Scanner for transparencies

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by jay_66, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. I would like to scan a lot of the slides I've taken over the years--mostly Kodachrome and Velvia--with a view toward printing out enlargements up to 11" x 14", plus web posting, e-mailing and the like.
    Can anyone suggest what would be the best scanner to use? I don't want to break the bank, yet I don't want to spend $150 for junk either.
  2. You're late to the bar. Most people have made this transition a while ago, and there isn't much choice in the slide scanning marketplace now.
    The best scanners in the past for 35mm film were probably the Nikon ones, which cost at least a couple of thousand $ when new. I haven't tracked them lately, but my impression is that they are getting harder to find and prices are going up on the used ones.
    The specs you need are no less than 4000 ppi. Some of the flatbed scanners like some of the Canon 9950 family are OK, but are not nearly as good as even the older Canon 4000 actual film scanner (had great results, but was and is very slow).
    If you are going to scan them at all, you need to scan them at a decent resolution once, and then you won't end up going back again and again to rescan as you find out the limitations of what you did earlier. How do I know this? Well, on some scans I was picky the first time around and now am spending a lot of time correcting my earlier mistakes.
    You won't have to worry about the quality of scans at less than 4000 dpi. There isn't really any -- if your goal is 11x14" prints. You can get away with less if you are only posting on the internet.
  3. I should also have mentioned that a lot of older scanners are no longer supported by their manufacturers. This is less of a problem than you would think, since fortunately a program called VueScan works (link) with almost every scanner ever made (bless Hamrick) and most computers.
    The biggest problem nowadays is that it is getting harder to connect new computers to SCSI, etc.
  4. The Plustek 7600i is probably the best value out there now:
    The scan quality is close to some of the discontinued Nikon ones. The scan time is quicker then the Nikons, but slides have to be fed one at a time. With the flatbed scanners, a number of slides can be scanned at the same time, but the quality will be lower.
  5. lwg


    Do you have a high resolution DSLR? I have found my D7000 gave very good results with a PB-4 bellows and slide copy attachment. Both an enlarger lens and a macro lens produced excellent results. The new D800 is even better. Results have almost as much resolution as a 4000ppi Canon scanner, but the captured color depth is worlds better. And the shadow noise is almost nonexistent in comparison. Adjusting the slides as camera raw files is also much nicer than as tiff images.
    The only issue I have found is sharpness across the whole slide. I have tried several different lens solutions and all seem to have the edged slightly softer than center. I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that it's actually limited depth of field with slides that aren't perfectly flat. But this is a minor problem. It just means the grain isn't as crisply resolved at the edges/corners.
    I can get slightly better quality with a drum scanner, but that's not needed for most of my old family snap shots.
    Using this technique I can scan a full 36 slides in 10 minutes (probably faster if I rush).
    I have however not had good luck adapting this to negative film.
  6. I read this earlier. and JDM has it right.
    Support for the scanner scsi cards went away after win 98/me.
    these were mostly ISA cards with a port resembling a printer connector.
    However If you are fortunate enough to find a working dedicated scanner with a scsi interface there is a work around. we did it with the HP flatbed ( scsi).
    Purchase a Adeptec PCI scsi card. It has it's own bios and no driver is required.
    the problem now is the cable. the cheap "symbios logic was one) card has a connector like a printerport
    and the scanner may have either the same or a large connector.
    the newer adaptec (aha 2930 /2940) ( $15.00)
    has a smaller connector 2 3/8" long with sharp ends.
    You need a cable or pair of cables to connect one thing to the other.
    I do not have a film scanner. but this was a no brainer when we were using hp flatbeds under w2000 / xp.
  7. >>mostly Kodachrome and Velvia<<

    If we are talking only about 35 mm, definitely go for a dedicated film scanner. Those films can be very difficult to scan due to the density of the film. Add in the fact you want to print at 11x14" and you are really going to want a dedicated film scanner versus a flatbed.
  8. Sorry JDM, but your comment about 4000ppi being a minimum spec is simply not true. For a start most scanners that make ridiculous claims for a "true optical dpi" (sic) in excess of 3000 are simply lying. The lenses fitted are just not capable of resolving anywhere near the claimed pixel pitch. Secondly there just isn't the resolution in film that most film fanboys fantasize about. Any scanner that yields a (really) true optical and digital resolution in excess of 3000ppi is more than adequate for 11"x14" prints from 35mm, and capable of far bigger prints from medium format and above film sizes. Exceeding a scanning resolution of around 3600 true ppi simply shows the grain or dye-cloud structure of film more clearly!
