Slide Scanning Advise

How to Scan 4000 archived slides

by / / Published in Knowledge Base

Today’s generation is obsessed with using photographs. Earlier, people used to go to nice studios and wait for occasions to get their pictures clicked. However, now it is considered happening and fashionable to click photographs everywhere and anywhere. People use old pictures for gifting purpose, creating collage’s etc.  So, I hope this piece of writing catches your interest and educates you of many modern gadgets.

Have you ever tried scanning a picture or document? Contrary to Scanner maker’s claim of scanning in less than 35-40 seconds, I am sure you would have realized that it takes at least 5-10 minutes. Imagine how much time it would take to scan 3000 slides? Well it can take up to 3 months if you work 40 hours a week. By the time you finish the job, you will probably change your opinion of what file format or resolution or color space is required.

Problems you might have to face

  1.       Jamming of slide in the scanner
  2.       Formatting and filling each scan as it comes off
  3.       Expensive service
  4.       Time-consuming exercise

For an average resolution, Chrome charges me 65 cents per scan and you can choose to pay more for higher resolution. If you insist to do the job yourself you would need to get a scanner with a slide feeder. It allows you to load it up and let it run itself all day and night. Slide feeder can cost $500.00 and this feeder is similar to $60.00 stack loader.

Gadgets choices available in the market

Braun Multimag Slidescan 4000 scanner, which was about $1,300 in March 2007.


Nikon 5000 scanner ($1,100) and the $500 slide feeder. An adapter for scanning long strips of uncut and unmounted film. Remember that for 3,000 slides your main concern is speed and automation, not price or image quality. Nikon has ICE to get rid of the dirt automatically.


Another cheaper idea is the new Pacific Image PowerSlide 3600 for $800. It comes with a 50-slide feeder and is designed for scanning archives. It is rated at 3600 DPI. Its major flaw is that it lacks ICE, which means that you’ll have to touch up all that dirt manually. The lack of ICE sort of eliminates much of the benefit of the feeder. Read the user comments at Amazon ordering it. You pay half of what the Nikon costs but you may have to deal with stuck slides and software crashes.

Word of advice

  1. Never throw away your film. You always will want to go back to it with a better scanner 10 years from now if it’s important.
  2. Determine what you want to accomplish by the task for example do you want to save space; do some digital editing; distribute the photos to others?
  3. Analyze what alternatives are available?

Storage of data and creating backup of scanned files

If you want to distribute photos to others you’ll have to use an automated HTML maker like the one in Photoshop (MAC or PC) to reformat all the big scans into screen size images and galleries so that the normal people to whom you send your family archive can sort through the files. For making a CD you need to get the .INI and .BAT files to put in the root directory of the CD so that they will just open automatically when a normal person pops it into their computer.

To store 3,000 35mm slides, it will take about 150GB as PSD or TIF files, which you can store and archive on one external hard drive. I’d suggest a hard drive; not DVDs or CDs. Why? Simple: it will take another lifetime to burn all the CDs or DVDs. Even worse, DVDs were never designed with the error correction levels of CD.  Also, CD was over engineered for audio. Hence, both DVDs or CDs are less suitable for data files.

Instead of TIF or PSD you can save JPGs and your archive would be about 15 GB. The advantage to this is you could store it all on a good laptop, too. Hint: if you are stuck for space you can save high resolution (3,200 DPI) files at a lower JPG quality setting and see far fewer artifacts than when you save for screen resolution. This is because the artifacts are confined to 8 x 8 pixel blocks which are much smaller and thus less obvious at higher At this point resolutions.

My recommendation

Considering the above discussion, I would like to inform about a magical service – Mr. Video.

Mr. Video is a bulk scanning service which efficiently scans large collections of photos. They can scan just about anything, prints, slides, video or negatives, do a good job, and their prices are low.  It is a great idea if you want all your old photos scanned well at a great price, and although they’ll take a while to do it, they do small jobs, too.

Mr. Video doesn’t replace your own local lab for fast turn-around or for expensive custom repro scans. Mr. Video works in bulk to keep costs down, so we are ideal for  scannning your entire archive of back photos. Mr. Video doesn’t develop film so local service can be used to scan each roll as it is developed.

Mr. Video often runs specials offers and deals for new customers. Check it out to experience the revolution.

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