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Slide Digitising


1 - FLATBED METHOD

Most of us that use a computer for image manipulation and printing will have a flatbed scanner. If you have one that was supplied with a transparency adapter, you will have noticed that the supplied carriers are not really suitable for mounted, or un-mounted stereo images taken on 35mm film stock unless, of course, you are using full frame format shots taken sequentially or with a twinned camera rig. It occurred to me that it should not be to difficult to make versions of the one or other of the supplied carriers that would work with Realist format mounts and even View-Master reels.

The scanning resolution of modern flatbed scanners is now such that the results will be very acceptable considering that we are talking in terms of ‘side by side’ or ‘above and below’ viewing of the scanned images which does not involve great enlargement of the original images.  Digital projection of images scanned in this way is also quite acceptable, bearing in mind that digital projectors have a relatively low image resolution, 2 mega pixels at the most.

With this in mind, I set about making three carriers for my Epson 3170 scanner, one for Realist mounts, another for View-Master reels and the third for early Holmes type cards (7" x 3.25").  If you are using 2 x 2 slides= pairs, the supplied carrier all that is required.

The project is dealt with in two stages. First we will take a look at how to make the carriers and then we will take a look at setting up the scanner software for each of the carriers mentioned.

The Carriers

Although scanners vary in design, the modus operandi remains the same and most of the detail given here should readily transfer to scanners provided by other manufacturers.

The Epson 3170 is provided with three carriers, one of which is specifically intended for 2" x 2" slide mounts. This carrier allows for four slides to be scanned in a single operation. Our goal is to closely copy this carrier and replace the four 2" x 2" apertures with our own requirements. One first carrier will have two 4" x 1”5/8 apertures for simultaneously scanning a pair of Realist mounts and our second carrier will have a pair of 1/2" x 1/2" apertures for scanning a single View-Master reel, in seven stages.

Figure 1. shows the View-Master carrier (left) and that of the Realist (right).  The idea of scanning un-mounted stereo pairs I felt to be a little to challenging, both in terms of the carrier design and the discipline required to selectively scan stereo pairs before mounting.

The original carriers for the 3170 are manufactured from plastic; we are going to use black mounting board. The type of board we need is available from good craft or art shops. Self-Coloured black card is preferred but not essential.

We will first trace the outline of original template onto the card using a soft pencil and then draw the apertures using the dimensions of the relevant mount or reel given earlier.  The position of our apertures needs to closely match those of the original carrier in order to coincide with the lighted area of the scanner adapter.  The apertures can be cut with the aid of one of those low cost, throw-away craft knives and a steel rule.

The location of a Realist mount is by the aperture itself as shown in Figure 2.  The location of the View-Master reel requires some improvisation. In my case, I was able to find some sprigs of plastic left over from model construction kits to make the locators as seen in Figure 3.  These are adhered to the carrier with Super Glue.  Whatever is used, it needs to be fashioned to fit the centre hole and incrementing notch of the reel. The position of the locators needs to be such that, when mounted, the reel images are aligned with the apertures in the carrier as seen in Figure 4.  The configuration of the locators shown in Figure 3 is such that the text adjacent to the incrementing notch is that for the images to be scanned.

The original carriers include a small white triangle on the upper surface and two small white rectangles on the lower surface.  The former is just an indicator as to which way the carrier should be placed into the scanner - see Figure 4., while the latter acts as an identification code which enables the scanner to identify the carrier being used – see Figure 5.  These indices can be included by using a self-adhesive label or white insulation tape.  In use, the mount or reel will be scanned with the viewing side facing downward.

For Holmes type stereo cards, a single aperture is cut into the with a similar orientation to that used for Realist mounts, this avoids reflections during scanning caused by the concaved surface inherent with these cards.

The Software

Software provided for different scanners will vary considerably. It is not possible here to discuss the methods that you should use for your own situation, but there are a few basic principles that will apply to all.  In my case, the Epson 3170 has software that provides ‘Automatic’, ‘Home’ and ‘Professional’ modes.  The required mode in my case is ‘Professional’ as the other options assume that you are using the supplied carriers.

When scanning, you will normally be required to specify the type of media that you are scanning and the resolution required.  We are going to scan our Realist mounts as a ‘Transparency’ at 2400 dpi.  This resolution is based on the understanding that we will be printing ‘Side by Side’ cards for viewing in a Holmes type viewer.  Each image to be scanned will be printed 3” wide and 2400 dpi is more than enough in this case.

All scanners will allow you to preview the scanned area and place a marquee around the area you wish to capture.  The Epson 3170 allows multiple scanning and so a marquee can be placed around each of the four imaged evident in the preview as seen in Figure 6.  Once the settings have been made, they can be saved for future use.

We can now scan ‘All’ the images at one time and save to the appropriate folder with a file name of our choice.  Figure 7. shows thumbnails of the scanned images prior to saving.

It is now a matter of manipulating the images in your favourite program or that wonderful program – StereoPhoto Maker, available free from Muttyan’s Home Page which can be found at http://stereo.jpn.org/eng/ which will give you a great choice of actions for aligning and printing your cards.

