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It's actually way more complicated than that. ...
Thom is correct, of course. And it is academically interesting. However, it is worth pointing out that the hardware and firmware operations of a camera are nothing over which a user can exercise any control.

That said, the more you know about how your camera works, the better equipped you are to use the tool.
 


I need to scan (with a MacBook Air 2011 running High Sierra) several hundred photos and slides this fall. They are old family photos, and the quality isn’t superb to begin with. Slides are Kodachrome. I would like advice about choosing a scanner. The results may never make it off a computer monitor onto paper. I am sure that a scanner costing under $200 is more than adequate. I tend toward the Epson V600. Is a dedicated film scanner for the slides enough better than a flatbed scanner to be worth the extra cost of buying a second scanner? If the flatbed doesn’t need to do slides, I could spend less on it.
I have used an Epson 750 for years, after having a 600. I suspect either would excel at what you need done. I used mine to scan old black-and-white photos, slides, newspaper articles, and all kinds of color photos for a book project, and moved through dozens of items with reasonably good speed, plus I could store them with a sensible catalogue of my design.

I suspect the key in your case is not the scanner choice but the software. I highly recommend VueScan. Once you practice and develop a system, the scanner will produce great results, and the software will regularize how you store scans for future reference.
 


The new flatbed scanners with transparency capability can scan multiple slides at a time, and most have software that can save each slide as a separate image file, thus eliminating having to duplicate, crop and save multiple times to get each slide as an individual.
Not just "new" models - my Epson Perfection 4870 (ca. 2004) includes a transparency lid and film carriers for a variety of sizes, including mounted slides (up to 8) or 35mm negatives (up to 4 strips or 24 frames).

Assuming you have software that can perform batch scans (I use SilverFast), you load the slides, do a pre-scan, drag a rectangle around each one (or use the software to auto-detect the slides), and start a batch scan. When it finishes, load the next set of slides into the carrier and repeat.

SilverFast lets you either scan to files or to a Photoshop plugin (so you end up with an open Photoshop document for each image, which you can then edit and save as you like). Other scanner software will, of course, do this in different ways.
 


I have used an Epson 750 for years, after having a 600. I suspect either would excel at what you need done. ... I suspect the key in your case is not the scanner choice but the software. I highly recommend VueScan. Once you practice and develop a system, the scanner will produce great results, and the software will regularize how you store scans for future reference.
I contemplated the Epson 750 but went with the 600 and did hundreds of slides and negatives. The Epson 600 is a great scanner, but VueScan is definitely the software to use to drive it – it will do multiscan and also batch scanning and batch adjustments, which can be brilliant if your slides / negatives are all from the same film in similar light.

Slides are ten times easier than negatives. I used to do four (or maybe it's five) slides at a time on 2-3 scans per slide. It would take 20 minutes to complete, but the quality was great, and I could do other things in that 20 minutes.

I used to have a dedicated slide scanner also, but it gave much lower quality than the Epson 600 and was much much more fiddly to use.
 


I don't think it's possible to buy a really good dedicated scanner for slides any more. The Nikons and Konica- Minoltas are gone, and now the Hasselblad Flextights. There is still the Plustek Optic 135, but I read a lot of complaints about quality.

Flatbed scanners will do for casual use, as will the cheap, but surprisingly good, Pacific Image scanners for 35mm negatives and slides. Flatbeds are much faster and allow batch scanning, but you have to be careful, as Epson Scan tends to produce enormous files at supposed high resolutions that don't quite live up to their billing (typically a 400MB Epson file doesn't have the detail of a 60MB Nikon scan).

If you have a DSLR, a suitable lens, and are willing to buy a slide copying device, it is probably the easiest way these days. The main issue with that approach is difficulty with colour balance (making a Kodachrome look like a Kodachrome is harder than you think!).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The main issue with that approach is difficulty with colour balance (making a Kodachrome look like a Kodachrome is harder than you think!).
I'd be curious to hear more about this. Do film styles (i.e. presets, such as these) help? Are there Kodachrome ICC profiles? Hmmm, here's something I found in a quick search:
Ian Sheh said:
For the Love of Film
As film shooters, we all want to create accurate scans of our film. Vuescan is one of the most powerful scanning softwares available today. Ed Hamrick does a great job keeping the software up-to-date.

Creating accurate ICC profiles for your film is very important to achieve correct colour reproduction. Unfortunately Vuescan does not do a very good job of creating or embedding ICC profiles. The following is a best-practices of how to achieve the most accurate scans from Vuescan.
 


