Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #59 6/9/2010

Question: Can I scan my slides in the computer?


Yes you can scan your slides (and negatives) to the computer to store and use. You need to scan them slightly differently than prints or documents.

Negatives can be scanned with a normal scanner as long as your photoediting software has the ability to reverse the colors. However you can usually get better quality pictures by using a scanner designed for negatives and slides. Slides can be don with a normal scanner also using a dual mirror attachment which gives a good scan but takes a lot of time.

Basically you need a backlighting for slides and for negatives the purple lighting behind so you get the correct color switching.

There are basically three type scanners I have used to scan slides and negatives. I have probably scanned about 15,000 slides and a thousand negatives. The first is a flatbed scanner that includes a backlight to put on top the slides or negatives.. Those scanners were going fro about $300 5 years ago, but I have not seen recently.

The second is a dedicated scanner to scan your slides or negatives. It will have a tray to put several slides or 1 negative strip in and then it is drawn thru the scanner. Some have a motor fro moving the tray and some you pull it through. Minolta made one back in 2002 that was motorized and did high quality scans at about 1 slide per minute. I used one for years. PlusTek makes one with no motor that does a low resolution scan. I have one of these also and the quality is not level I want. You can find it in several catalogs fro about $100.

The third way is a flatbed scanner with a built in back light that you expose when doing slides or negatives but scanner works fine for other purposes. The HP Scanjet G4050 is an example of these. The G4050 also scans in 6 colors so much better color and does very high resolution scans. You can scan 16 slides at one time but the scan will take 30-40 minutes. I have used this model for the last two years and like it. You can find it for about $150-200. I used this scanner to also scan odd size negatives from my parents weeding almost 60 years ago and they came out real good. You can see the results at dwightwatt.shutterfly.com/ At http://dwightwatt.shutterfly.com/6803 you can see difference in HP G4050 and regular flatbed scanner.

You will need to use the software that comes with the scanner that will pull each picture out of the scan to a separate file. Normally I find the software does good on seeing the edges. You may need to autocolor the slides after in the editing program and I find colors look new.

Thanks Ted for the question.