Need help choosing a slide scanner

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Well-Known Member
Dec 27, 2014
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I just brought back a box of a few thousand slides from my dad's barn. There's all kinds of stuff from my childhood, including about 10 shots from an early eruption of Mt. St. Helens, about 2 months before the big one. Anyway, what I need now is a slide scanner so I can make digital copies and share with family. The main purpose is screen viewing, although some might get printed out to 8x10 or so.

Do any of you have experience with slide scanners? Anything I should look at or stay away from? Advice on how much resolution I should look for? Since it's such a big collection, speed would be nice, as would good file management. I'm looking for a middle of the road solution, neither rock-bottom nor gold-plated.

Thank you!
I won't be of much help for a scanner but, I would like to offer some suggestions.

I use my DSLR for scanning slides and get fairly good results. I have even used my smartphone in a pinch.

You may want to check how much it costs to have them scanned for you. Good scanners are not inexpensive, add your time and see if it is worth the effort.

If you are dealing with a few thousand get a light table and sort the slide to only the ones you want to copy.
Not sure what the current crop of scanners is like, but a few years ago they were a bit hit and miss, especially the cheaper ones. Post-processing in software could consume a significant chunk of time also.

I would suggest finding a place that scans them for a fee. If it is a once-off job might work out better for you that way.
I have much the same problem.
Decades of 35mm slides from an Old Browning my father had.
They are mostly in cartridges for a slide projector, which I also have along with the screen.
But the bulb is burned out of the projector and I can't find a replacement for it.
I've got my eye on THIS, if my SSDI ever is approved to digitize them all.
It will take months I'm sure of non stop work to get them all done.
Probably be more like do a couple cartridges every weekend or something.
Good Luck.
I did several thousand slides about 15 years ago. I used a Nikon slide scanner. It would automatically feed the slides. It used a SCSI connection to the computer. There was fairly good software with the unit, but additional image editing software helped touch up spots. The two other things you will need; thin cotton gloves so you don't leave finger prints, and a big fluffy makeup brush to clean each slide front-and-back before you scan it. If the slides are particularly dirty, you might want a squirt bottle full of (cold) distilled water and some Q-tips (nothing stronger!).
Good advice from everyone, thank you. Prioritizing will be really important. That's a little easier since there are a few carousels of the best slides from different eras. The boxes have some labels, too so I can focus on important areas. Finally, the slides are pretty well labeled, although some I looked at last night had really helpful labels like "lake."
Nikons are probably the best ones out there, but the prices on them are all over the place on eBay. Seems like some of the IVs (that's what I had) are selling more used on there for what I paid for one new around 2001 time frame. But they're the only ones I've ever messed with that would scan old Kodachromes (which use a different process than the more common E-6 slides) worth a darn. I probably scanned close to a thousand slides with mine before I sold it to buy a DSLR back in 2003-04. They have a very dense emulsion compared to other slides that gives cheap slide scanners fits. Plus they can handle negatives without having to tweak the crap out of them afterwards. The bigger Nikons only come into play if you need to scan medium format slides, otherwise they don't really provide a better quality scan or have any features of the smaller scanners.

Personally, I would sort through them to the best of your ability, and take the ones you want to preserve and have them scanned someplace. Scanning slides without the slide auto feeders (which are $$$ themselves) is a very slow and tedious process. You'll probably end up paying as much to have them scanned somewhere as you'd spend on the scanner, but you don't have to spend hours in front of a computer swapping slides out every couple of minutes.