Part of my business includes slide scanning services. Here's my opinion.
If you only have 200 slides, this is a very small amount. If you really
want to get a good quality scan, and you don't feel you'll be scanning a
ton of slides in the future - send the slide out to a service for
scanning. The time and money you will spend trying to fit out
hardware/software and testing will not be worth it. If you will be doing
more scanning in the future and/or you still want to get a scanner, then
I've tried and tested many options. I have not found any flatbed
scanners to be acceptable for scanning small format transparencies,
including 35mm slides. Flatbeds just can't match small gauge dedicated
CCD imaging. I have a Epson VM-750 pro flatbed and any transparency
scans in or near the 35mm size class does not look nearly as good as
from a dedicated small format transparency scanner. A company in town
that also offers slide scanning services uses a very high-end flatbed
scanner for slides and they still look crappy. You just can't get the
resolution and density range.
I agree with Randy - For the money, based on your needs as you described
below, if you're looking for better than a flatbed, the Nikon Coolscan
5000 with the bulk film loader offers the best quality. The 5000 was the
only one to take a bulk film loader. With all my testing, the only other
option that scans at better quality than the Nikon is Hasselblad but
you're looking at a price point of more than $10,000 over the cost of
the Nikon, for minimal gains only at very high resolution scans. The
unfortunate issue is that Nikon stopped making these units, they are not
available new, and can only be found used. I've had several contacts I
know buy the used Nikon 5000's on Ebay, as long as the seller guaranteed
the item, the buyer was protected. Both of the units that I know of that
were purchased through Ebay worked out fine. I believe you can still get
the bulk loader attachment through B&H Photo.
I know of one person who has purchased a Pacific Imaging Powerslide
5000. They say that the bulk loading mechanism jams (though so too does
the Nikon bulk loader - but I've worked out modifications to this and it
works fairly reliably now). They said that the quality of the scans from
the Powerslide were good and they were pleased with the end results,
though they were not a professional scanning service with a discerning
eye and a really good monitor, so I'm not sure how the quality compares
to the Nikon. My guess is that the Nikon is better.
The Nikon Coolscan 5000 and the Pacific Imaging Powerslide 5000 are the
only two scanners that I know of that have good-excellent ratings that
can handle bulk slide scanning.
There is no type of software that I know of that offers "good" results,
for automatic, accurate exposure and color balance during the scan.
Believe me, if there was, I'd be using it - as I get many projects
through the door that are several thousand slides. The bottom line, you
really have to "touch" each slide in Photoshop after the scan to
accurately represent exposure and color balance. The closest I can come
to an automated adjustment is using Viewscan pro software and setting up
for an automatic white balance setting, with a safe/conservative fixed
adjustment for the white and black points so that both the top and
bottom point of the histogram are not clipped during the scan. Then you
can batch process the scans in Photoshop using auto color correct
adjustment only, then using a 25-30% fade on the adjustment as part of
the batch scan. This will get you close. Even at that, I still prefer to
make all my adjustments by hand and not batch process anything.
The best scanning software you can get is Viewscan. It will work with
almost any scanner and offers many more options for your scanner than
the native GUI will. I can't say enough about this software and the
support they have after the sale.
Let me know if you have any additional questions.
Media Transfer Service, LLC
On 9/18/2012 7:49 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Hi All:
> This kinda relates to ARSC because I'm sure all of us have dabbled in
> multi-media at one point or another.
> I have a bunch of 35mm slides I'd like to digitize. They are all good
> condition and almost all are Kodachrome or whatever the film type was
> that holds color and doesn't fade. So they are vivid and not scratched
> or dirty, despite being 50-60 years old.
> Back the last time I thought about this, years ago, a Nikon scanner
> with an auto-feed mechanism cost a small fortune and took several
> minutes per slide (this was back in the early Pentium IV days). I have
> a faster computer now (Dell Precision Workstation T3400 with loads of
> memory and fast hard drives), and am wondering what the recommended
> hardware options are. I'm not wedded to Nikon, but I do want a solid
> scanner with an excellent auto-feed mechanism. I'd love to load in a
> few dozen slides and set-and-forget, with the scanner software writing
> some sort of non-lossy format (PSD, TIFF or something else). I'll then
> look at the results in my image-viewing software and decide which
> warrant further Photoshop work. Ideally, the scanner would be unlike
> my Epson large-format scanner in that it turns out a nicely
> contrasted/nicely-color-balanced image from the getgo and doesn't
> require Photoshop in most cases.
> I notice there are a variety of slide scanners on the market, varying
> widely in price. I don't have to go dirt-cheap, but I want value if I
> pay extra, not just a brand name. I need "good quality personal-use
> strength" not "industrial strength." Total project will be a few
> hundred slides, not thousands and not intending to use this thing
> every day for years.
> Recommendations appreciated. Thanks in advance!
> -- Tom Fine
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