Kodachrome Memories

Volume 7, Issue 203; 23 Nov 2004; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Some of the first few images to come through my new film scanner.

The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of the earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.

Rachel Carson

A few months ago, Deb and I decided to see about actually getting some of our better pictures framed and put up on the walls. Walls, I might add, that had been anxiously awaiting this development for several years.

Getting the digital ones cropped, printed, and framed was dead easy. But a whole lot of our current collection is on film and that's harder to deal with. Finding the pictures in our albums was easy, finding the negatives wasn't (very) hard (at least finding the right box wasn't too hard), but the process of selecting the individual images, keeping track of the film strips, getting specific images printed, and dealing with any cropping or other adjustments we might like looked really hard.

Scanning the prints produced pretty poor results (on our cheap all-in-one scanner, printer, fax combo, so that was to be expected, I think). I tried unsuccessfully to find a friend or colleague with a film scanner that I could borrow. Then it hit me. I'm not actually expecting to produce much more film in my lifetime, all I really need is a way of converting the legacy. The answer was obvious: buy a film scanner on eBay, scan the negatives, and sell it again. Duh! This internet thing, I think it might catch on.

And that's just what I did. Selecting and bidding unsuccessfully on several scanners before winning a CoolScan IV ED.

Nikon CoolScan IV ED
Nikon CoolScan IV ED

It's not the absolute top-of-the line in film scanners these days with a physical resolution of 2900dpi but it does include hardware assisted dust and scratch removal (that works fabulously). It's plenty sufficient for our immediate needs.

And more.

Shortly before my Uncle Ed passed away, he mailed me a small handful of slides. I've never had them printed and lacking a projector, I've never seen them except as tiny images held in front of a lamp. Yesterday it occurred to me that I could just as easily scan those too.

The first image is from November, 1951. It's clearly my dad, but it's like nothing I recall seeing before.

My Dad
My Dad

The second image is from June, 1968.

My Dad and Me
My Dad and Me

I'm only a year old and I've made him bald already!

That scanner paid for itself on about day three, I think.


Great stuff, we have anxious walls too, this should help. The first photo of your Dad has a remarkable quality, a little unnerving even: 1951? It looks like it was taken ten minutes ago.

—Posted by Danny on 23 Nov 2004 @ 06:24 UTC #

That film stuff is durable. And the resolution is spectacular. I think the focus is actually a little soft on his face, but I haven't tried examing the slide with a loupe to see if it's an artifact of the film or the scanning.

I wish I knew more about when and where it was taken.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 23 Nov 2004 @ 06:34 UTC #

I have excatly same film scanner. What a coincidence ;-)

Sometimes autofocus is wrong and I must rescan slide or do a manual correction of focus. Automatic mode is often quite good but if you want perfect scan you must fiddle with each slide or film strip for a very long time trying different color corrections, focuses, ... Something what one doesn't want to do if he wants to scan several thousands of old pictures :-(

—Posted by Jirka Kosek on 07 Dec 2004 @ 01:55 UTC #

2900 dpi for film is adequate for many purposes. A 10X print (10 x 15) from a 35mm slide would be close to 300 dpi. At a ten inch viewing distance, 200 dpi just about reaches the limit of the human eye.

—Posted by Ian E. Gorman on 17 Jan 2005 @ 03:11 UTC #