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Thread: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

  1. #1

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    Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    Hello! My mother was a long-time professional film photographer who traveled all over the world and published about 12 books. I inherited her huge photographic archive consisting of everything from B&W negatives, 35mm color slide, 120, 645, 4x5 color transparencies. 90% of her work are color transparencies. Her best work is on 4x5 color transparency.

    I am just beginning the process of archiving her library - and, I must say, it is a stunningly beautiful body of work. I am very excited about preserving my mother's legacy and I appreciate her on a whole new level as a photographer and artist.

    I also inherited her old Epson Expression 1640XL scanner which has the capability to scan all of the above formats. I tried the VuScan software with it and it works perfectly with the scanner.

    I am also a long-time film and digital photographer, but scanning is a relatively new process for me. Especially at any sort of professional level. Is this old 1640XL an adequate scanner for this purpose? I would like the best scans possible for creating large prints at some point. It's a huge undertaking and I'd prefer not to waste my time using inferior equipment that will only end up with mediocre results.

    I cannot afford a drum scanner (!) and I don't know if the newer Epson v800 is up to the task. My head is spinning with all the various resolutions, dpi, DMax. I was just about to sell the 1640, but then thought better of it when seeing that so many of the resolution claims by Epson were inflated anyway. Thoughts? Your input would be so helpful to me. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    If you are happy with the scanner in terms of performance, keep it, and then send off the important frames you want to print up to a professional to get the most out of them. This only becomes problematic if you need to scan hundreds of images at that quality level, at which point it would be cheaper to get a good scanner (but the Epson V800 will not give you great results on smaller formats), not to mention that the scanner operator is half the battle.
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    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    Hi Suzzane

    Use the scanner you have to digitize your mothers work and once this huge task is completed you will have a better idea and experience in the whole scanner, PS editing , archiving process.
    You will at some point know or conclude which images are important to print.. Then you can do selective high rez scans with a more appropriate scanner to make huge prints.

    Bob

  4. #4
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    The Vivian Maier archives were started this way and over time the selects were made.

  5. #5
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    I've been charged with managing massive scanning projects and the best approach is to pare down the lot in a critical stepwise manner.

    All slides can be viewed with a very good loupe on a light table. That has sufficed for editors for years. For negatives, scan at low resolution of the MF and LF media and just adequate resolution for 35mm. Lower resolution speeds the process greatly. Finally pare down the first pass. Choose the better for higher resolution scans.

    For the best loupe I defer to the group. You want one large enough that fatigue does not become an issue.

    Get back to us!

  6. #6

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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by SuzanneH View Post
    Hello! My mother was a long-time professional film photographer who traveled all over the world and published about 12 books. I inherited her huge photographic archive consisting of everything from B&W negatives, 35mm color slide, 120, 645, 4x5 color transparencies. 90% of her work are color transparencies. Her best work is on 4x5 color transparency.

    I am just beginning the process of archiving her library - and, I must say, it is a stunningly beautiful body of work. I am very excited about preserving my mother's legacy and I appreciate her on a whole new level as a photographer and artist.

    I also inherited her old Epson Expression 1640XL scanner which has the capability to scan all of the above formats. I tried the VuScan software with it and it works perfectly with the scanner.

    I am also a long-time film and digital photographer, but scanning is a relatively new process for me. Especially at any sort of professional level. Is this old 1640XL an adequate scanner for this purpose? I would like the best scans possible for creating large prints at some point. It's a huge undertaking and I'd prefer not to waste my time using inferior equipment that will only end up with mediocre results.

    I cannot afford a drum scanner (!) and I don't know if the newer Epson v800 is up to the task. My head is spinning with all the various resolutions, dpi, DMax. I was just about to sell the 1640, but then thought better of it when seeing that so many of the resolution claims by Epson were inflated anyway. Thoughts? Your input would be so helpful to me. Thank you!
    The V800 and V850 are very competent scanners, I strongly recommend you acquire one for that job.

    As you are to scan transparencies take the V850 as it includes Silverfast Multiexposure feature that it is very interesting for very deep shadows in the tranparencies http://www.silverfast.com/highlights...posure/en.html

    If you take the V800 you may purchase separately a software upgrade to have the Multi-Exposure.

    For 4x5 and 120 the V850 will deliver lots of image quality that may exceed what you need or what film had recorded.

    For 35mm I would recommend a dedicated 35mm roll film scanner perhaps a Plustek, the 35mm 8x00 series is cheaper than the 120 that makes MF.


    As the format is larger you need less optical performance, first because a large format scan have lots of image quality even at lower dpi, and secondly because small format lenses have more optical performance and in some cases (tripod used, sharp film and ideal aperture) a higher optical dpi performance makes a diference, also in smaller formats grain structure can be much important in the aesthetics, so a higher optical resolution make also make a difference because that.

    It can happen that you find some transparencies with very deep shadows, it the image is worth and the very deep shadows are important in that image then you may use a drum scanner service for that specialized job. I know a good photographer that had a V750 and a top notch drum, he used the drum for 5% of the images, and he said that half of those times it was not clear if it was worth.

    If you had a scanning business the V850 it would not be the ideal flatbed, for the same reason a restaurant won't normally use the same microwave oven than the one I've have at home, but I would cook the same if having one or the other. Also V850 for personal usage spares a budget that can de used for drum service for the few cases a flatbed comes short.

    Other flatbeds may not be in production, can have repair service problems and may lack drivers for modern operative systems. With the V850 you have 1 year warranty, official service and drivers for Windows 10.

    Another thing is that V850 optimizes less the digital result so a bit of sharpening and curve trim is always effective in Photoshop, while some Pro flatbeds tend to be more intelligent, digitally cooking a bit the image to its best, but presonally I pefer a very raw scan, and perhaps I would apply a different sharpening strategy for the eyes than for the cheek in a portrait.

    In short, I don't know a better choice than the V850 in the new gear market, in a budget, used pre-press gear is risky, and you may complement with a 35mm dedicated Plustek.

    Another choice is buying a Hasselbald X1 and selling it when you finish, this is the luxurious way.

    You can read this:

    https://petapixel.com/2017/05/01/160...s-500-scanner/




  7. #7

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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    Another way to "scan" is to downshoot the negs/slides with a digital camera set-up rather than a scanner... You would have to rig a copy set-up, light box, and with holders for materials...

    You would be able to "shoot" them at a short shutter speed, and move on to the next image, etc...

    The images could be batch processed in Lightroom, archived, categories, etc as a group...

    Check the archives for the ongoing (DSLR scanning) topic...

    Good luck!!!

    Steve K

  8. #8
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    Decide, first, why are you scanning? The end result will determine what's the best/easiest/least expensive method for attaining that result. If you're scanning to share on the web you'll have very different requirements than if you're going to put on a gallery show of your mom's work printed large.
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  9. #9

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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt View Post
    Decide, first, why are you scanning? The end result will determine what's the best/easiest/least expensive method for attaining that result. If you're scanning to share on the web you'll have very different requirements than if you're going to put on a gallery show of your mom's work printed large.
    The OP mentions an archival purpose, for which it may be better to find a permanent home, such as an art institute or historical center, for the original material. Scans are not truly archival. Does anyone scan an important image and then throw that image away?

  10. #10
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Scanning Huge Archives - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by SuzanneH View Post
    I cannot afford a drum scanner (!)...
    That's like claiming that you can't afford a darkroom enlarger. People give them away, both darkroom enlargers and drum scanners.

    You're going about this backwards: define your problem first, then look for solutions.

    Bruce Watson

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