Experiences converting slides to digital


Link Posted 06/06/2015 - 15:44
My father has about 400 slides from the time he shot film (his latest camera was a Pentax program-A). Kodak and Agfa.

We haven't looked at them for many years, but digitizing them has been on my mind for some time.
We were recently looking at them to see if we could find some photos of the Zaire river, and I noticed many of the slides seem worn out, some have scratches others seem to show fungus (spider webs as you see in lenses). So it becomes more urgent that something is done to preserve these slides.

I know there are services that scan and even clean slides, but I'm a but uneasy to send them by post, I think my father even more so. I've also found a service "nearby" which does 0,25 per slide.
I do have a regular scanner, but I think using it would be cumbersome. Maybe only to scan A4 size sets of slides for quick scan.
There are adapters from Ohnar and others for cameras. I don't know how and how well they work on DSLRs and wether you can get a sharp scan.
There are small dedicated scanners of varying prices to do the job.

I'm inclined to go with the later two options, to at least retain the record. In both cases I could buy and re-sell. So time consuming but low costs. Some slides are really interesting and my father would like to have proper photos, those could if need be, get a professional treatment.

What have been peoples experiences? Recommendations?
Last Edited by edumad on 06/06/2015 - 15:45


Link Posted 06/06/2015 - 16:12
A dedicated film scanner is the best way to go for quality, although some of the cheap scanners (which don't actually scan but have a 5MP sensor) could be good enough for your requirements. Others will come up with some specifics. The cheapest option of all would be my old Panagor Zoom Slide Duplicator", which you could have have for the cost of postage. It's fitted with a T-mount adapter for Minolta cameras but you can pick up a Pentax adapter cheaply on eBay. PM me if you're interested. It's boxed and in mint condition, which shows how much I used it over the last 30-odd years.


Link Posted 07/06/2015 - 13:38
I use a Nikon coolscan ed IV which gives excellent results. I'm not sure if they are still made but you can pick them up on eBay which is what I did. One (easily overcome) snag is that it doesn't work with later versions of Windows: win7. You can, however buy a copy of Vuescan which I believe will run any scanner on the planet and certainly with the Coolscan. It may be more than you want to pay, but after scanning all the slides you could sell it on. Make sure you get a slide carrier with it.


Link Posted 07/06/2015 - 16:19
The Nikon is an excellent choice, but good results can be had with the small scanners that are effectively just shooting a still image rather than actually scanning and cost under 100.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 07/06/2015 - 16:20


Link Posted 07/06/2015 - 17:16
Photographing them with a DSLR is much quicker. See tutorials.
Using a Globe type bulb gives a more diffused light and doesn't pick
up as many scratches.


Don't buy a zoom copier or one with a built in close up lens. Just use
a 50mm - 100mm on tubes.

Some stuff also on Youtube.

Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff



Link Posted 18/06/2015 - 12:53
I've tried two different methods.

First I bought a "Jessops Slide Duplicator" to go on the end of a suitable lens using a Series-7 mount. Biggest problem with that was that I didn't have a DSLR at the time, just a compact, but holding it near the end of the lens produced some reasonable results. When I bought my Kx and a suitable adapter, it didn't seem to work as well, so it went.

More recently, I bought a Maplin 5mp slide scanner. It's good enough for what I do with it, but I'm scanning old slides that aren't incredible quality to start with, and scanning them for the content rather than the image quality - I'm not too bothered that it's basically a 5mp webcam with a light in a box as long as we can see the photo of the car or whatever.

I have wondered about projecting the image (to get a decent size) and then taking a photo of the projected image - I would imagine that would be better than my cheapo slide scanner simply because it doesn't require such a high "dpi" resolution as the image we're digitising will be that much bigger. Rather like getting a decent scan of a B&W photo is easier from an 8"x10" print than from a contact sheet.
Real name: Mike Edwards. My homage to seventies Vauxhalls: www.firenza.net

Camera - Pentax Kx, 18-55 kit lens, 18-200 Sigma, 50-500 Sigma, 500mm Tamron mirror
Last Edited by droopsnoot on 18/06/2015 - 12:54


Link Posted 20/06/2015 - 10:11
I shot slide film almost exclusively for years and have many thousands of them. As a result, this is a subject I have some real interest in.

If you don't have many, there are as you know, companies who will convert them to digital images for you. One of my local friends - not really into photography - did this with a collection from his late father. The results were OK, but as a photographer yourself, OK is not what you will be aiming for.

I also have a Nikon Coolscan IV, which although it is an older piece of equipment, still produces good images. I have acquired a flat bed scanner in the last year (an Epson V600) and even if your needs are small at the moment, the Epson is very versatile and scans negatives as well as photos; it's also clear that technology has moved on and the images from this are far superior than the Coolscan. The Epson also scans 4 x 35mm slides at a time and there is another model which will scan 12 x 35mm slides at a time.

The other option is to use a duplicator attached to a suitable lens and use your own DSLR. I believe SRB offer one suitable for crop sensor cameras. I have seen a Nikon D800 and a 60mm lens with a slide holder used and the results were really good - and quick to obtain. I mention this as Pentax will be launching a FX camera at some point (hopefully soon) and I'm really keen to try this method myself with a full frame sensor camera.

Lastly, don't throw any slides out. I kept slides I thought were really poor taken 20-30+ years ago, and modern technology and software now may make them recoverable, or put to another use, such as abstracts or isolating usable parts of a slide that has age or storage related damage and decay.

Good luck!


Link Posted 20/06/2015 - 10:26
This is a setup used by a member on here (gregmoll) ......


Edit: Note the Pentax copier is FF and for APS-C you need a lens
of around 60-70mm....... 50mm needs the slide moving too far
in front of the bellows.

It's also easier to do this with tubes, The bellows is overkill.
It's fully closed in use.

Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff

Last Edited by Algernon on 20/06/2015 - 10:31


Link Posted 20/06/2015 - 10:35
My last comment on this was made whilst away, so I didn't have access to what my small scanner is. It's a Summit PhotoFix SPS, which is the one with the built in LCD screen. Simple and effective and quick to use. One added bonus is that it will also scan 110 slides and negatives. I've seen these on offer for as little as 50 under various names.

I also have a Nikon Coolscan V and that's much more time consuming to use properly, but better quality of course.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 21/06/2015 - 10:31
That bellows setup seems too cumbersome, and not particularly effective with poor crops.

The digital copiers, even at 5mp seem more interesting at this point.


Link Posted 21/06/2015 - 10:45
I went through a similar process, looking at options from the Nikon coolscans down to slide duplicators, one bit of advice that kept coming up was the amount of effort that was required with certain options (tens of minutes per negative/slide quite often), so I decided i'd go for a Plustek film scanner with hardware scratch removal. Although it's not particularly cheap my logic was that I'd scan the slides and negatives that I wanted (a 30 year old wedding set) and then I could sell on the scanner, losing not too much in the process.

That was the plan, but I've ended up keeping the scanner and have no regrets
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