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How to Scan Slides to Produce Digital Pictures

Aug 27, 2008
There are several ways to scan slides to turn them into digital photos. Many people remember the small square cardboard cut-outs containing negatives that would be popped into a tray at family gatherings, and with some light and a projector screen (or blank wall) people could reminisce over photos that were larger than life. Today, slide screens have given way to large screen televisions and computer screens. The slide has been rendered all but obsolete, but how do people save the pictures on the slides and keep them viewable? The answer is simple-scan them. These are some of the different ways to turn slides into great, state-of-the-art digital pictures.

Scanning Slides: The Scanner
One of the easiest ways to scan slides is to use a scanner with a special attachment. The attachment is like a mirror box, which diverts light around to the back of the slide so that the scanner picks up transmitted light instead of reflected light. However, this method does not produce the best results; scanned pictures can look soft, unrefined, too dark, and often appear with white spots all over them, which is actually just dust that is being lit up. Some scanner models have special transparency adapters that can be bought to scan images from negatives and slides. These can be very pricy, though, averaging about $1800.00 for a decent one.

Many people claim that the image results using the adapter are no better than the scanner that uses the mirror box attachment. One advantage of the transparency adapter, however, is that an entire large image can be scanned all at once, making it easier to restore old photos than it would be to piece several scans together and then start the restoring process.

Scanning Slides: The Digital Camera
It makes sense to use a camera to get a picture of a picture. However, although this can be a simple way to get results, it often proves to turn out some pretty disappointing photos. Missing hues, colors, highlights, effects, and downright blurry, fuzzy images are very common. Devices exist that can link your camera and a slide projector so that when a projector changes display images, the camera is set up to snap a picture of it. These can be frustrating, and the obvious downfall is that you must have a working slide projector to use the method. Other devices are on the market that attach right to the camera and hold a slide to it; however, you can only insert and deal with one slide at a time, and the devices are usually specific to a certain make and model of camera.

Scanning Slides: The Professional
By far the most hassle-free, low-effort, cost-effective way to scan slides is to take the slides to a professional. Someone at a camera shop or photography shop will be able to work the gizmos, gadgets, equipment, and devices needed to safely turn your slides into perfect pictures. Prices vary depending on the amount of slides to be transferred, but many people find it is an invaluable service to have when they need to scan slides to have digital pictures.

If you are thinking about those boxes of slides stuffed in the basement from your 1973 trip to see the worlds largest coconut and want to turn them into digital pictures, do yourself a great favor and take them to a professional who can scan slides for you. You will be glad that you did when Aunt Ferns portrait isnt restricted to appearing on a slide screen anymore and has gone digital for all the world to see.
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