Photograph Your Slides
Posted by: layingback on Tue Feb 07, 2012 13:05
Like many who have moved, albeit slowly in my case, from film to digital, and those who still dabble in both, I have slides that I'd like to be able to access on my PC.
Paying for scanning with a sizeable collection wasn't an option, and having tried good flat-bed scanners, and others which came with slide holders I knew these didn't really work: not enough resolution. Slide scanners like the Nikon Coolscan and the like produce the result, but the scanning process takes for ever.
But years ago, I'd thought if digital cameras ever get beyond the resolution they are today, I'd just be able to take a picture of the slide. Well they have, ... and you can. But getting that slide carefully framed and in uniform focus is fairly exacting, so a home-built 'copy stand' rig wasn't really going to do it - unless you can set it up rigorously and then leave it set up for subsequent use.
I explored the bellows and slide holder route, but the prices used surprised me, especially if you bought them as a set. Buying separately is a little less expensive, but I was surprised how many different versions of bellows Asahi Pentax made, and feared I'd end up with bellows and no slide holder or vice versa. Or 2 incompatible pieces.
But my searching turned up info on a Slide Duplicator. Not a lot but some. Now this is not the Jessops/Panagor/Ohnar/Aico/Makinon variety that comes with a camera specific or T2 mount. You'd think those would work well on digital cameras based on the number on ebay which are going for reasonable high to wildly optimistic prices. (I'm convinced that those are really just the same ones being continuously bought and then resold to recoup the investment when it's discovered that they don't work on digital - unless FF.) Not only do they mostly have a (very) mediocre lens they simply don't extend far enough for the entire slide to be captured, even the zoom ones.
No the slide duplicator I found is called simply "Slide Duplicator" and the only other marking is "Made in Japan". No maker name, nothing. Not even on the basic instruction sheet or the box. It's just a tube, no lens in it. It mounts to the lens filter ring - so I can use my own quality lens - using a Series VII thread. So as well as the Slide Duplicator you need a Series VII to something adaptor: 49mm in my case. It seems that they often (always)?) came with one, but a number of sizes were offered. And a simple step up ring to fit your lens. Mine came with the Series VII adaptor and a Hoya 52-49 step up, all in for £25 after a little bidding.
It's a really nicely made piece of engineering history, all machined metal of course, the zoom function is so smooth and stiff it feels like it is oil damped. The only marginally weak link is the thumbscrew on the top which lets you rotate the body of the Copier to line up the slide horizon. Unless you lack mechanical sympathy and crank it down really hard it tends to move as you zoom, etc., but you quickly learn instead to steady it while making such occasional adjustments.
You'll see the slot to drop in the slide - well actually you have to push the slide in slowly, particularly thick mounted ones, as there are powerful sprung clips to accommodate and hold any thickness of slide. And the small sliver clip lifts to allow strip film to be inserted behind the slide mount for negatives or uncut slides. All good stuff - especially compared to the plastic rubbish offered on the slide copiers mentioned earlier.
With my Ricoh Rikenon50/1.7 (reputedly built by Pentax and as every bit as good if heavier) I just need a couple of my old Vivitar extension tubes, 20mm and 12mm and the entire slide is just visible at maximum zoom. When I say entire I mean just to the inner edge of the cardboard/plastic frame. For the card mounts I sometimes zoom it back a tad to avoid the 'fuzzy' edges.
It has a really solid diffuser built in, so I just aim my trusty old Vivitar 283 at the copier/camera combo, and snap away. (Actually I use a recently purchased newer 283 for direct connection as having checked the trigger voltage on mine I now know why they labelled it 283! )
Results? Well I'm happy. The resolution of the 'scan' is good, but sometimes the results don't always come out as well as you might hope, but that is usually traced back to the slide not being exactly in focus when it was taken in the first place. It does seem to magnify any errors.
But it does what I wanted, copies slides quickly and with minimal set up time as no real accuracy is required (except focus!!!) as everything critical is within the camera-setup-ring-adaptor-slide-copier arrangement. And it probably cost less than some sort of home built setup, and packs away to nothing.
Are they easy to find? No. If they were I'd have bought up a few before publishing this! They occasional come up on ebay here or from the US, but not often. They might appear in charity shops, but where I live they all seem to have deals with Rocky, so never have photography equipment. Next time I see Rock I must remember to ask him if he has seen many.
47th St Photo (brings back memories) advertise a lens attached copier, but I have no information about its suitability, whether it zooms and whether any internal lens is removable.
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