Archiving Your Film Legacy

Plustek scanner
The Plustek 7600 Ai - by Plustek

If you’re like a lot of photographers who have been in the business a while, you probably have a box of old slides somewhere.  If you’re like me, you have cases and cases of old slides, negatives and prints stacked in a warehouse.

Maybe it’s time to move your old film and transparency legacy into the digital world.  There are some options for doing it yourself, or sending them off to someone to do it for you.

You can send them to a place like Larsen Digital where it will generally run $0.25 to $0.35 to have them done for you.  If you’re like me, you’d have to sell your car to pay that tab.

Doing it yourself means getting a slide scanner.  There are two ways to go: Cheap or spend some money to get a decent scanner.

I tried a Pacific Image scanner with limited success.  It’s adequate but painfully slow.  The specs say 25-90 seconds per slide, depending on resolution, but mine seemed to take forever.

Like with many things in photography, you get what you pay for.  A better option for me is the Plustek OpticFilm 7600 Ai.  It’s only marginally faster, but it’s doing a 4-pass scan and averaging the values.  The scans look fantastic as it’s using 48 bit color depth.

old nuke at Hanford
A scan of a slide I took at the Hanford Reservation in Washington State

The software that comes with the Plustek does an excellent job of dirt and scratch removal, which is fortunate because I can’t seem to work up the energy to make a couple passes with a static brush before putting them on the scanner.