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Dusting off old 35mm slides and scanning


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I have an assortment of old 35mm slides dating back to the 1970s that I would like to clean up and scan. Any tips re cleaning up 35mm slides and scanning in quickly and cheaply (meeting Alamy control specifications). I'm guessing a flatbed scanner with a tranny hood but there might be better options these days?

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This thread should keep you occupied for a bit:

 

https://discussion.alamy.com/topic/12518-canon-slide-copying-set-up/?tab=comments#comment-233376

 

Short answer is forget the flatbed, do it with your camera, maybe look at the Nikon ES-1 slide copying attachment (even if you don't use Nikon).

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As Harry says, forget the flatbed scanner for 35mm slides. And as in other threads, the overwhelming consensus for digitising slides is to use a camera and a copying setup. If you want the images to be good enough to pass straight Alamy QC then they do need careful copying and processing but you may also be eligible to upload using the Archival option which needs a lot less care. 

 

How you do it depends on your existing kit and how much you are willing to spend. There are various options so if you want specific advice then post what gear you have (camera, macro lens, tripod, LED lights, flash etc) and you can get some tailored advice. The thread Harry linked to is vast and it might be difficult to see the wood for the trees in there.

 

I don't touch or clean my slides with anything except for a blower but I have kept them pretty clean so a bit of spotting in Photoshop is sufficient. 

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3 hours ago, Jansos said:

I have an assortment of old 35mm slides dating back to the 1970s that I would like to clean up and scan. Any tips re cleaning up 35mm slides and scanning in quickly and cheaply (meeting Alamy control specifications). I'm guessing a flatbed scanner with a tranny hood but there might be better options these days?

Jan,

 

I've tried a number of ways, except for shelling out a fortune for an old Imacon scanner, to scan 35mm chromes and negs and using what I have at hand,

an old CanoScan FS4000 scanner with ViewScan, I have not found a way to scan that I am 100% happy with.  For old 2 1/4 chromes I've had success 

photographing them with a D800 and D850.  I have a very good flatbed scanner and I was not happy with using it for 35mm.  For Kodak E-6 chromes

ViewScan works great, but for old K-14 or Kodachrome it sucks.  I do not use any auto retouching software.  I only scan unmounted chromes.  My target

output file is just over 50MB.  I do use PEC-12 film cleaner with PEC-Pads, both Fuji and Kodak recommended using it.

 

With ViewScan I make five passes on the scan and use the default exposure settings, I do use different white balance settings depending on the original.

My process is not quick, about ten minutes per scan.  I also then take the 16bit aRGB TIFF into LightRoom before I start my dust spotting.  At this point

I can only finish two chromes a day.  I will add that over 50% of my licenses on Alamy are from 35mm scans and my oldest original chrome was shot

on Kodachrome with a Leica M2 in 1980.

 

Good Luck,

 

Chuck

 

 

 

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+1 for using a modern digital camera and decent macro lens. Using a scanner is very slow and the results are often worse. Ideally shoot in RAW using a camera with decent dynamic range.

 

Mark

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I asked Alamy for archival access and used a modestly priced scanner for 1970's negs and a few slides. A few have sold as they can have rarity value compared with today's happenings.

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9 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

Jan,

 

I've tried a number of ways, except for shelling out a fortune for an old Imacon scanner, to scan 35mm chromes and negs and using what I have at hand,

an old CanoScan FS4000 scanner with ViewScan, I have not found a way to scan that I am 100% happy with.  For old 2 1/4 chromes I've had success 

photographing them with a D800 and D850.  I have a very good flatbed scanner and I was not happy with using it for 35mm.  For Kodak E-6 chromes

ViewScan works great, but for old K-14 or Kodachrome it sucks.  I do not use any auto retouching software.  I only scan unmounted chromes.  My target

output file is just over 50MB.  I do use PEC-12 film cleaner with PEC-Pads, both Fuji and Kodak recommended using it.

