Scanning 35mm Slides into a computer

My soon to be father-in-law has a bunch of old 35mm slides from when my SO was a child. We are intreasted in scanning them into the computer so we can make photos of them and to burn them to CD for safe keeping.

I have no idea how to scan slides into a computer, is there a easy way to do it? Right now the only way I can think of to get them on the computer is to project the picture on a wall and use a digital camara to take a picture of it. But there must be a easier way! Can someone please help us?

If you have a small batch to do you may be best off going to a photo lab to have them scanned. Someone who knows how to tweak and fine tune scans will net better results than you can get with the projector method.

Depending on the digicam you have there are inexpensive slide copying stages that use close up lenses but the results can vary from pretty good to piss poor.

You are probably familiar with a computer scanner correct?
(Now it seems they do 4 things in 1 scan;fax;copy and print)
Anyway, the scan function can be used with printed documents and photos.
For just a few more dollars you can get an attachment that has an internal light source designed to hold a slide (or negative) and the light will shine the image into the scanner. No doubt, other Message board members can go into this in greater detail but I do own a scanner with this feature.

You need a slide scanner. I have something similiar to this. Mine is an older version but works quite well with slides and negatives. I was able to even scan in some old 110 negatives with decent results.

Sure, slide/film scanners are quite popular and becoming affordable for consumers. A decent Minolta or Nikon probably will run you $400-500. Search Amazon for slide scanners to get the details. Realize that this is a pretty slow, meticulous process as you’ve got to clean up each image in Photoshop Elements or something like that after you scan it.

An alternative is to have Kodak or another lab scan a batch of them onto a CD. Depending on your quantity of slides, this may be the smartest approach.

And, what do you plan on doing with them? Making prints? A family CD-ROM?

I have what is called a “digital darkroom.” I shoot film, develop (no prints) scan my images in, tweak and play with them, and then print them out. I usually scan in my fav’s since I do not own a “pro or pro-sumer” scanner. I will be brief for the sake of everyone, but, if you have A LOT of slides, and, you yourself or someone else in your family will make use of the scanner, you will want to look into a Canon or Nikon that has a bulk-slide loader. You drop in 50 slides, and the machine does the rest. And those scanners can match to the film profile, do most of your tweaking, dust removal and scratch removal by themselves. Cost more, but, it takes awhile to scan a slide in, tweak, remove dust with photoshop, etc.

I will be buying a pro-sumer model since I have over a 1000 slides that I would like to have scanned in. Most are panoramics, hence the mass of slides, otherwise itd be like 200 of them.

I strngly suggest you visit and go to th4e foums there. Very well worth it.

As I said in:

my father has roughly 2000 slides that he has just recently transferred to his PC. He used an HP 3500C series scanner that worked extremely well.

BTW. this is NOT a paid advertisement for HP - it just happened to be the cheapest one at the time that worked extremely well.

Some scanners actually have slide scanning templates where you can put the slide.

You can pick up a dedicated slide scanner these days for under $150 if he needs to do a lot of them.

The quality of these scans is much poorer than with a dedicated slide scanner. If these are for archive quality scans, it wouldn’t be worth it to use a flatbed scanner with an add on slide scanner.

Pick up a Polaroid SprintScan 35 Plus. You can find one on EBay floating at anywhere frmo $40-$70. I got mine for $60. If you want to shell out a little more money, you can get the Polaroid SpringScan 4000, or any of the great Nikon Scanners, the LS-2000/LS-30/LS-4000, but you’ll be spending more.

I doubt you will need quality higher than what the Polaroid SprintScan 35 Plus will deliver. It’s the best value of all the scanners out there. A full-frame scan will produce a file over 20 Megs in size (which can then be compressed into a JPEG.)
It’s got great resolution, decent color balancing, and is pretty sharp. I normally work with Nikon scanners, but my Polaroid scanner at home continues to impress me.

Do not use any sort of template that allows you to convert your flatbed scanner into a slide scanner. They’re awful…especially for archiving.

So either find a professional service to do it for you, or get a dedicated negative (/slide) scanner.

Just a caveat – somewhat annoyingly, the SprintScan line seems to use SCSI interface instead of Firewire or USB 2.0. It’s been a while since even Macs came standard with a SCSI interface. So it’ll require the addition of a dedicated interface card on most current machines. Not impossible, but a bit of a hassle.

Are there any good scanners that use Firewire?

Thank you all for your advice, I did not know there were special scanners for slides. I’ll have to look into how many slides I’ll have to scan in. I guess I’ll have to do a little bit of shopping around to find what will work best.

Thanks again everyone.

