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I would like to scan batches of 5 mounted 35mm slides in my Nikon LS-8000, using Vuescan. I am confused about how best (and easiest) to achieve good focus.

The simplest thing is to set the focus point X/Y midway between an edge and the center of the transparency, to "split the difference" on a "cupped" slide. Then (in the "Input" tab) set "Auto focus" to "Scan", and "Batch scan" to "All". As I understand it, Vuescan will have the scanner focus each slide at the specified X/Y focus point, before scanning it. This would be a decent solution, except for times when, for a particular slide, the focus point lies on a part of the image with no edges or texture for the focus algorithm to use.

The way to get the best result seems to be to step through the five slides individually. On each one, first do a preview, and then manually set (by moving the focus "cross hair" icon) the focus point to a spot that is not too near the center of edge of the slide, typical of the most interesting part of the image, and with some texture upon which to focus (such as an edge between very different brightnesses). Then scan the image with "Auto focus" set to "Scan" so that focus is done at the individually defined focus point, just before the scan. This seems to give good results, but does not allow batch scanning (the user must manually interact with Vuescan between each slide) - and this scanner is SLOW.

I thought perhaps it would work to batch preview the slides, then manually set the focus point for each one, and then batch scan. But it appears to me that it doesn't actually use the 5 distinct focus points for the 5 slides, but rather just uses the first one. So this isn't the solution.

I wonder if others have dealt with this problem, and if so, how.

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  • Maybe, although it's tough enough to keep track of all these slides as it is, without introducing another variable. – RustyShackleford Feb 3 at 2:43
  • I am currently actually talking to the Vuescan creator (Ed Hamrick) to see if what I conjecture in penultimate paragraph of my OP ("I thought perhaps ...") is done or could be done. Pretty amazing responsiveness. – RustyShackleford Feb 3 at 2:44
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I decided to do a test to see if Vuescan does indeed allow one to set different focus points, for the different slides in a batch (a load of 5 slides in the Nikon LS-8000 mounted-slide film holder), and use those distinct focus points when doing a batch scan.

I fabricated a test slide that's split, with two different "heights": on the left side, the film is in the same plane (same height) as a normal slide, and on the right side, it is raised the thickness of two slide mounts.  In the film holder, I put a plain slide in frame#1, and this "split level" test slide in frame#2.

I set "BatchScan | On" and "AutoFocus | Scan". Then I did a "Preview". I went to frame#2 and set the focus point to lie on the right side (where the film was elevated above the normal level); in frame#1, I set the focus point to the left side. Then I did a "Scan".

Frame#1 came out in focus; the right side of frame#2 (that was elevated) was also in focus, while the left side was out of focus.

This tells me that Vuescan is doing the right thing: it is storing the different focus point locations I specified for different frames, and using them when doing the batch scan. I think this is very useful, because the batch scan can take a long time, and it's nice to be able to go away, and not have to be present to set the focus point on each frame. 

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