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How to digitize slides

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How to digitize slides: The other day you decided to put some order in the attic and, much to your surprise, you found some slides in a dusty old trunk. The projector with which to reproduce them, however, is no longer functional and now you are afraid of having to throw them away. What if I told you that in reality all is not lost, as it is possible to digitize the slides by transferring them to the PC and viewing them without any problem on the latter? No, this is not a joke and in this guide on how to digitize slides I’ll show you!

Thanks to the right tools, in fact, it is possible to “save” the slides on the computer and view them even without the aid of a projector. To do this, you can use a “standard” scanner (although I already tell you that it is a rather cumbersome solution) or buy a slide scanner, which is undoubtedly the simplest solution to adopt, even if it involves a small outlay of money. If, on the other hand, you don’t feel like doing all the work yourself, you can rely on specialized professionals.

So, what are you doing still standing there? Courage: make yourself comfortable, take all the time necessary to concentrate on reading the next paragraphs and, more importantly, implement the “tips” that I will give you. If you do, you will certainly be able to digitize your old slides and be able to admire their content without any problem. I wish you good reading and, above all, have fun!

How to scan slides with a normal scanner

The first solution that I recommend you to try for digitize slides is that of use a “normal” scanner. If your budget does not allow you to buy a professional photo scanner (which I will talk about later), you can opt for this decidedly “artisanal” method, but which on the other hand can be tried at no cost.

Are you wondering how it is possible to use a traditional scanner (the one for magazines and sheets of paper, so to speak) to digitize slides? The secret is to adjust the light used for scanning with the help of some cards and a studio lamp. Below I will list all thewhat you need to complete the operation, as well as the instructions that you must strictly follow to obtain an appreciable result.

  • A low consumption studio lamp.
  • Two black A4 size cards.
  • A pair of rounded-tip scissors.
  • A stapler or a tube of glue.
  • A clear plastic CD / DVD cover or a piece of Plexiglas.

The first thing you need to do to scan your slides with a “standard” scanner is take the first black A4 card and cut it out in its central part, so as to get a square of about 5 x 5 cm. After this first operation, place the slide on the scanner glass (with the white part facing the glass) e place the black cardboard on itso that the slide fits perfectly into the square you made earlier.

At this point, take the other black card, cut a strip 10 cm high and roll it up, so as to obtain a cylinder (you can keep it with glue or using a stapler). Once you have the black cardboard tube, make a cut 3/4 of its circumference (about 1 cm from its leading edge) e slide the clear plastic cover of the CD / DVD into it.

Now, place the cardboard tube on the slideput the lamp on top of the card, turn it on, and start scanning from your PC (if you have doubts about what to do, you can take a look at the tutorial where I explain how to scan to the PC). This way, you should be able to get a decent quality scan of a slide; but I repeat, I can’t assure you excellent results like those that can be obtained with professional scanners suitable for the purpose, that’s clear!

You don’t currently have a scanner available and would like to buy one? If you don’t want to buy a professional one, with ad hoc functions for digitizing slides, you can find relatively cheap ones both in physical electronics stores and in e-commerce, such as Amazon. In this regard, I invite you to take a look at those listed below which, as you can see, offer good value for money.


Epson Perfection V39, USB Powered Scanner, Scan with Red …

See offer on Amazon


IRIScan Anywhere 3 Wi-Fi Portable Document Scanner Synchronized …

See offer on Amazon


If you want more advice on buying a scanner, I invite you to take a look at the dedicated guide that I have already published on my blog: there you will find information that will surely be useful for you to make a careful purchase.

How to scan slides with a photo scanner

Didn’t the solution I proposed to you in the previous lines satisfy you in terms of practicality and, above all, of quality? Well then I advise you to scan the slides using a photo scanner. Since these are scanners usually used in the professional environment, to buy one you have to be willing to pay prices ranging from 120 euros about for models entry level ai over 500 euros for the most performing models.

As you can well imagine, the higher the purchase price of a scanner, the easier it is to use and, above all, the final quality of the digitization. In buying a scanner of this type, however, you have to pay attention to many factors: here are some that are particularly important.

  • Resolution – this value indicates the quality of the images that can be obtained with the scanner. The higher this value, the higher the resolution and therefore the quality of the scans that can be obtained. For photo scanners it is advisable to never go below 4800 DPI.
  • Scan speed – is a factor that you have to take into consideration especially if you have a large number of slides to digitize. Scan speed is determined by the number of seconds it takes the scanner to scan a document at a certain resolution and in a specific color mode.
  • Daily volume of supported scans – this value indicates the maximum number of scans that can be performed with a scanner without the risk of being damaged. If you plan to scan many slides a day, you need to pay attention to this as well.
  • Compatible platforms – before buying a scanner, make sure it is compatible with the operating system of your computer (eg. Windows or macOS) and, a not inconsiderable detail, also with the version used (eg. Windows 7, Windows 10, macOS High Sierra, etc. .).

Photo scanners can be purchased both in physical electronics stores (especially the most well-stocked ones) and in e-commerce, such as Amazon. Take a look at the ones listed below – I’m sure you’ll find some that may be right for you.


Epson Perfection V600 Photo, High Quality Photo Scanner, 6400 …

See offer on Amazon


Epson Perfection V800 Photo, High Quality Photo and Film Scanner …

See offer on Amazon


For more information on which scanner to buy, please consult the buying guide that I have already published on my blog, where I have provided you with various tips on how to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Contact a professional

If you don’t want to resort to do-it-yourself to digitize slides, you can contact the photographic laboratories of your city. Many professional photographers, in fact, have scanners and technologically advanced equipment to digitize slides, negatives and so on in a relatively short time. As you can imagine, this is the least economical solution you can adopt (if you have a lot of slides to digitize), but it is also the best if you are not very familiar with this kind of work.

As for the rates applied by photographic laboratories for digitizing photos, I cannot go into specifics, as the price list varies from professional to professional. As a guideline, for the digitization of a slide you can pay from a minimum of 1 euro up to 10 euro and more (the price varies based on multiple factors, primarily the quality of digitization).

To find a photo lab that specializes in digitizing slides in your area, do a simple search on Google: linked to his home pagetype the terms “photographic laboratory [nome della tua città]”And presses the button depicting the icon of magnifying glass.

Now, on the page containing the search results found, all you have to do is identify the laboratories closest to you and then contact them via the telephone number indicated or by going directly to the store and ask if they offer the slide digitization service and, if yes, what are the rates applied.