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Looking for reputable company in the USA where I can have slides/film converted into digital


Grace
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I am new to the forum - so hello!

I am looking for a company in the U.S. where I can have pre-digital era slides/film converted into digital resulting in a high enough quality photo that can be accepted by Alamy.  

Thanks so much for any help.

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Hi Grace. I can't recommend a company in the USA but just wondering if you would be happy to attempt the slide copying yourself? If you have a lot of slides, it might be more economical to do it yourself depending on what equipment, time and skill level with Photoshop or similar that you have. There have been a number of threads on the forum about this. The overwhelming consensus is that copying using a digital camera with a macro lens is the method of choice nowadays for digitising slides.

 

Questions about acceptable quality for Alamy QC are another issue. If the originals are high quality then it is not too difficult to pass QC with good copying and post-processing technique. If not, then the Archival route is often suggested. 

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I would add that the returns here aren't very likely to justify paying commercial rates for copying. That said, my archival images are my best performers, but that just isn't saying much nowadays.

As MDM implies, if your images are of real historical interest, rather than just old, they may be acceptable as archival- they don't go through QC, but you have to apply.

The "historical interest" bar is quite low- a building now demolished, old cars and street scenes, well-known people now dead, that sort of thing. But not just old scenes that haven't changed.

You do need some equipment. I used an Illumitran copier and enlarger lenses, because that's what I had, but as suggested a macro lens would be preferable. I now have one, and will definitely be using it if any more archive material comes my way. Problem is, you can't just go out and take some more.

Edited by spacecadet
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Grace, my suggestion would be to put your money into equipment so that you can do it yourself. 

 

If you get Alamy's permission you can submit via the Archive route and not have to go through QC. The minimum image size for Archive is just 5 M instead of the normal 17. 

Edited by geogphotos
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Second the do-it-yourself route as most images licensed/sold through Alamy are well-known people (including sports professionals I didn't know about until I was poking around All of Alamy).  The other common enough sale is model-released concept shots.  Alamy has in the past accepted photos I scanned on an Epsom dual purpose flatbed scanner.   The scans made by the photofinisher when I had color medium format developed were not of sufficient size for Alamy.  Good scans seem to be around $8 each from places like Dwaynes.  This site has a lot of information (dated 2021) on who does what:  https://thephotographyprofessor.com/where-to-get-film-developed-and-what-does-it-cost-14-labs-compared/ .   The only one I've ever used was Dwaynes for Kodachrome when they were processing the last of it.   If you go the commercial route, you need to make sure they're scanning for the right size and quality jpeg.  

 

I used VueScan for scanning rather than what came with my Epson.  Good software with more options than the Epson software. 

 

 

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On 17/01/2022 at 16:17, Grace said:

I am new to the forum - so hello!

I am looking for a company in the U.S. where I can have pre-digital era slides/film converted into digital resulting in a high enough quality photo that can be accepted by Alamy.  

Thanks so much for any help.

What digital camera and lenses have you got? Depending on your existing kit there maybe some very good solutions to allow you to copy the slides easily and quickly yourself, for example using the Nikon ES1 adaptor. Your portfolio suggests you may already have a reasonable macro lens, in which case you're halfway there.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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When I was working in DC I had brought my own 35mm Nikon scanner, but the photographer I worked with always had his scans and some of his printing done at Duggal in NYC. They are still there: Duggal.com. (One more in the Photo District.)

I still have my Nikon Coolscan, but I use my camera on a repro stand and a cheap Viltrox video light underneath. After much testing of enlarging and process lenses I decided to go with a macro lens. Mainly because of convenience and also because it was the end of the year 😁.

The higher end enlarging lenses mostly performed good enough or excellent. Provided the glass had no defects and they had not been tampered with though.

My negative stage comes from an old enlarger.

 

wim

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Hi Grace:

I would just echo what has been said about the cost effectiveness of outsourcing scanning your film. Because of the low percentage of sales vs number of submitted images, you would probably never recoup your costs. I don't shoot much new material now so most of my images are on film...thousands of 35mm, 120mm and 4x5 transparencies and negatives from 40+ years. I have used several scanners in the past and now use a Plustek 8200. They are fairly inexpensive as far as film scanners go...$350-$400. The Plusteks come with a trial version of software which is useful and worth purchasing. Using it, you can correct a lot of imperfections (artifacts) in the film like scratches and dust/dirt and even dreaded mold spots that can't be easily cleaned. If the image isn't tack sharp...well, best to just let those go and chalk it up to lessons learned like use sticks when you can and buy the best glass you can afford and "available light" means any light available to you.

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2 hours ago, spacecadet said:

Since the previous threads these gadgets seem to have emerged

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/265488169300

 

 

with a built-in LED panel. I think you would still have to use spacers to get the magnification right.

