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bigbossman 01-24-08 06:52 PM

Converting 35mm slides to digital
I've got a ton of slides from the olden days, when I did a lot of photography. I've been wanting to convert some of them to digital, and today I stumbled onto this little gadget:

I'm thinking of ordering it, but am wondering if anyone has experience with this or perhaps another, better device. Most of the scanned images would be for computer display and perhaps 4x6 or 5x7 printing, but I have 3 that I would like to print out to 16x20 if possible (these 3 are Kodachrome 25 transparencies, and were satisfactorily printed out at that size many years ago). I'm wondering if the stated output of 1800 dpi is sufficient, or if I should just send them off to a lab for professional scanning.

Any thoughts, suggestions, or experience to share?

x136 01-24-08 07:02 PM

Film and slide scanners are generally a lot more expensive than that, or at least they were the last time I looked. I'd be wary of one that goes for a hundred bucks. That said, it's unlikely to actually harm the slides, so it may be worth a shot. You can always scan them again later.

1800dpi may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that a slide is only a bit over an inch in size, so you're talking a finished image of maybe 2000 pixels across.

You might try to find a camera store that will either rent you a professional-level scanner, or will do the scanning for you.

DannoXYZ 01-24-08 07:02 PM

Nah, not good enough. The 1800dpi resolution will give you a 1800x2700 pixel image from a 35mm slide. That's good for a 4x5" to 5x7" print, no more. To get 16x20", you'll want 4800x6000 output or about 4800dpi. Even just as important as resolution is the dynamic-range (dmax) that a scanner can resolve. Look for something with at least a 4.0-dmax. Dust becomes a major issue on slides. One really nifty feature to deal with it is digital-ICE. Some scanners do a pass using infrared that catches the dust-specs. This is then used as a mask to filter out the dust on the optical scan.

Check these out for a real slide-scanner: Microtek ArtixScan M1 or a Minolta Elite 5400 II. I do a lot of archiving for a local historic society. These will suffice for most 35mm prints. However, when there's fine-grain slides that need all the detail possible, we'll send it out for 10000dpi drum-scans (500mb each! :eek:).

bigbossman 01-24-08 07:18 PM

Thanks, guys. I thought it might be too good to be true. :(

Most of my slide stuff is either Kodachrome 25 or 64, with a smattering of Ektachrome here and there. I've also got a ton of b&w negatives from my "artistic" college days. I had hoped to do those myself. ;)

There are several labs that will do high resolution scans of slides, so I guess I'll send a couple off as a test, and see what comes back. I appreciate the advice and insight.

root11 01-24-08 08:01 PM

have not used them, but a pop phote guy reviewed it and liked the service. ymmv

FatguyRacer 01-24-08 08:49 PM

Go with the lab. The stuff they use is much better than anything you'll end up buying. I had a Nikon Coolscan 4000ed a couple years ago and never really did scan enough to get my money back, so i sold it. Mine was an individual feed model, so i can even begin to tell you how tedious a chore it is to scan a batch of slides. The lab will seem expensive at first until you realize the savings you reap from not having to invest in the equipment or the time it takes to scan slides.

Not only do you need high end equipment, you need a pretty powerful computer too. The full rez uncompressed 16bit .tif file sizes easily approach 36 megs apiece.

iamlucky13 01-24-08 10:28 PM


Originally Posted by DannoXYZ (Post 6044564)
Nah, not good enough. The 1800dpi resolution will give you a 1800x2700 pixel image from a 35mm slide. That's good for a 4x5" to 5x7" print, no more. To get 16x20", you'll want 4800x6000 output or about 4800dpi.

I don't entirely agree with the first part here. 1800x2700 is enough for a 300 dpi print up to 6x9. You can go up to 18x27 at 100 dpi, which still looks fine from reading distance.

However, I agree about the dynamic range. You want to keep those colors looking good. If the cost of a really good scanner starts looking prohibitive, call up the local photography shop and see what they charge per slide. Generally they have pretty good equipment.

FatguyRacer 01-25-08 09:31 AM

Dynamic Range is everything. I had a Pacific Imaging consumer model scanner that only did the 1800x2700 scans. They were ok for snap shots and gen photography, but i was doing astrophotography and needed soo much more. The Nikon just blew it away. To give you an idea of why its important take a look at the before and after. The first is an unprocessed raw image. Its a 20 min exposure on Kodak E200 (the gold standard for film based astrophotograhy and no longer available) using an Olympus OM2n with a Zuiko 135mm lens at f4 piggybacked on my telecscope on a guided Losmandy G11 mount. Below is is the same image after processing in Photoshop. If i recall what i did, i stacked (2) 20 min exposures, aligned and registered with a program called Registar and then worked the magic in PS. Without a good dynamic range bringing out the dark backgound and leaving the bright starts and nebulosity would be very hard. Stacking images doenst hurt either as it increases signal to noise ratio. The finished image is 25% of orginal size.

You can view the full size image here. Its 15mb so be patient.

Tom Stormcrowe 01-25-08 10:53 AM

Sweet, I have a new background now ;)

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