Picture of Slide Digitizing - Super Low Tech

I am possibly the world's worst photographer. Still, I have slides that I would like to have digitized - most taken with a point and shoot camera in the late '70's on a trip with my grandmother. It was dark and rainy, but hey, it was a once in a lifetime trip, so I took lots of dim and more or less black slides.

Professional conversion felt too pricey for low quality slides. So one evening I tried to see what could be done at home with my point and shoot digital camera..

Step 1: Materials needed

1-A light or light box. I use an unmounted under-cabinet fluorescent unit. It's my "portable light box" for viewing slides.
2- A piece of aluminum foil big enough to cover the light surface
3- A roll of toilet paper and a roll of paper towels
4- Slides
5- A digital camera
6- tape, scissors, and a knife
7- A piece of black paper - optional

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robbadooz1 year ago

Good for you! Now I am sorry I got rid of all my slides. Boohoo.

mole1 (author)  robbadooz1 year ago

Thanks! Now do I have what it takes to actually get rid of the old slides? Maybe not. Feel virtuous for being decisive, robbadooz!

paqrat1 year ago

I haven't tried this but couldn't you take something like masking tape and tape your toilet paper roll to the camera body? If this worked it would simplify replacing the tp roll and the camera.

mole1 (author)  paqrat1 year ago

That makes sense to me, paqrat. I haven't tried it either, but it seems like a good idea. Thanks!

Ernest121 year ago

The GIMP is as good as photoshop and can be downloaded free. I have used it for years and get the same results as someone using photoshop. Try it you may like it!! Sure saves money.

I was curious so I looked up GIMP Magazine and they have site(of course LoL) But what I found out and want to share is that you can download previous issues for free. I'm thinking the most current issue is #6 and 1-5 are available for download here.


Thank you for the link to GIMP Magazine. Looks like a great source of information and learning opportunities.


I was in Barnes & Noble bookstore they other day and in the computer section of the magazines was a GIMP Magazine. It gave hints and tips on how to use the software and also included a disc with the latest versions for PC, MAC and Linux. I don't recall the exact price but it was under $20. I didn't know this but GIMP can handle RAW photos also. I use Photoshop and have for years, but the price is getting out of my range as a hobby photographer. I've heard a lot of good things about GIMP. I might just give it a try.

mole1 (author)  Ernest121 year ago

Good to know, Ernest12. Thanks!

ned1031 year ago

I have a similar idea that uses a light source and a wood tray that slides in and out to adjust for focal length. (I saw it on another website and am going to make it) I shoot a Canon 7D, the TP/Paper Towel roll won't support the weight of the camera. I really like your idea also. Requires a lot less work to make than mine. What I'm wondering though is, have you tried to photograph a negative with this set up and then reverse the negative image into a positive in the photo editor? I have Negatives in the Thousands range. And Like you said, having a pro service do them is quite pricey.

Thank you for the instructable.

mole1 (author)  ned1031 year ago

Thanks for the word on Gimp magazine, ned103. I didn't know there was one. We've just changed computers and operating systems, and I'm not sure my old Elements will work in Win7. So information about alternatives is very useful.

I have scanned negatives and reversed them in Elements with good results. Haven't tried it yet with this set up. I have some ideas off the top of my head for bulk negatives and will pm you.

ned103 mole11 year ago

I was curious so I looked up GIMP Magazine and they have site(of course LoL) But what I found out and want to share is that you can download previous issues for free. I'm thinking the most current issue is #6 and 1-5 are available for download here.


mole1 (author)  mole11 year ago

I see that my thought has already been made an ible...

Stand to repropduce 35 mm film and slides with digital camera by impcpro

chuckyd1 year ago

How did you get 35mm slides from a 110 camera?

It would be easier in photoshop if your light source were closer to 5000 kelvin, also.

mole1 (author)  chuckyd1 year ago

Good eye, chuckyd! One of the steps above does show a 35mm slide (taken by one of the 'real' photographers in the family) on the light. The slides I took are all square. rene1502 points out that my camera was probably a 126 not a 110... although I know I did have a 110 at some point. I plead total brain blur... I had a several in succession in the '70's.

What kind of light would give me closer to 5000 kelvin? I've almost got a projector (with a stack loader- YAY!) ready to use for digitizing and need a less strong light.

jdevries41 year ago

Instructable Folks: where is the PDF button that I'm paying for (and which is so nice)?

The PDF button has sometimes not shown on some instructables...let them know and they'll fix. This one is now fixed.

Some instructables have the PDF button and some don't......don't know why....

mole1 (author)  jdevries41 year ago

Good question. I'm wondering why Pro doesn't show up anymore. Makes it hard to give a membership to non-pros if there's no way to tell who's who.

