Scanning old slides to your computer? I had been meaning to do this for years, but the pandemic lockdown has given me the opportunity.
There are boxes of old slides in my loft. Taken well before the dawn of digital. I no longer have a projector, so the only way to bring these pictures to life is to scan them. Creating digital copies that I could access on my PC.
Scanning Old Slides: The Options
How? The options are, you can do it yourself or have your slides converted to digital files by a commercial scanning service.
Commercially Scanned Slides
There are scanning services like Digital Converters. Send them your slides and they will professionally convert your old slides to digital images. The cost is about £350 for 1000 slides.
Each slide is scanned as a high resolution image. Digitally corrected for exposure, colour and sharpness, and converted to JPEG. The files are streamed to the cloud or returned on a DVD or memory stick.
This is obviously the route to choose if you have high quality slides.
Scanning Old Slides Yourself
My slides are mostly family snaps, so based on the principle of garbage in garbage out. I decided to scan my slides myself.
On YouTube, there are several tutorials about setting up your camera to photograph slides and there are apps for your phone. However, taking an image of each slide individually seemed unnecessarily time consuming
So I decided to buy a cheap slide scanner. Researching online it seemed that they did a reasonable job quite quickly. I also thought that in the future I could use the same scanner to process old negatives.
Scanners are listed on Amazon here. I purchased this scanner.
The scanner had good reviews, the output was to a standard SD card and the display was large enough to view the images clearly.
How to Scan Slides to a PC
I used a setup with a scanner connected to the USB port on a laptop. The laptop has an SD card reader, so the transfer from scanner to PC was just one step. (N.B. The SD card is not included with the scanner)
There are various film holders included with the scanner. The slide holder fits into a slot on the side of the scanner. The slides are pushed into the holder and the holder pushed into the scanner.
I found I could process around fifteen slides in about five minutes.
The image is captured on the SD card as a JPEG. When the image is transferred to the PC I used Lightroom just to crop, adjust the colour balance, exposure and saturation.
I removed dust spots, and looked to improve the sharpness and noise level.
So what do the results look like?
This was taken on holiday in Cornwall,
and this taken at Wimbledon in the seventies. (Note that even back then I was more interested in the camera than the tennis)
The results are not too bad really. Decent exposure and detail considering these slides are over forty years old!