    The Plustek 7600 scanner mentioned above is quite good for the money, but be aware that it doesn't have an automatic slide feeder, and so needs constant attention while scanning multiple sides or negatives. Also don't expect it to deliver anywhere near to the 7200 ppi claimed for it. You might as well save yourself a lot of time and just scan at 3600ppi, which is genuinely within its capabilities. Also, don't bother paying extra to get the full version of the abysmal Silverfast software. Save your money and buy Hamrick's excellent Vuescan instead.
  9. Simple solution: Buy a Bower digital slide duplicator. It attaches to the zoom on any DSLR, you stick the slide in the front and copy it. That's how we duped slides back in the day. Of course, back then if a shot was a real keeper, you duped in the camera by shooting multiple exposures of the same scene.
    I've only used this method for e-mails, web posts, etc., so I don't know how it will do for an 11- x 14-in. enlargement. I imagine as long as the DSLR is 10 megapixels or larger, you should be OK. Try it before opening your wallet for a scanner. Good luck!
  10. Sorry, Rodeo Joe, but I stand my my statement that the 4000 ppi resolution of the Nikon and earlier dedicated Canon film scanners is as low as you want to go. 3000 ppi will work if you stand waaaay back, of course. I've scanned tens of thousands of slides, and made the mistake of doing a lot of them at 3000- now I'm having to rescan them. It's sort of like carpentry's "measure twice, cut once" -- scan high and scan once...
    We do agree that the bulk of scanners that claim to go to 3000 and above are at least misleading, but this is not true of the more expensive units made in the past. You pretty much get what you pay for in this area.
    As for the slide copy option - I have a Spiratone slide duplicator, have frequently used a Honeywell Pentax Repronar in the past, and now own a very nice Honeywell Universal Repronar.
    You will note that the bellows and copier attachments sold on eBay (whether Spiratone or major camera maker) are always "like new". This is because almost none of them were ever used more than one time. Forget about this direction if you want decent copies. I've tried it over and over and never seen results as good as my film scanner.
    A Bowen Illumitran or a Honeywell Universal Repronar, if you can find one for a good price, on the other hand, have more promise; but they are still not up to the results you can get with a decent, dedicated film scanner. Besides, by the time you find one, buy it and ship it, get nice copy lenses for it, and learn how to use it, your time and money will be spent at a level that would have got a decent scanner.
    P.S. unless you are doing a couple of slides at a time, you need a scanner that has an autofeed system, even if only a modest one. As I write, my scanner, which is hooked up to an old computer with a fast SCSI interface, is churning away behind me, and after Vuescan works its way through 6 negatives or 4 slides, it beeps at me, I turn my chair around and feed the next stick.
  11. BTW, I do own a Canoscan 9950F, and it works pretty well for large format to medium format images. I occasionally use it for 35mm, especially for odd-ball stuff like half-frame, 24x24mm, and the like. While it works, as I said, it is not up to the dedicated scanners. Good, but no gold ring.
  12. i've got an epsom v750 pro and it works really well. got it to archive a load of my dad's old slides (boxes and boxes of). you need a decent amount of computer power to get some good speed (i didn't when i started), but the results were good. it didn't cost too much either.
  13. The main problem with scanning, in my eyes, is the time consumed in scanning. I am scanning my fathers and my slides, and it is taking waaay more time than I thought - you've got to have a life besides as well... If time is an issue, bite the bullet and pay for having it done.
  14. Considering the amount of money a really good scanner will cost and the time it will take to do the scanning, maybe having the scans done professionally will be more cost effective. I have to check into the cost of scanning. Thanks for everyone's input.
  15. For just e-mailing or posting on the Net (Facebook etc.), the slide duplicator should be sufficient, but if you want to make reprints or enlargements, you'll need to scan.
  16. A Bowen Illumitran or a Honeywell Universal Repronar, if you can find one for a good price, on the other hand, have more promise; but they are still not up to the results you can get with a decent, dedicated film scanner. Besides, by the time you find one, buy it and ship it, get nice copy lenses for it, and learn how to use it, your time and money will be spent at a level that would have got a decent scanner.​
    Completely disagree! Much quicker, better shadow detail, less grain emphasis, much easier color balancing, particularly with Velvia or Kodachrome. I suggest you search some earlier threads on this as it has been covered before. It does depend what DSLR you are using, of course, amongst other things. I use a 5dMkII. A D800 presumably might be even better. Yes, you do have to make sure you get all those things (copy lenses, adapters), but it is a one-stop solution that will last "forever". No new drivers required or it nor will it become obsolete due to changing operating systems. If you need to upgrade the sensor - just get a new camera.
    Of course a flat bed scanner is better, but you won't be getting one of those yourself.
  17. Well I have used them for a long time (the Repronars) and am a big fan of them for historical reasons, but I personally get better quality scans of slides (mostly Kodachrome) out of my Canoscan 4000FS -
    On the Universal Repronar, I have used a XTi (the one in the picture, 10MP) and a 5D and 5Dmkii.
