Need Advice on Digitizing Slides

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Mirsky, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. Mirsky

    Mirsky Guest

    Hi. I apologize if this question has been covered here before. My
    mother has over 5000 slides, taken by my father over a forty-year
    period. My mom wants to digitize the slides. However, she is unsure if
    she should buy a scanner to do the job herself or bring the slides to a
    photography store and have them do it for her. My mom isn't that savvy
    about computers so I'm tending to think that she should let a
    professional do the job. However, it might be too expensive to do that.
    In any case, I'd appreciate any advice on slide scanners and companies
    that will scan the slides. Which do you recommend?


    Mirsky, Apr 24, 2006
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  2. Mirsky

    Paul Heslop Guest

    There are actually some scanner groups, Mirsky, where they may be a
    little more up on the subject, that is if you don't get a good
    response here.

    Paul Heslop, Apr 24, 2006
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  3. Mirsky

    Jim Waggener Guest

    This vendor will give you an idea how much scanning that volume would cost:

    Probably a good idea to let them do it rather than buying a scanner. IMHO

    Jim Waggener
    Jim Waggener, Apr 24, 2006

  4. I don't know what your time is worth or what level of technical skills
    you have but I was in the same situation. I purchased a Nikon Coolscan
    V ED on eBay for about $550, worked all summer scanning the slides -
    shared the unit with a buddy who then did the same. We then resold the
    unit on Bay for almost what we paid for it $500 or so - total cost in
    dollars was nil but it DOES take a lot of time. Results were excellent,
    TheNewsGuy(Mike), Apr 24, 2006
  5. Mirsky

    clw Guest

    If your mother is "well to do" take the store. the cost will be many
    times the cost of a slide scanner.

    But, if she is bored and would like to re-live the content of the slides
    one at a time, buy her a Nikon Cool Scan V and set her to work.
    Needless to say, the results of this method will certainly reduce her
    credit card bills!

    In either case, the need to "edit' some of the picts using PSE will be
    about the same. Altho, the disks from the "photo scanning company" will
    be on CD or DVD and thus constitute a back-up that she will not have to
    clw, Apr 25, 2006
  6. Mirsky

    Jim Guest

    It would be much cheaper to do the scanning herself. By the time that she
    gets that many slide scans done, she will savvy about doing at least that
    Jim, Apr 25, 2006
  7. Mirsky

    Pete Guest

    I bought an Epson 4870 Photo flatbed scanner. I cost around $500.00
    It can do scans of photos or film. I now scan all my own film. It
    comes with frames for various sizes of film, and one of them is a frame
    for slides. It will scan 8 slides at a time. The scan quality is
    amazing. These also come with the software need to scan and remove
    dust, scratches, etc. If she wants to do it this way that's the way to

    Anyway, research scanners that do both flatbed and film scanning. They
    are usually less expensive than dedicated film scanners and do just as
    good a job. There are various brands and they all have at least one or
    two models that scan both flatbed and film.

    Of course your mother is going to have to invest a lot of time to do
    this. Consumer grade scanners are a lot slower than pro scanners. So,
    if your mother has the bucks and doesn' t wish to invest a lot of time
    scanning slides then by all means have a pro lab do it. She'll get a CD
    or DVD in a lot shorter time than she would spend, and then she can
    spend her time looking at images rather than scanning.
    Pete, Apr 25, 2006
  8. Mirsky

    sunshine Guest

    Suggest you scan those old photos with a scanner,then create them to
    photo slideshow by DVD burned. Your mom will view the slideshow on TV
    or DVD player easily.

    So you can try Wondershare DVD Slideshow Builder for free trial.

    I think your mom isn't afraid those memoried photos.
    sunshine, Apr 25, 2006
  9. Mirsky

    hellman Guest

    Before I get into your question, the only thing I'd question that was
    posted earlier is that a flatbed scanner will do as good a job as a
    dedicated film scanner. I haven't gone to the time and expense of
    trying both, but the research I did said the opposite: For best results
    use a dedicated film scanner. That's not to say my research is right
    and the other poster is wrong. Just to alert you to the fact that there
    is a difference of opinion.

    Turning to self-scans vs. paying someone, I am in a somewhat similar
    situation and have scanned about 800 slides and negatives so far on my
    own -- and still have a lot to go. There are clear tradeoffs and I'm
    still not sure which way I'll go on the rest, or what mixture I'll use.
    Here's what I found:

    One scanning service I tried did a horrible job. Another did a great
    job. So, before committing 5,000 slides to one or another serivce, I'd
    like to see the results of a test sample. Ideally you'd also scan the
    same slides yourself (maybe borrowing someone's scanner) and compare.
    My horrible scans cost $0.80 each and my great ones cost $1.50 each.
    That's not to say that price and quality are always correlated, but it
    does say that 5,000 slides are likely to cost $5,000. That's a lot
    compared to the $600 I spent on my DiMAGE Scan Elite II, but I spend
    several minutes on each slide I scan. And if I use PSE (PhotoShop
    Elements) on it, allow another few minutes per slide. So, if your time
    is worth more than $20 or $30 an hour, it's "cheaper" to have an
    outside place do the scans.

