I enjoy color slide film for the bold, beautiful color it delivers. But I shoot it seldom because the film, developing, and scanning are expensive.
The Velvia I shot recently was a gift, but it costs about $10 a roll in 120 and $18 in 35mm. Other slide films cost about the same — there are no bargain slide films! It cost me $30 plus tax to have those two rolls developed and scanned. Fulltone Photo did the work for by far the lowest price of any of the labs I normally use.
I knew I could cut costs even more by scanning the slides myself, but could I get scans as sharp and colorful as Fulltone’s? Also, Fulltone’s scans are smallish at 1024 pixels square. I can easily get more pixels from my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II.
I tried it on a couple frames. I thought I’d show you my scans and the Fulltone scans to see what you think. My scans are at least 5100 pixels square — I select each frame by hand in VueScan, so the pixel dimensions vary slightly frame to frame. I shrank them to 1200×1200 for this comparison. WordPress shrinks them further to fit the blog template. I edited them all in Photoshop to my liking — nothing too invasive, mostly stuff like color temperature and exposure.
My scans are first, Fulltone’s are second.
Fulltone managed to bring out far better shadow detail than I could get from the CanoScan, VueScan, and Photoshop flow I use. Their scans look slightly sharper than mine.
But the Fulltone scans have a green cast that I couldn’t entirely erase, a cast that isn’t present on the slide. My scanner captured color that looks a little truer to the actual slide. Also, I was able to capture more of the frame than Fulltone did.
I don’t think there’s a clear winner here. Both Fulltone’s and my scans are fine. It’s a roll-by-roll judgment call whether saving $5 in scanning charges is worth the couple hours I’d spend scanning the roll myself. But when I want scans with large pixel dimensions, it’s very good to know that my existing scanning setup produces good results.
Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.