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|| News Item: Posted 2012-01-01

Turn your Super 8 into Blue Ray Hi Def DVDs!
Enter Scancafe

By Brad Shirakawa

Photo by Brad Shirakawa

Photo by Brad Shirakawa
Last year I had Scancafe scan my 40-year-old 35mm b/w film and the results were spectacular. It's done on a Nikon 9000ED and they use the wet scan process to lessen grain and just about eliminate scratches and dust. I was astonished at how great my old film looked.

Medium format was equally good. Better than digital ICE, in my humble opinion (which doesn't work on b/w anyway). The scans had a smoothness that some of us would call "analog."

My chromes? OK, that was different. If they were well exposed to begin with, fine. If they were underexposed, the resulting scan was pretty bad. I can do a better job with my own Nikon 4000ED. Mostly because unless you pay Scancafe to adjust levels and contrast, they won't. And I didn't. It costs more to do that. So you can pay for that extra service if you want.

So I decided to pack up the Super 8 reels and mail it to their Burlingame, CA., office. Yeah, yeah, they do the actually scanning in India (it's shipped there after they receive your order in Burlingame) but I was so pleased with my old b/w film, I just decided to do it. India scares people, but the Post Office could lose your letter if you mail it across the street, so I say "get over it."

Plenty of pros are using Scancafe, at least according to their website. You quickly receive emails confirming receipt of your shipment in Burlingame, how long it will take, etc. You pay half of the estimated cost of scanning up front, the rest later.

Scancafe helps you estimate how much Super 8 footage you have and it's an easy process. Because you are paying shipping, they email you shipping labels so you can just drop off your package at a local UPS office without waiting in line. Not bad.

They color correct scene-by-scene, not just some average for the whole reel, and remove dust and scratches as a part of the service. No cropping, you see the full frame of your precious Super 8 film.

There are other local places and online scanning services in the USA but Scancafe generally offers more options for film and movies. Like taking your old Kodak Carousel slide trays as-is, scanning the chromes, and then putting them back in the tray!

OK, I sound like an advert for Scancafe. I haven't gotten my film back yet, so I'll report back next ish and let you know what really happened. Today is November 29 and it will be six to eight weeks for my stuff to return. It's going to freakin' India, after all.

(Brad Shirakawa teaches Mass Communications within the Journalism department at San Jose State University. Back in the 90's he used a 3-frame-per-second Nikon 8008 to shoot 49er games.)

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