Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Started Jul 20, 2020 | Discussions
ScottSeg New Member • Posts: 17
Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Hello all, hope you are staying healthy and safe.  My father has more than a dozen carousels 35mm slides, some as old as 40 years old.  Thankfully they have been stored away from humidity and light for many years.

Long story short, I've found reliable slide scanner reviews to be elusive.  Curious if anyone has any recent experience with 35mm scanners that they would recommend.

The absolute ceiling of our budget would be $800--and we'd probably be more interested in the best bang for our buck for around $400.

Not looking to do any digital photo re-touching or anything like that--just want the highest quality scans in the most easy-to-use and efficient system.

Thank you for any advice!

Trevor Sowers
Trevor Sowers Senior Member • Posts: 1,466
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

I'm having decent luck scanning slides with my Pacific Image scanner.  Be forewarned there is a learning curve to scanning.

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arthur01 Regular Member • Posts: 143
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

ScottSeg wrote:

Hello all, hope you are staying healthy and safe. My father has more than a dozen carousels 35mm slides, some as old as 40 years old. Thankfully they have been stored away from humidity and light for many years.

Long story short, I've found reliable slide scanner reviews to be elusive. Curious if anyone has any recent experience with 35mm scanners that they would recommend.

The absolute ceiling of our budget would be $800--and we'd probably be more interested in the best bang for our buck for around $400.

Not looking to do any digital photo re-touching or anything like that--just want the highest quality scans in the most easy-to-use and efficient system.

Thank you for any advice!

Hi Scottseg. I have many slides of my own and other family members.I have scanned many using the Epson Perfection v700 scanner. I have found it meets my needs for quality. A lot depends on how good the slide is as far as exposure and sharpness.You should be able to find one of these within your budget.

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Overrank
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 4,160
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

ScottSeg wrote:

Hello all, hope you are staying healthy and safe. My father has more than a dozen carousels 35mm slides, some as old as 40 years old. Thankfully they have been stored away from humidity and light for many years.

Long story short, I've found reliable slide scanner reviews to be elusive. Curious if anyone has any recent experience with 35mm scanners that they would recommend.

The absolute ceiling of our budget would be $800--and we'd probably be more interested in the best bang for our buck for around $400.

Not looking to do any digital photo re-touching or anything like that--just want the highest quality scans in the most easy-to-use and efficient system.

Thank you for any advice!

Firstly I would check what a trusted shop would charge to scan those.  As others have said there is a learning curve to getting the best out of scanning.

For less than $400 *new* you’re probably limited to the Plustek 8200i or the Epson V600/V550 (I’m working on U.K.  prices and they’re both <£400). The Plustek is a dedicated 35mm film scanner and is the better quality, the V600 is a flatbed with the ability to scan up to 4 slides in one go.  With the Plustek you need to move the slide holder forward one slide at a time by hand (again you load it with 4 at a time). I own both of these and use the Plustek rather than the Epson for 35mm, but I suspect you may find the Epson more convenient.  
If you look second hand then there are more options available in your price range

i would ignore any quoted DPI (points per inch) for scanners.   I’ve found the Plustek is at best 3600 DPI (not the 7,200 quoted by Plustek) and the Epson is at best 2400 DPI, but that’s something like an 12” x 8” print if you were to print them out.

If you have a digital SLR or mirrorless and a macro lens then that might be the best and cheapest way to do it, but if you have to buy those things it might well be over budget.

D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 31,059
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides
1

Do you have either a DSLR or a mirrorless camera that could take a macro lens ? If not, use a scanner.

After scanning the slides, put them back in their Carousels in the dark (Kodachrome especially fades badly in the light), in case somebody wants to scan them again one day.

Most slides that were shot after about 1965 should still be OK. Around that time, Kodak started using a preservative in the final wash. But even slides that have changed colour badly can be corrected on a computer.

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Sigma fp
D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 31,059
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Overrank wrote:

ScottSeg wrote:

Hello all, hope you are staying healthy and safe. My father has more than a dozen carousels 35mm slides, some as old as 40 years old. Thankfully they have been stored away from humidity and light for many years.

Long story short, I've found reliable slide scanner reviews to be elusive. Curious if anyone has any recent experience with 35mm scanners that they would recommend.

