My Never-Ending Scanning Project

paint_ballers.jpgA few years ago, my best man Steve and I split the cost of a Nikon film scanner. I figured I’d spend a few days scanning the best of the thousands of slides and negatives I have scattered around. Well, this little project has grown into a monster. I’ve been scanning on and off for the better part of three years, and I’m no where near done.

The main reason my project has grown so time-consuming is the amount time it takes to get a good scan. Initially, I cut corners and scanned at lower resolutions or lower bit-depth or even skipped a preview scan. Now I know that attempting to save time in this way a very bad idea. There is no way around the fact that every image must be preview scanned and adjusted individually. Also, there are several scanning options which must be enabled to get the best results. Doing this causes the amount of time per scan to increase dramatically. A single 35 mm slide now takes about 15-20 minutes to scan. My 6 x 7 cm images will take three or four times that. And that’s before they even get opened in PhotoShop, which can easily add another hour or two to the process.

So now, in addition to the slides and negatives that have not yet been scanned, I have to go back and re-scan a buttload of images. This may not be as bad as it sounds though. It turns out that the scanner is perfectly happy scanning in the background. Even on my lowly pee see, I can color-correct and dust-spot an image in PhotoShop, and make an entry on my blog while the scanner hums away on another decades-old image.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. FriskoDude says:

    Jimbo, since you seem to have a ton of time on your hands, I’ve got a few thousand slides of Asia I need scanned, and perhaps you’re my man. Uh, yeah….

  2. Cindy says:

    I recognize a few of these guys, but not everyone. Can anyone name all of them?

  3. thedude says:

    Well, we have Pilarski, Jimmy D and Paul Sertzel in there. I have no idea who the other three are.

  4. mark says:

    I just was at Jimmy D’s house two weeks ago and saw the group picture with you in it. Gotta love the Old Style 6 pack abs.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hey dude, any recommendations on a scanner type/cost level? I am embarking on a similar project here, and found myself an Epson V500 Photo for my “old” 35mm snapshots (no slides really). I’ll be scanning into a brand new MacPro running either Photoshop or Aperture with crazy memory and disk, big monster hardware RAID-enabled beast of a machine. Haven’t started yet, but if I should be using other technology for the scanner, let me know what ya think, I can always return this one and get another.

    Cheers, these projects are meaty for sure, similar to the music-ripping project I embarked on like 4 years ago (and haven’t quite finished!)…

    Thanks a ton,

  6. thedude says:

    Hoo boy. That’s going to be tough. Scanning flat artwork like old snapshots is very labor-intensive. You will not believe how dusty those old prints are until you scan one at a reasonable resolution – say 400 dpi. All of my scanning is from original slides or negatives. The Nikon film scanner has powerful anti-dust and anti-scratch features that work amazingly well.

    You have a lifetime of dust-spotting ahead of you, SomeDude.

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