Flatbed scanners will do for casual use, as will the cheap, but surprisingly good, Pacific Image scanners for 35mm negatives and slides. Flatbeds are much faster and allow batch scanning, but you have to be careful, as Epson Scan tends to produce enormous files at supposed high resolutions that don't quite live up to their billing (typically a 400MB Epson file doesn't have the detail of a 60MB Nikon scan).
I would never recommend Epson Scan (or any software produced by the hardware manufacturer). But you don't need to use the software bundled with your hardware. VueScan supports an incredible number of scanners and isn't expensive. SilverFast is extremely powerful, but has much more limited hardware support. (Their "SE" version doesn't cost much. They also have advanced versions that can cost quite a bit.) There are likely other apps as well, but these are the two I know about.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here are a few notes, for what they're worth, if others are interested in exploring practical, perceivable differences among color profiles and displays.

An image of some fluourescent orange paper plus natural wood, metal, glass and other elements demonstrated differences between color spaces during soft-proofing in Capture One Pro on the 2017 iMac 5K (which features "wide-gamut" color). A mildly underexposed raw file at ISO 2500 from a Fujifilm X-T3 was simply developed with an auto-levels option to correct exposure.

Soft-proofing on the iMac 5K in Capture One, CMYK looks obviously different, as always, with lighter shadows and less saturated colors.

sRGB looks fine, but Adobe RGB shows the orange brighter with smoother gradation. Everything else in the photo looks pretty much the same. I didn't see any noticeable difference between Adobe RGB and DCI P3.

I then switched to the 2015 MacBook Pro and VP2770 display. As always, the CMYK profile was again obviously different, but differences between sRGB and Adobe RGB (or DCI P3) were difficult to discern.

I then realized that I had the display set for a higher-gamma profile I prefer for Mac user interface elements and switched back to the display's native profile ("VP2770 Series"). The orange now showed differences between sRGB and Adobe RGB, but they were more subtle than for the iMac 5K display.

Switching to different display profiles — "wide gamut", DCI P3, ROMM RGB — desaturated the color (and/or reduced gamma) and showed the differences in the orange more distinctly when soft-proofing sRGB vs. Adobe RGB or DCI P3.

So... some observations on my experiences so far:
  • Even with high-quality displays, visible differences between the usual color profiles (sRGB vs. Adobe RGB) and gamuts (e.g. iMac 5K wide-gamut vs. Viewsonic VP2770) are typically very, very subtle and affect only a few specific tones.
  • As folks noted earlier, display calibration/profiling is critical to being able to see differences.
  • When soft-proofing, switching to a CMYK and/or grayscale profile can help show that profile changes are, in fact, being displayed (proofed).
  • When looking for subtle distinctions in color, switching to wider-gamut display profiles (e.g. ProPhoto) can make a big visual difference but may, in the process, display unrealistic color (i.e. very different colors than what you'll see on another computer/display/printer).
  • The iMac 5K Retina (wide-gamut) display can be helpful in certain very specific cases to show subtle color differences.
Of course, that's all only about displays, not printing, which is a whole different story.

And, for all kinds of practical purposes, simply outputting a file in sRGB makes the most sense (and most especially for Web use and any kind of casual distribution or communication). But, when working on a photo, one wants to stay in a large-gamut color space (as Tracy explained earlier), and it's helpful during this process to have a high-quality, carefully calibrated and profiled wide-gamut display. though you can also work effectively for a huge range of purposes with any decent display that covers a good part of sRGB space and hopefully has 10-bit or better color (and is calibrated/profiled).

One last note: I find the iMac 5K display to be just a touch sharp/grainy/edgy, as if the "sharpness" on the hardware is on the high side (and Apple doesn't let you have any control over that). It's subtle, but I prefer the "creamy" display (and the hardware controls you have) with the LG 27UK650-W. (Of course, the LG is acting as a 4K retina display while the iMac is a 5K retina display, both 27-inch panels. I'm not sure how much difference 4K vs. 5K makes in the look.)
 



And, for all kinds of practical purposes, simply outputting a file in sRGB makes the most sense (and most especially for Web use and any kind of casual distribution or communication).
Agreed. I haven't gone whole-hog,since I don't do photography professionally, but I do have my 2015 iMac screen calibrated with an XRite i1Display Pro, working from Lightroom v6.x.

