A techie slide scanning post

This post is about why it is important to review each and every slide or negative scan and why I re-scan those images that look out of focus on alternative scanners.

There I was happily editing some old photo images and came across a few that were out of focus. Its quite unusual for pictures to be as blurred as these ones so I made a note and carried on. Once I had completed the task I went back to the blurry pictures and pulled out the originals. The original 35mm slides looked good, apart from the fact they were very faded there was nothing particularly unusual about them so I put them through the Nikon scanner once more, having put through a calibration slide first. The result was the same. I could not persuade the scanner to focus correctly. I took the slides and ran them through an Epson scanner, at high resolution and with ‘Silverfast’ dust and scratch reduction technology. The results were fine. Baffling!

I returned the scanned images to a very happy customer who informed me that the pictures in question had been taken in Canada back in the late 50’s It would seem that the film base used was not being recognised by the Nikon, perhaps because of the fading. Before you ask did I use just one Nikon the answer is no! I have three and each of them had the same problem with these particular slides.

This episode is a reminder that even with well looked after, well calibrated scanners there can be unexpected problems thrown up to test our mettle.

I have not asked permission from the customer for the images to be included so I am afraid there are none for this posting.

On another note – have you noticed that I change the header image on the website quite frequently? The current image is of the Cathedral at the World Heritage Site in Kirkjubour just outside of Torshavn. This is the Faroes most important historical site with the ruins of the Magnus Cathedral from around 1300, the Saint Olav’s Church (Olavskirkjan), from 12th century and the old farmhouse Kirkjubøargarður from 11th century (the links will take you to the Wiki pages). The photo was taken about a kilometer offshore from a moving boat with a 70-200mm dx lens on a Nikon D7100. I was quite pleased at how well the cropped image came out.  The original image is reproduced below:




Keeping it simple

The slide scanning market has become increasingly competitive and the choice open to clients is vast. I and several of my competitors have discouraged people from using the cheaper home scanners because they cannot achieve results that we can get with our sophisticated, specialised gear. But we need to convey simplicity in what you are offered. The array of ‘tech speak’ can be bewildering – dpi, hi-res, jpeg, tif, MP4 and so on. With this in mind I have set about trimming down our Saturn Films 1969 website to try to make it as simple as possible for you to get the answers you want and order the product you need. Here I have precised our service

Very simply for 35mm slide and negative scans we use high resolution 4000dpi so you can view the images on computers and televisions. This is a practical resolution that will be able to archive and share. If you decide you want prints (yes we offer this service too) the images can be printed in excellent quality on up to A3 paper.

For negatives of other formats – 120, 126, 127, APS, medium and large format we scan at a suitable resolution aimed at giving you the best results. These are very much hands on scans and are charged accordingly.

For our cine and video work we scan and record at a ‘blu-ray’ standard and provide you with a DVD standard recording too. These will play on most televisions as well as computers and can easily be shared.

All of our work is edited and cleaned up so you get images that have dust, scratch reduction and also colour restoration applied as a standard.

We send you the film or photos on a usb stick mostly these days, but we can provide DVDs and Blu-Ray discs if you prefer. With the data sticks you can back up and store easily on your computers and hard drives. We do try to keep a back up here for up to two years too.

So that’s our service in a nutshell and I hope it is clear. I am always available to chat scanning on 074 1111 9419 so if you want more info or just to pick my brain that’s the number. You can always e-mail too to davidjsack@gmail.com

A new service for those who want to edit their own images

Unedited image scans

Want to have your scans at 15p each?

Several customers have asked whether I can provide unedited images at a cheaper price. Having considered the requests I have decided to introduce a new service. We will scan your negatives and slides as tif files (jpeg on request) but will not edit them. They will be provided straight from the scanner for those of you who use this service to make your own edits, for example – rotation, cropping, colour adjustment and spot removal.

The price for this service is 15p per scan saved as tif or jpeg. There is a minimum order charge of £15. Postage is dependent on the order size and the charge for the usb will be the standard list price.

We hope this opens up the service to more users especially to those who want to work on their own images and save some money.

Bits and pixels

Do you ever wonder about bit depth and the pixel count? May be there are other things to worry about which are more important  – however this is what I am thinking about right now! (The SpaceX flight has been put back till tomorrow and I am still sitting downstairs with my computer). I suppose the reason this is in my mind is because of two projects I was working on earlier. One was an interesting motor vehicle project on 35mm slides and I was able to enlarge the images dramatically. The other was a black and white 35mm negative film which I have been having to restore. In both cases I have been concious of the colour and resolution and I thought it would be good to write a note about them for the website blog even though I have covered this before. I have added links to Wiki for this article so that the reader can get a more in depth account if she or he wishes.

At Saturn Films 1969 we have always gone for the most appropriate bit depth for the technology we are using, currently we use 24bit imaging. This gives us a very good colour palette of 16,777,216 colours. This is the current optimum and the images we produce are very true to the original. Wikipedia have a very good article on the subject here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8-bit_color

Pixels are the dots that compose the final image. For our slides and 35mm negatives we use approximately 4000 pixels per inch and this means we are almost visualising the crystals that make up the picture. We use about 1200 pixels per inch for our medium format negatives. These pictures are larger than slides and so the loss in resolution is small. We can scan at up to 9600 dpi (dots per inch) theoretically but practically there is little demand for this. Again Wiki have a good article here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel

The scanned images are saved as jpeg or tif files. The tif files are uncompressed and take a lot of room on a usb stick or hard drive, jpeg files are compressed and much smaller. Read about jpeg images here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JPEG  At Saturn Films 1969 we now have one set charge of £5 for digital media no matter the size of your order. This is because we can get around  2000 jpeg images (100-200 tif images) on a 16gb drive, so the more slides or negatives we are scanning the more cost effective the storage device is.

So maybe now you know a bit more about bits and pixels and how the scanned images are saved as data on your computer. As for me, well its getting late, time for bed.

Funny – Not Funny!

Sometimes technology really sucks! I have a mobile phone thats getting a bit long in the tooth, yes its nearly 2 years old, and its beginning to play up.

At the weekend I made a phone call, had a chat and then hung up. Then went to the loo, made a cuppa then sat and watched a movie. What I did not know was that while I was doing these things my phone had dialled one of my customers so heaven only knows what he thought ( I have subsequently phoned and apologised).

The phone has been making phone calls all by itself, at one point my wife sent a text to me asking why I was calling her and not saying anything.

So while this is a technical hitch that may seem superficially funny it is not really in the least bit amusing.

I am giving the phone a factory reset in the hope I will get at least another 2 years out of it. I will however lose all the add ons and customisations, including messenger ………………………… Oh well its not all bad then 🙂