Converting 35mm slides to digital

Scott Merryfield

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Well, I completed the scanning of the 35mm slides last weekend. It took me over 3 weeks to scan and process about 3,950 slides. I finished sooner than I thought, but I put in a lot more hours than I anticipated. With the lockdown in place and the weather being crappy around here the past few weeks, I worked on this for several hours every day except one during that time.

I was going to start scanning some negatives next, but did a little research on the handling of 35mm negatives, and decided to order some cotton gloves to handle them. The order will not be here until next week, so I have moved on to the photo prints we brought back from my parents.

I have started with the older black and white prints. Here's one that was in decent shape, except for a tear across the little girl (my older sister). My repair job turned out decent, IMO.

 
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Scott Merryfield

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I started on some negatives yesterday, as I found some loose individual 4.5" x 2.75" negatives (the image size itself is 4.25" x 2.5") -- from what I found online, the size seems to match Kodak 116 roll film. Of the 30 negatives I have scanned so far, they appear to be from the late 1920's and 1930's. While there are some fine scratches that needed some repair on some, otherwise they are in good shape and I am getting some wonderful images.

This one is of my dad as a child, who was born in 1934 and passed away last December 18th:



Here is one that helps with the date -- the license plate is from 1928:

 

Scott Merryfield

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Today I scanned some negatives from Kodak Verichrome black & white film. These negatives are about the same length and width as the Kodak 116 roll film, but contain two photos per negative. The image quality is not as good as the Kodak 116, but the negatives were in better condition so many came out decent with some additional processing. These strips are mainly from the 1950's. Here's one of my older sister from the late '50's, which was probably the best of the bunch so far.

 
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Scott Merryfield

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@Traveling Matt , I took my first stab at scanning 35mm color negatives yesterday, as I picked up a new batch of photos from my mother's condo. Anything from Seattle FilmWorks was a complete loss (from my research their film was garbage, and that's what I have discovered). However, there were also packages that were developed at Target and Walmart that I assume was some type of Kodak 35mm print film.

I have only scanned one batch of photos so far, from a trip my parents took to New Orleans. Here is an example of what I ended up with. I am curious how this compares with the results you got, Matt.

 
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Scott Merryfield

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I seem to be getting decent results in scanning 35mm color negatives, as long as it is quality film. The ones with Kodak labels have been turning out well. Here are a couple more examples from my dad's photos, from 1999:





 
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Scott Merryfield

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I started to convert some of my own 35mm negatives yesterday. Here are a few from our trip to Yellowstone in 1994.









This was our first time hiking to the top of Mount Washburn -- the highest point in the park at 10,243 feet. It became our favorite hike in the park, and is one we have done on each visit (that's five times). It's three miles up, and three miles back down to the trailhead.



Here were are on our last visit, in 2015:

 

Traveling Matt

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@Traveling Matt , I took my first stab at scanning 35mm color negatives yesterday, as I picked up a new batch of photos from my mother's condo. Anything from Seattle FilmWorks was a complete loss (from my research their film was garbage, and that's what I have discovered). However, there were also packages that were developed at Target and Walmart that I assume was some type of Kodak 35mm print film.

I have only scanned one batch of photos so far, from a trip my parents took to New Orleans. Here is an example of what I ended up with. I am curious how this compares with the results you got, Matt.

Those look great, Scott! It looks like you've also done a little cleanup, no?

I'd say those look better than mine do, but I went back and looked, and my scans aren't as bad as I thought. They're pretty close to what you've got. Definitely not as good as the slides, particularly in density, but 35 mil is still pretty good. Like you say it does seem to depend on the quality of the film stock. It also looks like it's more affected by handling, both by hand and machine, and by storage. Which makes sense. I have to believe that's part of the difference too. There are more misfires (blackened images, specks, etc) with the negatives as well. It's just a riskier format clearly.

But your stuff looks really good. Have you looked at anything on a big screen?
 
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Scott Merryfield

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Those look great, Scott! It looks like you've also done a little cleanup, no?

