|DCRP Review: Happenstance Slide Copier for Nikon Coolpix 950
by Andy Baird [DCRP Contributing Editor-at-Large]
Digital cameras are great. Combined with Photoshop and a good printer, they offer a complete "electronic darkroom" that puts real darkrooms to shame when it comes to manipulating images and printing them out. But many of us have collections of 35mm slides or negatives that we'd like to get into the computer. Of course Kodak has long offered Photo CD processing, which transfers images to CD-ROM, but it costs about a dollar an image--and you have to hand over your irreplaceable originals to some stranger in a photolab. SCSI-based film scanners are available if you want to do the scanning on your desktop--but with prices starting at $400 and heading up into the thousands, this is also a costly way to get your old slides into digital form.
But wait--you already own a high-resolution digital imaging device: your Nikon 950. Why not use that? Most digital cameras can't focus close enough to image a 24 x 36mmm film frame, but Nikon's amazing CoolPix 950 can--in fact, it can go even closer and fill the frame with a 20 x 15mm subject. Capitalizing on this super-macro capability, Happenstance Products has introduced a well-made little slide copier for the Nikon 950. At $39.99 postpaid, this is an accessory any camera owner can afford.
An elegant solution
To use the Happenstance slide copier, you set it on top of the camera. (It's a loose fit, so the camera's lens must be pointing straight up so that gravity will hold the copier in place.) Then illuminate it with a light source--Happenstance says that a 20W halogen desk lamp works fine--slip a slide into the groove and fire away. You must, of course, disable the 950's flash (one click of the flash button will do it) and put the camera into macro mode (two clicks of the focus button).
Does it work?
Timex vs. Rolex
The Happenstance slide copier is designed for 2x2" cardboard mounts, by far the most common kind. Plastic or glass mounts won't fit in the diffuser's fixed-width grooves. In fact, I found that some of my Kodachromes were a tight fit, but not because of thickness--their mounts seemed to be a little bit wider than the Ektachrome mounts. Happenstance might want to add just a whisker more clearance to the width of their slot.
What about negatives?
A few quibbles
A related criticism is that the loose fit of the copier makes it all too easy to nudge it out of alignment while fiddling with the camera. It's especially tough to keep the thing square--the slightest touch causes it to rotate--with the result that it's all too easy to end up with a slightly cockeyed digital image. (If this happens to you, here's a good Photoshop trick to fix it: use the Measurement tool to define a line on the image that should be vertical. Then pull down the "Image" menu, choose the "Rotate Canvas" submenu and the "Arbitrary..." command. A dialog box will pop up with the correct angle already filled in. Just hit "OK"--and the image will be rotated so that your measured line is exactly vertical!) I would have preferred a snug friction fit on the copier. Making the lens hole a bit smaller (perhaps adding a few expansion slits around its periphery) would have allowed the copier to attach firmly and resist being nudged out of alignment.
Conclusion: it's a winner!
Happenstance Slide Copier
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