BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
David Hultsman

35mm Slide Conversion

I have thirty years of slides in my closet and would love to convert them to digital files on my computer for viewing and for making photo copies. I have seen a device at Brookstone that claims to provide this option and have seen the Nikon Coolscan. I think both do the job but there is a $400 price difference and am asking if anyone has the experience to know if the low end is sufficient or that I should continue to save up funds to buy the high end device Iahtexon

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5/14/2008 3:03:23 PM

doug Nelson   First of all, choose the ones you really want to scan. You will drive yourself and maybe others around you nuts trying to do each and every one of them. Trust me on this, I'm 61, and many, many of mine were junk and not worth the effort.
The Nikon Coolscan is a great choice. The next best thing, for about the same money, is the Epson 700, a flatbed that lets you do a dozen at a time. The Nikon does a bit better job (not noticeable unless you want to print at 16 x 20) but is slow, as you do them singly. The Epson is a lot quicker and a lot easier to learn. Check out my comments on scanning and the Epson on my web site. I can't criticize the Brookstone, but it sounds like something in the in-flight catalogue, an unknown.

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5/14/2008 4:43:31 PM

Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
I used the Cool Scan for a couple of years. Now that I have gone digital, I don't use it much. I found that the quality of the scan was great, but it is slow.

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5/14/2008 5:41:04 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  You can do a search here at BP on "Scanning Slides" and get a lot of great information. I agree with Doug that your editing process should be brutal. If you are like most of us, you likely have several versions of the same scene. Scan only the best. Those that are exposed properly and are tack-sharp will scan well.
Don't forget to clean your slides before scanning them. Brushing each side lightly with a dry Q-Tip, then giving each side a blast of compressed air will remove dust specs and other surface contaminants.

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5/15/2008 2:24:53 AM

Dale M. Garvey   I have the Epson 4990 Pro and am very happy with it. It is also great with negatives of all sizes. I have 35 mm negs of Mount Rushmore being carved and Signature Kodak negatives from the turn of the century which produce photos today that are as good as when they were taken. The firework shot in my gallery was scanned and edited from a slide.

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5/20/2008 6:56:09 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  About 4 years ago I scanned over 600 slides on an Epson scanner (dont remember the model #)that had a slide holder that fit 12 slides. I scanned them at 800 dpi which made for slow going but once I moved them into photoshop, I had a nice size image to work with. These were old slides (some even used at Jimi Hendrix concerts) and they were spotty & faded. I was able to clean up and restore a lot of color with Photoshop and the end result was very nice.
It is a bit time consuming but it was worth the time & effort.

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5/20/2008 9:45:17 AM

Steve Parrott
  I suggest you not do it at all, at least not yourself. You can outsource this work VERY CHEAPLY, and with HIGH QUALITY results. Take a serious look on the Scan Cafe website. They use Nikon Coolscan scanners, do all the tedious touch up work, and you only have to pay for the scans you want. It is done overseas, but again, look at the site to see their guarantee. I have used them in the past, and was very pleased. There is about a 2 to 3 month turn around time involved, but after you have waited 30 years, so what? Check it out and give it serious thought.


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5/20/2008 10:31:05 AM

rrr S. rrr   I use the Epson Perfection 3170 Photo scanner and love it. You can scan a few at a time. It does a good job and it wasn't that expensive. It also works with your printer as a copier, which I use a LOT!

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5/20/2008 5:42:24 PM

doug Nelson   If a lot of your slides are Kodachromes, no automated dust cleanup feature works. This is because of Kodachrome's dye layers. Touch up of dust spots is tedious- hours spent with the clone or healing brush tool in Photoshop or the Elements equivalent. This may be good reason to farm the task out, as Steve suggests, and/or cleaning them first, as Bob C suggests.

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5/21/2008 7:31:05 AM

Ray W. Beaudry   David,

I agree with Dale G. and the EPSON Perfection 4990 Photo scanner. See below.

I agree with the scanning comments regarding the tedium. I have over three thousand slides. When I was engaged in a digital business I used the Nikon Coolscan ????. It could only scan one at a time and boy was that tedious! I haven't looked lately but at that time circa 2004 Nikon had an even pricier model that would accept a 50 slide batch feeder. For additional money of course. I now use a Epson Perfection 4990 Photo scanner that will scan 8 at once. This scanner does have the Epson proprietary "Digital ICE" scanning capability. I rarely use that setting as it lengthens the scan time considerably.

Good luck! There are good answers in this thread.


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5/24/2008 3:12:19 PM

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