How to Digitize Your Old Photographic Slides: 5 Ways

Converting old photos to a digital format that can be easily shared is a time-consuming process. It’s also potentially expensive if you rely on photography stores to do the conversion.

The same is true for photo slides. What exactly can you do with old photo slides? Is it possible to scan them, or should you just take pictures of the photo slides to share online?

In fact, there are several ways to digitize slides. Here are five ways you can convert old photo slides into digital photo files that you can print or share online.


Clean up your slides

However, before you scan the slides to digital files, take a moment to check them out. Any dirt on them will also be swept. It is therefore wise that you clean the slides first instead of spending a lot of time in your image editor touching the scanning process.

All you need for this is:

  • Standard microfiber cloth (antistatic option)
  • Pure alcohol bleach or Naphtha

Avoid water-based chemicals. Cleaning should take place in a well-ventilated area. It’s also wise to have a test slide — perhaps a bad shot you don’t want — to make sure the cleaning method is effective. If not, use one of these tools to recover your old photos [

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To clean, simply wipe the cloth in a straight line across the slide. No unnecessary pressure is required.

With your slides cleaned up, you’ll be ready to start scanning.

1. How to Scan Slides With a Flatbed Scanner

Perhaps the most obvious tool for scanning a photographic slide is, well, a scanner. Unfortunately, you can’t just stick your slide on the flatbed and press scan. The results will almost certainly be unsatisfactory.

This is because the scanner features a thin beam of light that will only light a portion of the slide.

To fix this, use a diffuser to ensure an even spread of light which will enable a quality capture of the slide.

Diffusers can be bought online, but you can also make your own. Follow the steps in our guide to capturing your old slides with a flatbed scanner and you’ll be scanning your slides with good results within 30 minutes.


2. Convert Slides to Digital With a Slide Projector

Perhaps the most obvious method of digitizing slides is using a slide projector. It doesn’t have to be brand new — you can pick up an old model on eBay — but it should be able to project a clear image of the slide.

For best results, black out the windows, turn off the lights, and take the projected image with a digital camera.

You can also get an old converter box. They were used many years ago to convert movies to video, or slides to SLR and are still useful. All you need to do is project the slide into the box and take a mirror image.

Converting slides to digital with these devices will be inexpensive. Projectors and adapters can be found at flea markets and on eBay for pretty cheap. There are different brands — search for “cinelink” to get started.


3. Digitize slides with a DSLR camera stand

If you are passionate about photography, you probably own a DSLR. The Slide Duplicator can be mounted on a DSLR camera to capture old slides. Make sure to choose equipment that matches your camera brand.

These are usually replacement lenses or lens mounts that come with a slot for placing slides. Once in focus, the devices are perfectly sized to get a full, high-definition copy of the image. The slide is opaque plastic to diffuse the light source.

You don’t even have to take pictures with this solution. If your DSLR has a video feed, you can use it as a slide viewer through your computer or digital TV.

Sliding mounts for DSLR cameras can be purchased from well-known photography retailers. You should also find one on Amazon.

4. Convert 35mm slides to digital with a dedicated slide scanner

You may have tried the suggestions above and decided that what you really need is some specialized hardware. There are many different slide scanners available — some are even capable of scanning slides and negatives. It’s a smart idea to choose hardware from reputable photography brands over cheaper alternatives. KODAK Mini Digital Slide Scanner is a smart solution.

The process is simple: insert the slide, press a button, and the slide is scanned. The resulting image is displayed, while the scan is saved to the SD card or sent via USB to your PC.

Seems too expensive? There are cheaper alternatives available — but maybe all you need is your iPhone…

5. How to go digital with an iPhone or Android app

Incredibly, all you really need to scan slides to digital image formats is your iPhone or Android. But like taking pictures of old photos, the default camera app isn’t a good fit.

Instead, you’ll need an app optimized for taking pictures of slides (either negatives or transparent) and a suitable light source.

Download: Slidescan – Slide Scanner App for Android | iPhone (Free)

All this application requires is a light source (such as a day window or a dedicated website) and a relatively stable handle. Once captured, the frame can be cropped out of the image, leaving only the original slide for sharing online.

Hand stabilizer not an option? Don’t worry. This compact smartphone slide scanner is battery powered and compatible with most phones.

Now you know how to digitize slides!

While you may not want to throw them away, knowing how to scan slides to easily share them with friends and family is a great way to find old photos again. After digitizing the slides, you can even include them in your family tree study.

Not sure how to share your photos? You can share online to social networks like Facebook, store in cloud drive or just copy to USB.


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https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-ways-can-bring-old-photographic-slides-digital-era/ How to Digitize Your Old Photographic Slides: 5 Ways

Sarah Ridley

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