Digitizing slides

My wife has boxes of slides that she would like to convert to digital. Can anyone recommend a service that can do this for us. For personal use only

Thanks in advance. John

1 Like

I’ve checked out local services, for instance UPS stores, and the price was high. In my area they wanted $1/slide which was insane. So, I bought a Wolverine slide scanner for this – it works OK but most importantly it was a lot cheaper than the “professional” option.

A few years ago Wirecutter recommended Memories Renewed. Because of the expense, I chose to use my Epson Scanner to do the job. I got acceptable results. A dedicated slide scanner should yield better results.

If you decide to use a scanning service, you may want to review the slides and select those you truly want. This could save you some money.

I’ve used digmypics.com in the past with good results. Several friends have also used them and have all been pleased with the results. You should probably check with them to see if their schedule has been impacted by the pandemic.

I looked into this a couple of years ago and decided to go the DIY route. The results I could get from a $150 scanner weren’t worth the time it took to clean, scan, and then retouch each slide. I’m still using a loupe to view them.

Most major big box companies (Costco, Walmart, Sams, etc.) offer these services. None are going to be really inexpensive, but the DIY route could have you working for < $2/hour. Just something to consider.

This past winter I did something similar with my father-in-law’s slides. My SIL had bought an Epson scanner with slide capability. She didn’t have time to scan the slides herself so she loaned me the scanner so I could scan them in. Took a few days to get them done. I’m retired so I have lots of free time. The scanner did a great job with very little cleanup needed.

If you don’t have the time I would recommend using one of the services.

We recently digitized my FIL family slides from when he was a kid. We used the Kodak Scanza and were fairly impressed by it. All you need is an SD card and you can start capturing slides using the built in screen. It also has the ability to hook up to an external monitor. Before each capture you do have the ability to adjust the RGB and brightness levels which we found extremely helpful in trying to capture older slides that had deterioration.

The only real complaint I had with the system was that it saves in a 22MP JPEG and I would have preferred a lossless file format when capturing.

My wife and I spent 2 weekend afternoons working through the collection of slides and made our way fairly quickly through over 1300 slides. We sent the captures to my FIL and family and everyone was really impressed by just the raw captures. My wife and I have been slowly working our way through all of the captures editing them with Pixelmator Pro and have been really impressed with how the final product is turning out.

I recently started digitizing old 35mm film negatives and slides using a mirrorless camera. Mine is an Olympus OMD-EM5 II, but any current DSLR or mirrorless camera with a macro lens or standard lens with an inexpensive extender would work. You can obtain jpeg images or raw file images for further editing in Lightroom or other photo editors, including the Photos app.

It helps to use a copy stand and a dedicated light source and film/slide holder to expedite workflow if you have hundreds or even thousands of images. My current setup includes a compact copy stand and Skier Sunray “Copy Box”:

Excellent image quality can be obtained without editing, but there is no limit to to the amount of image quality improvements through image processing and editing.

Camera: Olympus OMD-EM5 II
Lens: (old late 1970s) Minolta Rokkor-X 50mm Macro f3.5 with converter to Olympus camera
Copy stand: Mini 500 (search on Amazon for this)
Light box and film/slide holder: Skier Sunray Copy Box III
link: http://skier.com.tw/web/shop/shop_in.jsp?pd_id=PD1599461016799

I recommend the Skier Copy Box since it combines the file/slide holder and high-quality (CRI 96+) LED light source in the same compact unit. I was initially hesitant to order from overseas (Taiwan), but the transaction worked perfectly. There was a minor delay for availability and shipping. Slide/negative holders are also available for 120 film and 4 x 5 film.

The setup shown includes a Minolta focus rail from my old film photography days because the old legacy lens is not auto-focus. The extra focus rail is not needed, especially if you use a modern auto-focus lens. A macro lens or standard lens with adapter would work fine without the added focus rail.

Once set up, you can copy slides (or negatives) as fast as you can change out the slide, snap the picture, then repeat for the next slide. The setup is stable and rigid enough so that re-focusing is not required.

Negatives are also easy, since the negative holder is designed for strips of negatives. Conversion of the negatives to positive images is facilitated with the Lightroom add-in “Negative Lab Pro”.