Help Please - Scanners for 35mm film, strips, negatives

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Help Please - Scanners for 35mm film, strips, negatives

Post by Rylos007 »

Greetings, I am not a major photographer. However, my father was. Built his own dark room for B&W in every house we lived in. But it has been decades since I played with film much other than point and shoot. He passed away at 85 two years ago. Now I want to preserve his photos from decades ago in digi format.

First, regarding negatives verses simple slides. When do you get negatives vs slides? I have forgotten, and am trying to figure out how much of what I may have and what difference it may or may not make for scanning purposes?

What I have -
~50 of my fathers carousels x 140 slides per - 7,000 35mm slides to scan.
~20 of my fathers little boxes of slide holders. Or perhaps they are negatives... What 30 each? - 600 35mm slides to scan.
15 years of my and my wife's own 35mm shots. 10 rolls a year at 48 shot per roll - 1000+ strips of Negatives or what?

What my sister has -
3 x the negatives or slides from my father then I have.

In short, I want to scan all of these and do so with a quality scanner. I am not able to afford more then $300 and I am looking for suggestions on quality dedicated scanners and any info you may have on what is more and what is less important in a slide/neg scanner? Thanks much
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Re: Help Please - Scanners for 35mm film, strips, negatives

Post by lata »


Well you have your work cut out for you.

Slides are 35 mm, they will be framed in either plastic or cardboard.
They are a positive image, that is although transparent they look like a photograph.

Your negatives will be in strips or maybe a complete roll given that your farther developed them? Again 35 mm
They will have holes in the border of the film.
Strips are usually cut into 5 or 6, the length to fit an envelope.
Being Negative, all blacks will show as white and visa versa.

I mentioned 35mm, but there is also the Medium Format, much larger than 35mm.

I cannot comment on scanners, I assume you would require a dedicated film scanner given the amount you have to process.

I do own a flatbed Epson Perfection 2400, this has an adapter that allows scanning of Slides and Negatives, however it only scans 4/6 at a time.
I am sure there is better on the market, for Slides maybe with a carousels feed.
Negatives, well they will be cut into strips and need a manual feed.

A film scanner should automatically recognise the film type as Positive (Slides) or Negative (Film)
At least mine does, till it gets confused?

Hope this helps a little, and good luck.
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Re: Help Please - Scanners for 35mm film, strips, negatives

Post by df »

I know this thread is a couple of months old but I just saw it.

There are two types of scanners you can use. Flatbed and dedicated film scanners. A flatbed scanner is like what everyone is used to. Usually they come with a film holder. There's a light in the scanner lid. A dedicated film scanner just scans film. The nicer ones also focus the scanner on the film, something the flatbeds don't currently do, which results in sharper images more true to what's on the film. A flatbed is nice if you have larger negatives or if you also want to scan the prints, the film only scanners won't scan prints of any size.

If it's a nicer scanner there's also InfraRed dust removal, which is a second pass using IR light, which tells the software what is blocking light completely (dust or other obstructions) and what isn't (the film itself). IR cleaning doesn't work on black and white film because the silver in the film blocks the IR light.

For flatbeds the Epson scanners are a well regarded choice. The V500 and V600 are rather affordable, can scan up to 120 film (6cm across) and also prints. They also have IR dust removal. Older versions also work well and can be had for a reasonable price. Epson is actually really good at updating drivers for their scanners to keep up with newer operating systems, something other manufacturers can't seem to do.

For film only scanners about the only new units that are worth anything are the Plustek scanners. There's a few different models, with the biggest differences being with or without IR dust removal, or with or without the newest version of the software. The rest of the scanner is the same. I've never used a Plustek but have read good reviews.
There's also buying used. Minolta Scan Elite and Nikon Coolscan scanners are among the best out there. The older the unit though the more you'll have to work at it to get the software to work with your newer OS. Depending on the unit you'll also need to install an SCSI card (often they are sold with the scanner). Some people keep an older computer to lessen the hassle around just for scanning purposes. The Minolta and Nikons will give just about any lab's scans a run for their money. The do however take longer than their pro counterparts which cost thousands of dollars more.

Avoid HP scanners. The hardware is decent, but the software is incredibly frustrating.

Most smaller film only scanners like anything with the name ION aren't that great. Basically a point and shoot camera in a box with a fixed light source. No IR dust removal. Focus isn't spot on. And the lenses in them are kind of soft (gives soft results). Just the IR dust removal is worth the cost of something better in my opinion.

Microtek makes good scanners but they are BIG and noisy. The one I had was huge and only produced 1000 dpi scans.

Speaking of dpi, make sure you get something around 3600 dpi or better. That needs to be optical or native resolution. If it's interpolated or by the use of software it's just doubling the pixels in the software and not really any better than the native resolution. When you see some specs they will say 1600 dpi x 3200 dpi. The lower number is what you go by, basically the scan head only moves a half a pixel's length and it scans again, but the pixel size still overlaps so it's not really gaining much. 9600 dpi is overkill. For 35mm you'll be scanning the film's grain more than the image on the film itself. Most any scanner that claims 9600 dpi does so through software anyways.

A good resource for information on scanners is ... ichte.html They are a bit biased towards what they sell though.

For software, use the scanner manufacturers software first. If that suits your needs then keep using it. If not, there's Vuescan and Silverfast. But try either one out against the manufacturers software in it's trial version. Some like Vuescan, others like Silverfast, a lot find EpsonScan to work just fine.

I own an HP Scanjet G4050 (don't recommend), Epson 4490 (is a better flatbed), two Nikon LS-2000's (great, very fast, no color corrections needed but is SCSI and needs Vuescan for any OS newer than XP and only 2700 dpi which honestly isn't bad), and two Canon FS4000-US's (4000 DPI, slower than Nikon, USB, Vuescan needed, high quality though).

Hope this helps.
Regards, Dan

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Re: Help Please - Scanners for 35mm film, strips, negatives

Post by Colin Ember 1947 »

Thanks Dan
Your reply has been most helpful