Bleg: Slide and Film Scanners, 8mm conversion

Does anybody here know anything about slide or film scanners or 8mm conversion?

I don’t exploit my associate status at OTB very often and I trust that James will forgive me if I do so now. What’s the use of a nice, high platform if you can’t ask a question from it now and again?

As a consequence of my mom’s death late last year I’ve become the custodian of a vast number of slides, lots of photographic negatives, and boxes of 8mm home movies. My dad was a talented amateur photographer, did his own developing, and experimented with color starting in the 1940s. Some of his color slides of Mexico in the 1940s are certainly interesting and might even have some significance (other than to me, I mean).

Does anybody have any experience with slide or film scanners? I’ve got a good flatbed scanner with slide and film adapters but scanning the volume of material I’m dealing with using a flatbed scanner is pretty daunting. I’d appreciate suggestions in the comments.

Slide and film scanners seem to have become scarce in recent years. I’ve got my eye on some scanners in the Rollei line but they don’t seem to be sold in the United States. Can anyone recommend a reliable source for them?

Finally, I’d like to convert our 8mm home movies to DVD. I’ve got film going back to the 1940s through the late 60s. It’s actually in pretty good condition considering its age but, obviously, when dealing with film of that age, it’s a job for professionals. Does anybody have recommendations on a service that would be capable of dealing with film of this vintage?

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Michael says:

    You might be better off finding a company that specializes in this, as the software and hardware to efficiently convert volumes of film and slides isn’t likely to be worth the cost, as you won’t have much use for them when you’re done with this.

  2. Valerie says:

    I agree. Google photo and film conversion shops in your area. High end camera and film developing stores may give you good leads, as well. I was in the same predicament when my Mom died. My sister found a local bloke in Denver who converted everything in good time at a reasonable cost. Good luck!

  3. As it happens, I do have a bit of knowledge in this subject from a project I did in my undergrad days. It’s been about 10 years since I spent time researching this field, so my knowledge is probably a bit out of date. I did a little bit of quick checking, however, to augment my previous knowledge.
    The devices themselves are a lot cheaper than they used to be. It seems that some base model slide scanner devices can be had for a few hundred dollars (a decade ago it was about $2000 minimum). If you have many thousand slides, it may cost you just as much to have a professional do it – and you may actually get better results doing it yourself. Certainly you’ll have the opportunity to go back and redo any that don’t turn out well.
    Check out B&H Photo and Video if you need a reliable supplier ( Their prices tend to run just a tad higher than most, but they’re very reliable, and they have a pretty good selection. They’re one of the biggest names in professional visual media (film, video, editing, etc).
    I don’t have any experience with 8mm film, unfortunately.
    Good luck with the project!

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    My girlfriend’s job is doing just what you describe.  I spoke with her and she recommended finding a good professional photograph development center–one that specializes in developing film and digital print for professional photographers–rather than investing in the equipment. Even with good equipment, if the slides/film are fragile you can do more damage than good. If you live in the midwest area she can recommend the good firms (probably), but outside of the midwest you are on your own.