Scanning The Past Horizon – Digitising The Archives


A client this last week came into the shop and posed a question about making digital files out of his father’s colour slide collection. A worthy exercise, as it helps to preserve family history as well as views of a more general nature.

He was dismayed at trying to do it with a commercially -available scanner – he felt it would be too slow for the thousands of images. Here I differ – I find the Epson V700 to be perfect for translating the 35mm, 120, or 4 x 5 transparency or negative to a tiff or jpeg file. In the case of the small slides you can do 12 at once automatically and you needn’t remove them from the commercial mounts. I’m afraid our client was mesmerised by having and very large Nikon full-frame camera and a macro lens and was trying to find a convenient commercial rig to attach to it to duplicate the slides.


He’s a little late – these devices were common in the 1980’s and 1990’s and worked fairly well…within the limits of film duplication, it must be added. if he can find one at a swap meet it may well be what he needs. I should have stuck to the Epson V700 for my part.

I frequently put in a little time with my collection of images transferring the best ones into the digital realm. A case in point is a lovely lady named Tammy who posedfor portraits a decade ago. They were expensive things – I used 4 x 5 Kodak Portra and Ilford Fp4 film- and Printed them in my own colour lab up to 20 x 24 size. At least they got an exhibition run as “My Fair Ladies” at a belly dance conference.


Recently I have tried them again in the scanner and can now apply new effects to them for screen use. The Adobe Photoshop Elements program has such an easy spotting tool that even a decade’s accumulation of dust specks is easily dealt with. And I can see further into shadows in the computer than ever i could with a colour enlarger – colour paper had only one speed and grade.

I would encourage anyone who wishes to digitise their images to either acquire the V700 – or the new V800 – or to call upon me for the job. the rates are reasonable and the results are excellent.


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