Ion Audio has become known as a creator of intriguing devices that fix those awkward issues of digitising old formats. So it was that we fell in love with the Ion USB turntable, which enabled us to rediscover our old vinyl records and record them for digital posterity.
The Ion Audio Film 2 SD allows you to capture old film camera stills footage and archive it in digital format - and without the need of a connected computer. We've already tested similar products that capture negatives or slides frame-by-frame and record the results direct to a PC. The results aren't uniformly good, but the process is often less fiddly than trying to align a strip of negatives in a flimsy holder and capture them on the bed of an A4 scanner.
Ion Audio's Film 2 SD is a shrunk-down version of the standalone archiving scanners we've tried before, and the shiny silver and white toughened plastic design is not only more attractive, but also less obtrusive. A USB cable does double duty as a connector from the device to your PC, and attaches to the supplied mains plug to power the Ion Audio Film 2 SD when you want to use it without your computer.
As with similar units, there are separate trays for negatives (six at a time) and slides (three per tray) on the Ion Audio Film 2 SD. These clip together to keep the contents in place, then are slid through the lower belly of the scanner. Buttons at the top are limited to On/Off, OK, Rotate and Mirror.
You position an image so it's framed properly in the Ion Audio Film 2 SD's 3.5cm LCD preview screen, press OK to scan the image and, once the timer icon disappears, press OK again to save the image to an SD memory card inserted at the back.
You can rotate images or flip them here, or perform these adjustments on your PC afterwards. You will need an image editor in any case as scanned slides and photos had a tendency to come out too light. There's also no onboard facility to invert negative into positive images.
We performed a quick fix on our test images; and also ran them through the auto colour, contrast and levels adjustments in Photoshop to bring out the detail and limited colour that the Ion Audio Film 2 SD had captured. Depending on the age of the original image you've scanned, you may need to adjust for colour distortions too.
Images are scanned by the Ion Audio Film 2 SD at a standard resolution of 96 dots per inch, but this translates to a usable printed resolution of 350 to 460dpi if you output them at 8x10in. The scanner can accept SD/SDHC memory cards up to 8GB, and each image scan averages 5MB.
Using the Ion Film 2 SD is simplicity itself. It makes it very easy to archive images that could otherwise be lost to the ravages of time. Just be prepared that time may not have been terribly kind to your recollections for a bygone era. And you’ll still need a photo editor app on you PC to retouch the raw scanned images, though.