My Dad was a great photographer. With his 35mm Kodak Signet, and Zeiss Ikon folding medium format rangefinder, he shot a ton of slides that he would bring out from time to time for a “movie” show. Somehow, when he died, I became the custodian of his pictures. When I picked up a Carousel projector for my own slides, I organized his slides into a couple of standing carousel shows.
Every now and then, some family member has asked about getting copies or scans of the slides. Every now and then, I’d think about transferring them to digital, look into the matter, and come away with these options, all of them bad:
- Have them scanned locally by a camera store, at about a $1 a slide. I did this for a couple of my own slides for a funeral; the quality was atrocious. The scans were blurry, the contrast was muddy, and the color was shitty. There is no way I was going to let them do more.
- Send them out to a digitizing service. Aside from the inherent risk of sending them out at all, I’ve read that the lower priced services actually send the slides overseas, where labor costs are lower. No way. There are services that do the work domestically, but they’re higher priced—on the order of $3-6 apiece. I may still explore this option for his medium format slides.
- Get a scanner, and scan them myself. This would entail the cost of the scanner, plus my own time scanning and post processing the slides. For the longest time, the only scanner I could find that looked like it had quality I could live with was the Nikon CoolScan series. The only problem was that they were $2000 – $5000 — and no longer available. Every now and then I would desultorily look at eBay to see if they had one I could afford at the moment, and come away empty handed.
- Get a cheap scanner. My mother actually got one for me for Christmas, but it turned out to be Windows only. I tend to doubt I would have been happy with the quality.
Finally, about a year ago, I started reading about the Plustek OpticFilm series of scanners. I saw some sample images, and they looked good. I checked the reviews, and they were mostly good, with the caveat that there was a learning curve involved, so last March, I bit the bullet, and bought one. Continue reading