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05-11-2020, 10:23 AM   #1
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Scanning service - recent thoughts?

I have about 400 slides that I'd like to scan. I was researching scanners to purchase but am beginning to think the tradeoff between the quality I would get from a $200-$300 scanner may not be as good as what I would get from a scanning service. I've read many posts here and ScanCafe is mentioned frequently but the posts are pretty old. I used ScanCafe about 8 years ago. I used their Value Pack service where the slides were shipped to India for scanning. Most were OK but about 5-7% were either too dark or the color was off. I understand they now scan in the US and use Epson 4490 flatbed scanners, which I could pick up on eBay for < $100. Other than the time commitment of scanning 400 slides, why would I send them to ScanCafe? Their Pro Option claims 4000 DPI scans and they use a Noritsu scanner (they couldn't give me the model number). Any thoughts on the Pro Option or other scanning service recommendations?


Last edited by feidlera; 05-11-2020 at 10:32 AM. Reason: Updated information
05-11-2020, 11:27 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Here is a service that I haven't used for slides, only negs, but have had a good relationship with:

35mm Slide Scanning - Photosmith Imaging: Dover, NH.
05-11-2020, 12:16 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by feidlera Quote
I have about 400 slides that I'd like to scan. I was researching scanners to purchase but am beginning to think the tradeoff between the quality I would get from a $200-$300 scanner may not be as good as what I would get from a scanning service. Other than the time commitment of scanning 400 slides, why would I send them to ScanCafe? Their Pro Option claims 4000 DPI scans and they use a Noritsu scanner (they couldn't give me the model number). Any thoughts on the Pro Option or other scanning service recommendations?
The Noritsu scanner is one of the industry best, but the results will heavily depend on a combination of the quality of the slides and the quality of the person running the scanner. Back in the early 80's I managed a one hour photo lab with the top end Noritsu scanners, printers, processors. Even with state of the art technology, the quality of our work depended on the person operating the technology. A mediocre lab tech with great negs would produce worse results than an excellent lab tech with mediocre negatives.

Unless the lab only has one tech doing all the work, you could send ScanCafe the ProOption service for one excellent and one poor (faded or under exposed, etc) slide as a scanning test. And then after getting it back, send the same two again and you'll get slightly different results. The only way around this is to develop a rapport with the owner/manager and to ask the name of the person doing the scans. If you like "Joe" or "Jane"'s work, then you would request that only that individual do your scans.

This is what the pros do that still shoot film but need high end scans and don't have the patience or time or interest in scanning their own work. But it's a subjective process and often you will pay extra to get results and then ask that it be less green/more magenta, or lighter/darker, etc.

The main reason for scanning film yourself is to have total control. If you still end up with a percentage of bad scans, you'll know it's only because GIGO or the limits of your hardware and software for corrections.

With a $200-300 scanner, you will end up with better scans than a mediocre scanning service, but not as good as a good scanning service. Just keep in mind, their scanner (or yours) is only part of the equation. The human is even more important.

The other complication is that owner/managers have tax incentives to buy better equipment but not to employ more skilled, more expensive labor. And before I became a manager, we were given quotas for the amount of waste or retries we were allowed per week. Wasted time, prints, scans, are a result of operator error, but the realistically if you want quality, there is going to be a certain amount of lost efficiency (or higher labor costs). The Noritsu is a very fast high tech spec scanner, but the results produced for the customer will be dependent on management and your rapport with them.

Ultimately you need to prioritize quality vs. convenience vs. cost to determine whether to scan or to send.
05-12-2020, 05:27 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by feidlera Quote
I have about 400 slides that I'd like to scan.
What do you intend to use the scans for?

05-12-2020, 07:44 AM - 1 Like   #5
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When my family did our mother's photo archives we used Digmypics.
The leading photo scanning, slide scanning, 8mm to DVD video transfer service

They handled everything that we had, from glass negatives from 1910/20s to 110, ASPC, and Disc wheels (yep!).
05-12-2020, 05:41 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by rpjallan Quote
What do you intend to use the scans for?
Potentially some prints but mostly to add to my digital collection of my best/favorite photos.
05-13-2020, 04:10 AM   #7
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In my experience you definitely wouldn't get a scan from a $200-$300 scanner that would compare to a scan from a good scanning service using quality equipment. But if you knew what you were doing you could get files that were perfectly fine for digital viewing or maybe even small prints.

I like to do things myself. I bought an Epson V800 quite cheaply about 5 years ago but it has only been recently that I have really looked into getting the best possible scans with it. After doing some research I upgraded to the top SilverFast software and after some experimentation have been getting surprisingly good results.
08-18-2020, 10:12 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hank Quote
When my family did our mother's photo archives we used Digmypics.
The leading photo scanning, slide scanning, 8mm to DVD video transfer service

They handled everything that we had, from glass negatives from 1910/20s to 110, ASPC, and Disc wheels (yep!).
Hank - I just want to follow up and second your recommendation for Digmypics. I sent my slides there a few weeks ago and have received the scans back. They did a nice job and were regularly in touch with me. You can reject up to 20% of the scans so you don't pay for ones that you aren't happy with. I highly recommend them!

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