    Even the 5Dii at RAW produces a file slightly smaller file than doing TIFF on the Canoscan at 4000 ppi. Even then, even with copy lenses of good quality, I find the images less "workable" somehow. The scanning process seems to produce a cleaner image, line by line. This is especially true when you kick in double scanning and averaging, etc., for underexposed slides, overexposed slide, and old faded slides. I think that the sensor array on a digital camera is a different creature than the way scanners work, so far as I can tell from results.
    Perhaps you mean a "drum scanner" in your last comment? Most cheaper film scanners on the market now are "flat bed scanners" with a light in the lid like the Canoscan 9000.
  18. less grain emphasis​
    I will add that if there is grain on the slide, I want that exact grain in my scanned image. Usually "grain reduction" involves loss of sharpness, and I'd rather do that on my own, under my control, in Photoshop. I'm not initially concerned with the "pleasingness" of the image, the first thing I personally want is veracity. Then I can have my way with it later... ;)
    There is no doubt whatsoever that a Repronar-type copying set up, beats any other slide-to-camera solution, hands down.
  19. JDM, when Robin mentioned, "less grain emphasis", I would bet he was referring to:
    a) grain aliasing - ie, very high spatial frequencies of the grain being wrapped around the Nyquist spatial frequency and winding up at low spatial frequencies; and,
    b) the Callier effect on Kodachromes - ie, similar to the grain emphasis of a condenser head compared to a diffuser head enlarger.
    While I agree that one can get more detail out of a good drum scan, I get more than adequate detail out of a slide copying adapter + a good macro lens used at its optimal aperture. A good example of this approach is in my post dated Sept 30, 2010 @ 0144 AM and my other posts that immediately follow. Another good thread is here. Dynamic range issues (even on Kodachromes) don't usually arise if you shoot 14 bit raw data files, but any unusually dark, important areas that occasionally arise can be easily handled by shooting another exposure that is brighter by 2 or 3 stops and combining them using any of the widely available standard exposure fusion / HDR techniques / software.
    Compared to a good drum scan, or even just a desktop dedicated film scanner, the obvious benefit is a wildly faster digitization rate. I can easily keep up a sustained rate of one slide every 15 seconds if I have someone helping me. They pull the next slide out of the box; I blow off the dust, load it and shoot, and they replace the slide just shot. I usually use a little hot shoe flash as the light source and never have to wait for it to recycle because it is being used at such low power. I use full manual exposure, but I do using multi-point AF so that I rarely have to look through the viewfinder.
    If the OP has many slides to digitize and doesn't want to send them out, I would strongly recommend he consider this approach.
    Tom M
  20. As I said, repeatedly, I've done pretty much every scanning method except for the $20,000 scanners, and I find the dedicated scanner to still be far ahead of the game. Your mileage may differ, and whatever works for you is fine, but it's not what I would recommend to the OP.
    If you like spending hours standing over a camera stand, with a team of two handling the slides, fine. I prefer a few seconds for me at the scanner and letting it churn away in between. Your way might be faster per slide, but I doubt that it's more convenient.
    As I said, most of my slides, tens of thousands of them, are Kodachromes and work fine in the scanner - I turn off all automatic "corrections", by the way. I do make sure the slide is as clean going in as I can get it.
    All my pre-2007 images in my portfolio and in my posts here are done this way, but if the internet is what you're aiming for, then a $200 flatbed scanner will work fine for you.
  21. Agree completely with Tom. Yes I meant drum scanner (doh!). I do not use my Canoscan 4000FS now I have the copying outfit. I keep it for my color negative film only. The particular plus of copying a slide is the excellent and clean shadow detail you get from Kodachromes - often terribly dirty when using the Canoscan (and that is a good scanner) also the almost complete lack of blooming around bright/dark edges that are a problem with 35mm dedicated scanners. As Tom says the rapidity of the whole process is also a major positive.
  22. less grain emphasis", I would bet he was referring to:​
    Right about the Callier effect and grain aliasing. Having excessive grain and dust in your digitized image is not a positive in my book, when it is not necessary. There is no detail lost. It is indeed like the difference between a condenser and a diffused head enlarger.
  23. JDM: "...Your way might be faster per slide, but I doubt that it's more convenient...."
    You've got me on that point, JDM. It usually takes considerable persuasion or inducement to get my wife or daughter to sit down with me for one of our marathon digitizing sessions. :-(
    When I am working solo, it probably adds another 15 seconds per slide to check each one with a loupe to make sure it's one that I actually want, is clean, is of reasonable quality, etc. Then I have to switch tools, ie, put the loupe down, pick up the blower, move over to the tripod, etc.