    Even though I value my time at more than that, I'm still doing scans on
    my own. Why? As someone else pointed out, it's an opportunity to relive
    each slide's memories.

    Plus, I'm getting almost 20 Megapixel scans vs. only 5 Mp from the
    "great" outside shop. My scanner will do 80 Mp scans, but 20 Mp is
    plenty for all but the top few pictures that I might want to blow up
    into posters at some time. And, at 20 Mp, each scan is 60 MB. At 80 Mp
    they'd be 240 MB (almost a quarter of a gig!) each. While storage is
    getting cheap (a little under $1 per gig external), that still adds a
    non-trivial expense (tho getting cheaper over time) plus it loads the
    CPU needlessly on most pictures. Even once I've compressed to JPEG for
    storage on my internal drive (keeping the TIFFs on the external
    drive!), the 80 Mp pictures would take a long time to open and display
    on my 1.7 Mp screen. Admittedly, I zoom in on some and there the 20 Mp
    is nice to have. But 80 is probably overkill on most.

    Another advantage to scanning myself is I sometimes will crop at scan
    time instead of afterward. Not a big advantage, but still there.

    So why might I have an outside service do some or most of my remaining
    scans? At the rate I'm going, I might be dead before I finish my 5,000
    scans. An outside service does it quickly. There's still a lot of work
    to organize the pictures, and PS takes about as much time as a scan,
    but if I am strong, I can resist the temptation to fix EVERY photo, and
    save that for the really good ones. Or do them first and come back to
    the others if there's time.

    Also, the good outside service seems to do some exposure and color
    correction that is equivalent to many of the changes I can make with
    PSE. That really saves time!

    And, if I find a slide they've scanned that I really love, I can always
    scan it myself and take lots of time on it.

    If you scan yourself, here are a few things I've learned (any
    corrections to things I've mislearned are welcome):

    I've found that auto-exposure helps on both slides and negatives. The
    default setting on my scanner was AE on negatives only. Early on, I
    tended to use additional manual exposure compensation (over and above
    what AE did) on dark slides, but tended to overdo it and got "blown
    out" whites. Better to use less compensation on the scan and use PSE or
    similar to fix via Levels, etc. Now I get good shadow detail, without
    blown out whites. It took a while to learn what helped in PSE, so allow
    some time for learning/experimenting. In my experience, Auto Smartfix
    tends to overdo it, but 10-20% Adjust Smartfix (another option) seemed
    to work better. Lately, I'm using Levels and Autolevels more. No one
    method works best on all pictures, which adds to the time it takes.

    If you have a Mac get GraphicConverter ($30 shareware). It will do
    batch renames and batch resizing, etc. Before I had GC, I had to rename
    each scan (e.g., TRAY15.tif0047 where the 0047 was an index added by
    the scanner software). Each time I did that the Mac OS asked me if I
    really wanted to change the extension! GC handled it nicely. Similarly,
    if you want to create smaller than 20 Mp pictures and/or limit the file
    size, GC does that very nicely. I imagine there's similar SW for
    Windows, but don't know what it is.

    My scanner software has ICE, ROC (restoration of color) and GEM (grain
    reduction). I use ICE all the time and it really helps. ROC and GEM
    don't seem to work so well and I've used PSE instead to restore color
    that wasn't what I wanted and to reduce noise. I also didn't find that
    noise reduction via multiple scans helped much if at all, so I've
    stopped using it.

    Hoping this helps.

    hellman, Apr 25, 2006
  10. Mirsky

    Bob Williams Guest

    To put things in perspective, a basic scan with a dedicated film scanner
    will take at least 3 minutes/slide. It will take MUCH longer if you get
    fancy and use Digital ICE and/or some of the other image enhancing
    For 5,000 slides you are looking at 15,000 minutes or 250 hours!!!!
    Working 2.5 hours/day, every day, 7 days/week you are looking at over 3
    months to complete the job. If Mom isn't very computer savvy, multiply
    that time by 1.5 or 2.
    Bottom Line......It ain't gonna happen.

    Let me suggest two approaches.
    1. Almost certainly, not all 5,000 slides are "keepers".
    So choose the top 10%.....That's still more images than most people
    will voluntarily look at.
    2. Let "Discount Digital Art" (Jim Waggener's suggested site) do a
    Deluxe scan for 45ยข/slide. That is one helluva bargain for a 9MP image
    cropped, color corrected and treated with Digital ICE.
    For $225 the job will ACTUALLY get done with no muss and no fuss and you
    and your mom can get on with your lives..

