Massive Slide Scanning : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

A scientist friend of mine asked me to scan some 35mm slides for use in video and multimedia presentations. I guess since I am a photographer and have done some dabbling in digital she called me. Well, it turns out she has 1500 slides to scan. I'm not going to spend my summer doing that. Any suggestions for service bureaus that would give us a good price and good quality/service on this volume?

-- Dave Schneider (, June 16, 2001


What kind of resolution are we talking, this and the fact that she has 1500 slides may make this a bigger job than your friend has considered. Taking 1500 slides to a service bureau could end up costing your friend money that she could well plunk down on the purchase of her own scanner with the obvious benefit that after the job, she owns the scanner.

A service bureau is going to batch scan these slides regardless of what they charge you. You might be able to find a scanner that will handle batch scanning for the same price that a service bureau is asking to do the job. There are scanners out there that can batch scan up to 40-48 slides at a pop with software that will organize/re-orient each individual slide the way you want.

If the service bureaus are asking a significant amount, you can research whether that same amount can buy you and your friend a scanner that will do the job by going to canner_to_printer.html You can contact these folk at and tell them what you need and what you want to spend and they'll give you a good idea of what you can puchase if that's the way you want to go.

Some networking by you and your friend may turn up somebody who has a scanner with batch scan capability who could work out something with you. Good luck.

-- (, June 16, 2001.

Linoscan 1800, 2200. PhotoCD.

-- David Stein (, June 16, 2001.

If she's in academics, perhaps she could buy a scanner and hire an undergrad work-study student to do the job. If she's in industry, they should have a graphics department or contractor that should be able to do it.


-- Dave Willis (, June 16, 2001.

I recently set up a digital imaging system for a group of plastic surgeons here in Ann Arbor, with a Nikon LS-2000 for slide scanning. At 2700 dpi, the Nikon produces much better scans than Kodak Pro Photo CDs, and if you find someone to create an ICC profile to correct the color and density with a single step in Photoshop, the scans are so good that they need virtually no tweaking. The Nikon digital ICE works exceedingly well, filling in dust spots and scratches automatically. Nikon also makes a 50 slide batch loader, the SF-200 for something like $500, which would facilitate handling the kind of volume you anticipate. Given that even 72 MB Pro Photo CD scans run something like $9.00 for high volumes, you are going to break even on a scanner of this quality at 190 slides, a fraction of your total. Even better, the LS-2000 has just been superceded by a new model at roughly the same price (approx. $1700), the Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED, but with 4000 dpi resolution! Basic information can be had from the Nikon USA web site:

-- Christopher Campbell (, June 16, 2001.

Major libraries in the world are dealing exactly with this and even larger problems, some of them would take up outside projects, I work for the Dutch Royal Library and we are involved in huge digitalizing projects, even more so the Library of Congress. At the present time there is an American organization called OCLC (I think, I am not sure of the name) which should be able to support this project.

-- Andrea Milano (, June 17, 2001.

before you or anybodyelse enbarks in any serious digitalization project make sure that you have defined the criterias under which the project has to take place, I mean define the technical aspects such as hardware and output (which formats? TIFF, JPEG.....both), how to preserve(if needed) the saved data(digital preservation is a huge issue), you will find out that something which at first seems to be a straightforward task will avalanche into a huge series of problems some of which have no answers, all libraries of the world are facing the same problems and getting in touch with the different digital departments will prove of extreme value. Beware of those who play it down and bring the issue down to simple hardware/software matters.

-- Andrea Milano (, June 17, 2001.

I too would suggest have a PhotoCD made. Various file sizes will be made complete with a contact sheet.

-- William Levitt (, June 17, 2001.

1500 slides is not all that many, at least to my mind. I routinely scan batches of 400 to 600 sildes in my stock photo business. I use an old Mac clone ("souped up" with a G3 chip) with a Nikon Coolscan with the SF-200 attachment which holds up to 50 slides at a time. I can easily scan 50 slides/hour in the "background" while doing anything from working on the computer to working in the yard. Granted the SF-200 is a piece of crap out of the box, with a few "engineering tweaks" it is very reliable (its usability and amount required tweakage is dependent on the type of slide mounts you're using). YMMV. Depending on the desired end product (as previous posts discuss) in terms of quality, accuracy, and resolution, what I use, or some variant, might work for your friend. My guess is that they'd rather not bother and so a service bureau is probably the answer.

-- Peter Norquist (, June 17, 2001.

Stokes Imaging in Austin has done scanning work for National Geographic, if memory serves me. They've done optical slide duplication also for years before that, so I would check with them.

-- Steve Singleton (, June 17, 2001.

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