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Slide reproduction with 100mm macro.

Don Finch

New member
I just got the 100 macro which I plan to use with a ring lite for dental photography. I was playing with my new toy because I also will use it for other things, naturally. Just to test something I held up a slide to the window and snapped a RAW picture of it and said WOW. After some tweaking in DPP it looked pretty good.

My question is one that produces even better results with some technique secrets from my friends here on the forum. ie lightbox,tripod, darkroom,MLU,remote release, etc,etc.

Scanning is a possibility but I would need advice on which one for good results, and would it be better or about the same.?

I am in the avid unexperienced amateur category so take that into consideration. I do possess the brain cells to learn however.

I use a 5D with the 100 macro. Also have the 24-70L that calls itself macro as well.

Thank you in advance and I'll see what you all come up with.



Alan T. Price

New member
If you use a lens-mounted slide copier to re-photograph your slides then you must either have the proper white light behind the slide or else do the necessary WB correction after taking the photo. You must also use a suitably small aperture to ensure that the DOF covers the curvature of the film.

With a 5D you are getting a very respectable resolution of 3000 dpi or thereabouts.

If you do not have many slides to scan then this is a very cheap and effective way to go.

If, however, you have many slides (thousands) then I suggest that you get a dedicated slide scanner despite the much higher cost. Such a scanner will offer facilities not otherwise available to you. e.g. Nikon has ICE image and colour enhancement which among other things can detect dust and scratches on the film by using an infrared light, and then mask them out during the scanning as if they were not there. This reduces post-processing time considerably.

If you get the right scanner you can also get a slide magazine adapter which holds 36 to 50 mounted slides for batch processing. It may not be a lot faster overall but it sure takes less of your time.

I use a Nikon 4000ED but it has been updated to a 5000ED. The cheaper V model may be all you need. These can scan at 4000dpi. Also, the prices have come down a lot in the past 4 or 5 years but that shouldn't matter much because we all know that dentists are made of money :)

The biggest problem with a slide scanner is that unless you save the files as jpegs they will be enormous. Anything up to 135MB each for a 16-bit TIFF file at 4000dpi.

A fellow named Norman Koren has a website in which he tested the sharpness of slides scanned at different resolutions, and he found that scanning at 4000dpi and applying sharpening was noticeably superior to 2000dpi scans.

In general you will want to sharpen the scanned images, remove noise, remove/repair dust and scratches, manually modify the tone curve (levels and curves in PS, but auto settings are not necessarily the best), crop the frame off the image, and straighten the image - not necessarily in that order. Then you have to catalog them as you would any other images. This amounts to a lot of processing time for a big slide collection, so you might want to try the cheap method first to test your dedication to the task before investing in a scanner.

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief

With the dedicated scanners one can have autofeeds (assuming they don't jam) or flat bed scanners can have an ability to scan a grid of many sildes.

The key is whether or not one can have a quick scan at low resolution. Then one needs to be able to select which slides are worth full scans and what would be the individual settings.

It seems for this purpose, one does not want to copy all the slides at 100MB or more, rather try to cut down the number of slides so that one does not fill up hard drives for no purpose.

So do you have any insight as to which system today would be better for copying slides assuming we can spend between $500-1500.

To me it sseems that an Epson Flatbed scanner might do the best. What do you think?



New member
I have one of the old Beseler slide duplicating systems. Back in darkroom days, I used it for making internegs. This is the unit that has a small copy stand mounted to a lightbox made like a color enlarger lamphouse. It contains both tungsten and electronic flash light sources. The tungsten source lets you view and focus. Flash is used for exposure. I would imagine these things could be found on eBay for little or nothing compared to what they originally sold for. I think mine, with all the accessories, was about $1K new in the mid eighties. There were other brands that worked in a similar fashion

Anyway, this system with a tethered digital camera with a good macro lens is WAY more efficient than any scanner at turning out very good digital files from slides. I've used it with a Canon 5D and several different Nikon based Kodaks mounted. It works beautifully.... and very fast. Unlike the lens mounted copiers, you can very easily crop and copy only a portion of the original. It can also handle original film in sizes up to 4x5 (with a special adapter... roll sizes otherwise). For uncut film it uses normal Beseler enlarger film carriers to hold the film. If doing lots of uncut film you can use one of the Negatrans gizmos to zip right through a roll in a hurry.

I'll use such a system any day over a scanner for any kind of volume work. With a quality camera and optics, quality is right up there with a good scan as well for 35mm work. I have an Imacon scanner for comparison.

Alan T. Price

New member
I'm out of touch with the flatbed film scanners. Previously they had less resolution and worse optics than a good slide scanner, but that may well have changed. I think some of them even have the ICE hardware and software now. They do generally have some extra glass between the film and the sensor so there is scope for more dust to appear in the scanned image. A slide is a small thing to scan at a very high resolution, so the scanner optics have to be good. It's quite different from scanning a letter-size print in which case a small distortion will hardly be noticed.

Rather than not scan my slides because the files are too big, I would prefer to scan them as jpegs with the smaller size and apply levels and curves using the scanner software. That way there is little or no need for complex changes to be made to the 8-bit jpeg file as the worst of it has been done to the raw data in the scanner. A couple of minor edits won't make much difference to image quality, and if the image was a definite candidate for large high quality printing then I would scan it again to TIFF.

By working this way I will have all of my slide images on the PC with all of my dSLR images. That has to be better than leaving some or many slides uncatalogued. My assumption is that all of the crappy or unwanted slides have been discarded already, and that what remains is worth having on-line.

One thing worth noting is that even a 4000dpi scan from a top quality scanner delivers an image that does not look as good as the projected slide. Detail is lost in the scanning process, and much of that loss seems to be due to aliasing between the random grain on the slide and the effective scanner grid (or dSLR sensor grid). That aliasing effect is not present in an all-analogue slide projection. The point of this is that to scan at lower resolution throws away even more data and may well be unacceptable. It also makes me appreciate my slides even more, and it sure means I won't be buying a 1024x768 digital projector in a hurry.

Another consideration that I failed to mention before is that the scanned slides will have to be named or numbered as will the actual slides, so that when you decide you like one you can dig out the other from the cupboard. This is another time consuming and potentially complex exercise requiring some forethought before you get into scanning on a large scale.

Deciding on a naming convention for dSLR images was bad enough but doing it for slides caused me to stop scanning some time ago. Now that I have software such as IMatch set up with appropriate categories for identifying slide and scanner and camera and lens data, I am ready to go again as soon as I get the time and the inclination simulataneously.

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
One nice thing about using a $700 flat bed scanner today, is that software today can provide a workflow for a dozen slides at a time with all the capabilities for individual optimization and dust removal.

After a quick scan one can set up the entire batch at high resolution and do something else during this time.

Unless one considers a Minolta or Nikon scanner with a slide feeder, one is very limited in getting a workflow to by using an expensive flatbed scanner that could cost from $30,000 up!

IMHO, the secret is to store slides in archival cases. Use a light box I select the interesting slides and valuable slides and ruthlessly return the vast majority back to the boxes.

Doing another dozen several times a week will not interfere with work schedule and is economical.

For the occasional copy, of course the slide copier attachment if available is great. Still, IMHO, not worth
buying in place of an Epson scanner.