How can I either scan or otherwise transfer old Kodachrome slides to my iPhoto file? The slides are easily 40-50 years old and have great value to me and to my family. I've tried to scan them with my Canon MX860 printer to no avail and local area camera shops have not been helpful.
As far as I can see from the MX860 specifications, it does not have any capability to scan transparencies. You need a scanner that has this capability ( a backlight to shine through the transparencies and a frame to put the transparencies in for scanning ). I use an Epson All-in-one printer/copier/scanner and it gets great results. I can scan 4 transparencies at a time and they are each given a separate file name. There are also options for dust removal and other basic editing. I am sure that other scanners can do much the same. However, scanning a lot of transparencies takes time, specially if you scan with a high resolution.
Alternatively, there are devices that are made specially to scan transparencies. They may be cheaper than a flat-bed scanner but I very much doubt that they can get better results. You say that your transparencies are precious to you so it is probably worth getting a flat-bed scanner with a capability to scan transparencies.
A Scanner for slides is the only way to get a perfect work. The Epson suggested by sig is perfect.
I have an old Nikon scanner with USB connection which is no more comtible with MAC. I still use it connected to Win XP running on my Mac under Parallel.
The problem with a slide scanner is the time needed, for a good job it takes about 2-3 minutes for each slide (clean - load - focus check - settings to improve colors or remove scratrches - actual scanning - save).
There are also a scanners which load slides automatically: very expensive, you have less work bur the time needed is similar and you cannot be sure about focusing and adjustments.
If the slides are really many (I have 4 - 5.000) in my opinion the best way is to start with a 2 steps approach.
I did as follows:
Leave the slides loaded in their rail holders. Each rail has a number, and each slide its position in the rail.
First quick catalog done taking pictures of the slide projected on a screen. No need for great quality camera: put it on a tripod and go. You will use the pictures only as a catalog, they will be to bas for any use. Few hours to get thousand of jpg files. Very usefull if you can use a camera which lets you set the first 3-4 digits in the filename in a way which will refer to the slide rail number.
Second step. Take a slide projector (your own or an old one from eBay). Change the lamp with a Led. You have to check the voltage. Mine was 24 volts: I used 2 Led each 12V in serial connection, each about 1 Watt. Prefer the flat round type with many leds on it. Put an opaline white glass or plastic in front of the led lamp. Remove the projector lens and with a good SRL with extension tubes on a tripod take pictures of the slides. You will need probably a long lens because it will be difficoult to go near to the slide which is inside the projector. I used a Leica projector and a Pentax 20D with a zoom lens at 140 mm on 2 extension tubes. It is important to have auto extension tubes but without autofocus. The light let me use 1/100 at F 8 - 9,5. The worst problem is you need to revers each slide in the rail, upside down - vertical shots need to be put 90 degrees and the emulsion should go in the direction of the lamp not to the lens like it is during projection. It is a little work but you can quicly take picture of one slide in 5 seconds. Change slides advanceing manually the rail in the projector , check focus and shoot. It takes few hours for 1.000 slides. Focus at full aperture and shott at about 8 - 11 as F stop to get anough depth of focus to compensate.
Use raw. You will be able to adjust the pictures in your Aperture or Photoshot later. I did some test with a setting of the white on the empty projector but at the end I left the camera decide and eventually adjusted later on the raw file.
You end with pictures which can be used for some internet use or to be sent to parent and friends.
With this catalog you can go to the slide and take a scanner only if you need it for a print or a very good result.
Sig's suggestion should work fine.. another approach is to take it to a legacy photo/video converter service. For instance.. http://www.digmypics.com/slidescanning.aspx?g=slides%20conversion&gclid=CMDS2Ly9 hLUCFQLd4AodxhAAYQ
There is no cheap way to do this. Although there are many cheapish slide and negative negative scanners on the market the quality of the images produced are generally poor. I use a Plustek optic film scanner http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/685040-REG/Plustek_60_A1A_BBM310_C_OpticFi lm_7400_Scanner.html
which gives reasonable results (around £250). To get professional quality scans you need to pay thousands.
Before you buy any scanner, verify that the vendor has current driver support for OS X Mountain Lion. That means that they state 10.8 Mountain Lion. Not 10.6+.
You may also want to look at Hamrick Software's VueScan software as a potential replacement for the scanning software that comes with your scanner choice. This software does two pass scans with visible and infrared light to achieve potentially better artifact corrections than FARE or ICE.
A quick Google search shows that there are All-in-one printer/copier/scanners on the market that have adapters for 35mm slides and film (positive and negative) on the market. For example, the Canon PIXMA MG8250 which, according to its specifications is compatible with Mac operating systems, although you would need to confirm that this included Mountain Lion. They sell for about £215 (almost certainly less in the US where sales tax isn't set at levels equal to the GDP of many countries). I accept that the devices suggested by other posters in this thread may be capable of superb quality scans but they seem to be more expensive and are limited to scanning only. Given that your Kodachrome slides are some 50 years old, it seems likely that they were either not up to modern standards in the first place or have deteriorated to some degree. I question, therefore, the benefit in spending a lot of money on a gold-plated, specialised solution when a cheaper, more useful alternative is available and which will produce results that, for typical home users, will be perfectly adequate. My own 7-year old Epson RX700 (no longer produced) All-in-one gives excellent results if I scan my almost-60 year old 35m slides with a reasonable resolution (600 dots per inch).
In my low level english I always used both transparencies and slides word to refer to slides (both 35mm and 6x6) . Thanks
Having worked in the digital end of prepress for almost 30 years now, I can add that we call anything on film that is positive color a transparency. Doesn't matter if it's 35mm, a 4x5 or what. If it's on film, we only use two distinctions for ease of communication; negative and transparency.