Between semesters at college I loved to hit the road. The usual destination was the great parks along the Utah and Arizona borders including Zion…
More scanning, more memories. Taking these old photos out of the boxes has been fun. So many little treasures on celluloid. Photos of myself as a teenager, photos of the neighborhood I grew up in. There is so much of my life stowed away out of reach, converted to digital they live again…
One of the first binders of slides I grabbed for digitizing happened to be a trip through Switzerland that I took in 1987 with my family.
I was living in England at the time with the USAF. My parents and brother joined me there. We then crossed the channel from Dover to Calais, changed trains in Paris, taking a high speed train to Lausanne. From there my brother and I bounced around with some Swiss bus and rail passes until we rejoined my parents in Zermatt.
It was a memorable trip, there is so much I can remember from thirty five years ago. Going through these old slides certainly brought back memories!
The problem is several thousand color slides stored in containers in a closet. These slides range in date from my earliest forays into photography as a teenager, through years of living in Europe on active duty with the US Air Force, to many years of traveling the desert southwest with a camera. I have carried a camera for my entire adult life, as a result there is a photographic treasure in my old photos.
Everything taken in the last thirteen years is digital, a record of my life and travels that is very precious to me. Before that the photos seem locked away and inaccessible, as if my life did not exist before 2002, when I bought my first digital camera. I have found my digital photo collection enormously useful, it is indexed, key-worded and instantly accessible. While locating a slide for use is a major effort, find the right box, the right binder, then I have to scan it for use in digital media. Or even remember that the photo exists!
The digital archive is also quite easy to duplicate for safekeeping. A two terabyte hard drive can hold the entire collection. A couple hours to copy and every image is safely stored, preferably at a remote location in case of disaster. There are several copies, one in my office at work, another at my parents house in Portland.
These arguments are obvious, the collection needs to be digitized, but the effort of scanning those slides is enormous. I really need a way to perform this task with a minimum of effort and cost. I have started this project several times over the years, only to be discouraged by the effort needed and quality issues.
Many authoritative sources recommend scanning as the method of conversion and various scanners are recommended, usually the Nikon CoolScan or Plustek units.
Why do so many recommend scanning as the preferred method of digitizing slides? Certainly professional photo lab scanners are the best possible method, offering resolution far in excess of any scanner generally available at any reasonable cost. I suspect that one factor is decisive… Until the latest generations of digital cameras the resolutions of scanners were far higher than cameras could offer. the linear CCD’s used in scanners offered very high resolutions at a very affordable price point.