Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scanning the Past – Thank Goodness for Digital

If you've been a photographer for more than 10 years, somewhere in a closet is a large quantity of negatives and transparencies (slides). I'm the same! Yesterday being Labor Day in the USA and a national holiday, I decided to take a day off. What to do with myself?  I know, I'll scan some slides!

The Nikon Super COOLSCAN 9000 ED Film Scanner – Nikon's Flagship Scanner

It had been a year or two since I had scanned anything so I had to get my scanning hardware ready. I have a Nikon Super COOLSCAN 9000 ED film scanner, which is Nikon's flagship dedicated film scanner from a few years ago. Since I hadn't scanned in some time the scanner wasn't connected to any computer. It's firewire card was lying on the scanner with the firewire cable looped on top of it. "Ok, let's get this baby hooked up," I thought.

Last year I upgraded to Windows 7 on my PC so I did a little research to see if the COOLSCAN is compatible with Windows 7. Checking Microsoft's software compatibility site I determined that Nikon Scan was not compatible with Windows 7. Checking on Nikon's website I found no updated software, nor any plans to provide anything for my scanner. "Hmmm, I want to scan some slides, but what do I do now? I don't have any Windows XP computers lying around, or do I?" One of my daughter's was married in January of 2011 and I remembered her old computer was sitting in a corner unused—I gave her a nice Dell notebook computer as a wedding present. The old computer had Windows XP on it, so I pulled the cover, installed the firewire card, and fired up the computer. Downloading the last supported version of Nikon Scan from the Nikon website, I installed it and was finally ready.

I found some boxes of 35mm slides and reveled in their sharp colorful look. Tiny little squares of the past. I was ready to scan them and I did. Two hours later and maybe 15 slides scanned, I was tiring of the process. My goodness, even doing a fairly low-res scan for small print size (4x6 inches)  was taking forever!

My nephew Seth in 1990 from a Provia slide

After all the time it took to scan only a few slides, I remembered why I stopped using film. This is just too much work. Scanning is so slow! With a sigh, I looked at the safety boxes containing thousands and thousands of slides. What am I going to do? What a quandary? I am sitting on thousands of slides and realizing that it will take the rest of my life to get these things scanned. Surely there's a better way!  I don't want to lose all these slides as they gradually fade away. I'll just have to do this gradually over the next several years! I hope my XP computer stays alive since Nikon is no longer supporting the scanner for new computer operating systems. I guess I better get back to scanning. I'm going to be at this for a while to come.

Friends, if you came into the photography hobby recently you will never have to suffer with this particular problem. Your digital camera makes images that I could only dream of back in the 1980s and 1990s when I was raising my little children. No scanning required!  Just shoot it, transfer it to your computer, and size it for whatever you need. Wonderful!

Keep on capturing time...
Darrell Young

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