The absolute ceiling of our budget would be $800--and we'd probably be more interested in the best bang for our buck for around $400.

Not looking to do any digital photo re-touching or anything like that--just want the highest quality scans in the most easy-to-use and efficient system.

Thank you for any advice!

Firstly I would check what a trusted shop would charge to scan those. As others have said there is a learning curve to getting the best out of scanning.

For less than $400 *new* you’re probably limited to the Plustek 8200i or the Epson V600/V550 (I’m working on U.K. prices and they’re both <£400). The Plustek is a dedicated 35mm film scanner and is the better quality, the V600 is a flatbed with the ability to scan up to 4 slides in one go. With the Plustek you need to move the slide holder forward one slide at a time by hand (again you load it with 4 at a time). I own both of these and use the Plustek rather than the Epson for 35mm, but I suspect you may find the Epson more convenient.
If you look second hand then there are more options available in your price range

The more expensive Epson models take more slides at a time.

i would ignore any quoted DPI (points per inch) for scanners. I’ve found the Plustek is at best 3600 DPI (not the 7,200 quoted by Plustek) and the Epson is at best 2400 DPI, but that’s something like an 12” x 8” print if you were to print them out.

If you have a digital SLR or mirrorless and a macro lens then that might be the best and cheapest way to do it, but if you have to buy those things it might well be over budget.

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rich_cx139 Senior Member • Posts: 3,030
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

I am doing the same sort of job and have been off and on over the last few years.

I use a Proscan 10T ( known as Pacific XE in the States ).  It does a good job but there is no auto feed so its one neg / slide at a time although it is pretty fast as scanners go - about 2 mins for 5000 dpi.  There are many others in the price range and you might get a decent used Nikon coolscan.

One thing I would suggest, no matter what scanner you use (- flatbed like a V700, Coolscan or a dedicated film scanner ) is use Vuescan software.  Silverfast cut down version came with the Proscan but I never got the hang of it.

If you do use Vuescan - try out the restore colour and restore fading filters ( if you need them ).  It may be that the output from Vuescan is acceptable to you as is otherwise its a matter of tweaking in post which can be painful.

If you have the storage available, I would definitely suggest to scan to tiff and jpeg ( or jpeg and raw if using something like the es2 and the appropriate macro on a Nikon DSLR. )  The tiff files arebig but you have full control of the image if you do need to go into post.

cheers

richard

Overrank
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 4,160
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides
1

rich_cx139 wrote:

I am doing the same sort of job and have been off and on over the last few years.

I use a Proscan 10T ( known as Pacific XE in the States ). It does a good job but there is no auto feed so its one neg / slide at a time although it is pretty fast as scanners go - about 2 mins for 5000 dpi. There are many others in the price range and you might get a decent used Nikon coolscan.

One thing I would suggest, no matter what scanner you use (- flatbed like a V700, Coolscan or a dedicated film scanner ) is use Vuescan software. Silverfast cut down version came with the Proscan but I never got the hang of it.

If you do use Vuescan - try out the restore colour and restore fading filters ( if you need them ). It may be that the output from Vuescan is acceptable to you as is otherwise its a matter of tweaking in post which can be painful.

If you have the storage available, I would definitely suggest to scan to tiff and jpeg ( or jpeg and raw if using something like the es2 and the appropriate macro on a Nikon DSLR. ) The tiff files arebig but you have full control of the image if you do need to go into post.

cheers

richard

I’ve found Epson scan to be good with the V550. I use Silverfast with the Plustek and I like that. I have Vuescan but I’ve never really got the hang of it. Vuescan also costs money, whereas Silverfast and Epson scan are free with the scanners. There is also a free version of Silverfast for the Epson V560/V600 - https://www.silverfast.com/show/bundle-epson/en.html

I know some people really rate Vuescan but I’ve found the interface to be less than intuitive.  One of the things that’s a big plus for Vuescan is it will work with hundreds of different scanners.  There is a big problem with all scanner software  in that both Silverfast and Vuescan are developed by small teams and are now starting to show their age (compared to programs with massive development teams like MS-Word for example )

rich_cx139 Senior Member • Posts: 3,030
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Overrank wrote:

rich_cx139 wrote:

I am doing the same sort of job and have been off and on over the last few years.

