tfttf502 – 5000 Slides

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Gruppenbild Hannover Februar 2011 Spielzeugladen-Workshop

Chris tells the story of an unusual vertical panorama group shot from the first workshop of this season. Also: the inverse hybrid process where you create wet prints of digital images, and what to look out for when scanning 5000 negatives.

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  • Thomas Becker

    I tried one of the $50 devices for converting slides into a jpeg files and was not particularly pleased with the results. Slides have a rather high dynamic range and unfortunately the pictures I was trying to digitize had a wide range of exposures as well, some too dark, others too light. The device attempted to correct exposure, but it was clear it could not handle the wide range of exposures. I suspect it had a simple aperture inside with a far too limited range.

    I went the DYI approach. I had an L-bracket made out of a black mask and taped it to a light box. Under this I also taped a black L-shaped piece of black paper mounted in the opposite orientation, leaving a small square in the center of the light box visible. The light box was propped at an angle. The mask is thick enough to make a very convenient shelf to hold a slide. Then using a tripod to mount a DSLR with macro lens in front of the light box, I could digitize a slide in about 30 seconds. This included wiping any dust away, blowing with a rocket blower, mounting the slide, taking a photo, and moving on to the next one.

    The DSLR approach has several advantages over the $50 converter. Image quality was much better. Exposure can be fully controlled. “Previews” are easy since you can see them through the light box. You can control resolution via changing the camera’s resolution. Slight bending of the slide can be handled by increasing the depth of field with a higher aperture. Finally if you need to buy a lens (the most costly part of this setup), after you’re done, you’ll have a new, fixed-focal length lens in your camera bag for portrait or flower photography.

    I digitized my slides in the dark to avoid any unwanted reflections from the environment. I used mirror lock-up and an IR remote to minimize camera shake. So far I’ve process several hundred photos in a few evenings. Digitizing 5000 slides is daunting, but not unreasonable.

  • Mark Gilvey

    Long story short, if you are looking at all your photos and wondering how you are going to archive them, you need to understand how scanners work so you can make the best choice. You also need to know how to scan because the final quality will depend on your skill as a scanner operator. As Chris noted, an outside resource may be better for you. They will probably have a better scanner than you will but they will probably batch scan rather than individual image customization. That said, there is always the issue of when you need the image, will the scan be good enough quality for what you need it for.

    It’s a huge give and take. I have many negs and have not done any scanning to archive them as yet because of the reasons above. Oh, yes, the quality of scanners is better than it used to be but how much better will they get. What happens when you say shoot, I should have had it scanned on X.

    The good news is, if you learn how to scan, it will help you understand tone control, color balance and more. You will be able to apply this knowledge across all your image processing workflow. I can recommend a great book: The book: “SilverFast®: The Official Guide”. This was an excellent book for beginners, their software, if you don’t have it, will make your el cheapo scanner like a new scanner! I had a $100 scanner that it helped in a big way! If you buy a new scanner, it probably comes with it.

  • Mark Gilvey

    There is one other thing you need to consider as well; how are you going to find your photos? Yes, I’m talking about Digital Asset Management. As long as you are starting a library of your photos, you should learn how to add metadata and how to catalog and retreive them, and, how to migrate them forward as new technologies evolve.