Isn't is great to see old Kodachrome slides? The archival quality makes me wonder if all my backup drives and DVDs are really more efficient for long term storage.
1. For making large, very high quality prints, what is the best option for scanning Kodachrome--how does this Kodak scanner mentioned above rate? Should I be looking at a drum scanner instead?
Many people will say they get best results from their flatbed, but in side-by-side comparisons of a properly tuned flatbed scan to a properly tuned drum scan, even the most cynical skeptics will say the drum scan is better in every regard.
The current crop of drum scanners on the market have a top resolution of 8000 samples per inch (which becomes pixels per inch in PS) for all
film formats. Over the years, I've used a UMax, Microtek, Epson, Imacon and finally settled on a Howtek (now under the name Aztek
). The difference in the quality of the results will surprise you.
However, most people don't want to learn to operate a drum scanner. Mastering film mounting, mastering the software, keeping the unit clean and lubricated and buying supplies (overlays, fluids, tape, cleaners) tend to put people off.
2. Is 16- bit (vs 8- bit) going to be worth the money for my favorite scans?
Only if you plan to heavily edit the file in PS. If you correctly scan the image with accurate endpoints, grayscale gamma and color gamut then 8-bit scans will suffice.
If you send out for scans, be sure to tell them you don't want any post processing done. This will help assure that you get the best scan for your money. Most scanner operators will tweak a scan before they send it out.
3. What is the largest size I can realistically hope to make from a scanned Kodachrome slide? I was recently at the Fred Herzog exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and his original Kodachromes looked incredible in gliclee print form and some were quite large--maybe 24x36"!
An 8000 dpi scan of a 35mm slide gives you approximately 8000 ppi across the short edge of the film. When converted to 300 ppi, the resulting image is 26"x39". If you want to go larger, you'll need to interpolate and sharpen accordingly.
4. Where do you get your Kodachrome scanned?
With my Howtek.
I'll also point out that once you familiarize yourself with a drum scannner, the payoff is efficiency. You would be able to scan more pieces of film per day than you every could with a flatbed or Imacon. This is because mulitple pieces of film can be mounted onto a single drum. When I had the volume, I'd scan 30 slides per drum, three drums per 8-hour day. This included setting the scan parameters and copying the files to workstations, but not rotating, cropping or spotting.
5. For slides that will not end up as large prints, I will continue to scan on my Epson. Assuming I'm using 3200+ dpi and saving as .tif with no compression, is there anything else I can do to improve quality??
Master the software to maximize results. Knowledgeable operation of your scanner is the only way to get the best results. This means knowing what to set endpoints at, what to set the gray balance at, where to set your histogram gamma midpoints at, and having your scanner profiled for a good color workflow.