Just a couple quick examples of file output and printing through Walgreens, Zookbinders and a commercial print house:

sRGB at my local Walgreens (two of them; they use the Fuji system) yields darker prints than I saw on screen, AdobeRGB gives me the best/most predictable results.

Zookbinders requires sRGB (and presumably has their pre-press workflow dialed for that as the input color space), and the book I had printed with them, outputting from a similar setup several years ago, yielded pleasing and very consistent results - they do great work — it was beautiful.

Using AdobeRGB for photos that are used by a couple of local schools in their yearbooks produced using Pictavo also produced predictable, pleasing results. In my conversations with them, both sRGB and AdobeRGB should yield similar results in their workflow.

All that is to say it's worth experimenting on the output side, when having someone else print your images, so you know what you have to do to get the desired results - and no one color space necessarily guarantees that..
 


The main issue with that approach is difficulty with colour balance (making a Kodachrome look like a Kodachrome is harder than you think!).
Indeed. There have been many articles written about the challenges of scanning Kodachrome. For example, this article (specifically the section on "Scanning Kodachrome Films") explains part of the reason for this diffuculty.
ScanDig said:
Scanning Kodachrome Films
A feature of Kodachrome films is the fact that black is really black and not something between dark grey and black. The slide scanners with a low density have big problems with the black image areas in which the black shades are also strongly differentiated. In order to digitalize Kodachrome films in good quality, the slide scanner in use should have a high density.

In the case of scanners with low density, in the dark image areas, the pixel noise has of course an effect, that means that some single pixels do not appear to be black but contain some unpleasant defective colours. Such effects can be efficiently handled by doing multiple scans. For example, in a fourfold scan, an image in a scanner is scanned four times right away. The pixel noise can be compensated very well by the digital image material that was determined four times.
The "low density" mentioned in the quote is DMax (optical density).
Wikipedia said:
Densitometry
DMax and DMin refer to the maximum and minimum density that can be produced by the material. The difference between the two is the density range. The density range is related to the exposure range (dynamic range), which is the range of light intensity that is represented by the recording, via the Hurter–Driffield curve.
Wikipedia also has some relevant information on scanning Kodachrome.

One of the main reasons I have Snow Leopard Server in a VM is to run NikonScan to scan my Kodachrome slides. I've used NikonScan and VueScan side-by-side for scanning Kodachromes and prefer NikonScan.
 


It's interesting to note that SilverFast doesn't support Kodachrome in their least-expensive version. They have a product page describing what is needed for good Kodachrome scans:
  • A scanner calibrated for Kodachrome. They bundle profiles for many scanners, but running your own calibration is needed for best results. This can be a real problem because Kodak stopped selling Kodachrome IT8 targets in 1999, and calibration targets have expiration dates, so old ones may not work as well as they used to. (LaserSoft says you can contact their sales people to buy a compatible target that they manufacture for this purpose.)
  • Huge dynamic range - contrast up to 1:6300 - which is beyond the capabilities of many scanners. They compensate using a "multi-exposure" technique where the image is scanned twice - the second pass with a longer exposure than the first. I assume they use something like HDR to merge the two images afterward.
  • A different algorithm for dust/scratch removal, because infrared techniques (like digital ICE) don't work with Kodachrome's emulsion.
 


Some of you reminded me of a great headache coming upon me later. I have several thousand Kodachrome slides I need to digitize. I have a slide copier for my Canon DSLR. It's tedious to do. Since I used natural sunlight outside, I got too warm and gave up. I've heard of a rumor that Kodak came out with a slide copier that uses the Carousel trays for the slides and one can automate the process. Is the rumor true?

My dad got me hooked on Kodachrome. There are pictures he took back in the early 1950’s that look like they were shot yesterday.
 



... One of the main reasons I have Snow Leopard Server in a VM is to run NikonScan to scan my Kodachrome slides. I've used NikonScan and VueScan side-by-side for scanning Kodachromes and prefer NikonScan.
I purchased an Epson Perfection 750 flatbed scanner several years ago to scan boxes of 35 mm film negatives. The scanner came with a rack to hold 3-6 strips of negatives and software to scan the full batch of them. I’ll leave comments about the difficulty of aligning the scans with the frames for another time, but having tried both the Epson software and VueScan, I’ve had difficulty getting acceptable color quality from VueScan. Sometimes the Epson software is spot on, sometimes the colors are gently “stylized”, but the results with VueScan are frequently off, much too dark for example. I’m sure it’s operator error, but I don’t know what to do about it!