Figure 8. is the result of scanning a Realist mounted image taken with a Kodak Stereo camera. Figure 9. is a scanned View-Master reel. Both images where scanned with set at the Epson 3170 at 2400 dpi.

Figure 10. is an image produced from a Holmes type stereo card for digital projection purposes. A mask has been added to emulate the original mount, but to the proportions required for digital projection 2 x 1024 x 768 pixels, referred to as 2VGA.  In this case the original scanning need only be at 300 dpi.  The mounting in StereoPhoto Maker is far more involved however, more on this later.

2 - FILM SCANNER METHOD

If you do not have a flatbed scanner with a transparency attachment, you might consider a dedicated film scanner, expensive but offering better quality scans than flatbeds at the moment.  I have worked with a Nikon Coolscan IV ED which has great software and provides 'professional' quality results if you are prepared to spend the time with it.  If you choose to work with a dedicated film scanner, expect to spend 15 minutes on each stereo pair!.  There are also film formats that will not work with a dedicated 35mm film scanner, View-Master reels being a case in point.  Film scanners are now difficult to find but I recently purchased a Plustek from Jessops for around £150.  There are also lower cost scanners available from Maplin which use a similar system to using a camera rather than the raster scanning technology used by the more expensive film scanners.  I have been tempted into trying one such device but choose not to comment further!

3 - DUPLICATOR METHOD

A slide duplicator or copying attachment should also be considered.  The advantages of this approach over other methods for digitising you slides are speed and portability.  Couple this with the fact that you are working at the camera resolution and you have a very attractive solution.

I will now share a few experiences of mine with a slide copying attachment.  I have two alternative methods to suggest each having it's own merits:

The first method is intended for digital SLR cameras and utilises an IT.Ohnar C-1337 from Kauser  www.kauserinternational.com that cost around £90 Figure 11.  This device is designed to work with the 4/3 chips found in most digital SLR's.  It is supplied with a carrier for 2 x 2 slides, a film strip carrier is optional at around £12.  It is fitted with its own lens mounted into a zoom arrangement and therefore replaces the lens on your camera.  The fitting is T2 and an adapter is required to suit your particular needs.  I use the device with a Canon 10D Figure 14. giving me 6 mega pixel scans on the selected area of the slide, great for cropping without losing quality.

Figure 12 and Figure 13. show an adapter that I have made for Realist mounts.  With this set-up I can scan slides with an average cycle time of 1 minute comfortably.  The camera is set to auto and with a choice of background lighting, such as natural daylight, a computer monitor or a floodlight, you will get your film slides or negatives digitised in short time.

The second alternative uses a similar adapter but this time from Opteka at a cost of around £60 Figure 15. and designed to work with cameras that have non-removable lenses.  The Olympus 350 SP-350 Figure 16. is a typical mid priced digital compact camera that includes a threaded outer lens barrel for the addition of an extension tube (silver colour) Figure 17.  It is this extension tube that carries the copying attachment (black) which in turn has been fitted with a slide viewer from Jessops that acts as a backlight.  When fitted, the extension tube will take other, such as filters, supplementary close-up lenses and even a beam-splitter Figure 18.

The Opteka Duplicator was bought complete with extension tube and stepping ring on eBay.  The slide carriers supplied are also compatible with the IT.Ohnar duplicator.

Different stepping rings may be required for other accessories used of course.

Perhaps I should also mention that I had an old Paragon duplicator that I purchased from a TDS club member for a fiver.  Now, this is not suitable for my SLR which has the APC sized sensor which will not grab the whole image; but it will grab a full View-Master image.  View-Master viewers can also be got for a fiver, so I modified one of the more common Belgium viewers and adapted it to fit the Paragon duplicator.  £10 for a View-Master copier isn't bad!.   Figure 19. shows the modified View-Master with brass finished guides made from draft excluder with the excluder removed.  Figure 20. shows the Paragon duplicator and View-Master mounted on a Canon 10D.  Figure 21. Is a copy of an image on Reel 82.

4 - MACRO LENS METHOD

For speed, you can't do better than investing in a macro lens for your digital SLR, especially if you slides are stored in rotary or linear magazines.  I shall add more information on my findings with two rigs that I have made in due course.  For the time being, I can tell you that a full magazine of 80 2" x 2" slides can be copied to digital format in around 5 minutes using a converted slide projector!

5 - VIEWER METHOD

If you own one of the new FujiFilm W1 stereo cameras and a Taxiphote viewer try this for a bit of fun!  Adjust the inter-ocular on the Taxiphote to match that of the W1 and rest the camera on the eyepieces to shoot the image.  I have modified some of my RBT mounted images to fit the Taxiphote and the resulting copies are OK!.  I should add that the eyepieces on my Taxiphote are not the profiled type.  The FujiFilm W1 also mounts well onto an OWL viewer as supplied by The London Stereoscopic Company.  Classic stereo cards can be copied in this way -  Figure 22. & Figure 23.

 Barry Aldous – Updated January 2010




 


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