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Re: filmscanners: Fast, decent, low res scans

Hi Phillip,

If the process you are asking about is a one time deal, Larry may well 
be correct that letting the "experts" do it with a PCD might be the best 

However, if you are going to be doing this on a regular basis, the costs 
of using PCD gets up there, and having an in house scanner is a better 

When people ask about low res images, one has to ask a few questions. 
How low res are we speaking of?  For screen viewing only, or for 
printing as well?  Do you want the image to look as good as it can (even 
in the low res version), or do you intentionally wish it to be soft so 
no one can use it without permission?

OK, let's look at each element...

Film scanning is not typically a beginners luck" kind of thing.  Even 
assuming the scanner works well out of box, the software has no 
conflicts with your system, and you have the correct cables and/or 
interface cards, learning to use the software, drivers, and adjustment 
tools takes time and patience.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's a great pursuit, but it is often fraught 
with challenges along the way.  You don't usually want to do this under 
the gun, so Larry is right, if you don't want to fight with your 
equipment or have a time line that's tight, and if you have a good PCD 
company, go that route the first time, and then think about what you 
want to do next time.  The PCD will come with a bunch of different 
resolutions on them, so you will want to load into you system the 
appropriate res for your needs and then convert it into a JPEG file, and 
then cut a CDR from all those files at the end.

If you want the best quality achievable in a low res scan, you will need 
a film scanner, and you probably should capture the images as a fairly 
high resolution (at least 1200 dpi) and then downsample using a program 
like Photoshop, to 70-100 dpi at whatever size you wish, for screen use.

Although there are film scanners approaching that $200 US price level 
(The Prime 1800, a 1800 dpi scanner) you will not be able to use that 
scanner for real quality work later on.  You can also find flatbed 
scanners that go up to 2400 dpi, (but not currently at $150 either). 
Flatbeds in that range are 600 to 1200 dpi.  Flatbed scanners of that 
price range will not give you as good a result as a filmscanner for the 
same price, but some might allow you to batch scan a strip or more of 
film at a time, which might help with workflow.

Tricky images like high or low contrast, over and underexposed, etc, 
will be more difficult to scan with a flatbed.  They are designed to 
best deal with very well exposed images. Negatives are trickier to get 
correct when first starting out just due to the color conversions you 
need to get correct, and no A-B comparison.

If you want to invest in a scanner that will give you good service and 
yet good value, and can scan at much higher res than you need right now, 
consider the Minolta Dimage Dual II or the Canon 2710.  These both scan 
at over 2700 dpi, are good with shadow detail, and overall work well. 
The Canon FS2710 is faster than the Minolta per scan, and it uses SCSI 
II interfacing versus USB on the Minolta.  If you are using Macs, there 
might be some issues with software or interfacing with SCSI.

 From reading your posting the impression "time is money" seems to 
nner.  The results will not be as good.  Some scanners come with 
basic drivers which will do a quick and direct auto levels, but since I 
personally wouldn't use that, I don't know which.

Vuescan works will pretty much all the popular scanners on the market, 
so that is always an option.

If you have dust or scratch problems consider one of the dICE scanners. 
They include, Nikons, Acer 2740, Minolta Elite. dICE slows the scanning 
process, slightly softens the scan, and adds to the price of the scanner.


Phil wrote:

> Hello,
> My name is Philippe.  I am writing with what may be an unusual question, and
> I am hoping you can help me out.
> Say you have a portfolio of 35mm slides.  On short notice you are asked to
> scan two hundred of them and burn them onto CD, low res.  What would be a
> good scanner and workflow for creating the actual low res JPEGs?  What are
> good ways to make FAST, DECENT, LOW RES SCANS of 35mm slides?
> I've been to three stores and the salespeople I spoke with could only spit
> back specifications written on the side of the box; most of the scan times
> they gave me related to the time to create a high res scan using the
> scanner's maximum optical resolution- but using maximum optical resolution
> and then resampling down may not be the fastest way for me to achieve low
> res scanning!  What I'm looking for now is feedback from people who really
> use scanners.  What's the best way, in your opinion, to make lots of low res
> scans quickly?
> *** Does the scanner you recommend come bundled with software that would
> allow me to crop and set Auto Levels without entering Photoshop?  The scan
> doesn't have to look great, but it does need to be cropped and have some
> kind of levels set automatically; an "auto levels" option would be great.
> Maybe the scanner you have in mind doesn't come with a good software bundle,
> but will work with Vuescan, for instance.
> *** The cheaper, the better.  If it's in the area of $150, we may be able to
> get 2 or 3 of them, so if one scanner is being used, a second will be
> available.
> Thank you very much for your any feedback and advice you can share.
> Philippe
> phil@nonstock.com
> Nonstock Photography


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