Up until now, I have
concentrated this series of tutorials on scanning a single slide or
negative. As implied above it was for a perfectly good reason, I
couldn’t find an approach that consistently produced results.
Typically, I could get a series of four slides scanned into Photoshop or
out to file as requested, but the next series ended up as a single
image. Finally and after much experimentation, I drew up a sequence of
steps that worked every time, but proof that it worked on other scanner
models was required, and eventually obtained. The following methodology
has been tried and found to be successful on the Polaroid
SS4000/120, MicroTek ArtixScan 4000, Nikon LS2000 and LS30 film
At the risk of repeating
myself, again, the screen grabs used for this tutorial are all based on
the Mac version of SilverFast Ai 5. Other than a few colours and squared
edges to dialogs both platforms are pretty much identical. I have
personally tried the methodology on the Polaroid
SS4000/120 and Nikon LS30 film
scanners using both the Mac and PC platforms, and have been assured by
other testers that it works on the other two scanners named above.
SilverFast AI Scanner Set-up
As it turns out configuring
SilverFast to batch scan isn't really that difficult, but there are a
few quirks and thus you must follow the steps outlined below to the
letter, step-by-step-by-step. If you follow the steps in the order
given, all should be okay, but deviate or try to outsmart the system and
who knows? Again I assume that you are using Photoshop 5 or 6 and are
familiar with the SilverFast interface, although use of screen grabs
should make things a bit easier to follow.
Step 1 - In the beginning!
Silly as this statement may
appear, we must first load the "film carrier" with your slides
or a negative strip, why silly? Well SilverFast will batch scan the
blank film slots along with those containing film, there's no point
wasting time scanning blanks.
With SilverFast NOT
open - yes I did write NOT
open, insert the film carrier into the scanner. Now you can open
Make sure that all the
correction tools are cleared, the toolbar should look like the
following. If not, press the "ALT" key on the keyboard and at the same time click the
Tools Palette set to default "Off"
Actually, a far better
option would be make high-bit scans and process them at your leisure
later on using SilverFast HDR,
but that's a decision you can make. I described how to make high-bit
scans and use HDR in Part 2 of the tutorials, so I won't repeat it here.
Step 2 - Prescan or overview
Depending upon your personal
preference you can either pre-scan the first frame or do a complete
overview of all frames in the carrier.
Personally I prefer to save
time and simply choose the Prescan option. This brings the first
slide/negative up on the main preview window. However, many users feel
more at ease with the "comfy blanket" wrapped up under their
arm, so who am I to argue :-)
To obtain an overview of the
images simply press the
The following dialog appears and after pressing the "Refresh
Overview" button you should have a series of X images on show.
of images in film carrier
and you should be returned to the main SilverFast screen.
Step 3 - Aligning the image in the preview
default format for scans in SilverFast is "vertical"
and that "horizontal"
scans will take considerably longer to process, especially those being
saved to file, so I suggest that you set SilverFast to scan
vertically. By this I mean the image should be configured in the Preview
window as shown below. Use the rotation
to get the image into the correct orientation. Don't go making the
mistake of using the horizontal/vertical flip
or you could end up with images that are reversed. Also remember to
choose your scan resolution.
your image in vertical format makes for a quicker overall scan
Step 4 - Selecting the type of batch scan
This is the point were
SilverFast can become slightly confusing. Select the "General"
tab and the following dialog will appear. The two pop-ups that I have
identified with a "yellow
spot" are the ones that are important.
the type of Batch scan
SilverFast can batch scan
directly into Photoshop or save each image to file, the latter choice is
actually the better. SilverFast can also produce two types of batch
scan, "fully automatic
"manual correction". I'll explain each of these latter two
options in a moment, but for now we will concentrate on whether to scan
into Photoshop or save to file.
To scan directly into
Photoshop (not a good idea as it uses lots and lots of memory) you
simply select "Batch Mode"
in the "Scan Mode"
dialog. Alternatively, to save each scan to file you select "Batch
scans into Photoshop
Now for the option that most
folk seem to overlook or just can't find. In the pop-up labelled "Original"
you MUST choose "Document
Feeder". Keep in mind this sentence; it's critical to
successful batch scanning. If you don't then you will return to it time
and time again, I promise!