I'd say those look better than mine do, but I went back and looked, and my scans aren't as bad as I thought. They're pretty close to what you've got. Definitely not as good as the slides, particularly in density, but 35 mil is still pretty good. Like you say it does seem to depend on the quality of the film stock. It also looks like it's more affected by handling, both by hand and machine, and by storage. Which makes sense. I have to believe that's part of the difference too. There are more misfires (blackened images, specks, etc) with the negatives as well. It's just a riskier format clearly.

But your stuff looks really good. Have you looked at anything on a big screen?
Matt,

Thanks for the feedback. Yes, almost every negative needs some cleanup of dust and scratches. Most just need a little, but some had major scratches that took quite a bit of time to remove. That can be very time consuming -- especially when they occur within people's faces. I also use the Smart Lighting, ClearView Plus and noise reduction features within DxO PhotoLab to get the final results looking the way I want. I have different presets for slides, negatives and prints, and fine tune from there. When the color restoration feature of the Epson scanning software doesn't work, I will also correct white balance with the DxO app, and occasionally need to adjust saturation and/or luminance of individual color channels.

Yes, we have looked at quite a few of my scans on our calibrated 70-inch Vizio 4K display using the SmugMug app on our Apple TV 4K. I was originally apprehensive about how they would look on such a large screen, but ended up being pleasantly surprised with the results -- especially with the better scans. We've had my mother and sister over a couple of times for viewings, and they have both loved looking at the restored photos on the big screen.
 
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Scott Merryfield

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I found some negatives from an old Kodak Instamatic camera that I owned as a teenager. The color on the prints had completely faded into a sepia tone, but the Kodak 126 film negatives were somewhat better. While I wasn't able to get an image as good as from a quality 35mm negative, it was still worth archiving.

Here are a couple from Letchworth State Park in New York State (not too far from Buffalo), taken in 1978:



 
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KPmusmag

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One down, many more to go. This one was fairly easy to do, as it was originally silent with audio on a cassette. Unfortunately, there may not be any audio as it is copyrighted (I'm Only Sleeping from The Beatles album Revolver).

And yes, those are film scratches for laser beams! :laugh:
That is fun!
 
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Radioman970

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those put dad's to shame. I need to secretly tell mom to go in on a better one and I'll do the work. We'll delete all dad's stuff and put mine in there. His sight isn't all that good so it will be a thrill for him. heh heh
 

ManW_TheUncool

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I wonder if my kids will some day do similarly w/ my digital photos... I have plenty they (and even my wife) haven't seen... though, of course, they don't need to be scanned and "restored" (at least to same degree)... but it might not be any less effort to sort through, touch up and manage due to the volume (as a result of shooting more prolifically in digital)... :P I suppose automated software might be significantly better to help w/ that by then...:D

_Man_
 

Johnny Angell

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When you scan a negative on the v600 what is the output, a negative that requires another step to create a positive?
 

Scott Merryfield

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When you scan a negative on the v600 what is the output, a negative that requires another step to create a positive?
No, the output from the Epson Scan software included with the V600 can be either a TIFF (uncompressed or compressed), JPEG, BMP, Multi-TIFF (not sure what that is), or PDF format file. An uncompressed TIFF file will save the most information and can be edited by just about all the photo processing applications, so that is the format I have chosen to use. I then use another software application -- DxO PhotoLab, in my case -- to further process and clean up the TIFF file. You could use Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom for this step, as well -- or whatever photo editing software you prefer.

The further processing I am referring to would be things such as cleaning up scratches and dust, making some color correction, adjusting contrast and exposure, cropping / straightening, etc. The TIFF file that the Epson Scan software saves is a normal looking digital photo. It's just that the photo almost always needs some additional touch-up to look its best.
 

Johnny Angell

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One down, many more to go. This one was fairly easy to do, as it was originally silent with audio on a cassette. Unfortunately, there may not be any audio as it is copyrighted (I'm Only Sleeping from The Beatles album Revolver).

And yes, those are film scratches for laser beams! :laugh:
The vicious dog was very convincing. He was supposed to be vicious? :D
 
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Scott Merryfield

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This is what I was asking. Scanning the negative gives you a positive, a regular ol’ photo.
Correct. You tell the Epson scanning software what type of film you are scanning -- color negative, black & white negative, or positive (i.e. 35mm slide), and the software handles the conversion of the negative to positive when needed.
 

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