Newsletter #129 - Dec 16, 2006
For many years 35mm slides were my primary method of recording
treasured images. Today I want those older images in digital format on a
hard drive, accessible for movie and story projects. Of course I'd
like them to look as good as the projected images.
If your closet, basement or attic has boxes of them from the
1960's, 1970's, 1980's... and thinking that someday you'll be able to get
decent quality copies on your computer. Is it time to do it?
I've dabbled with do-it-yourself devices... projecting on a
screen and taking video and snapshots of the images using a
camera or camcorder... trying a flatbed scanner... reading online info
about nothing satisfactory except a high-end slide scanner.
I'd looked for slide scanner rentals but the closest I found was
one in San Francisco. The distance to Kalamazoo, and the daily rental
rate were prohibitive.
One friend, Chuck Bentley, has a Minolta Dimage Scan
Speed F2800. Another, Norm Carver, has a Nikon Super Cool Scan
8000. I borrowed Chucks and visited Norm to do some testing for this
newsletter. I'll show you parts of 3 slides scanned at the
The higher resolution scanning of the Nikon was the overall
winner, important if you're heading to large prints... but
for story and movie source files either one is will do
Here are the slides and the selected areas. The
cropped area from the Nikon scan is shown full size.
The same area from the Minolta was enlarged to align.
... before getting into more details, here
are some notes...
Vista Corner... the more I use it,
the more I like it. This week I
sent my first
email from it, selecting a picture from the Photo Gallery.... it did a
great job appropriately resizing and attaching it to
to tweak the registry to get my system to play themed slide shows,
but it didn't work... my graphics card has a 2.6 Vista score, and it
needs one of 3.0 or higher for the feature. I don't
usually upgrade hardware components, but a new graphics card is
now on my holiday wish list.
which versions of Vista have DVD
Maker?... it wasn't easy to research and find authoritative info,
but with the help of Microsoft pointing me to the Vista
, I was able to add it to my Vista > Intro
page. The answer is the Home Premium and Ultimate versions.
received a request
to repeat a complex movie project breakdown I did a year ago...
one I had to break into about 5 parts to render on my laptop with 2 GB of
RAM. In Vista I didn't need to subdivide it at all to render it to a
DV-AVI file, on a system with 1 GB of RAM.... the enhanced memory
management 'under the hood' is working.
This link provides a
special 50% off the usual annual service price... good to Dec
31.... I'll keep it as a sticky note until then.
To compare streaming
video from mydeo to the file downloading of YouTube... take a
look at Chuck
Bentley's holiday greeting
... a subscription to mydeo makes a great
I installed 30 day trial
versions of Adobe's Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements, and Photoshop Album
Starter Edition. I've always thought well of Adobe products, and I'm
often asked for suggestions about upgrading from Movie Maker and
starter edition DVD software. There's no Microsoft upgrade path, and my
experiences with Sonic DVD software isn't positive enough to recommend it.
On the first day I made a DVD
project in Premiere and burned a disc, which played fine... another day I
did a firewire video capture from my camcorder and enjoyed seeing the
larger preview monitor and listening to it on the computer as it came
.... back to the main
I borrowed the Minolta Dimage Scan
Speed F2800 from Chuck, who hadn't set it up yet. It was a chore to install
on my Windows XP system. The older SCSI hardware interface isn't
It needed a special SCSI adapter card, which
ruled out using it on my laptop. I had to pull an existing card
to make room for the Adaptec AVA-2902E/I PCI-to-Fast SCSI Host
After doing some online research for a driver,
and finding there wasn't any for XP, I downloaded one anyway and ran
the installation. There were a lots of error
messages along the way, but somehow by ignoring the errors, the gears
meshed and I was able to do the scanning. It's my good computer
Each time I start the computer I get the
standard message about new hardware being found... I hit cancel and
the message at the lower right says it wasn't installed right and may not
work. But it's been working fine. Here's what the software interface
I think in pixels, not pixels per inch or dots per
inch. Scanning at the highest resolution results in BMP, TIFF (or some
other options but not JPG). After cropping the image from the black
borders, I get
3785x2550 pixels = 9.7
Compared to the 1/3 of a megapixel of my camcorder,
its 2 megapixel snapshot feature, our current 5 megapixel camera, and the new
7.2 megapixel one that Bernadette is getting for Christmas, the slide scan from
the Minolta is still comfortably in the lead. And it's the lower resolution of
the two scanners I tested.
The Nikon Super Cool Scan
8000 is setup on one of Norm's computers, so all I had to do was bring a few
slides over, watch him do the scanning, listen to his frustration
about the software doing things like reverting to the defaults after each scan
(one default is to scan it as black and white), and bring the TIFF
files back on a thumb drive.
Using the highest
resolution, the files were
3610x5450 pixels - 19.7
.... double the size of the files from
I did some computer-based comparisons like the ones above, and
Chuck did some large size prints. The votes concluded the scans by the
Nikon were better.
More pixels isn't the only criteria... there needs to be
enough info on the slide that the higher resolution scan can effectively
get, which partly depends on the quality of the camera that took the picture.
And then there's color, and consistency of focus across the slide, and the
software being able to effectively remove all the little dust marks. It wasn't
an easy hands-down quick evaluation.
Before doing the scans on the Nikon, it seemed the Minolta
had gotten all there was to get. We changed our minds
after doing the Nikon scans.
Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Today seems like a good time to scan your slides. Although
the cost of a new and good scanner like either of these is in the hundreds
of dollars, I see a number of good deals online for used ones. When I
return Chuck's, I might just get one.
You might think of scanning your slides as something you could
do in a day or two... not so. It requires enough manual tending, something you
can do in spurts but not for a long period. There are too many other things
Have a great week...