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I'm searching for a quality slide scanner to convert some color 35 mm slides into JPEG format. My dad had hundreds of slides from his visit to Japan in the 50's and I really want to transfer them and post them on YouTube.

I tried buying a slide projector and pointing the thing at a white board, but the quality wasn't so hot. It was like the lights were too light and the darks were too dark. (What's the name for that phenomenon, btw?)

What decent quality slide scanners are available?

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  • Some scanners do slides (I have used the Canon 9000f mk ii), but if you want high quality scanning, I would take it to a professional service and pay to have them cleaned and scanned.
    – NoahL
    Jan 16 '17 at 5:38
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    If you only have hundreds of slides to convert it is more cost effective and you'll get higher quality letting a professional service do them.
    – Michael C
    Jan 16 '17 at 6:42
  • "more cost effective and you'll get higher quality"... Not to mention: Much less time-consuming! How much is your time worth (including learning curve time, scanning and post-processing)?
    – osullic
    Jan 16 '17 at 10:28
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I'd advise taking it to a good lab to get done.

Most consumer devices that can scan slides under $2000 are not going to be very good. In particular, flatbed scanners with slide scanning adaptors are going to be terrible.

Slides have very dense blacks. You need very sensitive sensors and a fairly bright scanning light to be able to reproduce detail in them. These don't exist in cheap hardware.

This is not so much the case with negative scanning, which is a lot more forgiving.

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I would start by reading some reviews like this one: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/buying-guide/film-scanners

The well known manufacturers like Nikon does not make them anymore. So the market has only now not so known brands or flatbed scanners.


Oh. Another option is to use a digital camera and a macro lens.

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If these are Kodachrome slides you'll need the Nikon 9000 Coolscan. No longer made but available on EBay.

The IR surface scanning system (which is what removes scratches) in the 9000 is completely different than the others you mention and was specifically designed for Kodachrome. You can't use the dust and scratch removal features on the other scanners without noticeable image degrading. The ROC (restore old color) feature has been improved as well.

A search of reputable photo sites will reveal the details. This is one example from https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3213530:

However, for Kodachrome, one should distinguish between:

the "regular" version for Digital ICE

and the "Professional" Version of digital ICE (which is available only on few scanners; for example it is available for the NIKON Coolscan D9000; but according to my information it is not available for the NIKON Coolscan D5000).

While both the "regular" and the "professional" versions of Digital ICE work for Kodachrome slides, the "regular" version of DIGITAL ICE very often intereprets for Kodachrome slides small subject-details as scratches or dust and removes them or blurs them. This becomes apparent when viewing small details of the scan results at a 100% magnification (for example when viewing small details of architectral photos at a 100% magnification).

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  • That's awfully specific. Your wording makes it sound like the Coolscan 5000 or Coolscan V LS-50, or slide scanners from other brands, are incompatible with Kodachrome slides, which of course is nonsensical.
    – scottbb
    Jan 19 '17 at 2:14
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    Actually it's true. The IR surface scanning system (which is what removes scratches) in the 9000 is completely different than the others you mention and was specifically designed for Kodachrome. You can't use the dust and scratch removal features on the other scanners without noticeable image degrading. The ROC (restore old color) feature has been improved as well.
    – esym
    Jan 20 '17 at 12:41
  • @esym Could you edit your answer to include that additional detail? (Bonus: making an edit will allow those who previously downvoted your answer to reconsider and remove that or upvote if they want.)
    – mattdm
    Jan 20 '17 at 13:41

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