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Slide Scanner

Postby oldranger » Sun Mar 29, 2009 6:18 pm

Thanks to Maverick posting a photo of part of my second trip of the summer I got motivated yesterday to review my old slides of trips between 1980 and 1968. I've got others from earlier and later trips but after reviewing a bunch of those slides I looked at the clock and it was almost 2 AM. I was so focused on my task I didn't even finish my glass of wine started at 8 PM.

Anyhow some of these slides are starting to show a little aging so I'd better get them scanned before it is too late. I would appreciate any suggestions on a reasonably priced but pretty good slide scanner.

Thanks

Mike
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby fishmonger » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:13 am

I have used a Polaroid Sprintscan 35 Plus since I bought it new in 1999 (for $1950) - you can get these things for about $100 or less on ebay these days.

It is a great scanner for the money, but given they never really updated the drivers, it can be quite a hassle to make it work on a modern system. If you run XP, it can be done, but it requires some fiddling with the software. I generally scan in Photoshop, but this thing won't work for more than 3 scans in photoshop before I get errors, so I have started using the Polaroid software that is available for it and that actually works quite well (and transfers the scan to Photoshop when scanned).

I figured out how to do all that just last week when I got interested in scanning my old Sierra pix again, and it's been going quite well as you can see in this evolving photo gallery from my 1990 JMT hike here: http://didnt.doit.wisc.edu/outdoor/gallery/JMT1990/

If I had more funds and nothing better to do with them, I would purchase a Nikon 5000ED on ebay, but they are going for $700 or more and I know the Polaroid is almost as good as the Nikon if you work out the bugs and know how to clean up scans with rubber stamp tool in photoshop. Nikon has amazing software (ICE) that lets you run slides through the scanner and pretty much do nothing more than feed the image and maybe tweak it a little in photoshop afterwards. The software takes care of dust and scratch removal very well, which you don't get with a Polaroid or most other scanners that are out there.
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby copeg » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:26 am

You can probably go quite a few routes depending upon your budget and what sort of resolution you'd like. I've used a simple Epson table scanner before to scan slides. It gets the job done but I wouldn't use it to create high res. digital files for printing larger than 4x6. You can upscale to a dedicated slide scanner (I use a Nikon V ED ~$500), but some of these might be a pain to scan slides in bulk. They do have features like dust and scratch removal that create better looking image in the end, esp for older slides. One last alternative is to send them out to get them scanned professionally. Depending upon how many you have, this last alternative could save you a lot of pain and ache in scanning them yourself.
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:08 am

Try http://www.scancafe.com/
I heard about them on the radio, and they are supposed to be pretty good.
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby trav867 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:29 am

My father just completed scanning 30 years worth of slides (a few thousand) with a Nikon Coolscan V ED. At the highest setting, scans are uncompressed files of about 120mb, with a resolution of like 4000x6000. He was very happy with the results, and after scanning his entire collection, resold the scanner on ebay for exactly what he originally paid ($720). Here's a very compressed scan taken in about 1976.

yellowstone_river.jpeg

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby Buck Forester » Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:49 am

I also have a Nikon Coolscan V. All of my slides were scanned with the Coolscan IV or V. They hold their value... I know when I upgraded from my IV to a V they seemed scarce. Die hard film users hold onto these things. They are great scanners so if you did buy one, as mentioned above, you can sell it for probably what you bought it for even if you scanned a bazeeeellion slides. It might be overkill if you're scanning for the web or small prints because this thing can scan at great quality and huge file sizes. Some of the less expensive Epson flatbed scanners do a pretty good job with slides for much less (just make sure the flatbeds are capable of doing slides, they often need slide adapters). Film rules. But I love digital too.
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby oldranger » Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:03 pm

Thanks for the advice to all.

I think I'll pull out my slide sorter tray next winter, decide which slides are worth keeping, then count and figure out what the best way to go will be. Since all future photos will be digital this will be a one time operation.

I'm too busy getting ready for this summer to spend time on the project now.

Thanks again

Mike
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby fishmonger » Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:20 pm

came across this article while wondering if I should get me a Nikon to scan my collection, as there's a ton of work involved and I don't want to have to do it again just because my source was sub-par.

http://bythom.com/coolscanv.htm

The comparison photos he shows is what has me thinking that my Polaroid scanner really is only worth $100 it goes for on ebay; I have to fight the thing with all my photoshop skill to make an image look as good as the "bad example" in this review :crybaby:

I think I'm going to go for a 5000 ED on ebay, and sell it when I'm done with those 10,000+ slides I have sitting around in large storage bins...
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby fishmonger » Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:45 am

followup on the Nikon scanners - I just spent a weekend testing a friend's 4000 ED, which is very much like the V model with the ability to use a stack feeder. From what I gather online, the 5000 ED is about twice as fast, but otherwise very similar.

