Introduction: 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

Step 2: Cut Enough Foil to Cover the Light

Unless you are comfortable looking into a light, cover the light surface with foil - plan to leave the air vents uncovered.

Step 3: Mark and Cut a Hole Slightly Larger Than the Film Area of the Slide.

Where you put this on your light depends on the shape of your light.   I put mine near the edge because that is the flattest place on my light.

Step 4: Tape the Foil to the Light Frame

DON'T cover any air vents.

Step 5: Mark the Correct Slide Placement Over the Hole.

Place a slide on the foil so the image is completely over the light.  Putting  tape around the exact placement of  the slide makes positioning them much faster. 

Step 6: Put It All Together

Turn on your light source
Put your slide over it
Put your TP roll over tthe slide so you can see the image in the tube
Put your camera into the tube and see what kind of an image you have.   

This is where you play with focus or any other settings on your camera.   My camera has normal, close up and super close up settings. I use super close up  while in the portrait setting

Depending on your camera, the TP roll may be too short for your focus.  If it is, you need to cut a roll of paper towels to fit instead.  Starting with the TP, figure out how much more height you need to focus.  (you can put paperback books under the TP to try out different heights.)  You probably won't need more than another inch or two. 

Cut the paper towels to the length of the TP PLUS whatever additional height you need.  To cut the paper towels use a carving knife and long slicing strokes. Turn the roll  as you cut toward the tube and finally through it..  Brush off any crumbs

Step 7: Start Shooting.

 By pressing the camera against the roll the camera is held steady.  Now it's just a matter of picking up the roll, replacing the slide, putting the roll and camera back and shooting again.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Digitized Slides

I admit that the results are unlikely to be ART quality images.  But the goal here is to convert ordinary snapshots into digital files.  Now I can  improve the jpg's with Photoshop,  use them as screen savers or whatever, and easily enjoy  them anywhere.