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

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:

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:

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:  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.

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.