Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format

Started Apr 23, 2011 | Discussions
fpiraino
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Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
Apr 23, 2011

I have a lot of old slides taken before the "digital days". Some have a lot of sentimental value. Right now they are just sitting in boxes aging (some from the 1970s). What's the best and easiet way to convert them, with decent photo quality,to a digital format so that I can store and view them from a computer.

Thanks for you help

Alpha Doug
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to fpiraino, Apr 23, 2011

There are several ways. First is to get a really good flat panel scanner, such as the Epson V600 which has a light source in the lid for transparencies and holders for strips of 35mm film and slides. For non-critical use, this will work fine, but takes a long time. You could also buy a dedicated 35mm/slide scanner, which will get you higher resolutions and better dynamic range, but costs more, is limited in use, and is still very slow. You could also have them professionally scanned by any number of online or local service bureaus. Same kind of result, probably more expensive, but takes none of your time.

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Only my opinion. It's worth what you paid for it. Your mileage may vary! ;-}

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Erik the Red
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to fpiraino, Apr 23, 2011

You might check to see if http://www.scancafe.com meets your needs

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f8BeThereToo
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to fpiraino, Apr 23, 2011

A film scanner is going to deliver much better quality than a flatbed scanner.

If you can purchase a used Nikon Coolscan V you could scan your slides and then sell it for as much as you paid for it. From what I read the discontinued Coolscans are selling for around what they cost new.

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webfrasse
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to fpiraino, Apr 23, 2011

Rent a slide scanner, http://www.borrowlenses.com/category/Scanners

My local store here in Palo Alto also rent Slide Scanners.

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Mikael

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RonWA
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to webfrasse, Apr 23, 2011

I have also wrestled with this problem and have tried my Epson flatbed which worked OK but was very slow. I finally settled on buying a small light table and masking off an area the size of a 35 mm slide or other negative I want to copy and then copying the slide or negative with my digital camera held on a tripod over the light table. I have to use a Raynox 150 closeup attachment to focus that close with the Panasonic FZ50 I have been using. I recently bought a Sony A55 with 18-250 lens so I have to see whether that combination, and the Raynox, will work. So far, this method is quite fast and seems to do at least as good a job as the scanner.

The one problem I have had is that a photo of a black and white negative comes out as a negative, Duh, and iPhoto will not convert them to positives like a B&W print. Photoshop Elements will but I had problems reimporting the image back into iPhoto. I recently found a free program at pixler.com/editor/ that will do the conversions. It works but I have not used it enough to see how much trouble it is going to be. I am in the process of converting to Aperture 3, with a RAM upgrade to my MacBookPro, so I will check when that is finished.

I will be interested to see if anyone else has used this method. It might not be sufficient for professional level prints but, for copying old slides and negatives for my own use it is fine.

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DiploStrat
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to fpiraino, Apr 24, 2011

Done several thousand slides (many of which can be seen on my web site). I found these to work well:

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Nikon Coolscan V ED with ICE

-- Vuescan software

-- Output as 100MB TIFF

Make the scan a neutral as possible (a bit like a RAW file). Make final adjustments in program of your choice; I use Aperture with Photoshop Elements for ghastly damage that requires cloning/layers/etc.

Oh yeah, cout on one to five minutes per slide plus editing. This ain't fast!
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probert500
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to fpiraino, Apr 24, 2011

It depends on your usage -

if it's for the web simple scans from a flatbed should be adequate.

Web and small prints: scanning using multi pass and hardware file reduction - very good for getting those shadows. (see vuescan software - your scanner may have capabilities you didn't know about)

really good - dedicated scanner or good macro on good camera (just did this for a client - very sharp).

send them to a service

get some decent software: photoshop elements, acorn, pixelmator, graphic converter - something.

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ken henke
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In reply to fpiraino, Apr 24, 2011

Like others and you, I was in the same situation, figuring a way to digitize several hundred negatives and slides. I did try Scan Cafe this past winter. Be aware it takes months to get your final DVD. As far as quality, it was average. Clearly on really good images I may want to enlarge, it didn't meet my expectations. Obviously, on most of these services, you can request high resolution scanning if that is what you need. However, you definitely pay for it.

So, with that experience, I decided to go back to the process of scanning myself. I did have a Plustek scanner which did quite well, but scanned one image at time. So, sold that and purchased a CanoScan 9000F flatbed. Wow, I am really impressed at the quality. No doubt my best slides/negatives would scan better with a dedicated scanner, but a vast majority probably won't be printed at all or printed at 4x6. Considering that situation, being able to scan multiple images at a time was quite appealing.

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andimac
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In reply to fpiraino, Apr 24, 2011

Hi,

I just used a Reflecta DigitDia 5000 and CyberView software. Excellent combi. I scanned about 4.000 slides recently. The big advantage of this scanner: you can feed it with all kind of magazines: 36 / 50 / 60 / 80 ... nearly every system and all kind of frames.

