Scanner for 35mm Slides

I went through all sorts of evaluations on how to scan/digitize the roughly 30k collection of 35mm slides that are a combination of those from my parents, myself, my husband and my stepdad. The 3 remaining folks, me, hubby and stepdad, discussed many options including building a copy stand or sending them out to a service for scanning. The time needed to handle the copy stand scanning using a digital camera is huge. The cost to send them out is huge. We could spend hours selecting just a few items to scan but that also takes lots of time. Our final solution was that we purchased a SlideSnap Pro system. We have access to a number of digital cameras ranging from a 12MP Nikon D700 to a 24MP Fuji XT2. We also have several options for lenses including an old but excellent Nikon MicroNikkor 55mm.

SlideSnap Pro

We did not get the camera system they recommended because of the cameras we had available. Initial set-up of the machine was easy. Getting a camera and lens option that works and fills the frame with the slide is proving a bit more problematic. Focusing is also a bit hard since our best lens, my MicroNikkor, is manual and also old and very stiff and hard to turn. We’re considering sending it off to Nikon for a refurbishment. We’re also trying to verify the scan resolutions claimed before really going to town on the scanning. However for sheer speed the system is unmatched. We’re getting speeds of 80 slides digitized in 4 minutes while saving both Raw and JPEG files. If we switch to their recommended JPEG only the speed can be increased a bit. The max they say you can get is 30 slides a minute. We’re doing about 20. Far more time is spent cleaning them and loading the carousels. But the cleaning time would have to happen no matter what we used for scanning and loading carousels is faster than putting them in a copy stand jig one at a time. We have not yet experimented with tethering to Lightroom although we plan to test that as soon as the external power supply for the camera arrives.

The remaining issues are deciding whether to convert the raw files to DNG and use that plus a JPEG file as a set in the catalog or use JPEG only. I’m waffling. My initial thoughts are to go JPEG only, get them all done and in the catalog and then as the top ones are identified considering re-scanning them and saving both types of files. Anyway more updates coming soon.


Your setup can churn through the slides at high speed, so why skip the RAWs? I would scan just in RAW, why even bother with initial JPGs? You are importing them into Lightroom and you can always get JPGs from there. Storage is cheap and 30000 RAWs are not an issue in the era of multi-TB drives.

As for converting to DNG: I never found a benefit.

Tethering: might be an option. If I am not mistaken, the D700 is only USB2, that might be an issue. I did tetheret shooting with a D700 ages ago, and AFAIR it was slow. If you are in the ballpark of 20-30 RAWs per minute, it might be a bottleneck. But it might also work. Not sure. Using a USB3-CF reader is way faster.

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Concern I have is future ability to read some old version of Raw files

Re tethering. We have both a Nikon D7000 and a D700 and also a Fuji XT2, so lots of options re tethering. Plus, Lightroom is improving tethering a lot. Still exploring, got the various other items we needed via fedex today ( gotta love Amazon Prime if you are in a rural area) Sheep willing will explore tomorrow…

I am in the same boat. My first RAWs go back to the Nikon D100. NEF is still widely supported, so not an issue today. So that is a decision I will have to take once I see RAW support going away. Then I can convert/export in one batch.
That said: nobody is guaranteeing DNG will still be around in 40 years.

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I’m using my friend’s Nikon LS-5000. With slides I can use a feeder but with negatives I have to sit there and feed the strips myself. I’m not getting anywhere near the throughput that you are but there’s no cleaning up. I decided that jpg was better than the original so I just stayed with that.

BTW: nice setup.

I still do a lot of film photography, but decided not to go for high-quality scans. I just make quick&dirty scans of my film, pull the photos into Lightroom to have a searchable catalog. If I see something I like or need, I know which folder/sheet I can find the negative. The rare ones I need in high quality are rescanned using a Flextight X5.

If I had that available I would do them all initially as JPEG too. Nice hardware!

I think @OogieM might be implying having jpegs as an easy to view and use library or something to use with Apple Photos to share with family and have the raw scans in Lightroom.

Also is this system @OogieM superior to dedicated slide scanners?

No, I will use LightRoom as the only catalog.

Reason would be that I could approach the 30 slides a minute scanning speed with JPEG only and for the vast majority of slides there is really no reason to do much past basic color restoration if that. All my current digital native images are JPEG only from phones, tablets and older digital cameras.

The SlideSnap IS a dedicated slide scanner system. Just a very high speed one whose resolution depends on the quality of the camera used.

I never considered scanning my film myself. What options are out there for a smaller number of negatives? >500.

A good flatbed scanner will do either negatives or slides. In general in spite of advertised 9600 dpi resolutions all you are going to actually get is about 2400 dpi. If that is good enough and you don’t mind the extra labor of loading a tray of slides/negatives by hand then try Epson scanners. My flatbed is an ancient Epson 4870 Photo. If I was to replace it I’d look at an Epson Perfection V600 at about $200

Thanks for the information, worth looking into!

I hear you on the stiff focusing of the 55mm Micro-Nikkor. I had that issue and disassembled and relubricated it via the excellent step-by-step here:

If you’re not a tinkerer I could see where it could be a little scary to do on your own though.

Have you tried an extension tube with that lens to get closer focus? Seems like that’s about all you would need to get yourself to working solution.

I’ll have to do some digging whether for me it makes sense to scan to JPEG or scan as TIFF or something similar.

The SlideSnap isn’t a traditional scanner. The only choices are whatever your digital camera takes, in my case I can either do JPEG, or JPEG plus Raw files. Any conversions, to DNG or TIFF or any other format have to happen later. Cameras do not take TIFF pictures.

My thinking at this point is that the most important part is getting them all in Lightroom and cataloged. Then for the most important or best ones I can get them back out and scan them again and save the raw, create TIFFs or DNG or whatever is required.

Just nitpicking: NEF ist essentially a TIFF.

I don’t get the advantage in “scanning” JPEG first. Storage is cheap, so I would go RAW/NEF from the beginning. No rescanning, if I decide I need a better format. And I can always “downgrade” the whole collection to JPG with few mouse clicks. If the initial “scan” is in a raw format, you can always decide later what to do with them. I’d rather spend the few bucks for extra storage than realize years later, JPG was a mistake.

A timely topic for me. I just started scanning my slides this week.

Years ago I scanned a few with an Epson flat bed scanner that I got primarily for 4"x5" view camera negatives, but the prospect of scanning ~5000 slides on a flatbed scanner was too daunting. I recently bought a Nikon D850 and went for the MicroNikkor and the slide copier. The cost (including the camera) was about the same as the SlideSnap Pro. My throughput is increasing, but it is not near 30 slides a minute, but this is mostly a one-time job.