Hi, Randy and Tom.
Tom and I have been discussing this off-list for a while as I have
almost completed my slide scanning project. My two sons, and I have just
finished scanning 52,350 photographs. One of my sons, my wife, and I
have also scanned about 11,500 pages of documents in the same time
(2008-2012 with much time off for good behaviour--it was one of my son's
summer jobs for 2008-2012 with 2010 taken up by an extended family trip).
Anyway, we have scanned 35 mm, 16 mm, 110, 126, 616, 4x5, and 5x7 film
Of the total, almost 43,400 were 35 mm transparencies. The vast majority
(all but a few thousand) were done on a Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED with
SF-210 feeder using the native software. The other few thousand were
scanned in the 12-slide holder that came with the Epson V700. The V700
was also used for all the non-35 mm formats. Somewhere around 6000
images were from 35 mm negatives, and all of those were scanned with the
Nikon. The document scanning was done on an older HP flatbed with
double-sided sheet feeder for starters, but we soon realized that was
not up to the task, so we bought a Xerox Documate 3115 and later a
Brother MFC-J6510DW 11x17 multifunction ink-jet
printer/scanner/copier/fax to handle the several hundred 11x17 documents
I wanted to scan.
I agree that VueScan is an excellent choice, and I do own a license to
it, but when it came time to evaluate it (2011 due to our switch from
Windows XP to Windows 7), the project was well along and much of what we
had left to scan was of less artistic importance than memory importance.
We were all accustomed to the Nikon software and were very pleased with
the image quality. In fact, in my limited testing I could not get
VueScan to make scans that were as pleasing from Velvia as the Nikon
software did--and I loved Velvia. We found a hack online for the Nikon
software that allowed it to run on Windows 7.
Digital ICE is very useful and it makes wonderfully clean images from E4
and E6 transparencies, but it fails horribly on Kodachrome
transparencies which is what I think comprises the vast majority of
Tom's collection from his description. It is also relatively unusable on
black-and-white silver-bearing emulsions (it should work fine on the
C41-processed black-and-white film that I have never used).
I found overall that the Digital ICE implementation in the Nikon
software/scanner was substantially superior to that of the Epson, at
least the results were. This could have been cockpit problems.
We made a decision early on that we were scanning for all reasonable
family usage and some potential publication usages. We scanned the
family negatives as 6 MP (about 2000 dpi) images and the vast majority
of the transparencies at 3000 dpi, 8 bit per colour (36 MB each). A few
selected transparencies were scanned at 4000 dpi 16 bit per colour. We
saved everything as a TIF file, uncompressed, and also made a
corresponding JPG file of the image (it is convenient that Lightroom
automatically stacks the pair. In that way, we have, ready to go, an
emailable version as well as a better version for whatever use.
Along with about 20,000 Nikon NEF files (most with accompanying JPGs)
and a few thousand camera-original JPGs, the whole image store takes up
about 2 TB. It is stored in three locations: (a) A RAID5 NAS unit in my
house. (b) A RAID5 NAS unit in my neighbour's house (copied to every
night with exceptions--JPGs are not over-written to protect the boys'
images from editing and then writing over the original). (c) Three 1 TB
2.5" USB HDDs in a steel case in third house across town. We have 100%
backups (with a 3-4 month latency for updates) of our main
image/document server pair and about a 30% backup of the audio,
work-in-progress server pair in the ammo case which might even provide
some protection against EMP and the geographic diversity is such that it
is highly unlikely that all three houses will be affected even by a
Goderich-style tornado (2011 and the impetus for the third backup set).
We did use Digital DEE in the Nikon software set on a very low value (8)
to compensate for the lack of 16 bit encoding. It slightly opened up the
shadows. Again, something that could be applied in a large-scale process
by people who might be aspiring artists, but aren't quite ready to make
the decisions (or have the time/interest, to be honest).
Yes, the Nikon is slow (two minutes a scan is a good estimate still),
but in many instances you can get through 50 slides without a jam, but
with older mounts, it is more dicey.
We all have collections of this stuff and dealing with it now is about
as good as it gets. Too bad the Nikon is discontinued, but used ones are
going for a good price. No, I'm not selling mine. I still have about
1400 of my 35 mm transparencies that I saved to the end because they are
all mixed up--they were images I submitted for publication over the
years and, of course, they never got back in the correct places. Now I
can physically file them mostly as a group (or drop them in with the
other originals from the same session) but sort the files properly.
Since these were already submitted for publication -- and a few
published -- these are more likely to get the 4000 dpi 16 bit per colour
scans, but it was very convenient to have all the folders (physical and
electronic) ready to deposit these.
I also inherited perhaps 10,000 from my father's collection which also
embodies my second mother's life prior to marrying my father. No one
cares about what happens to these images, so they will be culled, but
some will be scanned. My wife and I have already looked at his 1981 trip
to Alaska and it makes, in some area, a nice complement to our 1989,
1990, 1992, and 2007 images from Alaska. I suspect we'll probably only
scan in the neighbourhood of 3000 or so of these images, tossing the
rest. There was some dirty wash water and mould issues with these (as
there was with some of mine).
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.