Much of the software for both the Epson scanner and my Canon 70D camera is not 64-bit! Another source of worry.
 


I purchased an Epson Perfection 750 flatbed scanner several years ago..., I’ve had difficulty getting acceptable color quality from VueScan. ...The results with VueScan are frequently off, much too dark for example. I’m sure it’s operator error, but I don’t know what to do about it!
Did you ever calibrate your scanner in Silverfast by scanning an IT8 target of the appropriate film type? And also calibrate your monitor? Just curious.
 


Did you ever calibrate your scanner in Silverfast by scanning an IT8 target of the appropriate film type? And also calibrate your monitor? Just curious.
I have a copy of Silverfast, but I don't think it's for the Epson; it may have been for a different scanner I had earlier. I found it kind of hard to use, as I remember. I haven't calibrated my iMac retina display.
 


I've heard of a rumor that Kodak came out with a slide copier that uses the Carousel trays for the slides and one can automate the process. Is the rumor true?
I purchased a slide scanner that uses a modified Kodak Projector. Unfortunately, I have been too busy to use it. (SlideSnap | SlideSnap Pro). I have a lot of slides to scan that are already in slide cases and the speed is important to me.
 


I don't think it's possible to buy a really good dedicated scanner for slides any more. The Nikons and Konica- Minoltas are gone...
I'm glad I started early. In early 2004 I borrowed a Nikon 4000ED from my step-brother, bought a negative reel attachment (I had over ~150 uncut 36 exposure negatives... he already had the automatic slide feeder attachment), connected it to an unused and out-of-date Power Mac G3 running Mac OS 8 (no Nikon OS X software at the time for this scanner), and crunched out over 10,000 images into TIFFs over several weeks.

Generall, the slide scanner didn't jam, and the negative scanner worked flawlessly, so I could, for the most part, let it run unattended. Other than settling up the feeders, the most time consuming part was mass-renaming the files with a Mac OS 9 version of Graphic Converter, using the dates printed on the edge of the negatives or the slide holder.

The Nikon Digital ICE software worked amazingly well to color-correct the faded '50s Ektachrome and digitally remove the dust.

I have since used a flatbed scanner (though not the ones mentioned recently in this thread) to scan some slides I had missed when I still had the Nikon and was disappointed in the results. I ended up using a light box and shooting the slides using a digital camera on macro. Something similar to what I used can be seen here:
YouTube said:
However, I miss the automatic Digital ICE software.
 


It's important to keep in mind that the VueScan app supports hundreds, if not thousands, of scanners, and Mr. Hamrick constantly adds new models as they hit the market, whereas SilverFast requires you to purchase a separate license for each model of scanner, with their pricing being broken down into multiple versions of the software that offer more features when you pay them more money, sometimes hundreds and hundreds of dollars. SilverFast also charges for version upgrades. VueScan, I believe, is a lifetime license with free upgrades.
 


It's important to keep in mind that the VueScan app supports hundreds, if not thousands, of scanners, and Mr. Hamrick constantly adds new models as they hit the market, whereas SilverFast requires you to purchase a separate license for each model of scanner, with their pricing being broken down into multiple versions of the software that offer more features when you pay them more money, sometimes hundreds and hundreds of dollars. SilverFast also charges for version upgrades. VueScan, I believe, is a lifetime license with free upgrades.
SilverFast does require a separate license for each model scanner you use (but for me, at least, that's moot, because I only own one). And, yes, each supported scanner has multiple releases, so higher-end features (like Kodachrome support) cost more than the basic software. And some scanners (especially slide scanners) have a higher price than others (like flatbeds).

For upgrades, major upgrades aren't free, but the minor ones have been. To date, I've paid for two upgrades: from the free version that came wtih my scanner to version 6 and later from version 6 to version 8. The point-updates of versions 6 and 8 have (so far) all been free downloads.

All this having been said, they offer features I haven't seen elsewhere, like a large database of film-specific profiles for scanning negatives, multi-exposure support for high-contrast images, and support for scanner calibration via IT8 targets. If you need the features, they're worth the money. If you don't, well, then clearly they're not.
 


Call me a luddite but I still shoot Kodak Gold ASA 200/400 film in my Canon AE-1, but it is getting difficult to find a vendor to process the film prints and digitize.
 


