Scanning to the rescue!
If you’ve been wondering what to do with all those old negatives, slides and prints now that you’ve decided to go digital, here’s your answer: scan them!
Many computer users have a scanner, either a stand-alone model (flatbed, film, or both) or one that is multi-functional (printer/scanner/copier/fax).
First, Stand-alone models:
Flatbed Scanners are excellent for prints. Most current models allow you to resize a print during the scan so that you can enlarge or crop it. They
also allow for various settings that can improve the resolution, sharpness and brightness/contrast
of a print during the scan. And, of course, once a scan is made, you can modify it further using whatever imaging software you have.
Some flatbed scanners are also equipped with a specialized mechanism (usually built into the top of the scanner) that can scan both film and slides.
There are also some flatbeds that “claim” they can scan negatives and slides using the same light source they use for scanning prints. Be very skeptical if you’re considering one of these. In my experience, they can do a pretty terrible job on film and slide scans.
On the other hand, I have found the combination scanners that have separate scanning light sources built into the top of the scanner – such as the Epson model 2400 I have – to do a very good job on both prints and film. (The 2400 isn’t made anymore. But Epson and others have similar scanners currently available, many of them at or near $100, possibly less.)
Dedicated film scanners are pricey! But if you’re like me, and have thousands of slides stashed away, or rolls and rolls of 35mm film, AND if you’re determined to get the best possible digital images from your scans, they’re worth considering.
A quality film scanner can produce amazing results! And files so clean …and so large … that you’ll simply be amazed at how good you can make some of those old – even faded! – slides and negs look. Features like
Digital “ICE”, ROC and GEM can be amazingly effective in repairing and optimizing both negatives and slides.
There are some features that don’t work too well on certain types of film (old Kodachrome, for example, and certain types of black&white film), but I’m sure you’ll find that out for yourself once you get started.
Several manufacturers make quality scanners of this type. My favorites happen to be Nikon.
I’m not very impressed with most multi-function machines. And, so far as I know, none of them can scan both prints and film like the combo machines mentioned above can. But if you already have one, try it for print scanning. And if it performs to
suit you – Great!