I don't know how often I've
been contacted and asked why the "Document Feeder" option isn't available. The answer is of
course simple; the user jumped the gun and didn't do as they were
instructed in the SilverFast (the one on the CR-ROM) manual -
"Insert the film holder before
opening SilverFast", hence my comments at Step 1 above. The film
holder MUST be inserted
before opening SilverFast otherwise it won't be found, period! The
dialog may say different, you might even read different, but no matter
what the dialog reads or "you"
think it won't "really"
have been found unless it was in the slot before you opened SilverFast.
On completing the settings
associated with the "General" dialog you should end up with it looking something
like that shown below.
set-up for Batch Scans into Photoshop
The final part of this step
is to return to the "Frame" tab.
Step 5 - Nearly Home!
As the title implies, we're
almost at the point of beginning the series of scans. But there are
still a few housekeeping issues to sort out.
I mentioned above that there
are two types of correction that can be applied during batch scans. The
first is "manual correction"
the second being "fully automatic". I also mentioned in Step 1 that high-bit
scanning and later correction using SilverFast
HDR was a good option. HDR is the quickest and safest option in
terms of what SilverFast will do during the scan process, since it does
nothing other than capture the "raw" image.
correction", as the name implies this form of image correction
allows the user to make a correction to
contrast/tone/colour/brightness/etc. as they see fit. The sting in the
tail is that any correction made on the prescan image becomes the
"default" correction for the whole series of images. You don't
need to be a genius to realise that this isn't really a smart choice,
it's probably best not to make any corrections.
automatic correction", means that each and every frame is
individually analysed by SilverFast and adjusted in accordance with the
predefined settings of the "Auto" settings dialog or those chosen by the user in the "Image
Type" pop-up window (see below for options). To be honest I
think sticking with the default "Standard"
setting is the safest choice when the film carrier contains images of
different subject/lighting conditions, etc.
Automatic Correction" will work it is necessary to turn it
"ON". Click the
"Option" button and
choose the "Auto"
tab, now place a check mark against the selection labelled "Automatic with ADF" (ADF = automatic document feeder).
the Image Type for Automatic Correction
for Fully Automatic Image Correction
Leaving aside my personal
preference for correcting batch scans using SilverFast HDR I think the
fully automatic option is the best choice for most users wanting an easy
life. The images will be full range and any inherent colourcast such as
sunset/sunrise will be left untouched.
Step 6 - Making the scan
This is it; the scanning
process can begin. I assume that the image is now rotated correctly, the
exposure setting is set for manual or auto and that batch scan mode is
selected. If you chose to scan into Photoshop then just press the
"Scan Batch" button and sit back (go for tea or coffee would
be better) and let things happen. If on the other hand you chose to save
each scan individually then after pressing the "Scan
Batch" button a "Save"
dialog will appear. You can choose your own file name convention and
number sequence. You can also change file format from the default "Tiff"
to Jpeg, etc. but it's probably best to leave it at "Tiff".
batch file dialog (Mac platform)
Once the series of slides or
negatives have been scanned you should eject the film holder using the
Pulling the carrier out by hand has a real nasty habit of making
SilverFast forget that you had it in to begin with, so be warned. You
can now begin reloading the film strip/carrier ready for the next series
If you change ANYTHING
in SilverFast, and I emphasise "anything" for good reason and
personal experience, then you should return to Step 4 and reselect
that is EVEN if it "appears"
that it is already selected. Nine times in ten a change will have not
caused any ill effect, but on that odd occasion it can make SilverFast
forget that it was batch scanning using the "Document
Feeder" even when it still says/thinks that it is.
you will find the above methodology proves as successful for you as it
has for me and the other testers I've used. However, if you come up with
a method that you think is shorter, quicker, easier then
"please" don't tell
me, I don't want to know :-)
A Stitch in Time