Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Transferring your 35mm slides to a digital format, whether it's JPEG, BMP or another picture file structure, it easy with the right equipment. Before starting your project, you must make sure you have everything on hand to begin the digitizing process.
There are a few ways you can go about transferring your slides. One is using a printer/scanner that has provisions built into the machine to scan 35mm slides. These printer/scanners usually have a separate piece built into the top of the scanning bed to hold the 35mm slides.
The second option is to use a dedicated 35mm slide scanner, which is what we use here at Our Memories in Motion. These dedicated scanners come with a tray to hold the 35mm slides and each slide is pushed through the scanner and scanned. I find this to be the easier way to scan since the scanners are smaller and easier to handle.
Which ever method you decide to use will determine the process of scanning. Most printer/scanners are used just like a photo scanner in that you put your 35mm slides into the holder and scan the entire scanning bed. Then you need to go through and crop each 35mm slide to be saved individually using the printer/scanner's software.
If you decide to use a dedicated scanner, the process is similar but slightly different as well. These scanners come with a tray that holds the 35mm slides, usually between 3 and 5 slides at a time. The tray is then pushed through the scanner with each picture being scanned individually. This also allows you to adjust the lighting behind each slide instead of the entire batch of slides like with a printer/scanner.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few tips and tricks to getting the best scan possible.
Whether you decide to use a printer/scanner or a dedicated scanner, always make sure your scanning bed is as clean as possible. Most printer/scanners can be cleaned using a cleaner that is safe for electronics. The dedicated scanners usually come with a wand with a piece of felt on the end to clean the scanning bed. Making sure you have a dust free scanning bed will give you the best quality scan because each speck of dust will be amplified during the scanning process.
Organize your slides prior to scanning. If you want your slides in a specific order, take the time to organize them prior to scanning. This will save you a lot of time since your scans will be in order and won't need to be organized after your scanning is finished.
Last but not least, take your time. Scanning 35mm slides can be tedious when it comes to getting the exposure just right. Don't be alarmed if some of your slides are red. As slides age, the pigments start to lift from the lowest layer on the slide and eventually disappear. The red pigment is the strongest pigment and tends to be the last one to lift. If you find a slide that is only red, know you were able to save that slide just in time before it no longer had a picture to show.
We are always here to help you with your slides and will happily transfer them for you. Our slide service includes scanning of the slides and then placing them into a slideshow which makes showing your slides more entertaining. If you are interested, check out our 35mm Slides to Digital page on our website.