Sunday, September 28, 2008

Got slides you wanta digitize?

If you've been following my blog recently then you are aware that I've been on a digitizing spree. It started in April with scanning a few photos for my mother's 80th birthday and evolved into a project to scan our family's picture albums. That's almost done, just waiting for my niece to get her part of the project completed ;-)

The next phase was started this past week with the purchase of a ScanSnap S300 scanner for digitizing my genealogy documents and correspondence. I really can't say enough about that little scanner. It is amazingly quick with very good quality. I heartily recommend it!

All the while I've been wondering how to digitize my slide collection. I've researched scanning services found online but the cost per slide (anywhere from $.35 to $.65 cents EACH) was prohibitive. Too much money. I tested the slide scanning capability of my flatbed scanner. The results were good but it took several minutes to scan each slide. Too much time. I investigated purchasing a scanner made specifically for digitizing slides. But after reading reviews and blog posts about the process have decided against that method. Too much time and too much money.

The other day a friend and I were discussing our scanning projects. She had purchased a slide scanner but gave up after scanning only a few as it took too much time. Then she mentioned that someone had told her about a place where you could get slides digitized at a very reasonable price. That place? Wal-Mart. Yeah, right. So I stopped by my local Wal-Mart store and found out that they do indeed scan slides to CD. (I don't know if every Wal-Mart has this capability though, you'll have to ask.) Their price? $2.50 for 40 slides. That's only 6.25 CENTS for each slide! To say that I was skeptical would be putting it mildly.

On Thursday, after selecting 80 slides of varying quality and subject matter, I dropped them off for processing. Yesterday I picked up the slides and their accompanying CD. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality. They are NOT high resolution archival images but they will give you a decent 4x6 printed image. And they look good on the computer screen. And, I think for my purposes they will do just fine. Very few of my slides were ever printed. I'm not interested in making large prints or prints of any size for that matter, I just want to be able to view the pictures again and enjoy re-visiting the places I've been.

The old adage "you get what you pay for" definitely applies here. You won't get archival quality images for 6 cents but you will get acceptable images for viewing on-screen. So, as I'm scanning my genealogy documents I'll also be spending some time sorting through my slides selecting those to be digitized. This may not be acceptable to you but I thought I'd present it as an alternative to the higher priced digitizing services. Try it with a selection of 40 slides and see what you think. At worst, you'll only waste $2.50 to find out if it is worthwhile for you.

Yellowstone National Park, July 1979
Copyright © 1979/2008 by Rebeckah R. Wiseman

14 comments:

  1. I never would have thought of Wally's World for this! I only have a handful of slides and my attempts at scanning them have been less than successful. It will certainly be worth the few $ to see how they turn out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In my case the choice is affordable slide scanning or no slide scanning. Wal-Mart should suit me fine. Thanks for the tip!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The New York Times recently did a profile on how to scan photos with ScanMyPhotos.com which also does slides and even APS film

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/technology/personaltech/14pogue.html?_r=3&scp=1&sq=scan%20photos%20to%20digital%20%20David%20Pogue&st=cse&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sorry, link didn't come through. Try www.NYTimes.com and do search for the reporter "David Pogue Scanning Photos"

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous - they were one of the sites that I investigated, but they and many others I checked out, were very expensive ($.65 to $1.95 per slide, depending upon quantity.) True, the quality is probably much better (at least I hope it is) than Wally World, but at a little more than 6 cents each, you really can't beat Wally's price!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is great to know. Thanks so much for such useful information! My husband has a lot of slides that I've never seen--this will be a good way to get them "viewable" for me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Becky,

    Thanks for sharing! I myself have been researching this very topic (I have oodles of slides) and have not been impressed with anything I've run across so far. Lucky for me, I have 2 Wal-Marts in town, so I hope that one of them offers the service.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  8. As I stated in my post, these definitely are NOT archival quality scans. For those of you who are going to try out Wal-Mart, I'd be interested in knowing what you think of the results. What is acceptable to me may not be for you...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wal-Mart will also scan them in archival quality, if you pay more. I've had a local Wal-Mart do some of my slides in archival quality and they charged about 25 cents each. Also, Walgreen's Drug Stores do them in archival quality for about the same price. I've had both companies do several hundred slides for me. I figured I would never get around to scanning them, even if I had a good scanner. The biggest problem was that they weren't careful about which side was the emulsion side, so some were scanned backwards. It's easy enough to reverse them with software, but the problem is determining which are backwards. If there are words or something noticeable like that, it's easy to tell. But maybe if there isn't anything noticeable I shouldn't care whether the landscape, building, or people are backwards. :=) I could check them against the original slides, but so far I haven't bothered to.

    ReplyDelete
  10. snowd - I did check with my local Wal-Mart and they don't scan at a higher resolution. So far, I'm happy with the results though there are a few slides that I'd like to get done at a higher resolution. There is a Walgreen's drugstore across the highway so I'll stop in to see them one of these days. Thanks for the information, 25 cents is still a lot less than I've seen elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I bought an Epson perfection 4490 Photo ($100.) scanner and have so far scanned over 800 slides. They go to the kodak easyshare site. There I am able to crop and adjust color. Some results of editing are amaxing, others fairly good. of course all depends on the quality of the original slides. Surprisingly the slides taken 50 years ago are of a better quality then the more recent ones. More color darkening in the more recent slides. Better KOdak color film in the 50's???
    Another problem: slides in the 50's are in a rectangular format. Slides in the 70's are in a small square format which the Epson changes to a rectangle, sometimes cropping off essential parts. Trying to work on the problem

    ReplyDelete
  12. A really cheap alternative: Set up your slide projector... In as black a room as possible to avoid light bleed... Set up your digital camera on a tripod s close s possible to the slide projector. Then run your slide show and click away!!! the resulting digital photos areas close to the real slide as I could ever hope! And what could be less expensive than free?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm kinda late in the game responding but I actually used an online company to scan my slides: http://www.gophoto.com They do high resolution (3000 dpi) at no extra cost and did an awesome job scanning over 3,000 slides I had from my dad's days of photography. I think I paid 28 cents per. I was a little scared to send them all the slides, but they turned out to be perfectly safe with UPS. I chose them because I knew they have a facility in the U.S. (california) so I knew they were safe (i.e. not going overseas). They did a great job! FYI on another option. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the info Jane. It's nice to hear that they did a good job for you.

    ReplyDelete

You have to be a "Registered User" to leave a comment. This means you must have a user ID with one of the following: Google, Live Journal, Word Press, Type Pad, AIM,or Open Id. If you don't have one of those IDs you can always send me an email (link in upper right corner of the blog). I apologize for the inconvenience but the amount of Spam Comments being left was overwhelming. Comment moderation is turned on for posts more than 3 days old.