Kodak Slide N Scan Digital Film Scanner
A very functional device for scanning negatives and slides into digital formats. While scanning is a manual process, it is straightforward. Get through the capture process quickly and turn to your computer to process the scans, but the onboard software is clunky and unforgiving. Usually less than $200, so not an expensive investment to keep your memories secure.
Kodak Slide N Scan Digital Film Scanner Review
My Epson RR-600W has done a great job of removing old paper from my life and keeping new paper at bay. It has tirelessly scanned thousands of pages of my old print articles, handouts from conferences, product manuals, research papers, content from old magazines, references to my participation in conference brochures, and many other things. I’m mostly paperless now, but there are a few old things I hold on to that could and should be digital and are not yet.
One of those is old film and slides. I started thinking about this at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Roddenberry Enterprises offered some 1982 film strips from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. As a teenager, I bought several items from Lincoln Enterprises, the precursor to Roddenberry Entertainment, the merchandising side of Star Trek originally owned by Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett Roddenberry. Their son, Rod, now runs the company.
Among my purchases were 35mm individual frames from Star Trek episodes. I bought very high-end protective slide frames for them. I’ll get back to how well those slide frames worked later, but for now, suffice it to say that they still exist for over 44 years since I first purchased them.
It’s All About the Source Material
The quality of scans depends more on the source material than the scanner. For images of good quality, the Kodak Slide N Scan does a fine job. But many old images fade in a way that cannot be recovered. Some of my slides lost their color, as did most of my science fiction film frames. The scanner will not fix those issues, and it’s unlikely that your computer will either—unless you commit to pixel-level recoloring.
But that wasn’t all that needed digitization. At one point, I collected slides from art museums. It was a thing back in the day where vacation slides often hung in round racks in drug stores. The round racks were often white plastic with a light behind shining through the dangling slides. I own slides from trips to New York, Charleston, Washington D.C. and elsewhere.
And, of course, many family photos back in the 90s were processed as deals, with two sets of prints and a set of slides, along with the negatives.
So, I reached out to Kodak for a scanner. They sent the $224.99 Slide N Scan (often discounted at Kodak and on Amazon). For the most part, it has done its job. The slides and negatives I want to keep are now mostly captured in the cloud. I probably won’t look at them any more often than I did when they were slides. Still, if I want to peruse them, they will prove more organized, more convenient, more editable, and less likely to disappear or get tossed than their physical counterparts in notebooks and storage boxes.
Kodak Slide N Scan Specifications
- Interface: USB 2.0
- Image Sensor: 14.0 megapixels (4320×3252) 1/2.33′′ CMOS sensor
- Resolution: 14MP/22MP (interpolation)
- Supported Film Types: 50 mm Slides (135, 110, 126)m Color Negative Film (135, 110, & 126), Black & White Negative Film (135, 110, & 126)
- TV-Out Type: HDMI
- External Memory Support: SD card 32GB
- Power: From Computer USB Port, 5V/1A Power Adapter (not included), Power Bank
- Dimensions: 5.27′′ D x 5.35′′ W x 3.74′′ H (95 x 136 x 134 mm)
- Weight: 13.4 oz (380 grams)
What we like
The Kodak Slide N Scan does exactly what it claims. It takes media that the owner slides through the device and scans it. That’s it. There is nothing mechanical, or I should say, automated about the process. Choose the right media carriage, slide the media through, click the capture button, and push the next image down the line.
Let me walk through that in more detail.
Determine first what kind of film you plan to scan. The Kodak Slide N Scan package includes adapters for 50mm slides, 134mm film, 110mm film, and 126mm film. An adapter acts as a guide for sliding the media through the scanner. The process is completely manual. You will need to install the adapter in the device and select the corresponding film type on the user interface before beginning your scans.
Pick up a negative strip, align it with the adapter, and slowly feed it into the scanner. An image will start to appear on the right of the built-in 5″ LED display. Keep pushing until you can center the image on the display. Capture the image by pushing the OK/Camera button along the front Slide N Scans control panel.
