Using 35 mm slides used to be the “gold standard” of photo taking, especially for professionals. Some people of the Baby Boomer generation and older, probably remember using slide film, or watching their parents use it, and even know what a slide camera looks like. Since technology has advanced so drastically, it is not often that slide film is used anymore, except by professionals who have the equipment and can maintain it, and many are wishing they could either continue taking slide photos, or convert their slide collections to digital format, even if only to have a digital master than can be copied at will.
Well, there is an easy way to transfer 35 mm slides to a digital format, and it is not as technologically advanced a task to do as one might think. All it takes is a digital camera, a light box or a typical slide projector and screen.
Step One: Preparations
The first thing you need to do is choose the type of camera you will be using to transfer your slides. While many people still own and utilize analog 35 mm cameras that use 35 mm film, these are quickly growing as obsolete as the 25 mm slide film we all wish were still in style. If you decide to use this type of camera, keep in mind you might have to transfer your photos again in about two to five years, or maybe even faster because, eventually, 35 mm film will not be available anymore.
That said, the best type of camera would be a digital camera with the highest megapixels possible, and setting it on the finest quality possible. While these settings will eat up a lot of SD card space, the photos will have the best clarity for editing and reproducing both digitally and using print methods. Most inexpensive cameras these days offer at least 5-megapixels, some offer 7-megapixels, and some offer up to 25 megapixels, although the more megapixels a camera offers, the more expensive the camera. A mid-range camera is just fine. You will also need a tripod with an adjustable height, so you can adjust according to the projection screen height.
The next things you need are the slides, of course, and a slide projector with a projector screen. If you do not have a projector screen or a projector, then a light box or something like a school projector will work fine in conjunction with a large while paper or poster board taped to the wall. However, if you use the paper or poster board, make sure it is large enough to accommodate the size of the slides when they are projected onto them.
Step Two: Transfer Slides
Once you have everything you need, it is time to transfer the slides to a digital format. This is the easiest part of the entire process to do. If you have a native slide projector, set it op so that it projects as low as you need to fit the tripod height. Turn it on, and project a slide to test the height. Make the camera zoom in so that there are no white sides or black sides showing when aiming at the picture or the screen. Additionally, move the tripod’s placement if necessary to “zoom in.” Once you have all the heights set so that when you take a photo the result is a straight, evenly spaced digital image on the camera screen, you can proceed with taking continuous photos.
Because taking photos using the highest quality settings can cause the SD card to fill up very quickly, you may have to offload the card to the computer during the process to be able to continue. If this happens, you can do so or simply add another card. However, if you remove the camera to insert another card, then run the height and zoom tests again so you have the same quality photo shots that you did originally. That is it, once you have captured each image to your digital camera, simply offload the photos to the computer, or save them on the card and you have a complete digital master set of your photos, ready for printing.