Scanning 35 mm Slides

Megan has about 700 35 mm photographic slides from her family going back 50+ years. We’re going to scan them into the computer. Here are some thoughts on scanning…

Photo scanning appears to be a fully mature technology. I think this because some of the most legendary scanners were made around 2005-2010; units made by Nikon, Minolta, Hasselblad. They’re now mostly discontinued and those companies didn’t make new products to replace the old! 15 years of technology improvements has meant that 35 mm slides can be scanned by a cheaper device that still does a great job.

That’s not to say there isn’t “cheap crap” out there. We were wondering if a $160 Kodak Scanza or similar Wolverine wouldn’t do a good job and I came across several reviews that said, essentially “It’s good for quick, lo-fi scans but it is NOT for archival use!” Here’s a good review of the Scanza on the Analog Resurgance Youtube channel. High points: The film holders are crappy, the scanning adjustments are mediocre, the image quality is kinda crappy, it can scratch your film if you’re not careful, it doesn’t fix dust spots. But it’s easy to use and fast.

We looked to other options:

ScanCafe.com is a photo scanning service recommended by a friend. $0.40/image with a technician cleaning each image up by hand. We almost went with them (and you may want to) but we wanted to keep our photos at home.

Local image scanning services. I hear Costco does image scanning, and there’s other local providers like this one. We were again hesitant to send the photos out of the house and the service I looked at was more expensive, in the $1.00/image range.

So I looked into getting a mid-priced slide scanner for home. I found mixed reviewds for flatbed scanners like the Epson V700. Some great reviews, some “moderate”. The main sticking point is that some say flatbed scanners don’t get the full range of colors. Maybe that’s true, maybe not.

Here’s some resources I found to evaluate scanners

And some tips on restoring photos: DIGITAL PHOTO RESTORATION

I saw several recommendations for Vuescan scanning software, people saying “Ditch the software it comes with, Vuescan works better and faster!” Though several reviews said the Silverfast software it came with worked fine.

I just ordered a Plustek Opticfilm 8200i SE tonight. I’ll tell you how it goes…

One Comment

  1. Steve says:

    Lee,

    this is rather timely since i just read about your scanning project yesterday and then came across this on a bicycling newsgroup that I read…
    https://forums.thepaceline.net/showthread.php?t=258210
    There might be a few nuggets of wisdom in there for you.

    And happy early birthday!

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