Sunday, March 18, 2007

Scanning old photos

Photograph of my brother and a turtle taken with
Kodak Verichrome Pan film (size 120, ASA 125). Circa 1965.

I have, in boxes, albums, and notebooks, thousands of photographs, B&W negatives, color slides, and color negatives that I have taken over the years since about 1964 -- not to mention many old photos that have come down from both sides of our family. I have been at my wits end trying to decide how to deal with them, and most of the solutions I looked at had a hefty price tag.

One solution I had not considered was a scanner. The last time I used one, it was a 300 dpi model that did a fair job of scanning photographs, but a poor job of scanning slides. Negatives were not even feasible, especially color negatives with the orange mask.

A few weeks ago we found an Epson 4490 for under $200 that handled all the types of photographic media I had. Its resolution is 4800 x 9600 dpi, and it does the job slowly, but well. I still need to experiment to determine the best resolution to employ, but the ones I have already done are more than satisfactory, if a bit large.

Scanners are generally quite unforgiving of dust, scratches, and such on negatives, but with the magic of Photoshop, I can fix them nicely.

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