Well, I'm glad I got this loaner to see for myself, because I am suddenly not so sure about getting a Nikon scanner:

reasons:

a) Nikon software awkward compared to Polaroid Insight. Vuescan is better, but had the same problems with asquisition I had in the Nikon software.

b) image quality: 4000 dpi makes no difference in image detail. All you get is more grain, even on Velvia. In turn you need to run the slow GEM process to cut down the grain. Cropping at full resolution for detail information shows that the 2700dpi Polaroid retains just as much information as the Nikon, at half the file size.

c) highlight bleed on the Nikon - any high contrast area will bleed a halo of light into the dark areas. I cleaned the mirror of the Nikon (difficult procedure, search online for instructions) to make sure it wasn't dust on the mirror as some folks post online. It is not. Completely unacceptable image quality, and extremely difficult to fix in Photoshop.

d) speed - my Polaroid gets a scan done in less than 40 seconds at full rez, which is more than twice as fast as the Nikon even without any of the multisampling options (which made no difference in addressing the problems I had with light bleed)

c) occasional complete failure to scan anything like the original - the first few slides I scanned came out with zero red channel information. This went away after inserting the neg strip holder, but came back after power up. Could not get rid of it the second time and eventually packed the scanner in the box and put my Polaroid back on the desk.

The good stuff:

when the 4000ED actually worked, the colors of the sky especially seemed to come out better than on the Polaroid. The shadow detail is slightly better, but that only works well on slides that have no major highlights at the same time, since those will cast a halo over the entire shadow area.

ICE is nice - dust and scratch removal clearly work very well with this enabled. It's just that you are trading the cleanup time in photoshop for images that just don't look right, or in some cases are completely useless due to massive light cast across shadow areas.

was the 4000 ED that I tested broken? Again, I see a lot of people posting about the light bleed issue and it seems to be something all Nikon Scanners show. I recall seeing it on some older models as well. Focus issues seem to be another story, while the Sprintscan doesn't have that problem due to a very different imaging technology.

Bottom line for me - since I have a Sprintscan 35 Plus that works well for me, I am not going to risk $1000 for a 5000 ED to realize that it has the same problems I see with the 4000 ED loaner.

Some examples:

Nikon 4000 ED
http://didnt.doit.wisc.edu/outdoor/gallery/JMT1990/Day%2007/slides/514_middle_palisade_4000.jpg

Sprintscan 35 Plus
http://didnt.doit.wisc.edu/outdoor/gallery/JMT1990/Day%2007/slides/514_middle_palisade.jpg

Sky color more natural in the Nikon scan, but the halo cast of light over the entire foreground destroys the contrast there.


Low light performance

Nikon 4000 ED
http://didnt.doit.wisc.edu/outdoor/gallery/JMT1990/Day%2006/slides/508_the_show_is_fading_4000.jpg

Polaroid Sprintscan 35 Plus
http://didnt.doit.wisc.edu/outdoor/gallery/JMT1990/Day%2006/slides/508_the_show_is_fading.jpg

The color bleed on the Nikon is quite pronounced - looking at the original slide, the dark foreground in the Polaroid scan is much closer to the original, although it loses quite some detail in the darks, too. The Nikon scan may look appealing and warm, but that's not what is on the original slide.

I was going to do more comparison scans, but the software balked again and I was not getting usable scans from the Nikon and decided to go back to what I know.

and here two crops at 1:1 resolution pulled off each scanner at thei max dpi to compare what they can pull out of the original:


http://didnt.doit.wisc.edu/outdoor/nikon_polaroid_samples.jpg

the sky seems nicer in the Nikon scan, but that's been run through the GEM thing on lowest level to get the grain down. Color of the sky is also a bit closer to the slide on the Nikon scan, however, there really is no additional feature information in the scan that I cannot see in the Polaroid scan as well.

Still, if I had no scanner at all, I probably would give a 5000 ED a chance, since you can easily resell them on ebay. The Polaroid is difficult to make work these days, (SCSI, pre-XP drivers), so I can't recommend that for folks who don't feel like tinkering with software issues. If you have dirty slides and don't know how or don't want to clean up scans in Photoshop, the ICE feature on he Nikons may be a deciding factor.
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Re: Slide Scanner

Postby fishmonger » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:18 pm

take it back - the Nikon was dirty. After cleaning it, I am getting excellent results!

I can only recommend to anyone who has a Nikon scanner to google the "clean mirror 5000 ED" page and do it to their scanner. They are almost identical on the inside, so the description worked fine for the 4000 ED I am playing with.

result of the procedure is outright stunning: big halo in the shot before cleaning, none whatsoever on the shot after cleaning (done in trail version of Vuescan - same settings, click on images for 1:1 pixel 4000 dpi crops, no image processing on either one)

before

Image
after

Image

PS- the Vuescan software rocks compared to the Nikon software. I just bough the serial and will scan with it form here on out
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