Slide scanning on a Mac

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Oldbrass, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Oldbrass macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2009
    So, I'm looking for an affordable slide scanner to do some heavy lifting. Back in the day of celluloid, I enjoyed snapping away and doing the ole' family slide show schtick every few months. (Any one else remember those? The silver screen, slide projector and popcorn?)

    Well, I think I can safely say that those days are gone now, but I'd like to put some of those slides into digital format and I'm trying to figure out the best way of going about that. Sending them out to be scanned makes no sense. I simply have too many slides. Financially, the smart money is on doing it my self. I'm very comfortable with graphics manipulation, so I'm happy to do the tweaking.

    I'd be happy to look for something that would be classified as "old tech" since it could also save me a bundle of cash if I can find it, but I'd like to hear some opinions in what you might have used and liked (or hated).

    So, what would you do? I'd like to spend under $200 if I can. Less would be better, but I want the scans to be at least "pretty good".

  2. sjshaw macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2004
    I like the Canon CanoScan 8800F. Do a search for "8800f" and you'll find some informative threads.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No sense?

    Have you worked out the numbers? Let's say a service would charge you $200. How long will you work at home yourself to save $200? If you could do it in 10 hours, maybe. How about if you had to work 100 hours to save $200?

    At some point it does make sense.

    First off you have to pick a quality criteria. Do you need "screen quality", good enough for a 1080p HD TV screen or do you need "full resulution" scans that capture everything that is on the slide?

    If you need full res, a $200 flat bed scanner just will not cut it, period, end of story. It will do OK for screen res, because screens are not nearly as good as film. For full res scans the industry standard is the Nikon 5000ED and you can find one for abut $1,000. Don't just look at DPI, look at the dynamic range. Flat beed scanners can't get the full 12 stops of range and the color quality will not be perfect.

    If yu do this yourself a VERY fast rate is five minutes per slide. This speed requires that you do the quality control and tagging on one slide while the next slide is in the scanner and does not leave much time for corrections.

    YES. Every slide WILL rquire some hand wrk to "bust dust" and color corect and so on. Some will require much more time some only a few minutes. But yu DO have to do something to EVERY slide.

    You will not reach the 5 minutes per slide rate untill after you have doe a few hundred slides.

    So, Does it "make sense"? Let's say you have 5,000 slides. and let's say you are lucky and find a used 5000ED and sell it for $250 less then you paid after the job is over. at 12 slides per hour it will take you about 400 hours or 10 weeks of full time work.

    Send them out and let some other poor guy do this and it will cost about $1,200. (I pay abot 25 cents per slide to have then scanned on a 5000ED and hand crected in Photoshop) Figure in the cost of the scanner and you are only making $100 per 40 hour week. Good pay if you are a kid or live in India.

    What happens is that everyone thinks they can work faster. You can't and it will actually go slower.

    That said, I own a scanner. I use it when I want fast turnaround or for slides that I know will requites a couple of hours of work. (You can not believe how much work it takes to fully remove scratches and dust and color correct, It's easy to spend an hour per slide. But you can't. In a production mode you just have to watch the clock and call "time" after two minutes in Photoshop. With a time budget of only a few minutes per slide you only have time to "clone out" defect if they are on the subject and noticeable. Getting them all times to long. Save them for later.

    Buy a Wacom graphic tablet. The cheaper "bamboo" model is good enough for this kind of work. It will save you many hours but takes a few days to learn to use.

    If you are going to invest 400 hours of your time do NOT go cheap on the scanner. Buy the Nikon 5000. Buy it used if you have to. Also you absolutely 100% must have a hardware colorimeter to calabrate you monitor. and for best work by calibrated test slides so you can color profile the scanner, this save a ton of time because then the scanner gets the color very close.

    I have a huge catalog of slides. I send out a box of them about every 6 weeks. It takes me about 6 weeks to add the meta-data tags on all the files that come back. I keep the scans in Aperture.
  4. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    for the most part, i agree with ChrisA. He might've gone a bit overboard with the quality (you probably don't need gallery quality results, also depends on the equipment you used to take the photos in the first place), but it pretty dead on with the rest.

    4 years ago, i was still shooting slides. I still have some Fuji mailers from B&H ( and i actually might purchase another EOS-3 if the price is right in the future). I bought a Nikon CoolScan IV ED for like $400. It was used.

    Granted this was on an older PC at that time (again 4 years ago) and it took like 40 seconds a slide, and the files were enormous. We are talking 40MB files, EACH!!

    If i had to do it again, i would get the Nikon Coolscan V ED (5000? same thing?..??) It is quite a bit of work. Actually, it is a lot of work. For your budget, you won't get a scanner. I haven't looked at prices that companies charge. Might be worth it, unless you still shoot slides..
  5. cmcbridejr macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2007
    Alpharetta, GA
    Canon CanoScan 8800F is what I use.

    It uses LED so the warmup time is minimal.

    Remember... The higher the quality, the longer the time to scan.

