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Photography Question 
Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004

Film/Slide/Photo Scanners

I have about 25 years of film, slides and photos that I am thinking of digitizing. First, I have a simple question: When one scans a strip of negs with the scanner (with the proper adapter), does the scanner create an image for each frame or the whole strip? How does that work? Second, I need some advice on what type of scanner is best. I'm looking at dishing out no more than about $300 CDN. I have quite a lot of film and slides to do, so I was looking at the Canon that could scan 4 strips of negs and 4 slides at one time. Can you guys help me out? Thanks in advance - all input is welcome!

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4/15/2006 2:39:37 PM

Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
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  A film scanner will scan a strip of negatives individually, but don't ask me how. The scanner software separates them for you and you can save them individually. I've read in photo forums that the Epson 4990 flatbed scanner is excellent for scanning film; however, I do not have first-hand knowledge and I think it's a little more expensive than you're wanting to spend. HTH

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4/15/2006 5:06:39 PM

Michael H. Cothran   First, if your scanner, be it flatbed or dedicated film, comes with special film carriers, it should produce an individual file for each image, when scanning strips. How much scanner you need to buy really depends on what you plan to do with the scans. And if you plan to do your own inkjet printing, just how big do you plan to make the enlargements? $300 won't buy that much of a scanner, but it may be enough for your needs, once defined.
Economically, flatbeds are usually less expensive. But for better-quality film scans, I would do some serious research into dedicated film scanners, such as the Nikon Coolscans, or the Konica Minolta line. Granted, they are a little pricier, and may be out of your range. But I also hate to see you buy a cheap flatbed, and then be dissatisfied with the results. Bottom line is - It all depends on what you intend to do with the scans, and on your personal definition of 'quality.'
Good luck!

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4/15/2006 8:05:24 PM

David Cross   befor you buy a scanner,take a look at the ohnar zoom slide duplicator,see firstcall photographic stock the fits on to an slr body,just like a lens,and its a lot faster to.

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4/18/2006 4:34:29 AM

Carl Schulz   I use a Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV. It works great and will do positive and negative film (color or B&W) and with an adaptor it will do APS film. I just found it for $230 online.

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4/18/2006 5:06:45 AM

John W. DeHority   I used to work in the "Color Scanning Systems Lab" at Kodak. Strips of film (called "chops") are separated into individual pictures by the scanning software. A process called "frame line detection" is used to find the narrow blank strip between images. If the film was printed when developed this technique was applied to find the images for printing. The automated printing equipment may also notch the edge of the film to identify frame intervals. The notches guide the printer and the packaging equipment that "chops" the film up for packaging.
If you are going to do any quantity of scanning I recommend a scanner that has "Digital ICE" technology built in. This uses a 4th IR light channel to find dust and scratches and supress them in the processed image.

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4/18/2006 5:30:28 AM

doug Nelson   I've been several years doing just this. I have had to cull my negs and slides, because I just cannot do them all. Bad exposures, out-of-focus shots, "why-did-I-take-that" stuff can go.

For 35mm, I recommend a dedicated film scanner. For a new one, the only act in town now is the Nikon V, about $500. That's more than you want to spend, but balance that with paying to have them done. Doing it yourself becomes the more economic alternative. This scanner will clean up the dust spots for you, saving a LOT of time. The Minoltas and Canon 4000 are now phased out, but one MAY be available even new on auction sites. Slides are more difficult because of dense shadow areas, but Ed Hamrick sells a scanning software for about $75 that addresses that problem. My Canon scanner can scan a whole strip of four, or I can pick out selected frames from the strip.

Epson has been the leader in flatbeds that can scan film. They have a new model, the 750, that may do a decent job on 35mm. Their current 4990 is highly regarded by some users. A big plus for the Epson is that it comes with Silverfast scanning software. Also, you might score a 4990 at a close-out price these days. UMAX and Microtec have similar scanners, and I would doubt that they are sitting around letting Epson take over this market. There are a lot us us old film shooters out here.

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4/18/2006 5:46:16 AM

Cynthia Stephens   I, like you, had 30 years of film to scan and last year I purchased the Epson 4990 Pro. I have absolutely loved this scanner. It is amazing! The quality is superb. You are able to scan any size negative, as well as pictures and documents. I wouldn't even consider a different scanner. I found that I did not need the additional software that comes with the Pro. Go for the standard 4990.

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4/18/2006 7:20:58 AM

Roger Johnson   I second the Epson 4990 as the scanner to go with. It is so far superior to my previous scanner that I have gone back and re-scanned over 400 of my favorite slides,negatives and prints (though I don't think I have the stamina to re-scan the other 2,000!). One nice feature that it has is color correction for those transparencies that have shifted color over the years (50 years in my case), and it does a remarkable job of restoring the original color, making the rest of the job in Photoshop much easier. I've made 8x10s from scanned images that were cropped rather severely that are excellent.

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4/18/2006 8:28:43 AM

Kevin N. Keltner   Hp makes good scanners. I got a hp and I like the quality that comes out of them. You want the one that will do the highest dpi.

