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

Scanning resolution and Jpegs

The one thing that customers phone up and want to talk about is resolution and what does it mean. It may seem a bit teckhy but it is really fairly simple.You want a good resolution so 4000 dpi for slides and at least 800 dpi for family photos, saved to usb – there easy …. now the bit more wordy version –

  1. The ‘dpi’.  Generally speaking the higher the dpi – dots per inch –  the greater the clarity or resolution. We offer 4000 dpi for our slide and 35mm negative scans and this provides pretty good results. There are scanners out there that claim to give higher resolution, I have one that can scan at 9600 dpi, but for me 4000 dpi is the benchmark with a good clear pixel size and fast computer handling. With photographs which are usually bigger, for example 6 x 4, 7 x 5, A4 etc, we reduce the resolution so that the file size does not become unmanageable. Generally we scan at 1200 dpi or 800 dpi but on request we have scanned at higher resolutions. (one project for a conservation group used file sizes of 180 mb, oh my computer did suffer!)
  2. The ‘jpeg’ image. Jpeg images are cleverly compressed pictures which provide excellent resolution but with a smaller file size. These images compare well with uncompressed fomats like TIFF or RAW but at less than a tenth of the size. Results with a 35mm slide saved as 95% jpeg  at 4000 dpi give a file size of about 3-5 megabytes and on a modern tv are outstanding – pixelation, blockiness, is almost eliminated. We do not compress any more except on request when thumbnails or small images may be required.
  3. USB sticks or external hard drives. We prefer to place the files on usb stick mostly these days, I think the days of optical discs are numbered!  Usb sticks can be used on most smart tvs and of course on your computers. When you receive your stick or drive you should back it up to your computer hard drive straight away. I use three different locations for my backups.

I hope this short article helps you when you are deciding on your scanning provider. Obviously we want you to use us but there are some good competitors out there and we feel we stand up well against them. Most of our work is from returning customers a fact I am very proud of!

David.     January 2018.  Saturn Films 1969  Cwmgwrach, South Wales.

A challenging photo restoration

Saturn Films (1969)

First published by saturn films 1969April 5, 2017

A Challenging Photo Restoration.,Last month I was contacted by a friend who wanted to know if I could restore an old photograph. It was special as it was one of a very few of her parent photographs but it was faded and in an overall poor state. To make matters worse it was also a small picture and so getting a great result was always going to be difficult. Nevertheless I said I would give it a bash and see what we could get, but no promises!

So she sent me the 3inch by 4 inch picture which I received in the post the next day, I opened the letter excitedly and then said “oh dear” (well words to that effect).

The first scan – step one of the photo restoration. The image was scanned on an Epson D750 scanner. This excellent scanner provides amazing results for photographs and can be used for negatives, medium format and 35mm transparencies (we do not use it for the latter as we have other dedicated hardware). The image was saved as a tif file for working purposes. It is easier and more accurate to manipulate than an already compressed jpeg though it is a considerably larger file (65mb v 3.5 mb!!!!). We always start with tif files – and lots of BIG hard drives.

The original picture after the first scan. Saved as a jpeg for this blog and reduced in size by 90%. This picture is already showing visible recovery and improvement from the faded original.

 The effect of the fading caused by light can be clearly seen with the central area which was exposed and the darker framed area which was protected. The actual size of the image was probably a little larger than you are seeing on your screen.
At this point I was feeling I could provide some kind of result for Elspeth but there was still much to do – and so on with Adobe Lightroom. I prefer work in Lightroom these days compared to photoshop. An ancient incarnation of Photoshop used to be my weapon of choice but Lightroom has developed (pun unintended) so much so that it is now easier to incorporate into the workflow and, provided I am careful, does not lead to the bouncing beachball of death on the Apple computer.Pretty much the final result after lots of colour, contrast and clarity adjustments, adjusting individual pixels and removing dust speckles and scratches.

Ultimately I was very pleased with the way we pulled the picture back and achieved a most acceptable result. We printed the images at three levels one step under and one step over exposed plus what we thought was the ideal. We did this because what we see on the screen will not necessarily be what the printed photograph looks like. We are in partnership with a Cardiff based company for our photo printing. It would be uneconomical for us to do this ourselves, the equipment and dyes are expensive and there is a great deal of expertise required so we do our bit and they do theirs. The results were excellent. The target printed image was, in our opinion, the best result but the under and over exposed prints were not far off the mark and also quite acceptable.

At the end of the day we had provided a good restoration and displayable prints of a badly faded small photograph.Elspeth was very happy with the results – and really thats what matters!

Our thanks to Elspeth for allowing us to share this story and the photographs.