 

Possibly seems to be "free standing"? If so, it won't be so easy to keep aligned. There's a video of it on this Amazon page

https://www.amazon.co.uk/JJC-Digitizing-Adapter-Negative-Brightness/dp/B09NNF1LQY

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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40 minutes ago, wiskerke said:

When I was working in DC I had brought my own 35mm Nikon scanner, but the photographer I worked with always had his scans and some of his printing done at Duggal in NYC. They are still there: Duggal.com. (One more in the Photo District.)

I still have my Nikon Coolscan, but I use my camera on a repro stand and a cheap Viltrox video light underneath. After much testing of enlarging and process lenses I decided to go with a macro lens. Mainly because of convenience and also because it was the end of the year 😁.

The higher end enlarging lenses mostly performed good enough or excellent. Provided the glass had no defects and they had not been tampered with though.

My negative stage comes from an old enlarger.

 

wim

 

I'm finding the iPad (for medium format) and iPhone (for 35mm slides) displays provide a pretty good light source with good spectral properties (at least when copying Velvia), but it's essential to space slide from display or use a diffuser to avoid moire effects. There are IOS Apps to tune the display on. (I use Flashlight app)

Lightbox1.jpg

 

But, if I was starting again - I'd go for the Nikon ES-1 to support the slide.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nikon-ES-1-Slide-Copying-Adapter/dp/B00009R8VM

 

Mark

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14 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

Possibly seems to be "free standing"? If so, it won't be so easy to keep aligned. There's a video of it on this Amazon page

https://www.amazon.co.uk/JJC-Digitizing-Adapter-Negative-Brightness/dp/B09NNF1LQY/ref=sr_1_3?crid=705PR3CAJB3N&keywords=jjc+slide&qid=1642529826&sprefix=jjc+slide%2Caps%2C61&sr=8-3

 

Mark

Ah, I agree. Mine was obviously being held, not attached. The photo was deceptive.

Naturally I would have investigated more closely before buying😉

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1 hour ago, M.Chapman said:

 

But, if I was starting again - I'd go for the Nikon ES-1 to support the slide.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nikon-ES-1-Slide-Copying-Adapter/dp/B00009R8VM

 

Mark

 

It is absolutely critical to have the film oriented perfectly which is why the Nikon devices (ES-1 and ES-2) are outstanding for 35mm and they are easy to load as well so relatively fast. For non-Nikon shooters it can take a bit of workng out what is required but they can be used on other makes of camera using spacers. We learnt a lot in that enormous thread. 

Edited by MDM
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4 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

What digital camera and lenses have you got? Depending on your existing kit there maybe some very good solutions to allow you to copy the slides easily and quickly yourself, for example using the Nikon ES1 adaptor. Your portfolio suggests you may already have a reasonable macro lens, in which case you're halfway there.

 

Mark

Hi Mark.  Thank you so much for the reply.  I just did a bit of research on the ES1 and it seems people with better equipment than I have are having trouble with getting good detail.  I'll look into it a bit more. Grace

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2 minutes ago, Grace said:

it seems people with better equipment than I have are having trouble with getting good detail. 

 

Any chance of posting a link? With the right lens and camera and a little attention to technique, the ES1 should produce excellent results.

 

Mark

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6 minutes ago, Grace said:

I just did a bit of research on the ES1 and it seems people with better equipment than I have are having trouble with getting good detail

That will not be down to the ES1, it will be down to the lens that they are using, or possibly how they have fixed the lens to the ES1. Bear in mind also that the light source used is important with colour, reflected flash off white card is possibly easiest, or a good quality (high CRI) LED panel, or indeed the Iphone/Ipad route that Mark has proven to be excellent. The fact that the ES1 is actually fixed to the lens by extension tubes certainly means that (crucially) alignment is assured as MDM says, but also there is no chance of 'camera shake' or independent movement between the slide/negative and the sensor, which can otherwise be a problem at high magnifications. I don't actually use the ES1 myself though I have one, but it is certainly the easiest and cheapest way to get excellent results with the right lens, and that doesn't have to be Nikon as that thread demonstrates, particularly if you are using mirrorless.

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2 hours ago, Grace said:

Hi Mark.  Thank you so much for the reply.  I just did a bit of research on the ES1 and it seems people with better equipment than I have are having trouble with getting good detail.  I'll look into it a bit more. Grace

 

It is not just about equipment although having the right equipment for the job helps. When I last did any copying, I was using a Nikon D810, Tamron 90 macro lens or 55mm Micro Nikkor with extension ring, an ES-1, a decent LED high CRI light source and a tripod. However, it is also about post processing skill as I mentioned in my first post - white balancing, judicious grain reduction + sharpening and downsizing. By careful experimentation I was able to produce images that had no problem passing Alamy QC. The quality is significantly superior to what I could produce with my Nikon LS4000 slide scanner.