The Nikon LS-4000, LS-5000, & LS-8000 all use Firewire, but are a bit pricier. The now discontinued LS-4000 (at 4000 dpi, which gives you an image of something in the vicinity of 50-60 MB) goes for around $600-$700 on Ebay. If you got the money, I highly recommend it.

The Nikon LS-40, at 2900 dpi, uses the USB interface. That one you can find for around $300.

They also sell SCSI to USB cables for about $10-$20. I’ve never tried them, but in theory they should work.

I bought a SCSI card for a penny off EBay, installed in about one minute, and the scanner works fine. It’s really not that difficult. Otherwise, other than the SprintScans and the Nikon CoolScans, the Minolta DiMage line of scanners is also worth looking at. Nikon is the best overall, but I am very impressed with Polaroid as well. They actually seem a bit faster to me. A full-resolution scan takes less than a minute.

The Nikons have better imaging software. The only problem with the SprintScan 35 Plus vs. the comparable Nikon LS-2000 or LS-20 is that Nikon’s scanners come with Digital ICE technology. This marketing term means that they have some sophisticating pixel-interpolation software built into the scanner that somehow detects dust & scratches on your film and clears it off for you in the final scan. It slows down the scantime quite a bit, but the results are simply amazing when you’re dealing with a dirty negative. It manages to clean up the noise without affecting the overall sharpness of your image.

Another scanner which I love is the Nikon LS-8000, which sells for around a grand.
It’s another 4000 dpi scanner, but can also scan medium format (120/220) film, as well as panoramic 35mm, 16mm, and microscope slide glass. Brilliant scanner.

On a similar note, does anyone have any advice on scanning 35mm negatives?

From what I understand from what I’ve read before, the scanning of negatives can be problematic and not always color-accurate. Is this still the case?

I’d really rather scan the negatives instead of the prints if doing so will produce better results.

Well, I’ve been using neg scanners since about 1995. I’ve never noticed a problem with color accuracy. Thing is, when printing negs, color balancing is very much left to the printer’s discretion (or worse, a computer.) If you take a batch of negs from Walgreens to Ritz to a professional custom printer, you’ll see wildly different results.

Each film has a slightly different color balance to it. Polaroid includes some pre-programmed settings that try to match up colors and contrast with the film being used, but a little tweaking by the user is almost always necessary if you want the best possible color balance – as in normal printing.

One advantage of scanning and working with photographs digitally is that you have a much finer degree of control over contrast than you would with color prints. Black and white papers come in varying contrasts, but color paper doesn’t really have as much flexibility as black and white. If your neg is dull, there’s not too much you can do while printing to make it pop, whereas in Photoshop, it’s just a matter of sliding the black&white pointers in Levels, adjusting the curves, or using the Brightness/Contrast sliders.

What scanners do have a problem with is severely overexposed areas of a negative. In black and white printing, you can burn in very bright areas out of, say, the sky and get quite a bit of extra detail out of it. With a scanner it’s much much trickier when you work with a huge contrast range. If the bright area in your sky scans completely white, there’s no information in it. No amount of burning in Photoshop is going to eke out any detail. If there’s a little bit of info, though, you’re okay.

Basically, scanners are excellent for color negs, and a little bit weaker on black and white photos and slides. Slides tend to be denser, and sometimes the less expensive scanners have a little difficulty getting all the information off the slide. Better scanners can make multiscans over these dark areas to pull off extra shadow detail.

Though now most photography has gone digital as far as newspapers and (to a somewhat lesser extent) magazines are concerned, pretty much all film-based work has gone through a neg scanner before being outputted on the page. You don’t see any problems with these pictures, do you?

If you’re a stickler about color, there’s plenty of web pages out there with color and greyscale test card comparisons of various scanners. All the scanners I’ve mentioned fares pretty favorably. For the average consumer, there will be no problem with color balancing.

I’m engaged in that very project. My Dad has slides dating back to 1958 and I’ve started scanning them all and burning them to CD to hedge against them fading to oblivion.

Mine is a Umax Astra scanner, a USB model [::can’t find the model number, I’m at work and the scanner is of course at home::], it scans at very high resolution with good initial color-correction parameters and dumps the scan directly into Photoshop where I do additional color corrections and brightness/contrast tweaks and save to file.

They are easy to use and you just get a routine going.

As long as you have images that capture the values pretty well, you (or a paid professional) can come along later (even years later) and open the files and do fine editing and additional correcting, so you’re probably well off not shooting for perfection so much as hue and exposure and dynamic range being good enough that you (or the pro) will have what they need to work with when the time comes.

Save as TIFF or other non-lossy-compressed file format. The files take up more room that way but it makes for far better editable files for posterity.