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Scanning old stuff

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by BillN, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    Once a year I think about this - i.e. scanning all my old negatives etc.,- I then spend hours on research on the web but end up never doing anything about it.

    Can someone who has done this successfully just give me a few pointers in the right direction

    i.e. which scanner - not too expensive please - and why

    which software?

    is it different from negatives and slides - etc

    The basics really - so that I can "tick a few boxes"

    like many I have a box full of old negatives etc., which I would like to record on my computer, (so that I can put and embarrassing photo display together when the kids get married)
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Bullfrog

    Bullfrog Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I'd be interested in opinions here as well. I have a ton of old photos I'd like to scan and store and have never gotten my backside in gear to get around to it.
  3. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    Morning Paul

    a lot of what I have read says, buy a very good scanner, new or s/h, do all the work and then sell it or share it?
  4. JimNYUK

    JimNYUK Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 4, 2010
    North Yorkshire, UK
    Hi Bill
    I've been scanning my old neg's for 3 or 4 years now in a variety of different ways.

    I started out trying to produce the best possible scans and bought a Nikon Coolscan 4000 for scanning 35mm neg's. This turned out to be a really slow process and I calculated I would be dead before I could get finished. I dropped the idea for a couple of years being disenchanted with the whole thing.

    Well, a couple of years ago I got an Epson Perfection 4870 Photo. This is a flat bed scanner with facility built in to scan negatives. It came with adapters for different size negatives, 35mm, 6x6cm etc. It will hold 4 strips of 35mm neg's at a time and the Epson software will scan the 4 strips, say 24 individual pictures in one go so I just set them up and come back 30minutes later and they are all scanned.

    When I started out with the Nikon scanner I was after the best quality scans so that I wouldn't need the neg's any more. However, my thinking changed due to the time it took. Now I just want scans that will produce a decent 5x7 print on the basis that if I find I need anything larger I can always rescan the negative or have a scan made commercially. Hence the Epson scanner will do nicely.

    I found the most important aspect for me was indexing the scans back to the negatives. I keep all (most) of my negatives in A4 loose leaf binders so I indexed each binder and then each page in each binder. When naming the scans I used the Binder number + Page number and File number to identify them.

    I hope that is of some help to you. If you decide to go down a similar route to me then just check out if any of the currently available scanners have the ability to scan neg's in bulk as mine does. It's 2 or 3 years old now so will have been superceded by now I am sure. I seem to remember it costing about 200 GBP back then.


    PS I'm about half way through mine, maybe a bit more. It's something I go back to intermittently. For instance, I haven't done any now for about 6 months.
    • Like Like x 4
  5. silverbullet

    silverbullet Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 10, 2010
    My background for scanning old frames was the wish to make two DVDs for my two sons in order to solve the problems with the shoebox content of small prints.
    Looking into different fora made my way to get a Nikon Coolscan VED for 35mm negatives only. A very capable scanner but faraway from the Imacons and drumscanner of the pros.

    Getting the scanner and installing software on the Mac is one point but to get good scans is as hard as learning the technical aspects of photography.
    So the first color negatives with its orange mask etc. had been lousy. So I rembered my old b/w negatives and started again. Whow! But this is another story..:rolleyes: 

    After doing this for months I gave up to scan every 6-frame stripe in color and tried to 'see' the keepers in b/w.

    The pro-labs are using Nikons in the version Cool 5000 with slide feeder and filmroll feeder but these items are discontinued and very expensive (for normal users).
    A flatbed as Epsons is the way to go into bach scanning, but the max. density of consumer flatbeds isn't so good compare to film scanner. But you must see the final target: Should it be a standard size for the family album or for a Fine Art print for the wall?

    At the moment the Epson 500 is a cheap offer because Epson has its successor the 600 on dealers desk. In Düsseldorf the 500 costs about 200 Euro incl. VAT.
    When you have medium format frames the flatbeds are better because the magnification compare to 35mm is much less and sharpness and details are much better on the final print compare to 35mm/flatbed scans.

    Another point is the software. I know NikonScan4 and Vuescan. The latter looks a bit like garage made but is very sophisticated in batch scanning and RAW storage for HD-rescanning later on.
    Just grab an old cheap flatbed and try the free software from Mr. Hamrick, when it suits you buy the pro-version which is cheap compare to others.


