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Old September 27th, 2013, 09:06 PM
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Sasquatch Sasquatch is offline
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Recommendations: Negative Scanner

We were contacted by our wedding photographer recently who informed us that he was closing up shop soon and still had the negatives and slides from our wedding 22 years ago. He wanted to know if we were interested in purchasing them for a small cost or he'd end up trashing them. So we did purchase about 500 film negatives from him. Not that we'd plan on doing any mass printing but at some point we may print a few here and there.

Question is about negative scanners. Anyone use one? If so any recommendations? I'd like to convert them at some point to digital. Cost for doing the lot through a service is prohibitive. Figured if I could spend some time here and there I'd be able to convert and store as I wish. Am I out of my mind? Is this a monumental task?

Thanks in advance!
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Old September 28th, 2013, 09:34 PM
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Tim L. Walker Tim L. Walker is offline
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Re: Recommendations: Negative Scanner

It's a pretty big task, and probably cheaper to use a service to do 500 of them, versus buying a scanner and doing it yourself. I've used several negative scanners, and not really been overly happy with any of them...
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Old September 30th, 2013, 08:35 AM
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Sasquatch Sasquatch is offline
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Re: Recommendations: Negative Scanner

Thanks Tim, I was wondering if I was getting in way over my head. Time is not an issue. This was merely an attempt to preserve what was on the negatives. If I were to just simply store the negatives is there any special way to do that?
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Old September 30th, 2013, 05:45 PM
RABaker RABaker is offline
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Re: Recommendations: Negative Scanner

John,

I scanned 35mm film (both negatives and slides) for several years using a series of dedicated film scanners. Based on this experience I want to mention several points:
- There is a real learning curve with scanning film. I found that after a couple years of scanning I was getting *much* better results than I did at first. So much so that I went back and re-scanned many images that I had done in the early months. One should be prepared to spend many hours learning good scanning techniques.
- I came to the conclusion that in scanning film the real goal is to capture as much of the information as possible from the film. In other words, do no attempt to post-process the image (with the scanning program) at the same time as the film scan - save post-processing for a separate session with Photoshop (or your favorite image editing program). A scanned image should be a lot like a raw image from a DSLR - lots of data in the file but without any processing applied.
- When I was scanning film, it was during the world-wide transition period from film to digital. There were many manufacturers offering film scanners at the time and, therefore, a relatively large selection of scanners with a relatively wide range of features and prices. As far as I can tell, that is no longer the case. There seem to be relatively few companies offering film scanners today and with a pretty narrow range of features.
- Every scanner I bought had the ability to focus on the film to be scanned - usually with the ability for the operator to specify the area on which to focus. I don't think any of today's machines have this feature - they are pre-focused on a plane where the film is supposed to be. However, film is often not held flat enough in the film holders, and different slide mounts can be different thicknesses *in addition* to a slide not being flat.

"Am I out of my mind? Is this a monumental task?"
In my opinion, no and no. It is not a monumental task, but to get good scans it is a very significant task that will require the willingness to dedicate time to learning the scanning process - much like it takes time to learn the skills and techniques to get good photographs from a camera.

Having said the above, whether or not you can get satisfactory results from a film scan depends largely on how you intend to use the scan after it is made. For example, if you just want something good enough to produce a reasonable print up to an 8 x 10 size, that is pretty easy to achieve and most any film scanner (even the dual-purpose flatbed scanners) will probably work just fine. However, if you want to create a scan file that can be printed large (like 16 x 20 or larger) you need an excellent quality scan with maximum detail, dynamic range, etc. I seldom do film scans today, but I have found that an Epson V750 flatbed scanner can easily provide a scan file that will print 8 x 10 or 8 x 12 (and I'm certain that a V500 or V700 would do as well).

I have not really kept up with what scanners are available today and the only magazine columnist I can recall writing about them recently is David Brooks at Shutterbug magazine. If you still have any thought of doing film scanning yourself, I would recommend you go to the Shutterbug site and see if you can search out any of Mr. Brooks' reviews or discussions of current film scanners.

Good luck,
Richard
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Old October 1st, 2013, 04:58 PM
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Sasquatch Sasquatch is offline
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Re: Recommendations: Negative Scanner

Thanks for your in depth reply Richard. I'm guessing worst case I'd probably need to print an 8 x 10 or smaller. From past experience the only time we have been asked to provide prints is after the passing of a loved one who attended the wedding. I don't really see anything bigger on the horizon.

I had looked at an Epson, don't recall the model but as you stated there are not many more out there these days. I think that's the direction I'm leaning.
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