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4/18/2006 9:57:11 AM

Alexis    I used to have a Nikon dedicated film scanner, plus a flatbed with a scanner adapter...Epson. I have to say you get what you pay for and if you really want to produce quality scans from your film then go with a dedicated film scanner. I bought mine on ebay and sold it a couple of years later for $50.00 less than I bought it, so they hold their money. I sold it as I am a graphic artist and I bought it to do commerical digitizing for clients, but it never took off and I needed a good quality inkjet Epson R1800 so I sold it to buy the printer. I do regret it as it was a really sweet scanner but as a one person studio my buying budget is very limited. If you can afford to buy a dedicated film scanner go for the Nikon's you will not regret it. The other scanner that I looked at last year was the Microtek I900 (I think) and I contacted a couple of people who had purchased them and they were very pleased. I did also look into the Epson 4990 but I read some bad reviews and decided not to go for that one. The other scanner I looked at was Canon CanoScan 9950F Flatbed Scanner, it's pretty much a work horse (which is what I need) and does batch scanning of 30 35mm negatives. You can find it on and it's around $349.00.
Good luck

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4/18/2006 3:20:03 PM

Alexis    Hey Gloria,
If you check out for the Canon CanoScan 9950F there are some people on their that have written reviews for scanning negatives and slides. You can always contact them (and I did that about the Microtek I900 scanner) and see what they have to say. It seems that you maybe travelling in the same direction as them!!
Hope this helps.

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4/18/2006 3:24:30 PM

Stephen Cameron   Hello Gloria,
Good to see another Canadian on board. I use an HP Scanjet 5470c which by most standards is now outdated however, it does come with the adapter for film strips and slides. The software does not separate the pictures for you automatically however, this is easily achieved via the software with a little input from you. It works well and it was purchased at Staples for under $170.00 Cdn. If you are looking at processing thousands of slides and strips then I would suggest going with a dedicated scanner but.. more $$$ and after your project is done, then what ??

Take care...

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4/18/2006 4:36:36 PM

Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004
  Firstly, I must say that I am overwhelmed with all your input and I wish to say thanks to all of you for your lessons!

Since I am a newbie to the whole "digital" realm, I completely thank you (Sharon & John) for explaining the process in layman's terms. I just couldn't figure it out.

I guess I have a lot to absorb. I see what you all are talking about regarding getting a dedicated film scanner, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to invest that kind of money. Like Stephen says, when the project is done, then what - a $800 CDN dust collector?

Thanks, David for the other option for the ohnar zoom slide duplicator, however my Sony F717 does not have a detachable lens (non-DSLR).

Cynthia & Roger, are you still using your 4990? How may neg strips/slides can you scan at once and how long does it take? Have you had many problems with the scans? I want to digitize my negs/slides, but also want the option to enlarge to may 11x14 or 16x20. Any hints?

Alexis, thanks for your advice about the Epson & the Canon. I like the idea that you can scan multiple 35mm negs at one time considering the vast about I have in storage boxes. I did check out the feedback like you suggested on You're right, there are quite a few that were in the same situation as me. Do you have one now? If so, which one?

Stephen, or if there are any other Canadians reading, do you know anywhere in the Toronto, Ontario area that I may be able to rent a good quality scanner for this purpose?

Again, thanks to you all, Sharon, Michael, David, Carl, John, Doug, Cynthia, Roger, Kevin, Alexis & Stephen for your words of wisdom. If you think of anything else, please don't hesitate to educate me some more.

What to do... what to do...
Thanks again everyone!

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4/18/2006 5:13:06 PM

Chuck Staley   I bought the Canon CanoScan 8400F a year ago for $100 US after a $30 rebate. It scanned all my slides and negatives and did a fine job. No, it did not remove all the dust spots and correct all the off-color positives, but all in all, it did a great job. Check it out -- you could get a used one by now, I would guess.

Chuck Staley

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4/19/2006 9:45:42 AM

Charlotte LaBarbera
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/21/2004
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  You've already heard this from several people, but you do get what you pay for. If you have tons of negatives that need scanning then you need a high quality negative scanner. I have a flatbed scanner with the option of scanning negatives but if I had to use it for large quantities of negatives I would be old and gray before the project was halfway started. It's just too slow.


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4/21/2006 6:19:58 AM

Cynthia Stephens   Gloria, yes I am still using my Epson 4990 and I have never had any problem with any scan. I have scanned 35mm negs., color slides, infrared b&w neg., med format negs and old negatives my parents took with the old brownie cameras. They have all turned out beautiful. You can do 4 strips of 35 at one time and I think 10 slides at once. The amount of time varies depending if you use digital ice which you will on most scans because it takes out dust and scratches, and the dpi you chose. I always use the professional mode to manually select my scanning options. Printing a picture that is 11x14 or 16x20 is no problem at the correct resolution and dpi setting. With a dpi option of 4800 the sky is the limit. Happy scanning.
One additional footnote: if you will be scanning infrared film, it scans perfectly, but you can't use the digital ice on this film. The digital ice can't distinguish between dust and scratches and properties in the film.