I purchased a slide scanner that uses a modified Kodak Projector. Unfortunately, I have been too busy to use it. (SlideSnap | SlideSnap Pro). I have a lot of slides to scan that are already in slide cases and the speed is important to me.
I used one of these some years ago but gave up on it, due to image quality issues.

It's a clever idea: a repurposed Carousel projecter and a mount adaptable to most DSLR-type cameras. The weakness of the system was that there was no image-processing software included, so the dust, scratches, and fading present in the thousands of decades-old slides I scanned would have had to been addressed in Photoshop or something similar, manually for each slide. It doesn't matter that it could "scan" a slide in just seconds, if I had to spend minutes per slide post-processing. As best I can see, the only software included is a simple auto-cropper.

I wound up using a dedicated, rather expensive ($2500?) slide scanner and used Carousel-like slide holders. I had to load the slides from the original carousels into each proprietary holder, but the scanner produced images that required no post-processing. A separate IR-lit scan highlighted dust and scratches that the software could remove from the subsequent visible light scan. The scans were slow - not more than one or two slides per minute at 2400 dpi - but not having to manually tweak each slide more than made up for it.

The scanner is apparently no longer made, but I found it online here:

These days, on the rare occasions I have to scan slides, I use an old Canon 9950 scanner that can handle 12 slides at a time with Arcsoft Photostudio. Photostudio has some nice image handling, with dust and scratch removal and color-fading correction.
 


As several here have noticed, Kodachrome is a challenge to scan. I have a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000, which, at the time it was being sold, was described as not doing Kodachrome well, with a batch slide adapter. Having a lot of Kodachrome, I tried the Nikon software, VueScan, and a trial of SilverFast some years ago.

What made a *huge* difference for me was getting an IT8 reference Kodachrome slide to calibrate VueScan. As the Nikon software was often wonky, had not been updated or maintained in a long time, and at times really failed to recover colors properly, and as I wasn't seeing great advantages to SilverFast, I've ended up with VueScan and the calibration slide as my go-to in scanning slides.

Presets for Kodachrome in software simply were not getting the job done decently, and while there is still room for improvement even with the IT8 slide, I got adequate quality for my purposes with this setup. So I'd emphasize that getting that IT8 reference slide can be a huge help.

While they may not be processing Kodachrome any more, the very slow decay of color in Kodachrome slides stored decently should mean that existing reference slides should be quite helpful. The few Ektachrome slides I've scanned worked well without a reference slide, despite using the software settings and having to deal with fading.
 



I don't think it's possible to buy a really good dedicated scanner for slides any more. The Nikons and Konica- Minoltas are gone, and now the Hasselblad Flextights. There is still the Plustek Optic 135, but I read a lot of complaints about quality.
Plustek make a range of slide/negative strip scanners, of which the Optic 135 is one of the cheapest. There is also a (very expensive) model that scans 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and 6x12 cm frame sizes as well as 35mm.

I have an OpticFilm 8200i, which came with Silverfast and an IT8 target. It is still listed on their site and is also available from Amazon in the UK.

I found Silverfast cumbersome and bought VueScan instead. The learning curve is a tad steep, but now I'm rattling through black-and-white negatives at a fair old rate (currently midway through 1984).

My main criticism of the scanner itself is of the filmstrip holder. It is not the easiest I have ever used. Otherwise (with Vuescan) it scans quickly and reliably.
 


It may be discontinued, but the link you provided indicates that they still have some in stock, selling for $800, though review comments indicate that many customers were not happy with the result.
Amazon lists the current version, PowerSlide X, for $889 — mixed reviews, but seemingly mostly positive.

I just brought home lots of slides from my parent's house, both mine and theirs, and will probably get this to digitize them.

Not a lot of options out there currently. Would love to find a Nikon with feeder for a reasonable price in good condition, but I suspect that is a pipe dream.
 


While they may not be processing Kodachrome any more
Kelly-Shane Fuller figured out how to process Kodachrome himself:
Kelly-Shane Fuller said:
I began to research the film and discovered it used a process known as “K-14”, much different than modern film’s C-41. K-14 used a toxic color coupler that was no longer in production, which prompted Kodak to end its 75 year run. Every person I talked to repeated that it was simply impossible to shoot it in color any more, sure you could develop it as black and white but color was just not ever going to happen.

Now as a self professed armchair photo-chemist, this answer seemed crazy to me. If we’d done it once we could do it again, I vowed to prove it possible!!!
 


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