Slide Digitizing - Super Low Tech

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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.



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    82 Discussions

    0
    webbsk8r
    webbsk8r

    2 months ago

    I used to use slide film early on but have since gone digital but have a bunch of slides of my own and a ton that I inherited from my dad. But my technique is to use my old GAF projector and slide carousels holding 100 slides each along with my trusty Nikon and tripod to project the slides on a white board, photograph each one using a hand held remote for the camera and projector and edit them on my Mac computer using a fast image editor called PhotoScape X that is free. I can go through a single carousel in about 5-10 minutes. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers who have never seen some of my Dad's slides so I am making slideshow DVDs to share with each of them with slides unique to each sibling and our family in general. So far, I have photographed about 600 slides and have more to do but it is a labor of love to say the least . . and very tiring!!!

    0
    robbadooz
    robbadooz

    6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    mole1
    mole1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    paqrat
    paqrat

    6 years ago on Step 7

    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.

    0
    mole1
    mole1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    IdahoErnest
    IdahoErnest

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    ned103
    ned103

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    http://gimpmagazine.org/issues/

    0
    IdahoErnest
    IdahoErnest

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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

    Ernest

    0
    ned103
    ned103

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    mole1
    mole1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Good to know, Ernest12. Thanks!

    0
    ned103
    ned103

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    mole1
    mole1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    ned103
    ned103

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    http://gimpmagazine.org/issues/

    0
    mole1
    mole1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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

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

    0
    chuckyd
    chuckyd

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    mole1
    mole1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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

    0
    bricabracwizard
    bricabracwizard

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    bricabracwizard
    bricabracwizard

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    mole1
    mole1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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!