The scan quality was very good. One slide took about 3-4 minutes. So: just load the magazine and let the work be done by the scanner.

Regards,

Andreas

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pluton
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to Alpha Doug, Apr 24, 2011

Alpha Doug wrote:

There are several ways. First is to get a really good flat panel scanner, such as the Epson V600 which has a light source in the lid for transparencies and holders for strips of 35mm film and slides. For non-critical use, this will work fine, but takes a long time. You could also buy a dedicated 35mm/slide scanner, which will get you higher resolutions and better dynamic range, but costs more, is limited in use, and is still very slow. You could also have them professionally scanned by any number of online or local service bureaus. Same kind of result, probably more expensive, but takes none of your time.

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Only my opinion. It's worth what you paid for it. Your mileage may vary! ;-}

http://www.dougwigton.com/

The above is the best summing up of the issue.

I will add that there is one additional way to do it, and that(as has been suggested in a later post) is to re-photograph the slides using a digital camera with what in the old days was called a slide-duping setup. I have done this many times with a semi-improvised rig using my Nikon DSLR cameras. This method has the advantage of being, once set up, extremely fast...about 30 seconds per slide once you get going. The quality is more than adequate for screen viewing(your stated goal) and actually makes excellent 6"x9" prints. It probably is good enough to make much bigger prints, but I haven't tried that yet.

My limited experience with having labs do the scans is that the quality is poor unless you pay big $$$.

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-KB-

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ChrisLumix
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to RonWA, Apr 24, 2011

RonWA wrote:

The one problem I have had is that a photo of a black and white negative comes out as a negative, Duh, and iPhoto will not convert them to positives like a B&W print. Photoshop Elements will but I had problems reimporting the image back into iPhoto

Excuse me asking the obvious question, but do you have PSE defined in iPhoto as the external editing software? If it is, then right-click the image, select Edit In External Software, then from there you should be able to save back to iPhoto's Modified folder as iPhoto will be keeping track of it.
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RonWA
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to ChrisLumix, Apr 24, 2011

ChrisLumix, thank you for your comment/question. No, I did not have iPhoto send the pics to an outside editor and then import them back. I tried this some time ago when I was running PSE3 (still am) and I just copied the pics to PSE3 and then tried to move them back into iPhoto. At that time, neither iPhoto nor PSE3 were as sophisticated as they are now.

Apparently, I was not very sophisticated either and I may have been doing it incorrectly. At least, there are better ways of doing it now.

After using iPhoto from the start, I believe I am going to convert very soon to Aperture 3 and maybe I can get this sorted out to use an outside editor properly. I realize that my PSE is long outdated so I may have to update it as well if I want to continue to use it.

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ChrisLumix
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to RonWA, Apr 25, 2011

RonWA wrote:

ChrisLumix, thank you for your comment/question. No, I did not have iPhoto send the pics to an outside editor and then import them back. I tried this some time ago when I was running PSE3 (still am) and I just copied the pics to PSE3 and then tried to move them back into iPhoto. At that time, neither iPhoto nor PSE3 were as sophisticated as they are now.

Apparently, I was not very sophisticated either and I may have been doing it incorrectly. At least, there are better ways of doing it now.

After using iPhoto from the start, I believe I am going to convert very soon to Aperture 3 and maybe I can get this sorted out to use an outside editor properly. I realize that my PSE is long outdated so I may have to update it as well if I want to continue to use it.

I'm using iPhoto6 and I had BIG problems editing pictures using PS then manually copying them back to iPhoto's Modified folder - apparently that messes up iPhoto's database,anywaay the edits didn't show up. So I did it the 'recommended way' (see above) and all is now well, and the edits show up in iPhoto.
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MPekala
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Re: Best Way - Convert old slide photos to digital format
In reply to ChrisLumix, Jun 30, 2011

I've been digitizing several thousand old slides (mostly from the 1950s), and I'm exceptionally happy with the Epson V600 Perfection scanner.

It's $180, and it includes color restoration software, digitial ICE software, and even a copy of Photoshop Elements (7, but still).

The settings for size, resolution, etc., are all adjustable, allowing you to control the time you put in and the quality you get out. If the slides are 50 years old or so, you may never get the color, contrast, etc., of a picture taken yesterday, but I am massively impressed with what comes out of this thing.

It scans four slides at a time. I'm doing a sort of medium resolution, and each set of four takes about 10 minutes. Each slide is converted into a digitial file of about 1.5-2 MB.

I'm extremely happy with the ease of use and the quality of the output. Now, if only my parents had taken as many pictures of me as they did of my four brothers and sisters!!

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