A listener question this week:
"My Mom & Dad are mid 80's and not tech savvy, and barely can get on the internet or use the computer, so I will be helping then with this. They have thousands of 35mm slides, photos and some 8mm home movies they would like to convert to digital for passing on to family. They got a quote from a local photo shop to convert the some of the slides would be about $ 2,000. Mom said for that price should we buy what we need to do it ourselves and sell it when we are done? I think that would be wise, but I have no idea what to look for or what is the current "standard of the industry" equipment, methods, file format, etc. Could you outline what one should do and set a threashold of minimum standards so one does not get obsolete equipment, file standars or storage media. I have Mac and Windows computers, but will not be keeping them, moving instead to Linux and open source programs, maybe keeping Windows OS as a dual boot option. I woul love to see what you recommend! Thanks, Dan"
I'll answer this in bullet points:
Equipment: For saving slides and photos -- get a good scanner. Consider a dedicated film-width scanner for negatives and slides, if you have them. Use gloves to prevent smudging the glass on the scanner or getting sweat and oils on the originals.
Programs: If you're going with Linux, I can personally vouch for the Ubuntu version. Even a novice user should find it reasonably easy to use. For photo editing, GIMP is an open-source alternative to Photoshop.
Methods: Scan in batches. Use naming conventions (yyyy-mm-dd-state-city-description). Save and backup often. Use a portable hard drive to backup the hard drive on the computer you're using, and also save backups to optical media (recordable CDs or DVDs).
Formats: Save photos in .jpg format. When extremely important, also use .tif or .png. In general, aim for a resolution of 2000x1600 pixels (that's an 8" x 10" photo at 200 dpi resolution). For really important pictures, double it.
Other notes: Don't forget your old audio recordings (mix tapes, maybe?). Old 8mm films and video recordings might be the one thing to pay a premium to have done by a well-equipped transfer service. Have the resulting DVDs pressed, not burned.
Thanks for listening this week!