I use a Proscan 10T ( known as Pacific XE in the States ). It does a good job but there is no auto feed so its one neg / slide at a time although it is pretty fast as scanners go - about 2 mins for 5000 dpi. There are many others in the price range and you might get a decent used Nikon coolscan.

One thing I would suggest, no matter what scanner you use (- flatbed like a V700, Coolscan or a dedicated film scanner ) is use Vuescan software. Silverfast cut down version came with the Proscan but I never got the hang of it.

If you do use Vuescan - try out the restore colour and restore fading filters ( if you need them ). It may be that the output from Vuescan is acceptable to you as is otherwise its a matter of tweaking in post which can be painful.

If you have the storage available, I would definitely suggest to scan to tiff and jpeg ( or jpeg and raw if using something like the es2 and the appropriate macro on a Nikon DSLR. ) The tiff files arebig but you have full control of the image if you do need to go into post.

cheers

richard

I’ve found Epson scan to be good with the V550. I use Silverfast with the Plustek and I like that. I have Vuescan but I’ve never really got the hang of it. Vuescan also costs money, whereas Silverfast and Epson scan are free with the scanners. There is also a free version of Silverfast for the Epson V560/V600 - https://www.silverfast.com/show/bundle-epson/en.html

I know some people really rate Vuescan but I’ve found the interface to be less than intuitive. One of the things that’s a big plus for Vuescan is it will work with hundreds of different scanners. There is a big problem with all scanner software in that both Silverfast and Vuescan are developed by small teams and are now starting to show their age (compared to programs with massive development teams like MS-Word for example )

I think I will give Silverfast another go then - you know how it is - one just gets stuck in a rut with what one is used to.  Just need to try to find the serial number of silverfast 8 se that came with the Proscan and then try to get an update if needed etc.

Just looked at the prices of scanners generally - they seem to have shot up in cost since I bought mine for 460 euros in 2015 ( and the pound has crashed ).

If I were in the OP's position or if my scanner goes belly up, I might be looking at either the Nikon es-2  since I have a DSLR and the 60 micro - would be a cheap option or an epson.  I think I would miss the IR cleaning /digital ICE functionality using the digital cam method.

cheers

richard

Overrank
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 4,160
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides
1

rich_cx139 wrote:

If I were in the OP's position or if my scanner goes belly up, I might be looking at either the Nikon es-2 since I have a DSLR and the 60 micro - would be a cheap option or an epson. I think I would miss the IR cleaning /digital ICE functionality using the digital cam method.

I’ve just bought an ES-2, having scanned thousands of slides and negatives on a Plustek, as it has got very good reviews and a bit of macro scanning I’d done on some disc film suggested it could get good results.    I’d expected it to be pretty similar to the Plustek with maybe a bit better performance in shadow areas. But when I’ve compared it to a Plustek and a Canon FS4000, that I use mostly for scanning APS, it is significantly sharper.  I intend to post a little review once I have a few example photos.

Which presents me with a problem of whether to rescan all those binders full of negs again

JohnnyLuddite Senior Member • Posts: 1,721
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

What condition are the slides in? Dust and scratches can sometimes be removed with ICE.

What is the type of emulsion - some scanners have a Kodachrome profile which is handy.

30 carousels is significant but not a huge number of slides, especially if you are able/want to be a bit selective.

I valued the output of a dedicated scanner, the Coolscan IV ED - this would be in your budget used. It has a good autofocus mechanism and ICE and excellent color stability, at the expense of slow scanning. Its drivers are XP, but this can be run in a virtual machine with some benefit.

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Ken Seals
Ken Seals Senior Member • Posts: 1,879
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Overrank wrote:

Which presents me with a problem of whether to rescan all those binders full of negs again

Same issue here. I've been using the ES-2 on my D850 for a couple of months with NLP for negatives. I'm planning someday to go through the thousands previously scanned images and pick only the very most important ones to recopy on the ES-2.

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OP ScottSeg New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

I have no doubt, it's why ease of use is important.  My Pop is hoping to preserve them for family history--not to be printed out or anything.  I think he would gladly trade a degree of quality for ease of use.  Pacific Image definitely is an option, I appreciate you taking the time to reply and lend your help!

OP ScottSeg New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Thank you for taking the time to lend your insight!  That scanner will definitely be on the list, appreciate it so much!

