Cleaning and scanning old slides help

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I have a quantity of 50 year old slides I want to scan in but some are a bit dirty.

Can I ask please what's the best way to clean them before scanning? They're all cardboard mounted.

Also, in the flatbed scanner, shiny side up?

Thanks.
 

Woodsy

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I should preface this with the point that I am no expert in cleaning slides etc, but in any case, it’s very unlikely one can go wrong with a simple rocket blower at decreasing distances away from the film surface, anything that doesn’t come off with that, try a very gentle brush. For stubborn marks, I’ll refrain from giving an uninformed opinion, and let someone more knowledgeable chime in.

As for scanning, are you using a film holder to mount the slides in, such as the ones supplied with Epson scanners? If so, it should tell you the orientation you require. Choose an example slide where you can figure out the correct orientation just looking at the slide, then reorient it according to the slide holder instructions. This should narrow down which way the emulsion goes. I have to say, my brain is dead at this hour and so I can’t remember which way round it is, but my instinct says shiny side away from the light source? Could be wrong :/
 
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Andysnap

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I bought a spray bottle of archival negative cleaner which seems to work very well. I imagine that any dust should be removed first though.
 
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cardiff_gareth
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Thanks both. I'll scan them 'as is' and see how it goes. Scanning shiny side up in my Epson 4490 Photo flat bed. I've set the DPI to 2400 to it makes files roughly 3030x2040 circa 6mp. Am I scanning them too light in DPI as I would prefer a larger file to work on?

Also with the Epson Scan software I've only got the Unsharp Mask box ticked and dust removal, Digital ICE Tech etc all turned off?

Thanks


Edit - trying different scans outputs. One at 4800 and another at 4800 with the Digital Ice Technology turned on.
 
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Woodsy

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Personally, I prefer to enlarge in photoshop rather than increase the DPI on the scan. The algorithms for enlarging in photoshop are considerably more researched and thought out than in the epson software. It's all interpolation after the optical resolution limit (which is below 2400 DPI on the majority, if not all, of their flatbed scanners), and I trust adobe to do a better job.

Otherwise, I turn all the epson scanning technology off, unsharp mask, ICE etc. In any case, see what results you prefer and go from there.
 
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cardiff_gareth
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So at 2400dpi I get a file size of 2040 x 3039

In Photoshop under image size adjustment that gives a file size of 1.263 inches x 0.85 inches @ 2400 DPI

Amending the longest edge length to 12 inches and dropping the DPI down to 300DPI drops the file size, the original being 49.9m, the adjusted size being 25.4m and when zooming in, hard to see a difference in quality.

Just want to make sure as I have a load of slides to scan if this is the right way of going about it?
 
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Well that's 3 hours of scanning wasted. Set Epson Scan to use the storage drive on my desktop instead of the C Drive. They were all there as I was drag and dropping the files from that folder to Photoshop to examine them with my different settings. The folder that Epson Scan had made to put them in was called Epson Work Temp.

My wife wanted the computer for a Zoom pub quiz so I shut down the Epson Scan software and also the folder. Fast forward to the end of the quiz and I go to the storage drive to drag the Tiffs into my Adobe cloud storage to have a look at them on my ipad and the file is gone, missing. Knowing the Epson Scan software won't open without the scanner turned on, I turn the scanner on and voila the folder is there... But empty. The 4 bitmap images are there from the last preview but no tiffs.

I looked in the C Drive temp folder and nothing. Check out the recycle bin and only the scans that I had played with the settings and didn't like so deleted were there.

So 3 hours wasted! Argh!

Seeing as I have got to do it all over again tomorrow at least I've got a fast track now with the settings but such a kick in the teeth.

How much better is the VueScan software over the Epson Scan software. Is it worth the £60 current asking price?

Thanks.
 

StephenM

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I can't comment on VueScan versus anything else in current versions. I tried Silverfast, Epson Scan and VueScan side by side 15/16 years ago, and have only used VueScan since.

