Best slide scanners
Shooting films has its ups and downs, and doing it from start to finish may prove to be challenging. One of the things that annoy people the most is the moment when they need to scan the film. We do not have analog images anymore, and if we do, we want to quickly share them. So what do we do? We digitize them. But for that, you need a film scanner. Not only that but if you want your pictures to come out just as you see them, then you need one of the best scanners you can find.
The benefits of scanning your own films
Your first question may be why you should buy a scanner when you can take the film to a lab. After all, there are plenty of them out there, and someone does that for a living. Why go through all that hassle? I think that there is a number of reasons for that. Just bear with me, and I will explain.
A lab is more expensive
We are all passionate about what we do, which is why we are willing to invest in our hobby. Some of us do this for a living. Either way, taking your slides to a lab can cost you pretty much in the long run. Sure, one or two times every now and then is barely noticeable, but when you need a few trips to the lab every week, the expenses keep adding up. What does not make sense is that you can find a high-quality slide scanner at about $200. It is not the cheapest, but not the most expensive either. The point is that buying your own slide scanner can be a smart investment.
The lab crops all images
When you have a vision, and then the lab screws up that vision, your only option is to get at least a little bit irritated. Nobody should mess with your vision. A lab will almost always crop your images because they scan the slides automatically. Moreover, the machine will crop to a 4 by 6. And you know what the most interesting fact is? You will not notice the difference until you buy yourself a scanner and scan your own films. You think that the lab did ok so far, but wait until you see the real frame your pictures have.
A lab’s processing is generic
As I mentioned above, a lab will scan the slides and crop the images automatically. There is absolutely no regard for what you want that picture to be. In some way, I understand that because a lab cannot possibly know what you wanted to capture. You can not go as far as to say that it is ignorant of them, but there is not much interest either. It is somewhere in the middle. The one size fits all strategy labs have does not work for everyone, which is why you would better buy your own slide scanner than use a lab ever again.
It can be more relaxing than you think
I do not know about you, but I have moments when I do not want to think about anything, but be useful at the same time. You know, like ironing. The point is that scanning your own slides can be relaxing. It is not a challenging activity, it requires patience, especially when you have high-resolution scans to complete. You can read a book in the meantime, cook, or whatever else you may fancy doing. You can also have that thrill of seeing your creation for the first time. Scanning the negative and hitting that preview button is quite similar to unwrapping a gift.
What to consider when looking for the best slide scanner
Purchasing a slide scanner is not difficult. At the end of the day, you know best what you need. However, there are some criteria that are pretty much generic, and as long as you follow those, you should be able to make the right choice. Here is what you need to consider.
- Format – the most important aspect you need in a slide scanner is its ability to hold your negatives. Most scanners have the ability to scan 35 mm negatives, but that is a standard If you want medium or large formats, you should make sure that the scanner you wish to buy can handle it. Otherwise, you just made a bad investment.
- Type – there is more than one type of scanners. The flatbed slide scanner can handle 35 mm or 120 negatives, and some of them can even handle the 4 by 5 format, so my advice is to not go for a dedicated scanner that can only accommodate one format.
- Resolution – when it comes to resolution, you are the one who gets to decide which scanner to buy. It all depends on the prints you want. As you can imagine the larger the print, the better the resolution you The resolution is measured in DPI (Dots Per Inch), but do not fall for manufacturers that promise you impossible capabilities. Just to get a clear picture, a slide scanner with 3600 DPI should be more than enough. If someone promises you 7000+ DPI, you may fall for it, but it is not for real. The sensors and optics cannot be optimized for that density. At least not the mid-range slide scanners.
- Color depth – as you can imagine, this applies to color scanners, but nobody says you cannot use black and white as well. The depth of the color is measured in bits, and it establishes the ability of the scanner to capture the color nuances or grays on a negative. I find that 24 bits are enough to catch most shades, but some of the best slide scanners can go as high as 48. On the other hand, if you go under 24 bits, the color transition will be more than noticeable, and something that we call ‘banding’ occurs.
- Dmax – as you may very well know, Dmax is the scanner’s ability to detect details in the darker parts of the negative. This is most useful when you have pictures with high contrast. To put it simply, the higher the value, the more details your scanner will capture. You will find that the Dmax is measured in Dmin.