OP ScottSeg New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Thank you so much for the recommendation, it's exactly what I was looking for.  That scanner will definitely make the final list, and it's commonly mentioned in my research.  I appreciate you taking the time to reply!

OP ScottSeg New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

This is really helpful insight, thank you!  Having these done professionally was definitely our first choice but it was just so expensive given the quantity of slides.  And my Pop's priority is to preserve family history, not to print out or anything, so it's not a major issue if they are not perfect.

I appreciate you taking the time to respond and be so helpful, thank you!

OP ScottSeg New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides
1

Thankfully the slides seem to be in acceptable condition--and the goal of this project is to preserve family history, not to reprint pictures or anything like that.  I appreciate your suggestion of a scanner, that will definitely make the final list.

I appreciate you taking the time to lend your insight and expertise, it's incredibly kind and helpful!

JohnnyLuddite Senior Member • Posts: 1,721
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Great that you have your Pop still about, so that you can get more info about the slides as you go!

One feature of the exercise is to create a suitable indexing/catalog/filenaming/metadata system for the slides - these can help a lot in organising and finding material, and sharing it with family.

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David Main New Member • Posts: 3
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

Hi Scott -

I'm surprised no one has elaborated on the Pacific Image PowerSlide X. Perhaps it is just above your budget limit, but it is definitely worth mentioning because it seems to be the only one of its kind at its price point. It is a bulk scanner and can handle up to 50 slides at a time. At $900, it isn't far above your budget limit, but there isn't anything else with comparable bulk processing features for less.

All other scanners out there right now seem to be purely manual. Either you have to insert every single slide manually, or you use a flat tray that holds 3 or 4 slides at a time. Neither option is realistic if you have a lot of slides to scan (I have at least 10,000, so that's my perspective). There are also the conventional flatbed scanners, but those too are completely manual and not up to my needs.

My understanding is that Hasselblad has a bulk scanner, but its price point has always been astronomical, so I just am dropping the name for completeness. It seems also as if Braun has a unit that looks physically just like the Pacific Image, but its price is super high. I don't know why that might be, but maybe it has better software, it's hard for me to tell.

So there really is only the Pacific Image PowerSlide X that can handle bulk processing at a price that isn't crazy high, in my opinion.

Regarding the learning curve of scanning, I don't think it matters ultimately which unit you ultimately chose. You will have to figure out scanning resolution settings (DPI), color depth (8- or 16-bit) and potentially some others. Yes, it will take a bit of time to decide which settings work for your needs, but a good starting point is 3600/7200 DPI at 8-bits. This should yield files that work for up to 11 x 14 enlargements.

You will have to experiment a little, of course. Chose a slide of sufficient color and complexity, then capture images using different combinations of settings. Start at a low DPI, choose a middle one, and then the highest possible.  Examine them at a high zoom setting on your computer or send them to a printer (or printing service, doesn't have to be super expensive) to see which settings produce the best image for your needs. If you will never enlarge to more than a 5 x 7, then maybe 1800 DPI is good enough. If you want to display on a huge 85 in. monitor, then you'll have to crank up DPI as high as you can go. Your experiments will help you to determine the settings that work best for you.

If you end up creating a lot of files, you will have to figure out how to store them, how to name them, and how to organize them. Start by organizing into directories by year and month. Come up with a good note-taking system as well -- this will help to catalog your images later.

Good luck!

Bob Janes
Bob Janes Veteran Member • Posts: 4,920
Re: Scanning advice for decades-old 35mm slides

ScottSeg wrote:

Hello all, hope you are staying healthy and safe. My father has more than a dozen carousels 35mm slides, some as old as 40 years old. Thankfully they have been stored away from humidity and light for many years.

Long story short, I've found reliable slide scanner reviews to be elusive. Curious if anyone has any recent experience with 35mm scanners that they would recommend.

The absolute ceiling of our budget would be $800--and we'd probably be more interested in the best bang for our buck for around $400.

Not looking to do any digital photo re-touching or anything like that--just want the highest quality scans in the most easy-to-use and efficient system.

Thank you for any advice!

Have you seen this?

https://www.35mmc.com/09/07/2020/digitising-negatives-and-slides-a-primer-by-bob-janes/

It talks about what the options are...

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