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   Digitizing Old Slides and Photos and Scanner Reviews
Scanner Reviews

     My son gave me a CanoScan for Christmas. I, too, have hundreds of old slides that I wanted to save and be able to view more easily. This scanner is wonderful! It is so easy to use, and the results are better than I could have hoped for. I am still scanning a few slides every day, but already have many on my computer and have fun sending these memories to my children and friends. Many of them are over 50 years old. I believe the cost of this scanner is around $75. I can also scan prints and add them to my collection too. I had a scanner (HP) that would do that before, but not the slides. The Canoscan is so much easier to use. ***Patricia

     Hi Carman: Like Justine I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out a way to convert the myriad of family slides. The solution that I found is an HP Scanjet; it does a really nice job and fairly quickly too. Further, the scanner option is a lot more versatile and cost effective in that it will do more than just digitize slides. I'm glad I did it! ***Carol G

I have an HP Scanjet Flatbed Scanner that will effectively scan around six to eight slides at a time and convert the scans to .jpg files. A note to remember is that if the slides are really old and have experienced a great deal of color fading, the quality of the photo files will be greatly reduced. Sometimes this can be restored to a reasonably good reproduction by using one of the dozens of photo workshop programs available. I spent a day and a half scanning over six hundred 35mm slides, but it was well worth the effort. Support for the old slide projectors is rapidly going away and getting more and more expensive. *** Charlie B

I recently inherited an old suitcase full of old photos, slides and negatives. I enthusiastically started scanning and before I had even made a slight dent in the treasure, my scanner died. Out I went to find one that had slide capability. The one that impressed me with capabilities and price was the Canon CanoScan. I can recommend that one. It does an amazing job on slides, negatives and 35mm movies (taking stills off the film) It is so easy to use as well. I have also found that I get a better quality digital image from scanning the negatives than I do from the pictures themselves. ***Shae

For what its worth, here is my experience. I bought an Epson V500 scanner in December at $212 from Amazon, no shipping cost and no tax. It even includes an older version of Photoshop elements. It is a full featured scanner with the lights for positive or negative film scanning permanently built into the lid.

It is a marvelous scanner and scans up to 4 35mm slides or 12 35mm negatives at once at whatever resolution you like. All the resolution in the slides is captured far, far before you reach the maximum resolution capability of the scanner.

But best of all the dust and scratch removal capability with digital "ICE" technology is wonderful. I tried scanning some 40 year old slides with that feature turned off and found they had too much dust and scratches to use. However, with the feature turned on, they were very good. The flexibility and ease of use of this scanner is so great for photographs, documents, and pages from books, as well as for slides and negatives that I cannot imagine why one would want to buy anything less. ***Vernon T

Scanning slides and negatives is not difficult. Since they are "transparencies" they need to have a light source that shines through the film. Most scanners, particularly the all-in-one models, are for "reflective" material so they have the light source on the same side as the information to be scanned. Also, since slides and negatives are relatively small 2"x2", it is necessary to scan at higher resolution, generally 2400 dpi or above.

I use an Epson Perfection Photo scanner. It does both reflective and transparencies and can do 4 slides at a time. There are newer models and other makers. All "home" machines cost under $200 and usually nearer $100. Also, the photo software that you use needs to be able to "color correct" for aging in slides and negatives. ***Nick C

I researched this for a long time before buying my scanner - for a cheap scanner that does a wonderful job on slides, negatives, photos, newsprint and anything else - also has ocr capabilities - you can't go wrong with the Epson Perfection - it has the highest ratings for a budget scanner and it cost me only a few dollars over $100 through Walmart. ***Dianne H

Thanks for the article. I have just started the journey down the same road Slide to digital.

The best way I found is dependent on having a digital camera that can accept filters/adapters that leave a 52mm 0r 55mm male thread.
Then you can purchase a Opteka Slide Copier Adapter for around $60 CAN. If you punch Opteka + slide copier into Google you will find several sellers and they sell on E-bay if you are so inclined. Results are better than my flatbed and a friend's purchased copier like the one you tried with the Mac. Results are pretty good. ***John W

You might check out the Canon CanoScan. My father too left us boxes & boxes of slides; this scanner is making great progress with them. Although a bit pricier than your scanner, at around $200 I think it's a pretty good deal. Easy to use hardware and software, it scans 4 slides at a time, taking about 1.5-2 minutes for each group of 4. ***Chuck H