    Scanning isn't easy but everybody has different targets. My biggest experience was that my old b/w negatives abandoned for more than 30 years look better in terms of grain, sharpness etc. than my frames from current films like Ilford HP4/5. The emulsions must have changed over the decades...... less silver - more ??:confused: 

    I'll buy the Epson 500 for my frames of a pinhole camera and my Mamiya 7 and for the already mentioned batch scans for the family snaps.
    It's good to be retired......:thumbup:

    PS: here is a link to a Vuescan user group in flickr:

    • Like Like x 2
  6. silverbullet

    silverbullet Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 10, 2010
    • Like Like x 2
  7. karlstorck

    karlstorck Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 20, 2010
    Linköping, Sweden
    Just a few pinters from my point of view.

    Don't try to scan everything. Scan the really good and important stuff whenever you nedd it. As menatined above by others, trying to scan everything you've got is too much work.

    I've got a Epson V700 flatbed. I use it for old photographs, transparents, B&W negs, old glass plates. Works just fine.

    I use Silverfast software. I haven't done any compariosns. It works fine.

    I scan everything as transparents; B&W negs and glass plates too. This is, I find it, the easiest way getting a good original with all highs and lows intact. I scan photos in 600 dpi normally. Glass plates in 2400. neges and transparents in 4000. Normally that is. It depends.

    Glassplates, B&W negs, 6x6 B&W neg

    • Like Like x 1
  8. William

    William New to Mu-43

    Nov 16, 2009
    My first post :thumbup:

    I also wanted to scan everything I had--slides going back to the mid seventies. I found a great deal on a Coolscan V and everything was fine for a while, but it did take a while so I stopped.

    Recently I purchased a Epson V300 for my daughter to scan her art to post on the net. I tried it for negatives and was pleasantly surprised. So, I bought myself a V500 so I can scan 6x6 negs as well as 35mm. So far with Epson's software I'm happy with the scans. Does very well with prints as well.

    Cost for both scanners were less than the Coolscan V.

    One thing I would suggest--don't toss out your negatives once scanned. I'd put them in sleeves and catalog them. Who knows how long the digital files will survive. What I do know is my Kodachromes from the seventies still look as nice now as they did years ago.

    • Like Like x 1
  9. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Hi Bill, welcome to the forum!

    You're right - never toss the negatives!


  10. William

    William New to Mu-43

    Nov 16, 2009
    Thank you Brian,
    I've been a member since November, and somehow forgot about this place.

    I've been browsing around--lots of good stuff to help to remember to come back.

  11. ph.

    ph. Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 14, 2010
    Old films have wildly different characteristics. It is not just the orange masks of negative films, the density of kodachromes and b&w negs differ from old agfachromes, ektachromes etc. The software should be able to resolve problems if the scanner is up to scratch.

    I have found a flatbed with lightbox OK for larger negatives, but use a dedicated 35mm scanner (old Minolta 5200).

    Vuescan is inexpensive and extremely versatile. Updated frequently and will work with almost any scanner, old or new.

    • Like Like x 2
  12. Jolliger

    Jolliger Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 7, 2010
    Ross on Wye. UK
    Using a slide projector, and camera to photograph the image, I obtained better results in less time than with my Epson and light box.


  13. re-note

    re-note Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 19, 2010
    Bremen -Germany
    inexpensive would be the Plustek scanners OpticFilm 7200 and the succeeding models for 35mm work. They come bundled with Silverfast SE or Silverfast Ai. The drawback is they are fully manual and take away a lot of ones time and for Kodachrome you need additional software at considerable cost. I have done quite a few exhibition prints with my 7200 scanning only E-6 film, B&W and the occasional NegColor.
    For medium format films I bought a Plustek ST 48 with Silverfast SE (you need a dedicated version for each scanner to run it on the same computer)
    Slides look alright with very little effort.
    With Silverfast I set the contrast and sharpen the images all the individual improvements will be done later on in photoshop.
    :daz:I always try to find a simple and economic solution.
    re-note Rolf www.re-note.de
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