 

It is not necessarily cheap as it depends on one's existing kit. I had everything but the ES-1 when I started. Another option is the "Novoflex Castel-cop-digi which mounts on two rails under the camera on a Castel -Q sliding rail" suggested by Phil Crean in the big thread or something similar. This would also allow one to copy larger format film as the Nikon copiers only do 35mm.

 

A huge advantage of using a digital camera over a scanner is the ability to shoot raw. You probably won't get raw images from a scanning bureau or you would probably pay a lot if you did. 

 

Edited by MDM
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On 17/01/2022 at 11:17, Grace said:

I am new to the forum - so hello!

I am looking for a company in the U.S. where I can have pre-digital era slides/film converted into digital resulting in a high enough quality photo that can be accepted by Alamy.  

Thanks so much for any help.

Grace,

 

I would advise you not to send out images for scans, it is expensive and the quality is So So.  Also if you have really valuable images it is best not to 

let the originals out of your hands.

 

It was difficult years ago, but it has become more difficult these days.  I have spent a decade scanning and uploading 35mm chromes to Alamy and they are licensed often.  For the last more than ten years I have used a CanoScan FS 4000, I have two of them.  For the last five years I also use VueSan 64 to run the 4000's.  It is a long and painful process to get an image ready for upload to Alamy.  From the CanoScan 4000 I get a 5,600 by scan in 16bit aRGB color, which I do all of my correcting and spotting on before I reduce in to a 50MB aRGB JPEG.  If I had it all to do over again, I would not and I still have thousands of chromes sitting in the basement waiting to be scanned and spotted....

 

Good Luck and Best,

 

Chuck

Edited by Chuck Nacke
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9 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

or indeed the Iphone/Ipad route that Mark has proven to be excellent. 

Probably worth adding a caveat to that - I found excellent results when digitising a Velvia IT8 reference slide using a Lumix G7 camera using an iPhone SE (1st gen) or iPad (8th gen) as light sources. Better than the results from any other light source I tried (High CRI LED, CFL lightbox, tungsten projector lamp, sunlight) . But.... that could be due to a particularly favourable alignment between the spectra of the Velvia film dyes, the iPhone/iPad light source and my camera's RGB sensor channels. I haven't investigated the use of iPhone/iPad as a light source with other films and cameras in anything like the same detail as I was concentrating on the slides I needed to copy (mainly Velvia) with the equipment I have available. Nevertheless, I think an iPhone or iPad is well worth trying as a light source (NB. must also use diffuser or thick spacer to avoid moire). I also found further improvements by producing custom dcp profiles for LR/PS using Lumariver software using the IT8 reference slide.

 

Mark

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50 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

Nevertheless, I think an iPhone or iPad is well worth trying as a light source (NB. must also use diffuser or thick spacer to avoid moire).

I tried it as well and it seemed good to me though I also use very humble 12V tungsten bulbs (as opposed to the built-in flash) in my Illumitran on occasion. If there is a problem with the Ipad/Iphone route it is that it is not that bright. It may be useful to the OP to know that there are two types of LED panels in general, one used to view slides or for tracing (I'd count the Ipad/Iphone in this category) and panels used as a photographic light source which allow a much higher shutter speed. The Skier Sunray box uses the latter and I think is a very good unit, though a little pricy, but you can see where the money goes, those neg/slide holding plates are very well made. That cheap unit on Amazon is bright as well but I very much doubt that there is enough diffusion to remove the effect of those 42 LED hotspots. 

 

I thought that these strips of high(ish) CRI LEDs looked interesting:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/MARSWELL-5600K-5700K-Non-Waterproof-EF120-140lm-Photography/dp/B07G79SG1G

 

There are some DIY 'How to' videos here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhbMnQt14_o&t=499s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlMtakaa7u8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5uycGosYq4

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14 hours ago, Michael Ventura said:

If you really don't want to do it yourself, I have heard of ScanCafe  They have been around for a while and pricing seems reasonable.  You'll have to do the research on them.

Unfortunately they quote 600dpi scanning. That's 900x600 for 35mm😮

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21 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

Unfortunately they quote 600dpi scanning. That's 900x600 for 35mm😮

That's for prints, which is reasonable, for slides it's 10MP. No idea what sort of quality obviously but that would at least exceed the minimum threshold easily. Usually these scanning bureaus supply jpegs though, which is a big weakness.

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6 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

That's for prints, which is reasonable, for slides it's 10MP. No idea what sort of quality obviously but that would at least exceed the minimum threshold easily. Usually these scanning bureaus supply jpegs though, which is a big weakness.

Eh? I make 900x600 just over half an MP.

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Ah, right, about 4000px long side then. That is very reasonable. But you suspect that they're going to crowd-please with the processing (nice and contrasty as with the example) and not leave much headroom for prep for Alamy. That would probably still be a bit low for QC.

Even at that price, my 6000 would have cost about £2000 to scan Although if paying, I'd have been a lot fussier.

Still plenty of leeway for a DIY budget.

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