Recommendations for a "Slide Scanning Service" ??

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by roundball, Mar 21, 2014.

  1. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    I have a lot of 35mm slides I'd like to get scanned / digitized onto CDs.

    Good quality scanners do cost some money and once done with it, it becomes a big paper weight taking up space...or there's the hassle of trying to sell a used slide scanner and taking a significant % financial loss doing so.

    So I'm think about going through all my boxes of slides...cull them ruthlessly...then try to find a service to scan them for me and be done with it.
    I suspect the financial loss of trying to resell a used slide scanner would go a long ways towards the cost of paying a service to do it.

    I've been so satisfied with "Shutterfly's" prints turning out exactly like my images look on my PC that I contacted them about slide scanning but they don't offer that service.

    If anyone has any recommendations about a place with a "slide scanning service" here in the US, I'd appreciate it, thanks
     
  2. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
  3. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    How about buying a used Nikon 35mm film scanner (with the slide loading accessory), using it then selling it at a slight loss?
     
  4. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Found an on-line test review of the top 5 photo media scanning services and this one was rated #1 in all the key categories like cost, image quality, and customer service...ie: they send out a special packing kit, customer puts any slides, negatives, photos in to be scanned and ships it to ScanCafe, then the same kit is used to pack and return ship everything back to the customer, along with DVD(s). Pricing example: up to 500 scans for $125. (.25 cents ea).

    I spent a few hours culling the heck out of boxes of slides today...got about 1/3rd of the way through and the 25 year old lamp in the slide projector blew...LOL...Amazon will have one here Monday.
    I should know the final count sometime next week and other recommendations might surface by then as well so I can decide...either way it goes, I'll be glad to finally get some memorable shots accessible again...and get rid of all those metal slide boxes once and for all.

    UPDATE: I just noticed the fine print on ScanCafe's WebSite...all photo materials are sent out of the county (out of the U.S.) and the work is done in India. I don't want to risk sending my set of originals out of the country with all the shipping issues that might come up shipping over such long distances and through multiple countries so I personally won't be using ScanCafe.
     
  5. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    So far I've narrowed it down to a place called FotoBridge here in the US. Have had 'Live-Chat', Email, and phone call conversations with them now and while possibly / probably not the least expensive, I've become convinced they know what they're doing and I'm pretty skeptical after being on the planet as long as I have.

    Have been spending a few hours a day lately going through the slides from back all through the 80's…culling them even more ruthlessly now that I have a little more experience and a different perspective on things as well...hopefully I can get the keepers down to a few - several hundred, we’ll see.

    In plodding through them with a slide projector so far, it’s been like going back through time of course, and I found some surprising photos that I’d completely forgotten about…some great memories coming back to life, and there are really a few handfuls of outstanding shots in there like from Yosemite Nat’l Park, the Appalachian Mountains of western NC, Lighthouses-at-sunrise photos from the Outer Banks of NC, family photos, etc. Turning out to be a good decision, a good project.

    PROGRESS SO FAR:
    I have 15 metal slide boxes…each one holds 600 slides…were 1/2 to 3/4 full...on average call them 2/3 full…so 400 x 15 = approximately 6000 slides.
    The cardboard box I’m using for culls is almost a foot square at 10” x 10” x 12”…overflowing and I’m about half done.
     
  6. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    That's a lotta work. Most of my slides were lost in a house move. I doubt if I have 1500 left. I was going to scan them, but they're dusty as hell and if the kids want to see what the old man took pics of when they were really young they can get them scanned. ;)
     
  7. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Yes, a lot of work for sure...I can only stand it for a couple hours then I have to get away from the squinting, etc...but it's coming along.

    First pass was just a fast high level view with an eye towards "what was I thinking" and into the cull box it went.
    Another thing that enters into the sheer volume is something that most photography folks do and that is when shooting a place I may never be visiting again, I tend to shoot a lot of spare shots...like the old saying, there's never a better time to make a duplicate / back-up print than right at the moment with the subject already in the frame.

    Then in the course of doing that first pass, I realized I needed to reorganize them better so I spent the next few sessions making a second pass, jotting down notes, making various group-labels, sorting/reorganizing them differently / better...and culling some more as I went.

    Today I started a 3rd pass...more slowly, with the final decisions mainly either being "family / sentimental...keep it regardless of the quality of my photography 30 years ago"...or "technical, would I make an 8x10 and hang it up" / "would I post this on a photography forum"...etc.

    My goal is having all culling / reorganizing done by end of the weekend, then get them all thoroughly packed / labeled for shipment to the scanning service (probably FotoBridge) on Monday or Tuesday.

    Seems like using an actual metal slide storage box would be as good / better than a lot of ways to make the first layer of protection, and FotoBridge agreed. I'll have the slide grouped snug in the interior sections, then tape the boxes tightly closed, then thoroughly wrap / seal the boxes with multiple wraps of HD plastic, then lots of bubble wrap & peanuts around them inside a heavily taped, sturdy shipping carton. That'll take care of keeping them clean & dry.

    But I also need to decide who has the best "Special Delivery Handling Track Record" for the best chance of arriving undamaged:
    UPS, FedEx, or USPS.