    I have been scanning most of my pics at 600dpi, which makes for a very fast scan speed, and I am satisfied with the quality. If you need better quality than that, then the Canon is certainly able to provide it. I'm mainly just creating a decent quality digital archive so that my memories aren't sitting in a shoebox and forgotten.

    If necessary, I can always go back later and scan just my favorites with higher quality settings. Not every single pic needs to be of the absolute highest quality for me.

    The CanoScan 8800F is good value, great quality, quick to scan, and compatible with Snow Leopard. You can also use it to create PDFs of important documents to archive.
  6. Phazotron Guest

    Feb 10, 2005
    If you ship out the box of slides regularly, what company do you use?
  7. shelbyg macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2010
    Nikon 5000ED scans

    I bought a used Nikon 5000ED with friends before reading ChrisA's forum.
    My question for him or others using this scanner is:
    1 Do scans come out grainy or are my settings wrong and how do I fix this. Or does the scanner need servicing .
    2 Where do I get a Calibration slide and which is the best monitor calibrator. I had heard that Pantone was good, is it still?

    Hope someone can answer.
    And Chris is right -You are making Chinese coolie wages to scan slides. So only do this for the fun of it. Not for profit. But the price of the scanner is going up since Nikon stopped making them. (Is that right?)

  8. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    The Nikon 5000 is an extremely high end scanner, which should produce results that can only be substantially exceeded by a drum scan, which costs about $50 per shot to have done professionally. It's not even worth comparing a $200 flatbed scanner with the high-end Nikon.

    Most professional scanning services (except those that use drum scanners) use the Nikon 9000 (very similar to the 5000 but compatible with medium format) or an Imacon, which has slightly better image quality and much faster performance (for $20,000).

    Unfortunately, film is extremely grainy, way grainier than digital, and once you scan it, you begin to notice right away. There's a reason people process their normal film prints at 4X6 inches--there's usually way too much grain to enlarge bigger than that. The Nikon scanners, meanwhile, scan for 12X18 at 300dpi. Expensive professional films (velvia, provia, ektar, and high-end black and white) produce as much resolution as dSLRs, but even those films are much, much grainier than even the lowest-end digital point and shoot at the same ISO.

    There are things you can do, though. Using the multiscan mode will decrease grain noticeably (I use 2x or 4x on the 9000) but this dramatically increases scan times. This doesn't fix grainy film but instead reduces noise introduced by the scanner, and gives grain a softer more monochromatic look. You can also use noise reduction in photoshop or use smart sharpening to deal with grain and if you're scanning negatives you may want to try scanning them as slides and inverting them in photoshop if they don't come out right or adjusting digital ICE and analogue gain on the scanner to deal with dust and exposure issues. If you've got soft edges, you may want to try a glass carrier (which then introduces newton rings; scanning is a pain).

    Kodachrome slides, unfortunately, require drum scans for maximum resolution and grain reduction--but they can produce incredible results when scanned correctly.

    Post a few sample images (crops at 100%) and I can tell you how they compare with the scans I've made in terms of film grain. Also remember that your scanner works at like 25 megapixels, which enlarges grain to extreme amounts that won't look so bad when scaled down. I don't know much about calibration since I can't afford my own scanner and I use a calibrated system at a lab and then adjust in Photoshop to match my originals.
  9. Harriflex macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2010
    Scanning Slides

    I used to use a Nikon LS2000 which could auto scan a batch of 50 or more slides in one go. This was on a PC however. BUT then I was converted to Apple Macs. I designed a fixed slide holder which my 100mm Macro would copy onto. Using the Mac/Canon camera control i now speedily insert slides give them a path and title and capture direct onto my hard-drive - it is brilliant and so much faster than scanning.
    Experiment with the correct backlighting etc and it will prove itself to you!!;)
  10. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    pictures please?
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You will see grain but that is film grain. If you used "fast" film like say ISO 400 then there is quite a but of film grain. Even my old Kodachrome 25 slides have grain.

    But if what you see is digital noise then you have a problem. The level of digital noise should be much less then film grain. Either the seting are wriong or the scanner is broken. but if you get any image at all I'd bet the scanner is not broke

    Yes, everyone THINKS they can work fast but at a dead minimum you have to pick up the slide and place it in the scanner and later put the slide back and at least type a title caption and some search tags. You have to at least look at every shoot and make sure it is not upside down or whatever and then you have to hit a save button and wait. Even with zero corrections and a 1 second scan time this limits you to about 30 per hour. But you will want to correct a few and scan times are much longer than 1 second.

    At first it seems that even if you know you are working for $2/hr it is a fun hobby. But after 50 hours it is not so fun and you only have 1,000 scans done and 9,000 more to go.

    And NO you do not get "gallery quality" with only 5 minutes of work per slide. Not by a long shot. It's easy to spend an hour fixing up a scan. Every slide has it's share of dust and scratches and you can fuss with color for a long time

    Test slides are not cheap. They are high presision calibrated test targets. But even at $50 each if you are doing 10,000 scans it is a must-have.

    Here is one source of targets. Google will find you more.

    About monitor calibration. get that first. I don't think the brands are really all that different.

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