Slides are one of the most fun forms of photo memories to digitize because often we haven’t seen those images for years – if ever!  The prospect of scanning them seems to flummox a lot of folks so this week we thought we’d demystify the equipment that you can use to revive those lost memories.

Flatbed Scanner

With a flatbed scanner, you need to look for a model that has a transparency unit.  This allows light to illuminate the backside of the slide and provides a pretty decent scanned image.  This type of scanner usually allows you to scan at the high resolution settings necessary to get a good quality scanned image as well.  We began scanning slides using an Epson V800 and it worked pretty well.  It proved too slow for our purposes but if you want to do your own, this is a great flatbed and it’s flexible so you could also scan printed photos and even negatives with the right mounts!

You’ll see a lot of website that will show you how to create “workarounds” to scan your slides on regular scanners.  This post on Make, How-To: Turn Slides and Negatives Into Digital Photos, is a good example.  We haven’t tried it but the example they show gives you some idea of what to expect if you use this method.  If you’re craftsy and don’t mind a lower quality image, this might work well for you.

DSLR + Copy Stand

We learned this method at the APPO conference in 2018 from Peter Krogh.  Peter is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on digital asset management.  You can learn all about his method in his book, The DAM Book.  To create this system, you need a computer, a digital camera that you can tether to your computer and captures at high enough resolution to print the final product, a lens to focus properly, a stand to hold the camera level and steady, mounts to hold the various sizes of your slides and a light that illuminates the underside of the slide.  Though that sounds techie, it really isn’t so difficult!  You connect the camera to the computer via USB and snap photos of each slide.  Focusing can prove a chore but once done, you simply remove your slide from the mount, snap the image and replace the slide with the next slide.  It’s very quick and the results are great!  If you use this method for negatives, you will need some software to reverse the negative to a positive but Irfanview allows you to do that and, best of all, it’s free!  So if you are a shutterbug with a high-quality camera, this might be a good method for you!

Dedicated Slide/Film Scanner

At the Gym, our members have been enjoying the Nikon Coolscan.  The benefits are many, including 4000 dpi true resolution scans, ease of use (just pop the slide in and the machine previews it, click scan and wait for 40 seconds and it’s done), Digital Ice and Image Enhancement which provides crisp, CLEAN images (which is a big deal with old slides that are speckled from dust and scratches) and automatic focusing.  So far, this is the highest quality slide scan we have produced and it’s so simple anyone can do it with a few basic instructions.  The equipment is not easy to find nor inexpensive but if you have the money to invest, have a lot of slides and are good at figuring out software, this might be a good method for you!

Of course we have all of this equipment (and a whole lot more) at Photo Gym.  Members can use it all and we help you create a Photo Fitness Plan to guide you from start to finish, ensuring you are able to preserve, protect, share and enjoy your photos and the memories they hold.   If you need help getting started, email us to Schedule a Personal Training session to find out how to do it yourself or let us do it for you!