Two features it has that apply to your problems:

1 You tell it explicitly where to put the three possible output files from a scan

2 It can, on request, save the raw scan, allowing you to scan once/process many times. When experimenting with settings, this is a big time saver. Need to tweak? Reload the file and reprocess with other settings.

I said three possible files; you can get raw, jpg and tiff if you so desire. I always have raw and tiff.
 

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At the time I made the comparison, I was scanning 5x4 negatives on a computer with limited RAM running OS/2. Each scan took four hours (spelled to indicate no typo!) so not having to rescan to make a minor adjustment to improve the scan was enough of itself to fix my choice.
 

excalibur2

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Well that's 3 hours of scanning wasted. Set Epson Scan to use the storage drive on my desktop instead of the C Drive. They were all there as I was drag and dropping the files from that folder to Photoshop to examine them with my different settings. The folder that Epson Scan had made to put them in was called Epson Work Temp.

My wife wanted the computer for a Zoom pub quiz so I shut down the Epson Scan software and also the folder. Fast forward to the end of the quiz and I go to the storage drive to drag the Tiffs into my Adobe cloud storage to have a look at them on my ipad and the file is gone, missing. Knowing the Epson Scan software won't open without the scanner turned on, I turn the scanner on and voila the folder is there... But empty. The 4 bitmap images are there from the last preview but no tiffs.

I looked in the C Drive temp folder and nothing. Check out the recycle bin and only the scans that I had played with the settings and didn't like so deleted were there.

So 3 hours wasted! Argh!

Seeing as I have got to do it all over again tomorrow at least I've got a fast track now with the settings but such a kick in the teeth.

How much better is the VueScan software over the Epson Scan software. Is it worth the £60 current asking price?

Thanks.
Well I'm confused with your problem as would have thought just create a folder on your C: drive and tell epscan to put the scanned files there. After scanning epscan automatically opens your scans in the c: drive folder. But I've used other programs (not about scanning) and couldn't find where the files was stored, well with W10 file explorer you can select search (top right corner) and if you know the file name great but if not.....type *. doc, tiff, jpg, exe etc etc and it usually finds all the files with that ending i.e. doc, tiff, jpg, exe, etc etc
 
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Well I'm confused with your problem as would have thought just create a folder on your C: drive and tell epscan to put the scanned files there. After scanning epscan automatically opens your scans in the c: drive folder. But I've used other programs (not about scanning) and couldn't find where the files was stored, well with W10 file explorer you can select search (top right corner) and if you know the file name great but if not.....type *. doc, tiff, jpg, exe etc etc and it usually finds all the files with that ending i.e. doc, tiff, jpg, exe, etc etc
It wanted to save to the My Pictures folder on my C drive but I changed it to save to my D drive instead at the foot folder. Epson then made the Epson Work Temp folder and put the preview scan thumbnails in there as well as the outputted tiffs. All was fine till I closed the folder down and the Epson Scan software and went back into the folder did I see all was gone. On reflection I suppose the clue was in the folders title.
 

excalibur2

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It wanted to save to the My Pictures folder on my C drive but I changed it to save to my D drive instead at the foot folder. Epson then made the Epson Work Temp folder and put the preview scan thumbnails in there as well as the outputted tiffs. All was fine till I closed the folder down and the Epson Scan software and went back into the folder did I see all was gone. On reflection I suppose the clue was in the folders title.
Still try file explorer search and type *.tiff and you never know they might turn up.
 
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If the slides are Kodachrome then don't use digital ICE, as it does weird things to the image. Also, I find 3200 dpi to be the sweet spot on my Epson V600 scanner, and it's shiny side down on that (you should be able to tell, as you'll get 'wrong way round' mirror images if you get it wrong). If you can find the handbook for your scanner (on-line if you've lost the paper one) it should say in there which way up to scan the film. (y)
 
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Thanks! I did some online research last night and saw people saying that was the sweet spot with everything turned off bar the unsharp mask.
Good to know I'm using the right "best" settings then and have them in the right way!

Bought about 400 or so slides online from the late 60's to 70's and slowly scanning them in.