Push the next image into view and repeat. On the last image of the strip, pull out the strip and insert another. Because slides are more robust, they push against each other through the adapter. It would be very hard to capture one slide, as another is required to push the first into position. The last slide is also an issue, as it requires removing the tray to take it out (or pushing an already scanned slide in until the edge of the current one emerges and then teasing out both).
I scan in large batches. I don’t worry about color or orientation. I will fix everything once I load the images on my computer. I only use the on-device software for selecting the processing mode.
I use the Kodak Slide N Scan independently of my computer, scanning the images to a full-size SD card. After I finish scanning the images, I remove the SD card and place it into my computer’s SD card slot and copy the images to my OneDrive account. Instant cloud backup. A little old school but also very straightforward.
The Kodak Slide and Scan only requires a standard 5V1a power supply. Connecting to a USB port on a computer will also power the device. It does not have a battery for mobile use, but the slight power requirement means it will easily run off auxiliary battery packs. The USB-A port will transfer images to a laptop at USB 2.0 speeds. Once connected to a computer via a USB-C connection, the Slide N Scan mounts as a drive.
What could be improved
Given the different formats and the delicate nature of the media process by the Slide N Scan, I get that the process isn’t more automated. But this is a very manual process. From selecting the carrier adapter to pushing the media through the device and pushing the capture button, it is all manual. We have been spoiled, for instance, when a scanner app decides it has the best document version and snaps it automatically.
Sure, a phone can flip to manual, but why would you (except with dire document state or lighting challenges)? I would like to see the Slide N Scan have a little more on-device intelligence for capturing an image when it looks well-aligned and stable in the carrier.
Keeping the process very simple works most of the time, and it certainly makes the device hard to break, but a little more process engineering would be nice—something like safe tongs for film movement and a slide-shaped pushing element for clearing the slide tray…I had to improvise both. It would have been nice to have them in the box.
The software on the Slide N Scan is pretty atrocious. I don’t use it for anything except selecting the input type. I tried to delete a single image and instead deleted a couple of hours of unrecoverable scans. The other features, like rotating and color-correcting, are better done on a computer with Apple’s Preview, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, or some other editor. I do not recommend any on-device usage for image manipulation.
For what it is, the build quality of the Slide N Scan is OK, but my mind continually harkens back to my old ViewMaster toys. The Slide N Scan is lightweight but generally feels cheaply made, including the feel of the buttons, and this is the high-end of Kodak’s range (save the 7-inch bigger brother which is essentially the same device with a bigger screen).
After looking at the components, I would like to see Kodak eliminate the HDMI output and put more money into improved build quality. I get that the people scanning slides may come from an experience that the device is the thing used for viewing—scan in the images and connect to the TV and watch them back. The Slide N Scan can do this via HDMI, but I’m not sure it needs to. The poor software makes it difficult to prepare images for viewing. It’s hard to determine the orientation of slides and negatives, so they often end up upside down or backward. I would remove that option and put the money into hardware engineering and better components.
I would also like the scanner to include a bigger scan aperture for Pana-Vue® slides, an extra-large square slide format that the Kodak Slide N Scan unceremoniously crops. Although I managed to scan the slides, they all exist as two or more files, awaiting a day when I find the ambition to stitch them back together.
Kodak Slide N Scan: The Bottom Line
With more ideas for improvement than features I like, it’s a fair question to ask if I would recommend the Slide N Scan. I would answer that with a qualified “yes.” If most of what you need to process comes from family photos and slides, then the Slide N Scan will do a good job of transforming physical objects into digital keepsakes. If you are trying to capture large-form slides or television or movie memorabilia, it might underserve the requirements of those media.
Keep in mind that the Kodak Slide N Scan is primarily a consumer device that transfers images from slides and film to digital. It does that just fine, with relatively high-quality 14-megapixel images and a pretty low entry cost.
Kodak provided the Slide N Scan for review. Images courtesy of Kodak.
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