Best option for scanning slides

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by chuck, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. I've taken a 10 year break from photography. Now that I am returning to it, I like to convert parts of the slide collection I took 10+ years ago to digital. I had an old Canon film scanner from 10 years ago which does not have the appropriate interface with my computer. In any case the results it could obtain were mediocre at best.
    What sort of options do I have now if I want to digitize a significant number of slides?
  2. Plustek 8200i, 8100, , or older model off ebay with Vuescan software from which will run old scanners on current OS.
  3. Take a look at www dot digmypix dot com. Very good scanning service with super reasonable prices based here in this country in Arizona. You can also get very good scans at good prices at scan cafe where they bundle your slides and send them to India to be scanned. Considered super safe. Scanning is a labor of love. I scanned a lot of slides a few years ago with my Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 using Silverfast scanning software. A lot of work both scanning and post processing. If you want to commit to a lot of work I recommend that you get a Minolta Dimage Dual IV film scanner used. Here's one on the bay for a reasonable price.,or.&bvm=bv.98717601,d.cWw&biw=1050&bih=1136&dpr=1&pf=p&gs_rn=64&gs_ri=psy-ab&tok=zs6g74UBpfbNFAG6u9XLyA&cp=20&gs_id=29&xhr=t&tch=1&ech=21&psi=pvS3VYKFGsPy-QGC8orABA.1438119080021.1&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0CIABELkkahUKEwjsg8iN4_7GAhVLbD4KHR8dA0I
    Niklon made some very good scanners as well if you can find one. Vuescan makes a very good scanning software. Good luck!
  4. ...based here in this country in Arizona.​
    Gil, why do you assume that the OP is in the USA? The internet is international.
  5. There is an ongoing thread in regarding copying slides with a digital camera. ( I also found a very good article on the same topic (
    If you have a digital camera, you would need a 50-60 mm macro lens capable of 1:1 magnification and a slide holder. The Nikon ES-1 Slide Copy Attachment costs about $60 at B&H, and fits a 52 mm filter thread.
    I'm using a Sony A7ii and a Nikon 55/2.8 Micro-Nikkor. The results are quite sharp, with accurate color and very quick to produce. I'm looking around home for slides to copy, and I'll post some results later. I'm finding Kodachrome is not nearly as sharp as legend would have, once you look at it up close and personal.
  6. ES-1 slide copy attachment sounds like an excellent idea. I have a 60mm f/2.8 AFD macro with a 62 mm filter thread.
    The ES-1 appears to be designed for the 55mm f/2.8 macro with a 52mm filter thread. Is there any sort of step down
    adaptor from 62 a 52mm?
  7. 62 to 52 mm Step Down Ring ( You may find something cheaper at Heliopan is top of the line, and you wouldn't be disappointed. If you have a DX camera, you also need a 20 mm extension tube for the ES-1, threaded for 52 mm. A Nikon K-5 works just fine ($13/set).
    After scanning my first box of slides, I can offer some suggestions.
    • If you have image stabilization, turn it OFF
    • Set the ISO to the single value with good quality (e.g., 400)
    • The slide mount opening is slightly smaller than full frame. That allows you to fine focus with the lens, rather than trying to finesse the slip tube on the ES-1. Just set the slide mount a little long (1 mm).
    • An LED "warm white" desk lamp bulb gives good color. The camera sees it as 2800K. The copy is indistinguishable from the original in the viewfinder.
    • I used a reflector card at 45 degrees under the lamp to diffuse the light and present a bigger target to point the camera.
    • I used f/5.6 at ISO 400. The shutter speed was 1/60 to 1/250. Aperture Priority serves to even out the exposure in the slide. Shutter speed doesn't matter, because the slide is locked to the camera.
    • Square up the slide holder by resting the camera on a flat surface and turning it to lie flat.
    • It's easy to center the slide. A little ear of the slide mount sticks out on either side. Make them the same.
  8. 35mm slides? How many? What do you intend to do with the digital files? Web or slide shows on HDTV? Prints? What size prints? Are you patient and enjoy hanging around computers all day and doing post process editing? Answers have a major impact on suggested routes to take. I've done slide scanning. You might prefer to stick a hot poker in your eye. So answering these questions will be smart.
  9. How significant a number of slides? I'm going to issue the standard warning that any attempt to "archive" full rolls of film will result in both your own insanity and being bored to tears; for months.
  10. About 2000 slides
  11. Like Gil, I went with Minolta Scan Elite 5400 (first generation version). It's Grain Dissolver was very utile. It's not software; it's a mechanical filter you rotate into the light path, to (further) diffuse the light source.
    I've used this scanner with Vuescan as well, but for slides used the Minolta supplied software, in order to use ICE. Vuescan is able to use the infrared data for it's cleaning software, but it is not in the same league.
    One caveat with 5400: it's depth of focus is on the verge of making the scanner unusable: I had to remount slides in special tensioning mounts, and use very careful manual focus, to achieve just acceptable results.
    This Scan Elite 5400 is pretty much the ONLY scanner that can do decent job with Kodachrome. One other option is the Nikon Coolscan 9000, which has a more diffuse light source than it's V and 5000 brethren.
  12. I am able to get a grain-sharp copy of a Kodachrome slide using a Sony A7ii (24 MP) and the setup described above. The original photo was taken with a Leica M2 + Summicron 50 nearly 30 years ago. The color and contrast of the copy is indistinguishable from the original.
    This should illustrate the practicality of using a high-resolution digital camera in lieu of a scanner. Secondly, it should dispel any illusions about the resolving power of Kodachrome. The same lens on the A7 shows the weave of the fabric and count each hair. I should add that it took 15 minutes to scan 38 slides, including setup.
    100% detail crop (pixel = pixel)
    A7 Comparison - 100% crop
  13. Consider the possibility that a full-quality scan and careful post processing could easily run beyond
    30 minutes per slide. That gets you on the order of a thousand hours of scanning and processing
    from those slides. You're looking at a full-time job for 6 months scanning those. Fortunately they're
    slides so you can just decide the one you want a print off right now with a viewer or light box and
    store the rest in darkness. Or you can do it in batches of about a roll a day in off days for a long
    time. It's worth noting that preview quality scans with some automatic processing can be done
    much faster if you want an index to show or look through. The shory is I would avoid full quality
    work on anything you don't actually want to print or sell.

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