September 20, 2004

Curious George: Scanner help Looking for a scanner that will scan multiple slides at once.

I'm doing research for a client who has about 5000 slides to scan and burn onto disk. Any suggestions for something under $350?

  • One that instantly comes to mind is the Minolta DiMage III Vistek's comments on the Minolta Here is one photographers comments on the Minolta Scanner, Nature Photgraphers Magazine. Going to be tough finding a high quality scanner for that price, might wind up sacrificing some sharpness, detail, shadow, colour quality.
  • Keep in mind that as far as scanning slides goes, flatbed scanners are only adequate. For a quality scan you have to go with a dedicated slide scaner, and those aren't as cheap. If it's for business or home use, chances are the flatbed would be decent enough. If it's for professional graphic arts use, then they're going to want the quality the slide scanner offers.
  • It's for personal use, to archive slides from her aunt simply because they don't have room to store them. So the quality of the image is not AS important, more important is her ability to scan as many slides at once as possible.
  • I have found that unless you buy the high end film scanners, a flat bed scanner does an ok job, if you need to work with medium format media, those scanners are very pricey. I like the Epson Perfection series and the 3170 or 4180 go for $200 to 300 USD. I have used it with great success to scan old medium format glass plates. They have a light source that allows you to scan 4 35MM slides at a time. The 3170 I have in my lab, focused well, and have more resolution than was necessary to capture of all the grain detail. Epson makes another model (expression 10000) that has an illuminator that can handle 30 slides at a time, but it more than 10X the cost. It is a great scanner. It will scan a full sized x-ray film. Assuming you time is worth something when you figure the cost there are places that do high volume scanning. I have found places that were under $0.40 per slide for volumes over 1000. It was years ago in another job, but it is just a thought, as we tell people using our lab that it a practiced person can scan 10-15 slides per hour with our nikon film scanner and no post processing. If you are using a flatbed you will need to cut them apart, though there might some macros that make this easier.
  • We just got one of those epson perfection scanners at my office, and the photographers we work with tell me that it comes pretty close to matching the quality of the drum scans we usually get for bigger projects. I would never scan such an amount of pictures on the epson though. frankly, i think your best option here is outsourcing the project :D is quality more important, or is price/speed?