    OTOH, years ago I rented one of the very best Nikon desktop slide scanners (with automatic feed), and quickly realized that I still had to do all the same selection, handling and cleaning steps as outlined above, but, in addition, if I wanted the slides to go back into the same storage location that they came from, I had to add a notation to each slide, thereby adding more time to the automated slide scanner method, and making it take just about as long as the one-of-a-time re-photographing method without even factoring in the actual time it takes for the slide scanner to do its thing, fixing occasional jams, etc.
    That's what really led me to settle on the method I described. Of course, if, after viewing the digitized images and deciding that I need the ultimate quality for a small subset of them, I still have the option to take them to the local service bureau. Unfortunately, the fraction of my old slides that deserve such treatment is much smaller than I would like. ;-)
    Tom M
    PS - It sounds like we both have tens of thousands of slides, so whatever method one settles on to handle such large must be carefully selected. Probably the OP and other people in his situation would benefit from doing trial runs with each of the methods to see what works best for him. If the OP would like to see more examples of my re-photographing method, I always try to specify that was the case, so a suitable Google image search, e.g., {kodachrome "tom mann" } will turn up a large number of slides I've rephotograhed without too many false positives (at least among the first couple of dozen hits that I skimmed through).
  24. One very good scanner that hasn't been mentioned so far is the Konica minolta 5400 either the first or second versions
  25. Can anyone suggest what would be the best scanner to use?​
    Jay 66,
    I would hold off on any purchases for a month or two. The Plustek OpticFilm 120 scanner is supposed to be coming out soon. It looks interesting. I would wait for the reviews of this thing before making any major purchases... particularly of old unsupported Nikons and Canons. If the OpticFilm 120 lives up to the hype the Nikon Coolscans may be obsoleted and their ridiculous prices on eBay will plummet.
  26. Russell, let's hope so,
    A new, and affordable, guality film scanner would be most welcome!
    Although my Repronar setup will not do large or medium format images, I do use it for "super slides", for example. With a modern high-pixel digital camera on it, it does rival the dedicated scanner I have. I wouldn't say surpass, but we're moving into the subjective area here.
  27. Considering you haven't spent money on a film scanner yet, I suggest you save yourself a lot of trouble and consider this option instead:
    No, I haven't used ScanCafe myself, but there are a number of ScanCafe threads on, and reviews are quite good overall. The only reason I haven't used ScanCafe myself is because I have a good dedicated 35mm film scanner. I may use them in the future for medium format.
  28. Considering you haven't spent money on a film scanner yet, I suggest you save yourself a lot of trouble and consider this option instead:
    Website looks good. Prices look real good. Stories on the internet are rather hit or miss though. They ship ALL your slides/negatives off to Inida. It takes MONTHS to get orders back. Just FYI.
    Russell, let's hope so,
    A new, and affordable, guality film scanner would be most welcome!​
    Yeah, image quality and price are still unknown. They seem to be making it out to be something that rivals the Nikon Coolscan 9000. That and the price point remain to be seen. If it ends up being sub $1,000 and equal to the Nikon Coolscan 9000 I will rob and steal to get the money for it. If it is $1,500... It will be awhile before I get it.
    Rumors from a Plustek agent on Rangefinderforum suggest it will be priced at no more than US$2500.​
    More info...
    Ok guys here is the scoop... September is the target availability date. About 30 days before availability, you will see the major photo retailers posting pre-order pages.​
  29. I checked out ScanCafe but got a little nervous seeing the slides get shipped out to Bangalore, India.
    I found another outfit, Slide Scanning Pros, in Homer, Alaska. They scan your slides for 18 cents each, or 29 cents each with corrections (by hand), that you can access for downloads from a Web site. You get both TIFF and JPEG files. If you send them an external hard drive, they will load your images there for free, or you can buy their 500 GB hard drive for $80.
    They seem like the best buy. I have to do further research and see what reviews this company gets online. At least your slides don't travel half way around the world and you get them back in days rather than months.
  30. This review is 2 years old, but I'd be very careful with Slide Scanning Pros:
    I'd seek out a local outfit where you can physically go in and drop off the slides, that is, if there's such a company near by.
  31. I checked out ScanCafe but got a little nervous seeing the slides get shipped out to Bangalore, India.
    I found another outfit, Slide Scanning Pros, in Homer, Alaska.​
    If you have yet to make a decision, you may want to check out this service offered by a PN member. From his write-up, it seems like he takes scanning seriously and knows what he's doing.
    Disclaimer: I don't know the guy other than his postings here, and I have never used his service.
  32. BTW, I can do 4000 PPI, "no edits" scans to tif format for as little as 50 cents each. (See Saugus link above.) I use Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 model scanners.

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