  9. You're at an awkward spot. I think a 1000 or so is rather too many for the copy camera solution, yet it is too few to justify the expense of a good scanner (which, by the way, is very difficult to find these days).

    Setting up your own copy stand with a variable color light source (deconstruct a color enlarger) and a good quality copy stand for the digital camera and bellows/macrolens is not ideal, but you may already have most of the parts needed.


    the "Bowens Illumitran" sort of device (on the lower right) is the best of the 'camera' solutions, I think. I have a Honeywell Universal Repronar of this sort, but much prefer my Nikon 9000 film scanner to it. (e.g., Thoughts on Theory and Practice of Scanning (Archival/Forensic))

    There are thousands of "like new" tube and bellows slide copying devices on eBay, often for practically nothing. The reason they are "like new" is that most of them were used once and put away in the closet.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
  10. This is true, so true it's amazing. And, unless you really like rote tasks like knitting, retouching the scans is overwhelming, sometimes even if you have done a good job cleaning before scanning. Some slides came from the processors (even Kodak) with dust already embedded.
    Moving On likes this.
  11. Send it out to a scanner firm and save your sanity.
  12. So much time is devoted to sorting and cleaning slides, it makes sense to get the best scan you can the first time. That would require at least 12 MP per scan, but 24 MP or more would be better. A Nikon scanner, 4000x6000 pixels, exceeds the resolution of all but the finest B&W film, and easily tops color film. 24 MP digital cameras are relatively common today, but rare at the time Nikon scanners were discontinued. You would also want the outputs in 16-bit TIFF or PSD format. Sorting and structuring is important in order to connect the original with the scanned image. Scans of this quality tend to be very expensive, and not that easy to obtain. These are among the reasons I suggest doing them yourself with a digital camera.

    I have a slide feeder for a Nikon LS-4000 scanner. Unfortunately the feeding is wantonly unreliable with cardboard mounts, even if in perfect condition. I had better luck using an LS-8000 MF scanner, feeding 6 slides at once in a holder. Even though the Nikon ES-1 holds only one slide at a time, it is very quick to to use, with only modest care to avoid misalignment between shots. Since the entire rig is screwed together, a tripod is not needed. Typical exposures, using an LED banker's lamp, is 1/4 sec, f/5.6 at ISO 400.
  13. Hi Ed_Farmer
    A lot of good comments on this thread. Here are a couple things to consider
    1) I seriously suggest you put a value on your time in consdiedering if it is worth your time and energy compared to having a servicd do the job for you.
    2) A few years back I had my dads slides from the 1950s to 1980s scanned. There were about 2400 slides. These were family slides of various quality etc. While having them all digitized to look at on my computer was fun, I did not need the highest quality scan to bring back good memories and the actual number of "keepers" that I wanted in very high resolution / quality was a very small fraction of the total.
    3) You could consider having the scans done at low cost at reasonable quality and then, after reviewing all the results, "maybe" consider scanning and post processing the rare few where you want to invest your own time and energy.
    4) It doesn't have to be have absolute highest resolution in 16 bit TIFF after scrubbing off every bit of dust on all 1000 images. A combined approach is worth considering as well.

    Just my opinion of course
    Jochen and Sandy Vongries like this.
  14. I've used a number of scanners, and they're all painfully slow, and if you use digital ICE, it's like watching a glacier move.

    Flatbeds are slightly faster, since they can scan 4 or more slides at a time, but (sorry Epson fans) the resolution is pretty poor.

    I'd choose the digital camera copying route. You can 'scan' almost as fast as you can change slides in the holder.

    In theory a 16 bit 4000ppi dedicated scanner should give you better resolution than a 24 megapixel 14 bit camera. In practise, the difference is negligible to undetectable. A 36 megapixel and above camera + good macro lens probably exceeds the quality of any affordable scanner.

