Besides printing all your latest digital files, you shouldn’t forget about your collection of traditional photographic prints, slides and negatives. Converting them to digital files is an easy process; all you need is good quality scanner.
There are two common types of scanner, a flatbed and a dedicated film scanner (there is also a drum scanner, for high-end professional film scanning).
Many top of the range flatbed scanners, such as the Epson V750 & V700, also incorporate a transparency hood for film scanning (slides and negatives).
The Epson scanners are supplied with film holders that accommodate film sizes from mounted slides to 35mm film strips, medium format, and large format up to 10×8 inches. The scanned film results using the Epson scanners are first class and can rival dedicated film scanners costing many times more. Dedicated film scanners produce the best quality, but the downside is that they tend to be expensive and are generally optimised for one film size.
How to scan prints
Scanning prints is an easy process: just lay your pictures face down on the scanner’s glass surface and press the Preview button. Once the preview is displayed you can make adjustments to the crop and colour correct if needed. If you want a same-size reproduction of the original then you should set the scale to 100% with the scanning resolution set to 300dpi.
If you want to enlarge or reduce the picture then change the scale to a higher or lower figure. All scanners are supplied with scanning software that incorporates a basic or advanced mode.
The basic mode (below) will help you to achieve good results via a wizard, but as with most automated things you may be frustrated with the lack of user control. If you want the best scans then you should be using the advanced mode or something like SilverFast Ai from LaserSoft…
… (below). This software will give you much more control over your images.
Step by step: How to scan prints and negatives page 2
How to scan film
Film scanning requires a little more thought and we recommend mastering the advanced – professional mode. First, replace the reflective scanner hood with the transparency adaptor. This will allow you to free up space for the slides to be loaded, but don’t put them on just yet.
Before loading your slides onto the transparency holder, make sure they are free from dust and load it into the film holders (with the Epson V700/750 you can load five strips of six exposure 35mm film or 12 mounted slides at a time; this is handy for archiving a large collection of
Set the resolution to the scanner’s maximum optical resolution – check the specifications for your scanner. Generally for high-quality 35mm scans the resolution should be set between 2400 to 4800 dpi; for web use images you can select a lower resolution between 200 to 600 dpi. With medium format and sheet film you can set the resolution to a lower setting of between 1200 to 2400 dpi.
Choose your image selection and adjustments. Don’t be too critical with your cropping for film scans – scan slightly more area than you need and apply the final crop in Photoshop. This will give you more precise control.
Press the scan button to perform the scan. Once opened in Photoshop you should save the file. Save as a TIFF or PSD to retain the best quality or save as a JPEG at a high quality setting to maximise your storage space.
Jargon Buster: Optical resolution
The resolution of a scanner that is calculated by dividing the width of the scanned area by the number of pixels in the CCD. Optical resolution does not include any interpolation.
Even if you haven’t been able to remove all of the specks from your slide with the rocket blower, you can easily remove blemishes using the Spot Healing Brush in Photoshop. This tool paints with sampled pixels from an image or pattern and matches the texture, lighting, transparency, and shading of the sampled pixels to the pixels being healed.