    If mom has a REAL interest in Digital Photography, you might consider
    getting a Nikon Coolpix 5600 and a Nikon slide copier adapter for about
    $225 total. Then let her copy her choices of slides. That method takes
    about 0.5 minutes per slide and you end up with a 5 MP image.......WAY,
    WAY more resolution than you need for viewing on a TV or Computer.
    That's plenty good enough for making 8x10 enlargements of the creme de
    la creme images
    Bob Williams
    Bob Williams, Apr 25, 2006
  11. I don't know if it has been discussed already, but you also need a lot
    of disc space to store the 5000 scans in high quality.
    So buying an external (or internal) disc will also be necessary.

    But indeed, very time-consuming is the major issue here!
    I'd go for the $225 professional scan.

    kris.vandevijver, Apr 25, 2006
  12. Mirsky

    Kernix Guest

    That's a lot of work. See if you can get a bulk price and maybe only
    scan the best images.
    Kernix, Apr 25, 2006
  13. Mirsky

    Ron Baird Guest


    Sounds like your Mom has quite a project planned. A quick review of some
    service sites shows that the cost would be somewhere in the 4000 - 50000
    range. Quite a bit of money. You can get some nice equipment for that
    kind of cash.

    Although your Mom is not proficient at scanning and computers, etc., I
    suspect she would be upon completing this project. She would likely gain
    a great deal of knowledge in terms of computing, use of the internet,
    imaging, and creative applications in the doing, not to mention some
    nice equipment. If she has any interest at all, that may be the way to
    go. If she is a busy woman, then maybe not. Most people would enjoy the
    task and take pride in it.

    I would consult with your Mom on the prospects of the task, and of
    course, if she has the 4-5 thousand dollars if she wants someone else to
    do it.

    Talk to you soon,

    Ron Baird
    Ron Baird, Apr 25, 2006
  14. Mirsky

    Ric Trexell Guest

    If mom doesn't want to do it herself, I would suggest another option is to
    get a kid that knows his/her way around computers and will come over and
    scan them for her. She could provide a snack and give the kid a few bucks
    an hour. Some 14 year old that does baby sitting for a few bucks per hour
    would jump at a chance to read a book while the computer is scanning, and
    not have to deal with a crying baby. It sounds like a nice summer job. Ric
    in Wisconsin.
    Ric Trexell, Apr 25, 2006
  15. Mirsky

    Matt Guest

    Matt, Apr 26, 2006
  16. Per Mirsky:
    I went through the same thing for myself and a couple thousand slides.

    Tried taking a box or two of slides to the local photo store and having them do
    it. They gave me back a set of CDs, but the formatting wasn't what I wanted.
    Especially the file names....

    I'd think their quality was probably better than mine just because they're
    probably using a very expensive scanner - but I didn't care for it.

    Also, there was the anxiety of some minimum wage worker handling my slides and
    maybe losing/damaging them.

    In the end I bought a Nikon CoolScan 4000 and did it myself.

    Some benefits:
    1) As you handle the slides, memories come back.

    2) You can assign file names right then and there.
    e.g. 1981 04-04 Ange Steff John Adrian Steve Easter Film44 0023

    I name my slides starting with year month-day so that if I do a search
    the results can come back sorted in chronological order.

    I suffix them with the source. i.e. if I wanted to re-scan that
    slide or negative, where would I go to physically find it.

    3) You can touch up the scans as needed. For me this was mainly
    lightening too-dark shots, the occasional crop, and some red eye

    Some additional costs (over and above the cost of the scanner)
    - Some kind of editing program. It should support lightening,
    darkening, cropping, saving in different formats/resolutions,
    and red eye removal. I splurged on PhotoShop because I wanted
    whatever skills I acquired to be transferable to more outside
    situations. PhotoShop seemed tb the lingua franca at the time.

    - Plenty of hand holding. It may take some significant time just
    to get the person doing the scanning to understand something as
    obvious (to you and me....) as directories/subdirectories - not
    to mention JPEG quality....

    - A storage/retrieval program. Once you have 5,000 scans you need
    to be able to look at them, print selected images, sort them,
    search them and so-on and so-forth. Once again, I splurged
    and chose ThumbsPlus. Does it all. *Might* even perform all
    of the abovementioned editing functions - i.e. maybe I could
    have saved the money spent on PhotoShop.

    I scanned everything at max scanner rez and saved as max quality JPEG.

    I think that scanning at anything less is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
    Even though you can get a decent 4x6 from lower resolution scans, there's
    still the issues of cropping, larger prints, and zooming.

    Purists will save as .TIFF - but the difference in disk space used and
    load times when browsing is so huge that I decided to forgo that.
    If I want to do more extensive editing, I can always re-scan the image
    as .TIFF.
    (PeteCresswell), Apr 26, 2006
  17. How old is your mother? 5000 slides done right might not leave her a
    lot of years to enjoy the scans.
    Michael Weinstein, Apr 28, 2006
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