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Mass Converting Photos to Digital
Old 01-26-2005, 02:06 PM   #1
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Mass Converting Photos to Digital

It seems like this may have come up before, but I can't find the topic.

Has anyone checked into scanning lots of negative strips and mounted slides into digital format? I know color negatives and slides fade over time, and my family has thousands of photographs.

I have a little 2400dpi (optical) film/slide scanner, but it is darn near impossible to make a scan without lots of dust specks.

Just wondering if it would make more $en$e to hire someone to do batches of scans or sink some money into a better film scanner.

I have no idea what either option costs, but I'll start looking into it.
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital
Old 01-26-2005, 02:30 PM   #2
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital

My dad is doing this right now. He bought a silde/film scanner (some Dimage scanner, not sure of the model #), and has been scanning like a madman. The scanner is pretty slick, and allows you to bulk scan about 6 slides (1 neg strip) at a time. Regarding the dust, perhaps a quick blast of compressed air before inserting the media into the scanner would help?
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital
Old 01-27-2005, 02:56 AM   #3
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital

Here is a article & review of photo scanners

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-3136_7-...html?tag=prmo1

When evaluating a scanner's features, consider your tasks. Need to digitize a bunch of old film that's been collecting dust in shoe boxes? Look for color correction as well as dust- and scratch-removal tools. The Digital ICE image-correction technology developed by Applied Science Fiction, which was purchased by Kodak, has been adopted by many scanner manufacturers. Most film scanners come with some form of ICE onboard, most commonly the original dust/scratch-removal version. A few have the latest and greatest version of the technology, known as ICE4 (pronounced ice-quad), which combines four separate tools for dust and scratch removal, color restoration, grain reduction, and contrast/exposure optimization.

Also how will the photos be used. Examples 4x6, 8x10, email or dvd slideshow. Photos use a lot of memory.
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital
Old 01-27-2005, 07:23 AM   #4
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital

About that ICE stuff-

I scanned some slides with ICE on, and they were slightly blurred. You wouldn't know if you hadn't seen the non-ICE photo, but there was some image degradation. Some light scratches were removed (not the wider ones however), and most of the dust was removed.... it did what it said it would do, but at a price.

For my Dad's archiving efforts, I convinced him not to use "ICE" since this is "archival" material, and you should want the highest quality scan possible. You can ALWAYS use the dust and scratches plug-in in Photoshop, and as technology advances, so too will the ability to remove dust and scratches from images.... this being the case, and you're plannng to archive these images, wouldn't it be prudent to scan them into the computer in an unadulterated form, and at the highest resolution possible?
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital
Old 01-27-2005, 07:55 AM   #5
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital

I was using a bulb brush (which puffs air) and dry touchup brush to try to get the dust off the negatives, but perhaps it's worth a try to get a can of compressed air and an antistatic brush and see what I can do.

When thinking of a project like this I tend to design a grand scheme; in this case I had in mind getting and storing the best scan (with cost limitations, of course, but probably in 48-bit format) in a lossless format with metadata about the film, colorspace, equipment, etc. and also have 3-4 standard sized JPEGs for each photo. That should cover most needs while leaving the pristine original scan available for custom conversions.

After reading your suggestions and checking out the available scanners I was zeroing in on a $1000-$1600 Nikon Coolscan with Digital ICE and multiscan capability. Then I recalled my parents have 110 and 126 format negatives and slides (yes, 110 format slides) and I have some Disc format negatives and found I could purchase adapters for 110 and 126. Oh, and of course I'll want to buy a laptop for when I take my scanner to Mom's or Dad's to set up shop....

Today I'm thinking about toning down my scheme. Probably 20-30% of our photos are worth a second look, and probably 2% or less are worth seeing in 8x10 format. Those numbers are VERY rough guesses, but the point is I don't need 4000dpi dust-free scans of several thousand negatives and slides.

Now that sanity is setting in, perhaps I'll see if I can make do with my HP Photosmart 2400dpi. If it's too dusty for screen viewing maybe I can get an older SCSI Coolscan or Minolta with Digital ICE. (The old SCSI versions seem to be cheaper now that everyone favors USB or Firewire.) For the 2% or less that are worth blowing up I could take extra care in scanning or find someone with a better film scanner for those. For the handful of masterpiece photos and family portrait archives I can have them professionally scanned.


