banner
Tape navigation: Home | Tips & Notes | History | Formats & Resources | Projects | Facility | Site Map | Contact

Personal Image Scanning Project

Filed under: project notes,scanning,still images — 2011-11-05 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2012-10-09 by Richard L. Hess

In the 2007-2008 school year, my son Robert asked me why we did not have all our family images in the computer as there were some that he needed for a report. Since this was a project I had desired to undertake for some time (but who has the time), I responded with “I’m very glad you asked, what are you doing for a summer job?”

As of September, 2012, the bulk of the work has been completed and here are the statistics:

scanning stats 2012-09-11

We also archived many audio CDs to have them available on the server for instant access and enjoyment. We included those in the totals as they represented a good deal of Robert’s work this past summer. The project is almost over. I have about 1,400 more slides of mine, but have inherited more (see the end of this article for more details).

This does not count the approximately 40,000 images we have made with digital cameras since 2003 . I was amazed that the boys each had about 10,000 images and I had about 20,000 images of digital files. There may be some duplication in this number.

This caused me to increase the storage capacity and was actually the impetus for the purchase of the pair of Thecus NAS units in 2008. The storage impacts and other computer-related articles are discussed here.

This article addresses the scanning side of the project.

In reviewing this project, we had a large number of formats (sound familiar?) that needed to be addressed, and it grew beyond the original proportions when we decided to add in the summer of 2011 paper reference files.

  • Reflective material:
    • photographic prints up to 8 x 10 inches, colour and black and white
    • photographic albums containing multiple prints
    • magazine and newspaper articles, standards, other documents up to letter / A4
    • larger-sized newspaper articles
    • engineering drawings up to 11 x 17 inches (ledger)
    • engineering drawings larger than 11 x 17 inches
  • Transparent material
    • 110 negatives (colour and black and white)
    • 35 mm negatives (colour and black and white)
    • 35 mm transparencies (including Kodachrome and Agfa Rapid)
    • 127 “Brownie” negatives (colour and black and white)
    • 120 roll film (6 x 6 and 6 x 7 colour transparencies and black and white negatives)
    • 6 x 9 cm (Plaubel? black and white negatives)
    • 616 “postcard” black and white negatives
    • 4 x 5 colour transparencies and black and white negatives
    • 5 x 7 colour transparencies and black and white negatives
    • 5 x 7 black and white glass negatives in tricolour sets
    • 8 x 10 glass negatives in tricolour sets

This collection has come together from many sources. The biggest chunk is mine,  but I have materials from my family, my wife’s family, my stepmother’s family, and my mentor, NYC fashion photographer, Milton F. Gentsch. All of Milton’s prints were donated to the Fashion Institute of Technology, but they did not want the negatives, so I have retained about 3 cu ft of them, including all the tricolour glass negatives.

The bulk of my collection is 35 mm transparencies, and the bulk of the family photos of my immediate family were on 35 mm colour negative.

My son Robert and I scanned in 2008 and my sons Michael and Robert did split-shift scanning in the summer of 2009. Robert did a few family albums in 2010 and did a massive job on paper and slides in 2011. Robert and I worked hard to complete the heap of slides during less than two months in the summer of 2012. We fell slightly short, but all of the bulk slides are done and there are only about 1,400 left to go.

We started out knowing we’d need a great 35 mm tool, so bought (apparently just in time) a Nikon Super Coolscan ED-5000 with SF-210 slide feeder. We had a Hewlett Packard Scanjet 5590 with duplex sheet feeder. We soon realized we needed a high-end flatbed scanner so, after doing some projects for people, purchased an Epson V700.

Our scanning rules were basically simple:

Quality 35 mm images were scanned to 36 MB files (12 MP, 8 bits/colour) and snapshots were scanned to 18 MB files (6 MP, 8 bits/colour). this was based on many considerations, including the fact that the Nikon D100 images (6 MP) were more than fine for any family images, the Nikon D200 images were really good (10 MP), we were already investing a whole bunch in storage already. We used a light touch of Digital DEE and Digital ICE to improve the non-Kodachrome, non-silver images. We retained all the transparencies in archival hanging slide sheets, and packed the negatives into semi-archival cardboard boxes sorted by year.

A few selected high-quality transparencies were scanned to 144 MB (24 MP, 16 bits/colour). Some of the low-volume high-quality items were scanned at reasonably high resolutions. For example, some 5 x 7 negatives were scanned as 350 MB files (175 MP, 16 bits). Most of the negatives were scanned at 6 MP, but a few were scanned at 12 MP, where I had experimented with higher-quality negative film instead of transparency film.

In 2011, as we started to scan paper documents as well as images, it became clear that the HP needed to be retired, and we replaced it with a Xerox DocuMate 3115 (made by Visioneer) double-sided sheet-fed scanner. The documents were scanned directly to PDF and the original paper copies were recycled after the scans were checked. These were magazine articles and (mostly obsolete) standards that I had saved as general reference. Some of the documents from organizations were returned to that organization (sometime without scanning) to assist in completing their archives. The document scanning was mostly done at 300 dpi, which is about 8.5 MP.

We also found a Brother MFC-J6510DW all-in-one on sale in 2011 and picked that up to handle the 11 x 17 scanning chores. It has a single-sided sheet feed on the scanner, but will print double-sided, but not well at 11 x 17 as it requires a 0.8 inch margin. Otherwise, it is a bargain for large-format scanning, although it still needs to make one splice if you’re scanning a record jacket, but that’s better than three splices, four images!

In all cases, we used the native scanning applications and found them to be adequate.

