I've a bunch of APS films that I'd like to scan but all the film scanners I've seen on the market today are 35mm scanners; and whilst some have little carriers to allow you to physically scan APS, none seem to exist that read the metadata or even at the very least motor drive and automate the scanning?

Is there a product I've missed, that might be found on the likes of eBay; or would I be better off getting them scanned at my local friendly photolab?

  • Good question! I'm curious to see an answer, but I have my doubts that you'll get a postive one... – John Cavan Sep 20 '10 at 2:16
  • Is the metadata-between-the-frames in some standard format? – Karel Sep 20 '10 at 6:55
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    @Karel with APS film, there was a magnetic strip that recorded exposure date, time, aperture and shutter speed; Most minilabs would print this information on the back of prints, along with frame number, and film serial number. – Rowland Shaw Sep 20 '10 at 7:07
  • I have an old Qscan scanner with an APS carrier that does motor-driven automated scanning, but it doesn't read the magnetic strip. – Dennis Williamson Sep 20 '10 at 20:12
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    I have a Canon FS 4000 US that scans whole rolls of APS film but it also doesn't read the magnetic strip. :( – CAD bloke Oct 24 '10 at 8:31

Well, I've searched for this for a good long while. It took some real search foo, but I eventually found the terms that seem to produce a few god results: APS Film Magnetic Strip Reader.

It seems there is only one product that can be found that can read the magnetic strip on APS film that contains the EXIF metadata. Its the Nikon Coolscan IV APS Film Adapter, a discontinued product that does not seem to be available from any commercial storefront on the internet. I did a search on eBay for Nikon Coolscan, and there seem to be quite a few things, including APS specific gear. The APS Film Adapter was not listed when I did my searches, however its eBay, so you never know.

From what I can tell, the Coolscan scanners and the film adapters seem to be pretty expensive...as in, the $2000-$3000 range. Not exactly consumer-level gear. Most of the information I was able to find (which included the links from @nik, as well as several other similar sites and forums) seemed to indicate that the advanced features of APS film never really took off, and the magnetic strip that contained the metadata was never really effectively used. Seems like that is partly due to the downfall of APS as a film format (couldn't tell you why it really failed, never knew much about it.)

There was one other product that I found, the Fuji Frontier Minilab, that seems to be able to scan APS film. A lot of information seems to indicate that it can read the magnetic strip and extract the EXIF data from it, however I couldn't find anything that actually confirmed that. Sadly, it is a commercial product, rather huge, and probably far outside of any individuals price range. You might try taking your APS film to a shop that uses the Fuji Minilab, and see if their scans include the EXIF metadata. Beyond that, I couldn't find anything else relating to scanning APS film and including the EXIF in the resulting digital images.

  • This store claims to have one of the adapters. Here are a few on eBay. – Dennis Williamson Oct 22 '10 at 19:55
  • Yeah, eBay is probably one of the best places for it. – jrista Oct 22 '10 at 22:20
  • The reviews on Amazon say they should add magnetic strip reading, so that's the Coolscan IV out, too... – Rowland Shaw Nov 4 '10 at 12:28
  • @Rowland: So it appears...I though I had read somewhere that it did read the magnetic strip. I've done all the searches known to mankind on this subject. The only additional piece of information I can offer is "Magnetic IX (Information Exchange)" is another term to search for. Outside of the Fuji Minilab, there does not appear to be any other device on earth capable of reading the APS magnetic strip. – jrista Nov 8 '10 at 18:00
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    I did at one point have a Kodak brochure that showed a scanner that would fit in a 5 1/4 " drive bay. This is the very early days of APS (1996) so it may have been a planned product that never hit the market. – Rowland Shaw Nov 8 '10 at 18:45

Kodak made one, it's called the "Film Drive", google tells me the model number was FD-300. I used one of these back in ~2001, and I'm pretty sure there was at least SOME metadata present in the file... I know the date taken at least was, because we used that on the paper routinely to tell which baseball game the shots we were looking at were from. It wasn't a bad scanner for the day... but I wouldn't consider it a very good one either... it was middle of the road at best in terms of image quality.

There's one up on eBay at the moment: http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-KODAK-ADVANTIX-FILM-DRIVE-SCANNER-FD-300-FILMDRIVE-/110610313293?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19c0e3704d#ht_3388wt_1141

  • One could always use the Film Drive to get the metadata and then merge it onto a better quality scan from a different device. Good ol' Exiftool will let you do the merging... – RBerteig Nov 19 '10 at 4:33
  • "the FD 300 does not have magnetic read/write capabilities." kodak.com/global/en/service/faqs/faq1043.shtml#g7 (Item 12 in General Information) DAMMIT – CAD bloke Jan 10 '11 at 2:02

There is some discussion on Flickr here APS: Advanced Photo System.
That links to another Flickr discussion on Minolta Vectis S-1 and S-100.

And, some older discussion at Fuji Frontier vs dedicated film scanner

  • Looks to me like that's merely discussing scanning APS in a fairly manual manner (I used to have the predecessor of the Canoscan mentioned in the first of the threads; but that really is just a modified transparency scanner, and very, very, very slow to manually go through a roll. The old Kodak FD300 is closer in idea, with it supporting fully automated scanning, but it is relatively low resolution, doesn't work on anything later than Windows 98, and I'm unsure if it embeds EXIF in the scans. A whole minilab is a bet excessive for my requirements ;) – Rowland Shaw Sep 21 '10 at 7:55
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    @Rowland, a Real Photographer would realize that it's all about The Image. Nothing is too expensive nor excessive for a Real Photographer. ;) Maybe you need to read Luminous Landscape some more. – Reid Nov 8 '10 at 13:16

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