    In any case, the detail capacity of 35mm film isn't as great as most film fanboys like to think. (Definitely not 'infinite resolution', nor colour-depth Mr. Rockwell!)

    My preferred digital copying method is to use a macro lens fitted with a front-of-lens slide/film-holder attachment. Nikon's ES-1/ES-2 are examples of such devices, but other, cheaper, makes are available - see JDMvW's post above. Such devices form a rigid arrangement that minimises any movement between slide, lens and camera. The setup can simply be handheld and pointed at a light source, but I prefer to use flash as the copying light.

    A camera with Live View makes getting exact focus reasonably easy. If you also sort the slides into mount type, it minimises the number of times the rig has to be re-focussed.

    "...the "Bowens Illumitran" sort of device (on the lower right) is the best of the 'camera' solutions, I think."

    - I have one, and beg to differ!
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
  15. Many tubular slide copiers come with a powerful (+10) diopter lens, which supposedly lets you use any lens. The optical quality is abysmal, however. If the lens can be removed and the tube mounted to a proper macro lens capable of 1:1 focusing (1:1.5 focusing for DX), they should work.

    I'm using an FX camera (Sony) with a Nikon 55/2.8 Micro-Nikkor,, an FE to Nikon adapter, a PX-13 extension tube (for 1:1 magnification), and a Nikon ES-1 slide holder. The lens cost a little over $100 used and the PX-13 about $25 - barely more than a cheap flatbed. The ES-2 will work with a Nikon 60 Macro, AFD or AFS, which are a lot easier to find, more expensive, but do not require an extension tube.
  16. I use an Epson V600. I think it was about £300. It will do four at a time. If they are your Dads old pictures, don’t see it as a chore. You will enjoy seeing them again, and as the winter sets in it will keep you away from the TV. As for resolution, I would ask myself what do you want them for? So you and your kids can look at them? Beyond that, will anyone be interested? Scan them at a resolution that is suitable for that use, and that will speed up the process. Enjoy!
  17. The Epson Perfection V850 claims to scan at 6400dpi. My old Nikon Coolscan V only can manage 4000dpi. I had assumed on that basis that the new 850 is better. I’d like to know if that is true so that if/when my old scanner finally gives up the ghost, I know there is a possible option. I also have a V500 but that is inferior for 35mm film (though it was useful in scanning large and medium format film from my Dad’s family).

    I guess it depends on whether you’re just trying to record family snapshots (my dad’s were pretty atrocious really, often out of focus, deteriorated, etc.) or trying to scan your own work.
  18. "The Epson Perfection V850 claims to scan at 6400dpi."

    - Pure hyperbole on Epson's part. Their marketing department don't even know the difference between dots-per-inch (dpi), applicable only to printers, and pixels-per-inch (ppi), which are the correct units for scanning.

    According to independent tests and reviews, the true resolution of Epson's scanners is more like 3200ppi at most, and then only if the film is carefully shimmed to the correct focal plane.

    As with their claims for printer dot densities of 5760 dpi, Epson's 'specifications' need to be swallowed with a Peck of NaCl.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
  19. Hmmm... Well to be fair I don't know the difference either! I want to know how detailed the scan is and how much information is being pulled from the negative. I feel like the Coolscan can pull up just about as much detail as the negative has, give or take. So if the Epson scanners aren't the current solution to this problem, what is the consumer solution? Hard to believe someone isn't trying to make money from the people still using film to scan it.

    Like I said, the Perfection V500 I have (which I mostly use to scan documents) WAS able to do a respectable job of giving me digital versions of the old, battered medium format negatives my dad had when he died. But I didn't need much resolution from those.
  20. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I have used the DF with the 55 Nikkor Micro and Nikon ES 1 also the Canoscan 9000F though I'm not a pixel peeper, both results seem adequate. The former faster, the latter a bit slower. Once I get the batch of tomato sauce I'm making to simmer, I'll post samples.
    digitaldog likes this.

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