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4/21/2006 8:14:37 AM

Laura Clay-Ballard
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  I am currently in the same boat. I am looking at negative scanners from Microtek. They seem to have a really nice line of scanners and somewhat affordable. They just came out with the i900, but, I'm looking at the i800. I dont' know the differences yet in the two, but, will do some research. Any input on Microtek negative/slide scanners?

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5/1/2006 6:33:35 AM

Roger Johnson   Hi Gloria.
Firet off, I erred when I said I had an Epson 4990; I have a 4490. However, nearly all the comments that Cynthia stated above would apply to the 4490, except that I can only scan two film strips at a time or four 35mm slides. I don't know what the 4990 costs, but my 4490 cost $200 after a $50 mail-in rebate. I am very, very satisfied with it in every respect and have made a number of 8x10s with my Epson R800 printer from rather severly cropped images that I have scanned.
When going through your 25 year collection of photos, the most important item in your process should be your waste basket... I've been a photo enthusiast since 1948, and, of the well over 10,000 photographs that I went through, only 2,000 made it into my computer, and that was more than should have made it. How I wish I had had the 4490 when I started the process because now I'm going back through them again and re-scanning them, but only the best of the best this time, and what a huge diffeence the 4490 has made. Have fun!

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5/1/2006 9:08:27 AM

Laura Clay-Ballard
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  roger, it's funny you mentioned the waste basket! LOL I have a really hard time throwing away an obviously BAD picture, but, I do make myself do it!

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5/1/2006 9:28:46 AM

Roger Johnson   I didn't limit my waste basket deposits to only BAD pictures. I had to be downright merciless because of the sheer numbers of photos. If I had several shots of the same subject, and none of them were bad shots, I'd pick the best one and say bye bye to the others. Maybe, since you only have 25 years to deal with (I say "only" from the perspective of one who had nearly 60 years of photos to deal with), you can treat your collection a bit more kindly. It's been a lot of fun going over all these old photos, and it isn't over yet: Last week I uncovered another large box full of still more photos.
By the way, one of the nice features of both the Epson 4490 and 4990 is a box you can check for color restoration. It works surprisingly well for those images that have shifted color over the years, leaving you with fewer corrections to make in Photoshop.
As I said, have fun.

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5/1/2006 10:56:03 AM

Laura Clay-Ballard
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  LOL! I've been taking pictures since I was 3 (and I'm soon to be 55), but, unfortunately, I don't have most of my really early shots. Which is probably a good thing! LOL I do have a lot from the mid 60's on, and, I mean a LOT!!!!!!
I think I have my negative scanner decided upon. I think I will get the Microtek i800. They just came out with the i900, so, the i800's have a $50 rebate with them. I can't seem to find a better one for the same amount of money (around $310 after the rebate). Any suggestions?

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5/1/2006 2:21:04 PM

Roger Johnson   I'm not familiar with Microtek, but considering how much research you've obviously done, I expect you've made a great choice. Good luck with it.
Now, I'm about to demonstrate some ignorance on my part... What does LOL stand for? Here in the San Francisco area it means Little Old Lady, and you don't appear to fit into that category.

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5/1/2006 5:16:38 PM

Laura Clay-Ballard
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  LOL = laugh out loud = internet terminology ...

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5/1/2006 5:54:06 PM

Laura Clay-Ballard
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  I just wanted to update everyonewith my experience with the microtek i800. I returned it. It had super software, awesome capabilities, but, had 2 issues: 1) even at 9600dpi, the resolution was NOT there for a negative scan. I pulled images into ps and played with this for 4 days before deciding to return it.
2) the negative film strip holder .. awesome concept; however, the strips would STICK to the holder and I would have to tug and/or pull to get them out! yikes! talk about worrying about ripping my strips and/or breaking the holder.
LOVED the digital ice and all the software that came with it! totally awesome!
In my humble O, I told them that the negative strip needs to be closer to the glass. I do believe the i900 (their latest model) has a built in slide drawer that is supposed to help with this (to give you better resolution) but you still have to use that sticky film holder! YIKES!
So, now, I'm going to start looking again. It's been recommended to look at the new epson 700 line .. there's a new one out but is not on the shelves yet .. or it wasn't last time I looked!

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5/28/2006 8:21:36 AM

tabby richman   THE CANON 8400 scanner is GREAT!

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6/16/2006 1:28:01 AM

Laura Clay-Ballard
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  Tabby, thanks for the info. I haven't checked into that one, but, will. I'm hoping it is within my price range.
Q? Do you scan in 35mm negative strips? And, if so, is the scan crisp and sharp? Of course, that's given you start with a good image to begin with?

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6/16/2006 3:52:54 AM

tabby richman   Yes, Laura the CANON 8400 scanner will scan 35mm negative strips,35mm slides, 35mm cute negatives,120 format far as I can see they are sharp...great scanner.It can be found brand new,for about $130.00 or on sale for $100.00 USA DOLLARS..Best of luck to you.Go on a CANON site to read about it.

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6/18/2006 1:44:05 AM

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