Doing my BA Hons in Photography and seeing some exhibitions, photographers has inspired me to look to the past and build a collection of images from unknown photographers for a potential gallery. These are all from Mexico from what I can gather and the same family. Currently scanned 49 in, it's going to be a long scanning day....!
 

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ChrisR

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I have a quantity of 50 year old slides I want to scan in but some are a bit dirty.

Can I ask please what's the best way to clean them before scanning? They're all cardboard mounted.

Also, in the flatbed scanner, shiny side up?

Thanks.
So, a lot depends on HOW dirty the are. In my experience slides that have been used quite a bit are likely to be very dirty! Definitely, first go is the rocket blower as @Woodsy suggests, or an air can, followed by a gentle brush. I'd try some from there, see how you go (I can see you've been doing that). If there are more stubborn marks, the archival negative cleaner that @Andysnap suggests sounds good. Failing that, try some isopropyl alcohol (IPA, not the beer kind) on some cotton buds is worth trying. I wouldn't do this without a safety scan first! However, the slides I tried were surprisingly resilient to this treatment, but no promises or guarantees, your mileage may vary!

OTOH though I didn't damage any slides, I don't remember a huge improvement in the worst of them.

If not Kodachrome, I would definitely try infrared-based dust/scratch removal, if the scanner provides it. I had no good results with the imitation version in Silverfast when you can't use the IR. IMHO in those circumstances you're back to tedious spotting and cloning in your favourite PP software! My favourite Kodachrome slide, in the Kodachrome thread here, need 425 retouch adjustments!

IMHO Vuescan Pro is a worthwhile investment. It will support scanning on almost any scanner on the market, it even supports the scanning capability on my all-in-one printer/scanner. In addition, it provided a driver for my Plustek scanner after Apple/Plustek between them conspired to make it not work. And all updates are free! Plus the support is excellent. (I believe the original Epson Scan won't work on latest MacOS, and Epson Scan 2 won't support older scanners.)
 

Woodsy

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Just a note, be careful when using air ‘dusters’ in the form of cans of air. Unless they are specifically just compressed air, they tend to be full of propellants. We actively avoid using this kind of thing for removing dust from optics in the lab, as the propellants can adhere to the surface. We do use as pure as possible Isopropanol, but dielectric optical coatings are quite different to film!
 

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A method suggested by the late Barry Thornton years ago (getting on for 20 years at a guess) was to use Photoshop's dust removal tool, with the sliders turned up to remove every blemish. This naturally made a mess of details, so the next step was to undo it. Then use the history brush to spot to avoid the need to clone.

I gave the date because in those days it was something like Photoshop 7, and I use CS2 which is also not the latest :). More modern versions may have either made this redundant advice, or just no longer possible (I stuck at CS2 because of the few features I used, one disappeared in all the later versions).

Edit to add. I enjoyed looking at the bookshelf above. Of the titles I could make out, I have 7 of them.
 
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A method suggested by the late Barry Thornton years ago (getting on for 20 years at a guess) was to use Photoshop's dust removal tool, with the sliders turned up to remove every blemish. This naturally made a mess of details, so the next step was to undo it. Then use the history brush to spot to avoid the need to clone.

I gave the date because in those days it was something like Photoshop 7, and I use CS2 which is also not the latest :). More modern versions may have either made this redundant advice, or just no longer possible (I stuck at CS2 because of the few features I used, one disappeared in all the later versions).

Edit to add. I enjoyed looking at the bookshelf above. Of the titles I could make out, I have 7 of them.
I do a similar technique to speed up dust removal.

I use layers and masks, but run the dust and scratches filter quite high on one layer and use that for sky and any other areas of flat colour, roads, rendered buildings etc.

Then manually spot everything else on the original layer.

---

As for digital ICE the 'made in England' stamp looks like Kodachromes I've scanned before, should have 'Kodachrome Transparency' on the other side? If so I would have it switched off.

I also really prefer to sharpen afterwards so never use Epson Unsharp Mask, you'd be surprised at the difference that can make.
 
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