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Quick & Simple Way To Digitize Old Slides

Growing up it was always fun when my Dad would break out his big box of old slides and show them when we had company over. Years have passed since the last time that happened and with my parent's 50th wedding anniversary around the corner I starting thinking about digitizing them for a DVD slide show. To my surprise (and horror lol) I found that my father has 1200 slides in total, much too many to scan one at a time in a flatbed scanner. After asking one of the local photo stores about the costs of bulk scanning slides and finding this was relatively costly I decided to try and find an alternative.

The answer, it ended up, was laying in my camera bag. The simplest solution is to just set up the projector and screen and take photos of the screen. The results will not be as high quality as scanning them but for viewing on a TV and making 4x6 prints the quality is acceptable.

*Note: I've since viewed the images on my 46" HDTV using my PS3 and the results don't look that different from watching them on the projector screen itself ;)

What you'll need:
1) Tripod - This is a must
2) Cable Release - While not absolutely necessary it can reduce camera shake and result in a clearer picture
3) A camera capable of long shutter speeds (even most point and shoot cameras allow this now)
4) Projector, Slides, and a Screen
5) A darkened room
6) Photo editing software for cropping/colour correcting etc (Photoshop, Lightroom, Picasa etc)

 
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Step 1: First things first, what are we dealing with here?

It will make your life easier if you have a good understanding of your camera, if you don't you may want to go grab the manual when following this tutorial.

When taking pictures of slides in this fashion there are a few things to consider.

1) We're shooting in low light
2) We're shooting a stationary object
3) We want the reproduction as sharp as possible
4) We want to limit the perspective distortion as much as possible.

forestcity2 years ago
I ran into this problem for work when I had to digitize some x-ray films so I created an app for my iPad and iPhone and BlackBerry PlayBook to help me solve this problem. It's called ViewBox. Just wanted to share it with your readers.

You can read about it here:
http://www.forestcity.ca/viewbox/

or Download it from the app store:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/viewbox-dental/id504159417?mt=8&ls=1
axiesdad4 years ago
Excellent "ible".  I used the same idea myself a while back, but hadn't worked out a lot of the details.  One thing I found that you didn't mention;  with the camera below the projector, if you tilt the top of  the projection screen forward it will reduce the keystoning (distortion) of the image in the camera.  You want the screen to be perpendicular to a point halfway between the camera and the projector.  You've made me want to dig out my old slides and do some more.  Thanks
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