When I came back from Sweden I had a whole bunch of Kodachrome slides with me that my father has taken. Some of them are over 30 years old. So it is time to dust off my film scanner. I have a PlusTek OpticFilm 7600 scanner which I am quite happy with.
However, it came with LaserSoft’s SilverFast software which I used when scanning my own slides a few years back. I never really liked this software. It was buggy as hell, it’s user interface is far from ideal, actually I would go so far as to say that is quite disastrous and it is bloody expensive. The latter would perhaps not mattered so much if it was not for the fact that the software that came with the scanner simply do not work on my Windows 8 installation (my old rig was a Windows 7 one).
So in order to use the software that came with my scanner I would have to pay for an upgrade and LaserSoft really charges exorbitant fees for everything. You also have to buy a license per scanner model so the Silverfast software I have would then not work with my HP flatbed scanner which is just ridiculous. It is clear that LaserSoft have not managed to leave the archaic ways of extorting money out of their customers that were common in the software industry a couple of decades ago. That alone makes me want to ditch this company.
So after some research on the web I decided to try out VueScan since it seemed to be recommended by a fair amount of people. As you can deduce from the title of this post the trial went well. VueScan is quite reasonably priced at 89.95$ for the full version (39.95$ for the entry level one but then you get no film scanning) and it is one license for as many scanner models as you want. In addition you can install it on up to four PC’s.
The user interface is nothing fantastic but it is a dream compared to SilverFast. Simple but logically laid out. There are just enough features for me. Things like automatic crop speeding up your workflow are there of course and works fairly well. It does not really have the plethora of adjustment features that SilverFast has, at least the more advanced (and expensive) versions of SilverFast, but you really want to leave the more advanced adjustments to a dedicated software for this purpose anyway. I am processing all my scans through Lightroom and I just want the best possible raw scan to start with. In this aspect I feel that VueScan is actually doing a better job that SilverFast. I enabled multiexposure, infrared dust & scratch removal and the restore colors filter and out came very good raw scans for me to import into Lightroom.
VueScan also have a limited but decent automatic file naming and the option to add descriptions to your files before saving them which is quite practical when processing them later. I scan my slides at 3600 dpi and the results are as good as one can expect. I could go as high as 7200 dpi but then we are talking file sizes around 280 Mb which is a wee bit too much and I could not really see much quality improvement.
So, out went LaserSofts cumbersome and ridicously overpriced SilverFast and in went VueScan. Now I have my work cut out for me for the near future. I have hundreds (probably thousands) of slides and even with a decent workflow I do not think I will get much above maybe a dozen slides per hour at most.