J. Alex Lang

Scanning slides

I recently acquired a collection of approximately 8000 railroad slides, mostly Kodachromes, spanning the late 1960’s to sometime in the 1990’s; these were taken by a longtime friend, Peter McGilligan, upon his passing in October, 2012.

After giving it some thought, we bought a Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000, and am now scanning 100 slides at a time. (I took the advice of some of the Amazon comments and bought a couple Braun slide reels.) I’m using VueScan and a couple Braun 100 slide trays for the scanning process.

CNJ Elizabethport Shops, 1976

I’ve decided to slide everything in batches of 50 or 100, at the largest quality and resolution. The idea is to scan once, edit later; the sooner I’m done with the scanner, I can then sell it or donate it for someone else’s use. The downside to this approach, however, is that each raw scan file is 450mb. The raw format is nice in that the alpha channel (dust removal) is recorded separately and can be post processed later. I’ve scanned about 300 of Peter’s slides and around 150 of my own; I’ve been interleaving a batch of 100 Peter slides with 50 of mine as I scan. Each batch of 50 takes around 3-4 hours to scan. I’ve already filled up the hard drive of the old iMac computer I’m using, so I ordered a 4TB external drive. I estimate that Peter’s collection will fill up one 4TB drive and mine will fill another. So there’s that. I may opt to to rescan the first few hundred slides that I’d previously scanned with our Epson V700 (which, by the way, does a very nice job with well-exposed slides. It’s just that it only does 12 at a time.)

Given that Peter’s slides are stored in Vivitar reels, I’m considering the use of Logan boxes to save space and aid in later transport/retrieval. After I get a few more reels scanned, I’m planning to get a FlickrPro account just for this purpose, so that we can start to share these with the general public – as well as get some community assistance locating and captioning these. Thoughts, comments, and recommendations for this phase would be greatly appreciated!