Best computer to handle slides

Q: I have about 800 slides I took during a post-college, pre-grad-school road trip to Alaska in 1979. I would like to put it all on DVD(s) with music from the '70s. I have both a Dell and a Mac. What is my best route? Thanks.

—Bryan Brown

A: The Mac wins for simplicity. All the software is already on your computer. Copy your '70s tunes to your iTunes Library, and scan your images into your iPhoto library. That way you can easily use iDVD to combine images from iPhoto with music from iTunes into a nice-looking DVD slideshow that has the look of a scrapbook, say, or an old map.

To start, you'll need to get your slides into your computer. Film scanners, such as the less-than-$200 Canon CanoScan 9000F and the $800 Epson Perfection V750-M Pro Scanner, are good choices but can scan only a handful of slides at a time. That means your 800 slides could take a week or more to go through.

If that's too onerous, there are shops that can scan your images for you to a DVD. Search online for "slide scanning service." They charge 25 cents to 30 cents a slide, so your job would come out to $200 to $240 plus shipping and the cost of a DVD. When you get the images back, you'll have to make your own DVD by copying the images to your computer, make a slideshow and add music, then burn to a DVD.

You can also use a slide copying adapter and a digital camera to take pictures of your slides, then download those pictures to your computer. This is a tricky method, though, best tried with a digital SLR, a 55 mm or 60 mm lens (which can run in the $200-to-$400 range), a tripod and the $60 Nikon ES-1 slide copying adapter. After a lot of trial and error and maybe some touchup work with computer software, you can get good images. Plus you'll have a new lens for your camera. But I recommend a scanner, preferably by Canon, Epson or Nikon.

Whatever method you use, scan to an external hard drive (you can find a drive that holds 1 terabyte — that's 1,000 gigabytes — for around $100). With all that space, you can save your slides at high resolution, then make lower-resolution copies for your DVD. It will take longer to make higher-resolution copies — at 2,400 dots per inch — but you'll want to save every detail of every image from that once-in-a-lifetime trip (How many times will you be between undergrad and grad schools?)

Before you begin, do yourself a favor and bump up the RAM to the most your computer can handle. Handling photos can tax a computer's memory, so you want to give it all the help you can. Otherwise, a job of your size will seem like one big endless wait, which might keep you from finishing your DVD, and that would be a shame.

Good luck, and let us know how it turned out!

Have a question about your computer, cellphone, camera or any gadget? Let us know! E-mail Eric Gwinn at egwinn@tribune.com, and you could be featured in an upcoming Gadget Q&A column.

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