Copy Your Old Slides the Easy Way!




Introduction: Copy Your Old Slides the Easy Way!

About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

I have many slides from years ago and have enjoyed viewing them from time to time. But I always came away wishing I had them on disc, a CD, Flash Drive, or whatever so that I could see them more often. In those days, slides were much cheaper than prints, so I took a lot of them. Checking on line for transfer services, I found that they seemed pretty expensive, and wanting to be frugal, I worked out a way to do the transfers myself. I have a scanner but don't have the slide attachment for it, and it seemed when I did use the scanner, it took a very long time. This instructable solves that problem as well, as the copying goes quite rapidly.

Step 1: Items/Supplies Needed

First, a slide projector. I have one that I have had for years, so cost was nil. Next, a diffuser element, which for me is a sheet of white acrylic. It came off of a light box I use, so no cost here, either. I tried to get by with using plain white paper, but paper has fibers in it and gives a definite pattern to the projections. We need a holder for the diffuser, in this case simply a piece of two by four with a groove cut in it. I did this on the table saw, which makes it very easy to do. Two small clamps to hold a piece of wood which is the slide holder. A black piece of paper is cut to accommodate the slide being copied, and prevents light reflecting back and forth and affecting your shot. A tripod, and a camera.

Step 2: Place Diffuser in Place.

This is determined by trial and error. I mounted the plastic in the two by four, and just moved it back and forth until I found a light pattern that was satisfactory.

Step 3: Add Black Paper

Again, this is determined by trial and error. Just position the hole in the best fit position so that you get a square of light for the projection.

Step 4: An Alternate Mount for Greater Simplicity

I wanted to make the slide holder/mount simpler, so came up with the pictured solution. Everyone doesn't have acrylic sheets lying around, but should have some small pieces of white plastic, or vellum paper. The small piece of glass is cut from an old picture frame no longer in use. Updated Oct. 2, 2009.

Step 5: Align Camera on Tripod.

See the picture for proper alignment. The tripod is adjustable, of course, so it is an easy matter to line the camera up with the projected image. I set the camera to super macro, and from there, the focus is taken over by the camera.

Step 6: On Crossbar Slide Holder, Mark Slide Position

Self explanatory, I did this so as to be able to positon each slide without undue manuvering.

Step 7: Start Copying Slides!

I got satisfactory results using this method after having worked out the little kinks in the procedure. I probably copied about 100 slides in a short period of time. And the best part is I saved the money and the time and effort of shipping and waiting for a service.

Step 8: Gallery

Enjoy the slides from yesteryear!

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    60 Discussions


    2 years ago

    creativeman has done a nice job here. He was fortunate in having a camera that would do a full frame on the slide. I did the same thing several years ago, and ended up buying a digital SLR that would take my old film camera bellows. Fortunately, a 5 mp camera is adequate to capture the resolution of a 24x36 slide so an inexpensive Pentax *ist did the job.

    Other variations were a) I used a flash unit for light, but had to add an AC power supply to get the recycle time down, b) used an opal glass (from an old enlarger) for a diffuser, and c) built the whole thing on 1 length of 2x4 so stuff wouldn't move around. Worked well but focusing is tricky as slides vary.

    One lesson learned - you can't make a good copy from a poor slide.

    Very good idea, I'll try it , Wonder, how long it would take to do 8000 slides? did you do a rate per minute?

    2 replies

    If you figured 10seconds per slide, you would have about 22 hrs. of copying...if you could do it in 5 sec. it would be 11hrs. For that many slides, I would definitely try to automate the slide changing part...also your camera timing has a lot to do with it as well. Good luck, let us know what you do! Cman

    I realize the thread here is five years old. But hey, it never hurt to ask a question. I'm trying to figure out how to automate an old view master projector for an art installation. I wan the reel to move without anyone having to press the lever/button down to move the reel to he next image. Same thing with a Sawyer Rotodisc projector. If I can find someone who knows how to create this kind of switch mechanism, I'd be super glad. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    This idea came to me in my sleep last night. I knew one of you bastards would have beat me to it. Outstanding work. Outstanding. God, I love this site!

    Great ! We have a lot of slides that nobody can scan, they are too big (old 120). What an ingenious setup while costing almost nothing. We have the projector, the camera, just missing the white plastic sheet. Thanks for sharing your ideas and helping us to save money. The cherry on the top? The quality we get with this setup. Thanks, thanks, thanks!

    We have a box of slides taken throughout my childhood but no good way to view them. This looks teriffic Cman, brilliantly simple.
    I'm spending this Easter with my Mum (only next week now) so will rummage through the attic while I'm there. She will love to have all those images on a cd.   Really looking forward to this project!!.
    Thaks so much

    1 reply

    Thanks B'on...It's always a treat when you know you've helped someone else find a solution to a simple problem. Good luck. Cman

    I have the slide frame for my Epson 4490 but have not done anything with it because the Tiiiiiiiime involved in scanning.
    BTW - Have you tried projecting the slides and photographing them off the screen??  You could use the slide trays and really speed up the copy process.
    Keep Inventing,

    2 replies

    Projecting the slides onto a screen and photographing the screen gives a much worse quality that photographing the back-lighted slide.
    When you project the slide, you are looking at a second generation image, a copy of the original slide and there is a loose of light because you are seeing the reflection of the light beams in the screen. Also, you can't exactly centre the camera to take an undistorted image because the exact centre viewpoint is taken by the projector itself.

    When you use the method described here, you are taking a photo directly from the original slide so you obtain a second generation copy, not third and this is as best as you can get with ANY method.

    Essentially, you are doing the same a slide scanner does except you are taking the whole image at once instead of line by line with the scanning head (and this is why the scanner has much higher resolution).

    If you set your "scanning studio" right and use a good digital camera, you can match the quality of a home or office slide scanner.

    Also, if your camera has a remote controller (be it a cabled one or, much better, an infra-red or radio one), use it since this will avoid any vibration in the image from the action of the finger on the shutter button. All semi-professional and up SLR cameras have an input for a remote controller or can be controlled from the USB port. Many consumer cameras have an infra-red controller.

    Thanks for the input. I have not tried your idea, and am curious as to how that quality would work....will look into it. Cman

    The pictures that you posted are 500X374 pixels. I assume your camera shoots higher resolution than that. I am curious to see the quality at a higher resolution. Maybe 1600X1200pixels?

    If you click the "i" in the upper left corner of any picture on Instructables, you can see all the different size options available including the original 2288x1712. For obvious reasons, that's not the default display on an Instructable. ;)

    Different size options available to do what with? Is it just to change the resolution for downloading? Sizes on screen cannot be changed by either the author or the viewer, correct? Why are there different options? Thanks. Cman