Can anyone recommend an inexpensive slide scanner?

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lvrr325
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Can anyone recommend an inexpensive slide scanner?

Post by lvrr325 » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:19 pm

I'm looking for something that I could use mainly to scan slides for resale, not anything to make fancy great quality prints from. I see prices all over the place on these things - wondered if anyone could give me an idea what to look for and what to avoid?

I did have a flatbed with a light bar for slides, but the quality was poor and it took forever to scan one slide - it had to make a full pass every time it ran. I'd rather go with something that works more like a digital camera.

Franklin Gowen
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Post by Franklin Gowen » Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:11 am

It is VERY hard to find a quality film scanner for less than $300. You may be able to get a really good used one for that price, or a consumer-grade model that's new. In the $100-200 range, expect to find either used consumer-grade film scanners or the true low-quality units. Most of the truly worthwhile film scanners START at $500 (Nikon Coolscan V) and rise steeply to $1,000 (Nikon Coolscan 5000) for new models. With the exit of Konica Minolta from the field, it's basically a Nikon-only circus here if you want a top-quality unit that's new.

Fortunately, your intended use gives you the option of spending a lot less money. I have heard a few good things about some of the recent Microtek flatbed/film scanner combo units. I'm afraid that you'll find nothing which functions like a digital camera that's capable of doing this kind of job.

Check on eBay for used film scanners - they have a ton of them. Go to "Computers & Networking", then "Scanners", then "Other", then narrow your search. Try looking for the "ScanWit" 2720 film scanner, made by BenQ; if you see one, grab it! I bought a 2720 at the beginning of 2001 as an inexpensive way to digitize the best of my analog film archive. I scanned about 4,000 slides before it died four years later. Not bad for $275 on a clearance sale! Once it died in 2005, I bought a replacement via eBay auction for $100 - I was lucky because it was an unused model (store display item).

Note that the 2720 is pretty old, so it connects to your computer via SCSI. It does not use FireWire or USB. The scanner comes with a SCSI card and cable included - open your computer's case, insert the card into an empty PCI slot, plug the cable in from the back of the card to the scanner, and you're ready.

If you're running anything other than Windows on your computer, the 2720 may not work - the enclosed driver software is Win-specific. Truthfully, the driver is slightly flaky because it's pre-Windows XP - when installing it for the first time, you have to jump thru a few hoops as your PC will ask you if you're really, really sure you want to install software that's not 100.000000% WinXP-compatible. If it gives me a hassle, I just uninstall and reinstall the software, Not really a big worry, but I thought you should know.

The scanner is really a bargain for the price. I bought it because of a glowing & comprehensive review from a happy user about its ability to obtain useful shadow detail from all but the most underexposed dark areas of a slide. It's really quite amazing. I've also used it to scan strips of negatives without any complaints. The 2720 comes with a holder which can hold up to 4 mounted slides, and another which can hold a negative filmstrip up to 6 frames long.

With regard to other models of dedicated film scanners, if you are looking for "cheap" instead of "inexpensive", Pacific Digital's PrimeFilm line of scanners is, well.....cheap! :-) I mean the physical build quality of the unit, as well as its reliability. Sure, they're not costly, but I haven't heard much of anything good from the few people I know who bought one in hopes of doing serious (or even semi-serious) work with one. You can find a Model 1800U on eBay right now for $114.74. It may actually work out for you. Please bear in mind that, considering the kind of use you are planning for the unit, that is the ONLY reason I would recommend Pacific Digital AT ALL. Definitely not for fine art. The 1800U has a maximum resolution of 1800 DPI, which is more than adequate for downsizing to thumbnail images for your sales. I'd be concerned about the quality of the actual scans, though. Slides are notoriously contrasty, and what the BenQ ScanWit 2720 can do with ease may be difficult for this model.

For more detailed reviews of these scanners, I urge you to visit epinions.com , dpreview.com , imaging-resource.com , and (best of all!) the "Digital Darkroom" forum at photo.net .
Franklin Gowen • • • • READING COMPANY forum moderator
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lvrr325
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Location: New York State

Post by lvrr325 » Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:38 am

I figure you get what you pay for. Been watching eBay, wonder if the older Nikon models are worth messing with.

By working like a camera, I mean something that is simply faster and produces a digital JPG or similar image I can mess around with a little. I could probably dig out the flatbed I already have if I wanted to go that route, but it's too time consuming. I have about 300 slides of non-rail subjects and the only meaningful way I can see to sell them is if people can see what they are - ships, skaters, a 1950s parade, circus performances, and a bunch of old, local scenic views (those I probably should see if someone can make calendars from). Quality doesn't need to be wonderful to sell them, just enough to show what it is and make a nice 640x480 or so I can edit down a bit.

I found a Scanwit 2740, looks like a newer or higher model than you mentioned. Perhaps that would do the job -

keeper1616
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Post by keeper1616 » Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:17 pm

~~~Cyrus~~~

Orgnoi1

Post by Orgnoi1 » Thu May 10, 2007 9:43 am

I dont normally shoot slide film... but I do shoot medium format... and its hard to find a good scanner for a decent price... I gave in and got the Canon CanoScan 8400F before reading the reviews... its been extremely good for scanning so far and I would definately recommend it to anyone that doesnt want to spend a grand on a scanner... it cost me around $150 from CompUSA at the time of purchase and comes with 35mm film, 35mm slide, and 120/220 holders.

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