 

With ViewScan I make five passes on the scan and use the default exposure settings, I do use different white balance settings depending on the original.

My process is not quick, about ten minutes per scan.  I also then take the 16bit aRGB TIFF into LightRoom before I start my dust spotting.  At this point

I can only finish two chromes a day.  I will add that over 50% of my licenses on Alamy are from 35mm scans and my oldest original chrome was shot

on Kodachrome with a Leica M2 in 1980.

 

Good Luck,

 

Chuck

 

 

 

Many thanks, Chuck. That's very helpful. Sounds like quite a laborious process. I was hoping that technology had moved things along a bit and that it was now super quick. I will have to really carefully pick those slides that have something definitely worth scanning. Thanks 🙂

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12 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

This thread should keep you occupied for a bit:

 

https://discussion.alamy.com/topic/12518-canon-slide-copying-set-up/?tab=comments#comment-233376

 

Short answer is forget the flatbed, do it with your camera, maybe look at the Nikon ES-1 slide copying attachment (even if you don't use Nikon).

OK, thanks. Looks interesting.

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10 hours ago, MDM said:

As Harry says, forget the flatbed scanner for 35mm slides. And as in other threads, the overwhelming consensus for digitising slides is to use a camera and a copying setup. If you want the images to be good enough to pass straight Alamy QC then they do need careful copying and processing but you may also be eligible to upload using the Archival option which needs a lot less care. 

 

How you do it depends on your existing kit and how much you are willing to spend. There are various options so if you want specific advice then post what gear you have (camera, macro lens, tripod, LED lights, flash etc) and you can get some tailored advice. The thread Harry linked to is vast and it might be difficult to see the wood for the trees in there.

 

I don't touch or clean my slides with anything except for a blower but I have kept them pretty clean so a bit of spotting in Photoshop is sufficient. 

Cheers, MDM! 🍻

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3 hours ago, Jansos said:

Many thanks, Chuck. That's very helpful. Sounds like quite a laborious process. I was hoping that technology had moved things along a bit and that it was now super quick. I will have to really carefully pick those slides that have something definitely worth scanning. Thanks 🙂

Jan,

 

It is, but when it all works it can be very good.  I am very careful selecting what I scan.  I do disagree with those who advocate photographing a 35mm chrome with 

a DSLR.  I prefer a CCD film scanner, my choice.

 

Chuck

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Hi Jansos,

 

As a result of that huge thread mentioned I now use my Canon 5D Mk 3 + 100mm Canon macro lens with a Nikon ES-1 and ES-2. As recommended by the helpful people on the forum ( particularly Mark on this aspect) I bought some simple extension rings and an adapter ring to make it all fit together.

 

I also have a Minolta Dimage Multi Pro scanner - which was what I used when I started off copying slides 20 years ago.

 

For me the DSLR route is far superior. The only downside I can think off is the lack of Digital ICE - this is why i started the thread about the optimal size of Archive images in terms of reducing the dimensions of images to reduce dust busting. 

 

 

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10 hours ago, Jansos said:

Many thanks, Chuck. That's very helpful. Sounds like quite a laborious process.

It is slow and laborious using a scanner (however some still prefer that method).

 

But, using the DSLR method makes slide copying quick and efficient and, unless the 35mm slides were originally taken with exceptionally fine grain film and top notch prime lenses,  the DSLR method can quickly capture all of the detail in the original. Image files produced by a scanner maybe larger, but won't necessarily contain any extra detail. A disadvantage with using a scanner is the "slit scanning" approach emphasises dust and scratches more, so more retouching (or digital ICE) is required making the process even slower. Another disadvantage is that usually the RAW format is not available. Using a DSLR in RAW allows easier recovery of highlight and shadow detail from contrasty slides as well as colour balance tweaks if needed.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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I've tried many of the methods mentioned.  My least favorite was using my DSLR and the Nikon tube for copying.  I had an old Nikon Coolscan that worked great for non-Kodachromes but it died a slow death.  Now, like Chuck, I use an Epson flatbed scanner that is amazing for medium format film and so-so for 35mm film.  It is slower than using the DSLR but better quality scans.  I don't do large batches so slow is okay for me, especially for better results.