Thanks for looking at this ible, jdevries4!

Hello, great post. Several (many, about 20) years ago I bought a RCA film/slide adapter for my camcorder. It was a real bargain. It was listed $99.99 but I paid only $9,99 on a Sears' clearance sale It could be screwed directly to the lenses, just as a very heavy filter. The principle is the same.

After many years I found it could be used on my Fujifilm digital camera, as the lens diameter is the same (52mm). I tried many types of lamps, but daylight is unsurpassed.

I have one advice for users:before taking pictures with this device: fix white balancing on your camera. This will solve many troubles in post-editing.

mole1 (author)  umberto05601 year ago

Thanks for sharing this, umberto0560! I just googled "RCA filmslide adapter" and it looks like they are still available second hand.

Thank you for your replay. i bought it to have a cheap way to make titles on my Video8 movies, but the result was awful. But now it's really useful since I can take a good picture from the slide with better results than any scanner. Fixing the right parameters on my camera helps me to reduce the amount of image manipulations and editing..

cophet1 year ago

I have 10000 slides to digitize that I took in the 60s and 70s when I first came to Europe. I'm retired now and waiting for better,cheaper and faster slide copiers. I have many 6x6 slides from my old Hasselblad but most are 35mm. Good instructable !

mole1 (author)  cophet1 year ago

Thanks, cophet! I keep hoping someone will make an ible for converting projectors, so the process can be mechanized.

rene15021 year ago

Hi mole1,

Bit off topic. Great instructable. Are you sure that your camera was a 110 and not a 126?. 110 slides are much smaller and not perfect square.

mole1 (author)  rene15021 year ago

You know, I'm not sure at all. I remember that the 110 negatives were about the size of a caps lock key. And thinking about it, that's odd, because you are right these slides are square. So it may indeed have been a 126. I have a vague memory of a camera that had cartridges and was very easy to load, but I may be confusing any number of super simple cameras of the time. Thanks for thinking about it, rene1502!

lastles1 year ago
Thanks for this, looks to be just what I need. I have 2 banker's boxes of slides that I cleaned out of my parents' , and like to keep some of them, at least. I'm just unsure about where/how the black paper comes in... What a terrific idea though!
mole1 (author)  lastles1 year ago

Thanks for looking, lasties! The black paper was to reduce the reflection from the slide's light areas. (My first tube had a light gray inner surface.) The black paper isn't required.

Two banker boxes is a LOT of slides! You could do this for some favorites. Then if you decide use a more mechanized method later, with better quality, you could do your favorites again.

lastles mole11 year ago
Thanks! That makes sense. Yes, it is a lot of slides, and I have no idea what most of them are. My mom chucked them in boxes and stuffed the lot in their shed. Both mom and dad died in 2012, so I can't ask them what's there. Fortunately they left a projector too, and I'll choose my favorites. Thanks again.
Abacus121 year ago

Great idea! I have been waiting to discover a cost effective way to this. This is definitely my evening project tonight. I bought a gadget designed for this , but the results were poor at best.

mole1 (author)  Abacus121 year ago

Thank you, Abacus12! Please let me know how it goes.

Tetsuo k1 year ago

I just happened to find a box of old slides that my dad took when I was a small kid, and wanted to digitize them. This is a great idea, but there is no proper light source, so I tried this on a window of my room. It was a little hard to fix things on the vertical window glass but it worked. Thank you!

mole1 (author)  Tetsuo k1 year ago

Great, Tetsuo! I was wondering if that would work, but didn't think there was enough light here to try it. Thanks for running the experiment and sharing your results!

iUSol1 year ago
Hi mole1, great challenge, great DIY solution. However I read about slides and image editors and I assume your device will be helpfull to save photo negatives too, that later, can be successfully edited.
I agree that fluorescent bulbs might not be the best.
Blessings from BCN!
mole1 (author)  iUSol1 year ago

Thanks for looking, iUSol! I haven't tried this method for negatives, but years ago came across some negative strips that had some pictures at the very end of the film that didn't get printed. I scanned them, and 'reversed' the color. They turned out to be pictures of my then deceased father-in-law. It worked great, and mom-in-law was especially pleased.

scrimpo1 year ago

Great idea, going to try it.

mole1 (author)  scrimpo1 year ago

Thanks for looking, scrimpo!

snayl1 year ago

This was brilliant. Wish I had seen your Instructable before I'd purchased my Nikon SF-210 way back when. Of course, that was several years ago, but still, all of your materials were around then too!

mole1 (author)  snayl1 year ago

Thanks, snayl!

I'm gonna try this. Thanks!

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