Converting slide images to digital or print - a few questions.

My parents jumped wholeheartedly onto the photographic slide bandwagon when I was born in 1970. Consequently I have a few hundred slides, which I would like to pare down to maybe a few dozen, and then have the images converted to digital or print formats.

I don’t have a viewer so I have been holding them up to a lightbulb (the ceiling light in my room). Is this harmful to them for the 5 or so seconds that they might be exposed to the bright light?

Also, some of them seem quite dark, while others seem very light. Which ones will yield better results when I get them converted?

Has anyone done this type of project, and can you give me any type of cost that’s involved? It will help me decide how sentimental to be about these old photos.

Thanks in advance for your help.

(Also, dumb q - are all slides like this called 35mm or if not, is there a way to know what these are?).

I just had abour 400 slides converted at work. We went to a vendor who charged us around 1.87 American per slide.

If you just have a few you’d like to do, I’d suggest a cheap slide scanner for your computer. That way you could look at each on in preview and decide if you want it or not. Stop by a Best Buy or a circuit City and ask them what they have.

I’m doing that a home over the next couple of weekends. Just grab a frosty beverage of your choice and enjoy the reminiscing!

Looking through the slide at a light bulb won’t hurt it. As to the darkness or lightness, it depends. I know that’s a sucky answer, but until you can see the slilde on you monitor, it’s hard to guess.

If they are the two inch by two inch slides, they are 35mm.

Hope this helps!


Ihave done quite a bit of slide conversion in my job, so I will help with what I can. First off, you are not harming the slides by holding them up to a light - that is what they are made for.

Second, as far as images that are too dark or too light, that can be fixed during the digitation process by adjusting the contrast and brightness. Of course, there is only so far you can go with that - if the information just isn’t on the slide to begin with, you can’t improve it. However, if your goal is to have “snapshot” quality images in a digital format you should be ok.

As for cost, do you have a scanner. If so, you can easily get a slide adaptor and do it yourself. A good rule of thumb is to go up to at least 300 dpi at your desired output size - i.e. 3" x 5" or 5" x 7" not the slide’s original size.

If that is too much hassle, there are places that will do it for you for about 25 cents per image.

WreckingCrew, yes we have a scanner, any idea how much a slide adaptor would cost me?

yanceylebeef, yes, the little cardboardy thing around the slide measures 2x2. (sorry to be so technical!) :slight_smile:

Well, the price would depend on both the scanner and how high tech you want to go. The trick is, you need to get light in from the top. So higher end scanners designed to do slides and film strips have a light element in the lid.

For some scanners you can buy an adapter which is just a light bar you place on top of the slides and you leave the lid of the scanner open. A quick google shows some going for $10 on ebay up to $80 in other places.

Now, the low tech way. We had a scanner here (HP I think) where the slide adapter was basically a little triangular box with mirrors inside to reflect the scanner’s own light. It was a pain to use because of the diffculty in lining up the slide, but it did work.

A search for slide scanner adapter or transparancy adapter should do the trick.

I have a lot of 35mm slides, and I bought a slide-scanner a while ago. If you have a large number of slides to convert, I would recommend using a service. I used and they did a reasonable job, and weren’t too expensive. The price varies based on how many slides you have converted.

If you have slides that appear dark, go ahead and have them scanned anyway. You may be able to photoshop them to lighten them up.
Conversely, if they’re over-exposed (too light), you might pass on having them scanned. It is much harder to try to “fill in” information that is too light.

Holding them up to a light won’t harm them. The intensity of the light from a slide projector (and distance to the slide is much closer) is far greater than your holding them up to a light.

As cormac262 said, the slides were designed to withstand the intensity of the light from a slide projector. A few seconds in the light won’t hurt a thing. Leave them out in the desert sun and all bets are off.

The reason why slides were liked so much by photographers is that the slide ts exactly what was recorded by the camera. The slide is the actual film that ran through the camera. It gets developed, cut up and mounted in cardboard or plastic frames for viewing. There is no transition to photo paper. The only factor that is not controlled by the photographer (if someone else did the developing) is the quality of the developing chemicals and the accuracy of the process. Other than that, the slide shows the picture exactly as it was taken. They are compact and are great for mass viewing with the use of a projector. That being the case, the photographer had to get it right from the get go. A poor shot on a slide is practically useless. That’s why the photographers would take hundreds of shots and sort out just the best ones.

They are most likely 35MM slides, but that 2X2 mount was also used for what were called “super slides”. These were taken with 127 film which is a square format using the 2X2 mount. As long as they were not 2 1/4" square film size or some other large size you’ll be OK.

The original Kodak Instamatic cameras also produced slides in 2X2 mounts.

My google-fu is failing me today.

Our scanner is just a little one for personal use - it is a Canon CanoScan LiDE 25.

The price I was quoted locally was close to $2/slide for prints. I forgot to get a quote for digital. Plus I would have to rent a viewer from them to get a better look at the slides, in order to determine which were worth converting.

Adapters to allow you to scan slides on a flatbed scanner are not going to produce very good results. You really want to use a dedicated slide scanner for quality scans, or better yet, send them to a professional.

In general, with slides, underexposure is preferable to overexposure (the opposite of the general rule for negs). There’s only so far you can go with it, though, perhas a stop to possibly a stop and a half under before your shot is ruined. Many photographers would purposely underexpose slides by a third of a stop or so in order to increase color saturation and preserve highlight detail.