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On 15/03/2022 at 10:21, Harry Harrison said:

34 pages:D

I would still suggest the Illumitran if you can get one reasonably priced (and complete- forget the one on ebay at the moment, no column or bellows) and already have a macro or enlarging lens. Making a 2x2 slide holder from card is not difficult.

Edited by spacecadet
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The scanner versus camera copying argument has been done to death. From my experience with a Nikon LS4000 scanner (decent machine in its day), the bottom line here is that if you do it properly with a good lens (e.g. 55mm Micro Nikkor) and good camera (e.g. Nikon D8XX), the camera copying method is far superior to using an old 35mm scanner (even a very decent one). The ES-1 or ES-2 are extremely convenient for holding the film but not essential. A good light source is also a prerequisite. There is no argument if you do it properly. 

 

 

Edited by MDM
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16 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

It is, but when it all works it can be very good.  I am very careful selecting what I scan.  I do disagree with those who advocate photographing a 35mm chrome with 

a DSLR.  I prefer a CCD film scanner, my choice.

Although I much prefer the DSLR method, you've got a much more valuable and unique archive of film images so you might still get payback from the more laborious time spent scanning and post-processing them. I couldn't justify the taking the same amount of time on my images, especially as I'm delighted with the speed and quality a good DSLR copying technique can achieve (better than either scanner I've owned (Epson Perfection 4900 & Canon FS2710)).

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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The Bowens Illumitran is indeed a very well made and compact unit if you can find a good one,  I doubt they appear much outside the UK. They often come without suitable BPM adapter rings for the lens or camera body. These are readily available on ebay but can be a little expensive,  modern cheap adapters can often take you from the 'wrong' adapter to your particular camera or lens.  You can also get 'macro' adapters which work just as well but are even cheaper as they are slim and wouldn't allow focusing on infinity in normal use.

 

The flash tube in an illumitran is about 4 stops too bright even on low power (it's designed for very slow duplicating film) so ND lighting gels (very cheap on ebay) are required cut to 3" square to go under the white perspex diffuser. I also use an extra 5mm perspex diffuser to improve the evenness of illumination and never raise the flash stage above half way. A slight amount of vignetting is not noticeable for transparencies but not ideal for negatives, especially colour negatives. You can also replace the 12V 'Festoon' viewing bulbs with LED equivalents and and not use the flash at all. In theory you should worry about 'CRI' but actually I seem to get good results nevertheless.

 

Once setup with a good 6-element enlarging lens (ideally 60 - 80mm for 35mm) it is very quick to speed through transparencies. In my opinion a mirrorless camera body with a tilting screen is ideal, you can angle the screen towards you, it compensates for the 1.2ND filters and also generally fits easily on the bellows (big DSLRs are too deep below the lens but can be made to work with a longer enlarging lens and extension tubes so they sit above the bellows. I use a Fuji X-T2, works great.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

I doubt they appear much outside the UK.

Jansos is in London, but they were quite popular in the US.

I bought a selection of 1/4x20 bolts and wingnuts to get the correct standoff for the camera body, but as you say a big body wouldn't work well.

As to adapters, if you go the macro lens route you eliminate the bellows altogether and the camera attaches directly to the column. I even use a kit zoom on the camera for scanning 6x6.

Edited by spacecadet
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3 hours ago, spacecadet said:

if you go the macro lens route you eliminate the bellows altogether and the camera attaches directly to the column

Never tried that myself but certainly the Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 is very good but in my experience not quite as good as my favourite, the 80mm Rodenstock Rodagon, talking about very small differences though. I've used the Micro-Nikkor on both the Fujis and Canon full frame. Still do but not for slide copying.

