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Before the dawning of the digital camera, I used a conventional camera using 35mm film to capture scenes, people and animals and over the years - I won't say how many - I have gathered a large collection of 35mm slides and 35mm photographic negatives. The only way to view slides was with the use of a cumbersome slide projector or hand-held slide viewer. The only way to see the images on the negative was to get them printed at a photographers.
About two years ago, I bought a Luminex slide scanner and with partial success, managed to convert some of my slides to digital format. I say partial success, because the images did not always convert accurately, in that the picture appeared over exposed, or the colours were darker on many of the image conversions than on the slides. The Luminex negative conversions were not successful at all.
When I discovered the Veho VFS-008 Smartfix scanner, I did a lot of umming and ahhing, mainly because £69 was a lot of money to waste if the Veho scanner was no better than the Luminex, already in my possession. However, eventually, tired of my indecisive pondering - procrastination they call it - I threw caution to the wind once again and ordered a Veho VFS Smartfix scanner from Amazon, at a cost of £69.97 post-free.
Greatly reduced, I must add, from the normal £129.99 price tag on another website.
I think what tipped the balance in favour of splashing out on the new model was the fact that a computer is not necessary to see the conversions. The whole unit was a 'stand-alone,' with a small preview screen and a 2GB SD card, onto which the images are saved. It is also compatible with a Windows or Apple Mac and so the images can be stored directly onto a computer.
~~~~What did I get for £69.97?~~~
The scanner unit.
Three slide trays. One to hold 35mm slides, one to hold 35mm negatives, and one for 110mm negatives.
A lithium ION rechargeable battery.
One bundled 2GB SD card.
One high speed USB 2.0 cable; used to charge the battery and/or to import images from the SD card to the computer.
One glass brush, which is a 15cm long, 1.5cm wide strip of plastic with a thin pad of lint-free material attached, used to clean the glass surface of the scanner by inserting it through the slide slot of the scanner.
The CD, on which is the user manual and ArcSoft Mediaimpression software.
Finally, a short 'Quick Start guide,' In English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.
~~~~The VFS Smartfix Scanner~~~
The silky, smooth, matt-black scanner measures 10cm x 10cm x 15cm, and is fitted with a 5 Megapixel CMOS lens - 3600DPI (interpolated)
The rechargeable Lithium ion battery is housed in a recess in the base of the scanner.
The slide tray slots are situated at the sides of the lower end of the unit, with an arrow on one side, which will line up with an arrow on the slide tray when it is in the correct position for use.
At the base of the back of the scanner is the USB connection port, and at the top is the SD card slot.
The interesting part of the scanner is at the top end where there is a flip-up, colour LCD screen measuring 6cm (2.4 inches) under which are the controls, so to speak - six buttons, in total.
At the very front is the elongated power button. In the centre are the remaining five, the largest on the right is the OK, and copy button and to the left are four smaller buttons one to select playback mode, the second to select the type of film being scanned, it also serves as the UP-button when copying from scanner to computer. The third allows you to flip the image (if you have loaded it incorrectly in the tray), without removing the tray from the scanner and also to delete an image from the card. The fourth and final button is the Down-button to select images for viewing on the screen.
Before use, the lithium battery needs charging for about five hours, by connecting the unit to a PC USB port with the supplied cable, or by using an AC adaptor (not supplied.)
~~~~Set up and use~~~~
The Quick Start Guide is easy to follow, with instructions of use in six simple steps, illustrated with pictures.
Once the battery is fully charged, the SD card inserted and a tray of slides slotted into the scanner, it is a simple matter of selecting which type of film/slide is to be scanned, pressing the copy button and hey-presto, in the blink of an eye, the images are digitized and saved on the SD card.
To import the images from the card to a computer, connect the scanner and the PC via their USB ports with the supplied USB cable, turn the scanner power on, press the UP button to select the 'SD to PC' link and "YES." Then press the OK to confirm... It is as simple as that.
By installing the ArcSoft Medial impression software, which includes a complete set of photo-editing tools, the digitized images are automatically imported to the computer.
Also include in the software is a very useful, printable, 32 page manual, with website details for technical support.
I must admit to having a good giggle over one of the safety precaution paragraphs where they warn users " Never use a Digitize image copier in the rain or snow." .... As if.
~~~~The System Requirements for PC and Mac~~~~
Pentium P4 1.2G processor
Windows XP/Vista, 32/64 bits
Power PC G4 800 MHz or Intel processor.
Mac 10.4.3 up
Both PC and Mac require a free USB 2.0 port; 512MB RAM internal memory minimum; 500MB free hard disc space 800 x 600 pixel colour monitor and a CD-ROM drive.
After setting up the scanner, I initially selected the slides I had previously scanned, using the old Luminex scanner, to compare with the images produced by the Veho Smartfix scanner. I found, much to my delight, that the results of the Veho digitized images were better than the unsuccessful Luminex ones, in that the images seemed sharper and did not have the over-exposed look about them that the other scanner produced.
As for the good digitized images of the Luminex, I found both scanners images were very similar in quality.
I never had much success with the negative scans when using the old Luminex scanner, but the Veho Smartfix gave perfectly digitized positive images from the negatives, so I can now get prints directly from my 35mm negatives, without having to get them printed at the photographers.
The Veho scanner is simple to use, I am very pleased indeed with the results and have had fun strolling down memory lane without having to set up a projector. I can now bore the pants off my friends and family with images of the past, brought to life again with the Veho Smartfix slide and negative scanner.
It seems a lifetime ago now since I used an SLR camera, but I assume that 35mm slides can be are are still being produced, so I cannot imagine the scanner will be a thing of the past for a long while yet.
One day, slides will be classed as collectables, so I still keep mine, though no doubt they won't reach collectable status in my lifetime.