My original thought was to put all these on the web, but I wonder if I really want all my family's pics publicly accessible. Then I thought of giving out copies of CDs and DVDs with JPEGs, then I realized I can probably design a DVD navigatable slideshow viewable by any DVD player. I think that resolution will be 640x480 max. Anyway, the vast majority of scanned film will be viewed by PC or TV screen.

EDIT: Crossposted with Marshac's last post. Thanks for the ICE info. I had heard it could throw colors off, but this is the first time I've heard it degrades image quality. Good to know. Like I say at first I wanted top-quality hi res archival scans on everything, but truth be told only a handful of the photos would ever be viewed bigger than snapshot size. The geek in me and the practical man in me are at odds over this issue.
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While you're scanning, BMJ...
Old 01-27-2005, 01:53 PM   #6
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While you're scanning, BMJ...

... I have a question that's always stopped me from tackling this project-- how do you write everyone's names and the location, date, etc. on the back of the photo?

Has anyone seen an update on CD & DVD degradation after 10 years in storage? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that archiving is a dumb idea, but it's hard to find a HD or storage media that's better than Kodak photo paper.
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital
Old 01-27-2005, 02:48 PM   #7
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital

Part of my grand scheme includes some form of labeling. At this point I have many ideas but no solid plan. First, there would be a universal unique file naming/numbering convention so I can refer to a photo deterministicly. Several photo formats allow metadata tags which I would use. I would probably have a folder for each roll of film and put text files in each with my best guess as to when and where the roll was taken and who has the original negatives and prints at this date. I figure on a master database format to refer to individual photos for "this is Tom, Dick and Harry" type information, but I want that info duplicated in text files in that photo's roll folder.

I doubt I'll have to reinvent the wheel, though. There are online archives like photo.net, some of which are run on open-source software I believe, so I expect I'll be able to find a software package or at least a framework to enable me to do what I want.

Unfortunately almost none of my photos have info written on the back of them. At least on many rolls I wrote the date and location it was shot, so that will help. I don't think many of my old family photos have much info on them, either, which is kind of another motivating factor in starting this project: touch all photos and get info on them while people are still alive.

I'm also concerned about the archival value of digital photos. I am a skeptic about the 100-year CD-R or DVD-R. Ideally the whole collection should be copied to new medium every few years, but who's going to keep up with that? The file storage format is a concern, too, but I'll be sure to use openly defined formats (TIFF, PNG, JPEG and others as appropriate) which should minimize the chance that nothing will understand it in 50 years. Handing out copies of everything should increase the odds that some of the media survives. I certainly don't plan on trashing the original prints or negatives, and I plan to write my universal naming scheme identifier on each roll of photos so they can be located via my electronic versions.

I'm a film fan, but it hit me the other day that I would look at them much more if they were on CD or my hard drive instead of in a box in my closet, and I could increase the distribution of all my family's pictures. Plus my new HDTV revives my memories of slide shows, but this time I won't need to set up the screen and projector and keep turning and flipping slides.

If I do this, I'll probably try to identify photos that should be given special attention and printed archivally at a chemical photo lab: the occasional lucky masterpiece, family portraits and something to add flavor, depth and life to the photographic story.

By the way, most color prints and negatives fade. The old silver halide B&W film & prints will largely last a long, long time. (Many recent B&W films use the C41 process that color films use and aren't archival.) You can make long-lasting color prints, but you have to use the right paper and chemicals. I'm fuzzy on color slides at the moment...I was going to say some color slides last, but now I think it is the positive print process that's archival. Some color slides definitely fade badly.

EDIT: I've heard in tropical climates there's a problem with fungus or bacteria eating the glue holding the CD-R together and as a result corroding the data layer.
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital
Old 01-27-2005, 03:02 PM   #8
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Re: Mass Converting Photos to Digital

By the way, I bought some canned air and cloth gloves today. Apparently they don't have antistatic brushes anymore; doesn't surprise me--they had a radioactive strip on them. They do have some spray-on chemical called Pet-12 or Pec-12 or something that's supposed to clear the dust and finger oils off negatives, but the store was out and I'll have to wait until Monday for it.
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