Photo Editing & Graphic Design forum


negs & slides...digitizing

by cpmdave / November 29, 2011 11:29 PM PST

I have thousands of negs and slides. I would like to view them all, and choose some to digitize, edit, print, etc. What is available on the market that will enable me to do this? I have the requisite software for editing, etc but the hardware is limited by my budget and the time it takes to view and digitize only those photos that deserve it. I have Windows 7 and XP PCs and a budget of less than $200.00. Your thoughtful expert knowledge is, as always, appreciated.

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All Answers

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Not sure what you mean
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / November 30, 2011 8:24 PM PST

Can you explain more about your requirements?

You ask about hardware, but what hardware, a scanner? Or a better computer?

What software do you have now?

If you mean a scanner then I can't help as I know little about them, but a scanner should be available around or below $200. Some ideas here;[150%20TO%20250]

But if you mean a computer, why do your two computers, Win 7 and XP, not work properly for you now?

Tell us more so we have an idea of the requirements.


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That link
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 1, 2011 4:20 AM PST
In reply to: Not sure what you mean
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by cpmdave / December 1, 2011 5:30 AM PST
In reply to: Not sure what you mean

Mark: thanks for taking the time to respond (twice!) to my question. I have perfectly good scanners similar to, but older than, the ones you referred to, and perfectly good computers. The reason for my question lies in the fact that, as an 84 year-old, it will take me longer than I have, to scan each of the many negatives, look at it on the computer screen, determine if I want to keep it, delete or store the image, and go to the next scan. I am looking for a scanner that has a screen that will give me a preview of the negative so that I can scan only those negatives that I would like to keep. I have found items like the ones shown here:
but I am wondering how good they are and if there is something a lot better that one of you photo people might recommend. I do appreciate the time you have taken to respond and I hope this clarifies my situation.
Again, thanks, and I hope someone can come up with a good idea.

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Scanner for slides and negatives
by dxjanis / December 16, 2011 12:36 PM PST

If you want to speed-up the process, rather than scanning each slide or negative, why don't you build a light table from a cardboard box and piece of glass with a lightbulb in a reflector inside? That way you could quickly view each slide or negative (with a magnifying glass even, if necessary) before sitting down at the scanner with the selected slides and negatives.

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scanning slides etc
by DLDBlana / December 16, 2011 10:12 AM PST
In reply to: Not sure what you mean

I emailed a friend of mine to come help. He works with that equipment for slides and negatives, has gone thru all the trials and tribulaions. I'm sure he can solve your problem. we found some equipment new and used on ebay at reasonable pricing, can't guarantee below 200 though and have it work effectively. If he doesn respond he'll send me answers and Ill get back to you. In the meantime you just may get it solved sooner.The folks here are great for feedback.

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Scanning photos NOT the same as scanning slides or negatives
by paul_saute / December 16, 2011 10:05 AM PST

Hi cpmdave,

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Scanning basics
by paul_saute / December 16, 2011 11:09 AM PST

Hi again,

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I sympathize with your problem!
by Zouch / December 16, 2011 3:07 PM PST

When we relocated to the other side of the world a few years ago, we had a similar problem, literally thousands of colour slides accumulated over the years that we wanted to leave copies of some to family and friends we left behind. I never really found a practical solution but for what it's worth, here's our experience.

The basic problem is that scanning is an inherently slow process - it's a function of the way the hardware works, so we decided early on that actually scanning all the slides was a non starter in the time available. But I have a very portable projector (not a great throw but no matter for this exercise) which had a facility to turn it into a light box, where I could lay out a whole set of slides and view them all with a magnifying glass, as has been suggested. you can do this as quickly as you can lay the slides out which is much faster than even professional scanning equipment. We were then able to choose what to scan relatively quickly. This method doesn't work well for negative film - at best all you can discern is the general subject and have little idea of the detail.

Realistically, if you are going to attempt to scan all the slides to "preview", then do save them all to some kind of computer storage - pictures over the timeframe you suggest would be an extremely interesting and valuable resource for your descendants or local historians. The point is that scanning is slow, storage is very fast by comparison.

So what to scan them with? I have an old (by technology standards) flatbed scanner, a Canon 8400F, which has a dedicated slide/film scanner. It's actually part of the lid, you remove the white background for normal flatbed scanning and behind it is a second scanning light, specifically temperatured for film and slides; it also shines directly through the slides and film that you put in a carrier that clicks into place on the flatbed above the scanning lens. Although it works better than the more modern slimline scanners that use reflected light, it is slow - very slow! The carrier takes 4 mounted 35mm slides or a strip of 6 35mm film and it scans this in about a minute and a half - multiply by thousands and you see the problem!

Dedicated film scanners, a good selection of which are shown in Mark's links, are faster but to get one with a preview screen, I think is well out of your budget. But as I said before, storage is much faster than scanning so maybe you could use one of your PCs to preview and select/delete while the scanner is processing the next strip?

I think the general advice would be scan only once, not once for a preview (use a light box instead) and then a final full scan.

I do remember, if memory serves (not quite as long as you but getting there!) in the days of film cameras, there was a gubbins(for want of a better word!) called a slide duplicator that screwed into the filter attachment of the lens. You then basically took a new picture of the slide. Now if you could find such a device and screw it into the lens of a digital camera, that might be quicker than scanning. But where you'd find one, I've no idea!

Sorry not to be able to help more - good luck.

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Two possibilites - under $200
by sauna6 / December 16, 2011 7:00 PM PST

1) Send the old slides and negs for scanning. It is not that expensive.
2) Do as I did: attach a thin white paper sheet on a glass picture frame, and a digital camera on the opposite side of the frame than the slide projector. The slides need to be oriented in such a way that they come out the right way when taking the picture. Remote control for the projector is very helpful. Align everything well.
This way you can digitize slides at approx. 5 secs per slide. Your digital camera also improves the luminosity balance of each slide, but usually you need to retouch all. Dust is your worst enemy.
3) To scan old negatives I have used a cheap $ 60 neg scanner, but the result is only passable. Some of the scanners are nice because they convert the color negative to positive automatically (or - my Photoshop Elements does it - I'm not sure). These scanners often illuminate the neg unevenly - one side gets darker than the other.

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Useful information at
by richteral / December 17, 2011 1:29 AM PST
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by cpmdave / December 22, 2011 11:29 AM PST

Thank you to all who have responded to my inquiry. I am still looking, and have gleaned much from your responses.

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