Scan Painlessly - Part Three

on April 26, 2023
Once you decide to scan a collection of negatives and slides, you need to take some decisions. Even if it is just to decide to be indecisive... First thing to do is decide why you are doing it. If it is to preserve personal work...well how much of it is there? You can pay good professional labs to scan your work and return it in simple digital form. If you have a lot to do - you'll either need to pay a lot or spend a lot of time doing it yourself. Second - is the material good enough to keep? Some of mine isn't, and the best repository for it is the council wheelie. Be honest but kind with yourself. How big do you want the resulting files? If you're scanning from good quality negs or slides the results can be as good as prints used to be - but only in the same size they used to come out. In other worlds, your 110 neg will make a reasonable postcard file, but don't expect a poster. You wouldn't have got it back in the day. How big are your slides and negs? 35mm is common - followed by 6 x 6 and 6 x 7. Then you start to get to the 6 x 9 and 4 x 5 sizes. Even up to 8 x 10 or 11 x 14. Sheet film and cut plates. You can do up to 35mm to 8 x 10 on some V-series Epsons but really big or really small starts to be best in the pro lab. If you only want small results, and are satisfied with very modest resolution, there are any number of USB-powered re-photograph boxes that will shoot and invert your negs and slides on a very quick basis. My wife loaned me one and it seemed to cope with 35mm fairly well - until you zoomed into the image and saw first-generation digital results. Not for me, but please yourselves. If you need to do 6 x 6, 6 x 9, and 4 x 5 you are in the Epson camp. Mine's over a decade old but still turns out the goods - and I use it for office and scale modelling scanning as well. It can copy decal designs perfectly. When you turn it to film scan use, though, you enter into a serious world. Note that the modern Epsons are very similar to the old ones, but have improved their film holders. With the Epson you have a range of resolutions, scanning inputs, and possible output choices. There are modes that require a lot of specification - and some that are nearly automatic. I find the best choice somewhere in the middle - what Epson call the " Home Mode ". I mean - I'm at home most of the time. ( Note: The definition of " home " is the place that has to let you in, when you finally have to go there... )