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How to Digitize Your Old Photographic Slides

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It can take a lot of time to convert old photographs into digital formats that are easily shared. If you depend on a photographic shop to convert the images, it can be costly.

This is also true for photographic slides. What can you do with old slides? Are they possible to scan? Or should you simply take a picture of slides to share online?

There are many things you can do when digitizing old slides. These are five methods to convert old slides into images that you can print and share.

Make sure you clean your slides

Take a moment to inspect your slides before you scan them. They will be scanned for any dirt or dust that may have been collected. It is better to clean slides before you spend hours in your image editor fixing up the scan.

This is all you need:

  • Microfiber standard cloth (anti-static optional).
  • Pure alcohol cleaner or Naphtha

Avoid using water-based chemicals. You should clean in an area that is well-ventilated. To ensure that the cleaning process is efficient, it’s a good idea to take a test slide. Photoshop can be used to clean up old photos.

Simply wipe the slide with a clean cloth. You don’t need to apply pressure.

1. How to scan slides with a flatbed scanner

Scanners are perhaps the best tool to scan a slide. You can’t simply place your slide on a flatbed and hit scan. You will most likely be disappointed with the results.

Because the scanner has a narrow beam of light that only illuminates a small portion of the slide, this is possible.

This can be fixed by using a diffuser that distributes light evenly to allow for quality slide capture.

You can buy diffusers online or make your own. You can scan your slides quickly and efficiently using a flatbed scanner by following the steps in our guide.

2. Use a Slide Projector

A slide projector is perhaps the best way to digitize slides. You don’t need to buy a new model, but it must be capable of projecting a clear image of the slide.

Blacken windows and switch off lights to get the best results. Then, use a digital camera to capture the projected image.

An old converter box may be available. These boxes were useful for converting slides to SLR or cine film to video many years ago. Simply project the slide in the box and take a photograph of the reflected image.

You can find these devices at flea markets or on eBay for very low prices. There were many brands available. Search for “cinelink” in the search box to start.

3. DSLR Slide Duplicator Mount

A DSLR camera is a must-have for anyone who loves photography. To photograph slides from the past, slide duplicators can attach to DSLR cameras. Make sure you choose a compatible device with your brand.

These devices are usually replacement lenses or device-mounted lenses that have a slot for slides to be placed. These devices can be focused once you have a high-definition copy. To diffuse light, the slide slot is made of opaque plastic.

This solution doesn’t require you to take a photograph. You can use your DSLR’s video output feed to view slides through your computer or digital television.

You can purchase slide scanning mounts for DSLR cameras at well-known photographic shops. Amazon is a good place to look for one.

4. Make use of a dedicated slide scanner

You might have tried all the options and concluded that you need dedicated hardware. There are many options for slide scanners. Some can even scan slides and negatives. It is a smart decision to choose hardware from well-respected photographic brands over cheaper options. The smart solution is the KODAK Mini Digital Slide Scanner.

It is easy: simply insert the slide and press a button to scan it. The results are displayed as an image. You can save the scan to an SD card, or send it via USB to your computer.

Seem too expensive? There are cheaper alternatives, but maybe you just need your iPhone.

5. Use an iPhone or Android device and an app to scan slides

Amazingly, an iPhone or Android is all that’s required to scan an old slide. The default camera app for old photos is not suitable, however.

Instead, you will need an app designed for slide photography (or negatives or transparent) and a suitable lighting source.

This app only requires a light source, such as a web page or daylit window, and a steady hand. Once the frame is taken, you can crop it out and share the slide online.

Is a steady hand an option? Don’t worry. This compact smartphone scanner has a battery-powered backlight and is compatible to most phones.

Now you know how to digitize slides!

You might not want the slides to be thrown away but digitizing them can make it easy to share with friends and family. They might even be included in your family tree research.

Are you unsure how to share your photos? Share your photos online to Facebook, save to a cloud drive or copy to USB.

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