- Price – budget is always an issue, and I suppose that you know that slide scanners can cost even thousands of dollars. I would not go that high because it is a bit expensive for home use. A lab may make that investment. Also, there are some models under $100 that are ok, but if you want an excellent quality-price ratio, a slide scanner around $200 is more than okay.
What are the best slide scanners?
Now let’s get to the choosing part. Buying a slide scanner should not be difficult for the connoisseur. However, if you are a beginner, you may have some troubles making a choice. Reading slide scanners reviews online can help, but if you have no idea what you are doing, the products above are sure to satisfy your needs.
Magnasonic All-In-One High-Resolution Film Scanner
This is one of the best models that I could find at a cheap price. However, this little machine delivers more than it meets the eye. It converts your 126 KPK, 135, super 8 and negatives into high resolution 22 MP digital photos. You will have your JPEGs in a matter of minutes with no effort whatsoever. Just keep in mind that this device is for images only, and not videos.
The Magnasonic has a vibrant 2.4-inch LCD screen that allows you to see a preview of the slides you are scanning. You can even connect the device to your TV for a better view with the help of the included Video Out TV cable. In fact, you do not even need a computer to convert your images from analog to digital. This slide scanner has an integrated 128 MB memory that allows you to store up to 100 images. If you like, you can add an SD card for more space.
The Magnasonic slide scanner is very easy to use. You do not need to pre-cut slides, and the lining is easy to achieve. The device does not require any software thanks to its plug-and-play interface. You can start editing your photos right out of the box. I think it is an excellent product for a beginner, but I would not recommend it to an advanced user.
Epson Perfection V600 Color Scanner
This is an incredibly versatile product that will help you turn your analog pictures into digital images in just a matter of seconds. You can create unbelievable enlargements from film. You can achieve 6400 x 9600 DPI for enlargements up to 17 by 22 inches. Epson has always delivered when it comes to photo editing, and this scanner is no different.
The Epson scanner is multi-purpose. You can scan films, negatives, slides, but you can also scan photos and documents. It also has some impressive capabilities like removing the appearance of tears and creases from damaged photos, which is known as digital ICE for prints. The feature is also available for fil, and it successfully removes the appearance of dust and scratches from film. I think you will like both features and you will have some fun using them.
As for computer compatibility, you can install the scanner’s driver on most operating systems. The flatbed slide scanner is easy to use, it is fast, and you will get out of it everything that you need to edit your images. I am sure that if you purchase this model, you will be happy with your choice.
Kodak Scanza Digital Film and Slide Scanner
Last but not least, the model from Kodak is yet another product that may get your attention. Kodak, just like Epson, has a good reputation when it comes to imaging and photo editing. After all, they have been market leaders for years. It turns your film into JPEGS in just a matter of seconds. It converts old 35 m, 126, 110, super 8 and 8 m negatives and slides to JPEG digital files. The 22MP files will come out fantastic.
The Kodak slide scanner features a large and bright 3.5-inch TFT LCD screen with beautiful colors and adjustable brightness. The screen also tilts for convenient operation and easy image viewing. The unit arrives with multiple film inserts and adapters for fast and flexible operation. The buttons are pretty big, and you will be able to scan and save in just an instant.
The interface of the Kodak Slide scanner is highly intuitive. You get to use a helpful tray and insert directory. You can edit the image’s RGB and resolution straight on the device, and browse through the gallery. You can add an SD card for more memory space. Lastly, this small but highly efficient converter comes with a USB power cable, HDMI Cable, AC adapter, video cable, and a free film cleaning brush. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
Personally, I would not go for the cheap versions of a slide scanner, because while they can provide some efficiency, the quality of the images is doubtful, to say the least. That is why my favorite is the Epson Perfection V600 Color Scanner. It is a flatbed scanner that is worth its price. It is versatile, durable, and has all the right values. I think it is one of the best slide scanners you can find at this price.
Bringing your slides to life may be more than it meets the eye. It represents the digital shape of what you see through the lenses of your camera, and it can be a wonderful process. However, that beauty may fade if you do not buy the right slide scanner. One of the products above will help you bring your images to life, and I am sure that no matter which one you choose, you will be satisfied. Click here to buy on Amazon
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