My Epson Inkjet All-In-One has always done a top notch job of digitizing old slides. It is very important to make certain the slide is free of any lint or other dirt. Same goes for the bed of the scanner. Scanning is, in my opinion, the best feature of this combo printer, scanner, copier etc. It also has slots for the various chips available. I do not use it to print photos as it is unable to compete cost wise with the local drug store. The Epson will do 4 slides at the same time and create an individual file for each. Same for photos...if you lay 4 photos on the scanner, with a suitable space between them, like half an inch, it will scan each individually and put the files where you want them. There are choices for the files too...i.e. .jpeg etc... ***Bob M

If you take your slides to a photolab developer or a company that specializes in this (and actually this is getting so common that the photo dept of Costco, OfficeMax and other similar stores can do it) they should be able to not only create a photo from the slide and/or negative but give you the proof of that print in digital disc form- In fact that's almost the norm now, and all for @ 50 cents a slide which is less than the cost to buy the hardware required...and you don't have to spend all the time doing the operation. You can get bulk discounts as well. ***Paul S

I guess the age-old conundrum still much is your personal time worth? Digitizing items yourself, while fairly easy nowadays is still extremely time consuming...and if you've got literally hundreds of slides you are looking at a LOT of time. The only thing I would obviously caution against is sending anything through the mail. If you're gonna outsource it try and find a local vendor that you can personally drop your slides off to and pick up as well. The risk is always there that your one-of-a-kind priceless photos will get lost in the mail. ***Paul S

My father too loved slides. After he died, my mom asked me to be responsible for those and old family photos. After much research and reasoning, my thought was to purchase something that was not limited to just slides or negatives. Therefore I purchased a Cannon copier, scanner/printer combination.... the advantage for me was the ability to also scan negatives and old photos, make repairs to the copies and still have a printer and copier too. I have to report that I had excellent results and as a result, spent 6 months producing a DVD of my siblings (we are 7) and of my parents and gave them a DVD of great memories covering a span of 40 years +. Our children and grandchildren had many laughs at our fashions and respect for what we did not have in material things. I should also state that I have a MAC computer that includes a program to make the DVD. All in all, I have a new ambition to now create a DVD of my children's lives and know that I shall be happy with the results. I would highly recommend this machine, and would be happy to answer any question regarding. ***Donna C

I have also been looking for ways to digitalize slides, pictures and old movies. Ritz/Wolf Camera will do it for you and put the data on DVD. They told me that DVD will store a better quality picture than CD.

Ritz Camera, in the Detroit area, translated an old movie cassette of family activities dating from the 60's or 70's in time for my Mother's 94th birthday this past January. It was well worth the money. The surprise was my Dad's voice on the play back....Dad passed away in 2005.

Ritz has also been able to improve the color on some dark slides I had of Dad's 75th Birthday. I seemed to have trouble with the flash anytime I took indoor pictures. I saved some of the dark slides in the hopes that someday, someone would be able to improve them. Ritz came through for me. ***M. P. M

I don't have a Mac, but I have an HP 5470 flatbed scanner. It is the best HP product I have ever owned! It scans slides, negatives & up-to legal sized papers. I get slide reproductions more clear & with more color than any other "older" pictures. I have been ecstatic with it several times, since my husband was in the Navy in 1968-70 & nearly everything he took for the next decade was on slides, (including my 2 children's first years). I have more than 20,000 pictures either scanned & saved from the 1800 tin types of my ancestors & my husband's, to the digital ones we've taken in the last few years. This is a subject I am passionate about - I am a scrapbooker, sort of a family historian, & I have begun making CD's & DVD's of my collections for my family & friends to share. ***Sandy H

There is also a scanner by HP that does scan slides, negatives as well as pictures. It has excellent software that is easy to use for working with your pictures. I just finished doing my friends old picture albums and am now starting her slides also. It is a HP Scanjet G4000 Series. I bought it at Staples Business Depot in 2007. ***Suzanne B

Canon has a new Scanner Canoscan 8600F, which scans Negs and Positives both 35mm and 120mm very well I have had great success. ***Beryl P

Enjoyed your write up on the slides. I also took 100's of slides in the 70's. I have a HP Photosmart D5360 that prints slides and film. BUT it takes 11 or more minutes to scan ONE slide. "WOW" that's a lot of time. BUT they turn out very good. ***Frank H


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