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10 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

It is slow and laborious using a scanner (however some still prefer that method).

 

But, using the DSLR method makes slide copying quick and efficient and, unless the 35mm slides were originally taken with exceptionally fine grain film and top notch prime lenses,  the DSLR method can quickly capture all of the detail in the original. Image files produced by a scanner maybe larger, but won't necessarily contain any extra detail. A disadvantage with using a scanner is the "slit scanning" approach emphasises dust and scratches more, so more retouching (or digital ICE) is required making the process even slower. Another disadvantage is that usually the RAW format is not available. Using a DSLR in RAW allows easier recovery of highlight and shadow detail from contrasty slides as well as colour balance tweaks if needed.

 

Mark

Very useful, many thanks! 👍🍻

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7 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

The Bowens Illumitran is indeed a very well made and compact unit if you can find a good one,  I doubt they appear much outside the UK. They often come without suitable BPM adapter rings for the lens or camera body. These are readily available on ebay but can be a little expensive,  modern cheap adapters can often take you from the 'wrong' adapter to your particular camera or lens.  You can also get 'macro' adapters which work just as well but are even cheaper as they are slim and wouldn't allow focusing on infinity in normal use.

 

The flash tube in an illumitran is about 4 stops too bright even on low power (it's designed for very slow duplicating film) so ND lighting gels (very cheap on ebay) are required cut to 3" square to go under the white perspex diffuser. I also use an extra 5mm perspex diffuser to improve the evenness of illumination and never raise the flash stage above half way. A slight amount of vignetting is not noticeable for transparencies but not ideal for negatives, especially colour negatives. You can also replace the 12V 'Festoon' viewing bulbs with LED equivalents and and not use the flash at all. In theory you should worry about 'CRI' but actually I seem to get good results nevertheless.

 

Once setup with a good 6-element enlarging lens (ideally 60 - 80mm for 35mm) it is very quick to speed through transparencies. In my opinion a mirrorless camera body with a tilting screen is ideal, you can angle the screen towards you, it compensates for the 1.2ND filters and also generally fits easily on the bellows (big DSLRs are too deep below the lens but can be made to work with a longer enlarging lens and extension tubes so they sit above the bellows. I use a Fuji X-T2, works great.

 

 

Harry, Many thanks for taking the time to describe all the features and benefits. Very much appreciated. 👍🍻

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8 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

Although I much prefer the DSLR method, you've got a much more valuable and unique archive of film images so you might still get payback from the more laborious time spent scanning and post-processing them. I couldn't justify the taking the same amount of time on my images, especially as I'm delighted with the speed and quality a good DSLR copying technique can achieve (better than either scanner I've owned (Epson Perfection 4900 & Canon FS2710)).

 

Mark

Cheers, Mark - most helpful. 🍻👍

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9 hours ago, MDM said:

The scanner versus camera copying argument has been done to death. From my experience with a Nikon LS4000 scanner (decent machine in its day), the bottom line here is that if you do it properly with a good lens (e.g. 55mm Micro Nikkor) and good camera (e.g. Nikon D8XX), the camera copying method is far superior to using an old 35mm scanner (even a very decent one). The ES-1 or ES-2 are extremely convenient for holding the film but not essential. A good light source is also a prerequisite. There is no argument if you do it properly. 

 

 

Thanks, MDM. Camera copying method seems to be the way to go then. Now I just need to find some spare time to do the work. Where does time go? Just emptying the trash on a weekly basis is becoming an uphill struggle. 

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4 hours ago, Jansos said:

Cheers, Mark - most helpful. 🍻👍

 Ah Mark the old FS 2710,  Have a really funny story about that scanner, was working for TIME magazine.

The FS 4000 is a way better machine, have two of them. Dual Scanners........

 

Chuck

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