Other than the document PDFs, we saved all scans as uncompressed TIFF files in folders sorted by year, with month-day-event subfolders. All TIFFs were also converted to JPG images for fast access and ease of use and, due to the Adobe Lightroom requirements, kept in the same folders. We used Advanced Batch Converter to generate the JPGs. The software performed very well with one exception. I have a large number of Nikon D100 NEF images that do not have the corresponding JPG image–all the D200 images are shot with the camera generating both NEF and JPG–and the colour balance of the Advanced Batch Converter conversions from the D100 NEFs was substantially off. In October 2012 I discovered that Adobe Lightroom was the obvious solution to this and within two hours all were done.

I love Adobe Lightroom, but have not had enough time to enter every image the way I’d like.

We used two older XP computers for this task. Both were Pentium 4 computers with 3.0 GB of RAM. One was 3.0 GHz and the other 3.2 GHz. The Brother, Xerox, HP, and Nikon have all been connected (at one time or the other) to our newer Windows 7 64 bit machines. I haven’t tried the Epson, because that sits nicely with the 3.2 GHz XP machine as a photo workstation.  The Xerox now sits in the studio to quickly handle all document needs, and the Brother connects over the network, though we often use a USB key when we scan on it. The Nikon created a challenge for 64 bit Windows, but we fortunately found this link. Nikon’s response is here and I did purchase Vuescan prior to finding the fix link. I went back to Nikon Scan as while Vuescan is competent, I thought Nikon Scan looked better. I did try Silverfast which came with my Epson V700 and preferred the native Epson scanner software. I know Silverfast is well respected, but I did not want to spend the money when I was happy with the Nikon scanning software.

In 2012 we upgraded to a second-generation i5-based Windows 7 computer and were able to run both the Epson V700 and the Nikon Coolscan simultaneously. Robert used his i7 Windows 7 laptop for the CD ingest via Exact Audio Copy.

We currently have about 2 TB of images. We have two redundant Thecus N5200 PRO NAS units, each with five 1 TB drives, for a total capacity of about 4 TB per unit. These two units are located in different buildings and the remote one is a mirror of the local one. We also have a set of large-capacity (mixed 500 and 1000 GB) portable USB hard drives that hold a third copy of the images and other portions of our NAS units. These are in a rugged steel case, located about 3 km away. This set was added following the devastating tornado that hit Goderich.

Going back to the initial list, as of 2012, the following are complete:

  • Reflective material:
    • photographic prints up to 8 x 10 inches, colour and black and white
    • magazine and newspaper articles, standards, other documents up to letter / A4
    • larger-sized newspaper articles
    • engineering drawings up to 11 x 17 inches (ledger)
    • engineering drawings larger than 11 x 17 inches
  • Transparent material
    • 110 negatives (colour and black and white)
    • 35 mm negatives (colour and black and white)
    • 35 mm colour transparencies with minor exceptions
    • 127 “Brownie” negatives (colour and black and white)
    • 120 roll film (6 x 6 and 6 x 7 colour transparencies and black and white negatives) (my collection)
    • 616 “postcard” black and white negatives
    • 4 x 5 colour transparencies and black and white negatives (my collection)
    • 5 x 7 colour transparencies and black and white negatives (my collection)

And the following remain to be completed. The key thing here is that all of the personal/immediate family items except the 35 mm transparencies are complete.

  • Reflective material:
    • I do not want to say this is 100% complete as there is always something that comes up to scan, but, overall, all the back archives have been scanned.
  • Transparent material (my collection)
    • 35 mm transparencies (including Kodachrome)–There are 1,400 images that were used for various purposes and never properly re-filed. As these represent the best of some of the images, these will be sorted and scanned probably at higher resolution and then filed for easy access.
  • Transparent material (my father’s and stepmother’s collections)
    • 35 mm transparencies (including Kodachrome, Agfa Rapid, and possibly some silver-based images–perhaps 5,000–8,000 images, although these may be scanned selectively)
  • Transparent material (Milton F. Gentsch collection–perhaps 2,000 images, although only several hundred may be scanned)
    • 120 roll film (6 x 6 and 6 x 7 colour transparencies and black and white negatives)
    • 6 x 9 cm (Plaubel? black and white negatives)
    • 4 x 5 colour transparencies and black and white negatives
    • 5 x 7 colour transparencies and black and white negatives
    • 5 x 7 black and white glass negatives in tricolour sets (contact print sets also exist)
    • 8 x 10 glass negatives in tricolour sets (contact print sets also exist)

This has been great fun, and I enjoy having access to these images. I find I use some of them more.

My great joy will be to be able to publish online my series of images of the Cathedrals and Abbeys of England and recreate the personal slide show in a modern format. That won’t go online as the music is copyrighted.

I cannot talk a lot about this project, as I have other work to do, but one of the major influences on some of the decisions I’ve made has been the writings of Tim Vitale. His papers provided great insight into what scanning resolution was necessary. I highly recommend these three papers:

I would like to thank Sue Bigelow of the Vancouver City Archives for introducing me to Vitale’s work. Sue is a great resource in this area and has a published paper. That link points to a copy of the paper at Wilhelm Imaging Research, which is a fascinating site for this type of work.

Here are links to the scanners mentioned:

As an alternate perspective to what I did with the availability of inexpensive labour which needed some work to occupy their summers, you might want to consider Larry Bolch’s approach. It has merit if you are scanning for access. I believe I’m scanning for preservation, so I think what I did was correct for my needs and available resources, but Larry’s points should be read and understood prior to making any decision.



Tape navigation: Home | Tips & Notes | History | Formats & Resources | Projects | Facility | Site Map | Contact

©2006–2007 Richard L. Hess — Aurora, Ontario, Canada      Contact Richard