    Once FotoBridge has them in house...assuming they have good processes...the risk to the slides themselves should go away.
     
  8. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    A couple of 2 hour sessions today and made a lot of progress...I've completely freed up 7 of the 15 metal slide boxes, and a few of the remaining 8 boxes are only about half full.
    If I can have a day tomorrow like I did today, to really fine tune the remaining keepers I may get the slide quantities finalized, then do a detailed count.
    Need to call FotoBridge before end of day tomorrow for any final details about packing / labeling so I can get all that done over the weekend, and ship them out Monday.
     
  9. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Finished another major pass today...got the quantity whittled down some more, to 1100 slides.
    Will sleep on it and make another pass tomorrow.

    The new news is I Googled more scanning services and found this in Arizona...now "it" sounds like the better choice so far.
    Sent them an email with some questions, will learn more tomorrow...a big plus is they make the slide scans available for view & approval before paying...and you mark for deletion up to 20% of what was submitted and not be charged...

    http://www.digmypics.com/slidescanning.aspx
     
  10. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Culling / sorting / reorganizing finally complete: 745 keeper slides.
    Will pack tomorrow and ship on Monday...will let you know how this place turns out.
     
  11. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    After leaving about 4500 slides (below) for the trash cart, I mailed 745 keepers to DigMyPics earlier this week with the UPS delivery scheduled for today.
    And exactly as advertised, I received an Email from DigMyPics confirming that they arrived in perfect condition, with a 6-9 day completion estimate.
    And as they begin accumulating digital scans of my slides into their system, they would be available for me to access / review daily as the scanning progressed.
    The only real unknown now is the output quality of their scans...and I should begin to get a peek at that after next week gets underway...

     
  12. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Simply Outstanding !!
    DigMyPics gets a 5-star rating every way I can measure them.
    The image quality of the digital files looks exactly like the original slides.

    All the interaction with them was fast, very professional, constantly communicating daily status updates.
    Provided me with a link to follow my order through the various steps & stages from receiving / logging in the slide order at their facility, then into and out of each stage as the order moved through the process.

    Provided me a link to begin looking at the "initial" slide scans as they're being created with the note that they are still in their initial state at this point.

    Then the image quality checking stage where each slide is re-checked for portrait / landscape orientation and any obvious touch-up that might be needed...slide might need to be re-cleaned, etc.

    Then a QC check of the slides by someone who had not seen them yet to consider any final activity or adjustment, and move them into completed status.

    At this point the finished scans are made available to me to review online...and reject / delete up to 20% no questions asked, and the cost of the order will be reduced accordingly. (I culled 38 out of 746 images mainly because they were multiples and / or not razor sharp focus that I didn't detect when culling them here at the house).

    Once I completed my review, I indicated "accept" and the order is finalized, credit card is charged, my couple of DVD's get created and packed up with my slides for return shipment.

    At that point, I'm also given a link for a new feature where I could download the files to my PC and not have to wait for the return shipment to physically get here before working with my new files...so I did and the download feature worked perfectly, with 708 slide images taking about an hour.

    I've already made one pass through all the images today and because for the first time I was viewing the images on a good quality 15" laptop screen, I was able to cull out even a few more that I didn't think were razor sharp.

    All the communications and handling systems seemed very thorough...everything just flowed smoothly, logically.
    708 high quality digital scan files with backup DVDs...done...$304...would use them again tomorrow in a heartbeat.

    http://www.digmypics.com/
     
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  13. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Glad it worked out for you.
     
  14. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Some quick examples of their slide scanning work...slides taken & stored since back in the 80/s as a beginner in this hobby.
    A few from Yosemite...it’s interesting how quickly the weather can change in that big country / mountain range and the effects create some very different views of the same scene.

    Half Dome through the valley - Clouds, Sun, Shadows




    Thunderstorm blew up over Half Dome




    Eye level view of Half Dome framed in fir trees from nearby mountaintop




    Very big country…big high elevation waterfalls viewed from an even higher mountaintop

     
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  15. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Wow, those are spectacular shots. :)
     
  16. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    I had no idea what to expect from the slide scanning place I went with, but to me the first test is how the digitized scans look compared to how they looked out of my slide projector a month ago when I was culling...and they are a totally faithful rendition of the original slides. And of course, for the first time now looking at them on modern high tech equipment like a laptop screen instead of a projector screen, sheetrock wall, Loupe, etc...they look even better than I've ever seen them.
    And the second test is all of the infrastructure / systems / customer service / efficiency / effectiveness / timeliness, etc...and DigMyPics.com hit it out of the park.
    709 slides cleaned, scanned, digitized, 2 DVDs burned, as well as letting me download the whole set of digitized files at no extra charge.......$300 bucks.

    If I'd taken on that project myself...and dealt with the learning curve / my abilities...had to go through the whole "equipment buying headache"...then the weeks / months that it might have taken me to get time to do them piece-meal...then try to resell the equipment to get some money back...after all the dust settled I'm not sure the difference in cost to me...to say nothing of the time & headaches...would have been any huge staggering amount....so as far as I'm concerned it was $300 very well spent.