Scanning 35mm Slides to Digital: Do It Yourself Vs Using a Scanning Service

By Valerie Goettsch

Scanning 35mm slides is not typically at the top of our to-do-list, but it should be. Most of us have some, perhaps even thousands, of old 35mm slides tucked away in our attic, garage or closet. Slides were once a very popular means of taking and sharing photos. I remember enjoying slide shows of family vacations to Yosemite and Grand Teton when I was a child; those big screens and slide carousels were the original way of photo sharing.

But now for many of us, those slides lie long-forgotten, gathering dust, fading away and perhaps even getting moldy. The environment they are in can be very detrimental; humidity, heat and light will eventually take their toll. Over time, slides can darken and take on a blue tint or fade and take on a pink or red hue. Not very attractive, and it will only get worse. But by scanning 35mm slides, negatives and prints, you can give them new life, preserve them forever and share your old family photos with a new generation.

35mm Slide Scanning At Home

So we know we should be scanning 35mm slides if we want to preserve them, but should we do it at home or use a service? If you have even 500 slides and want to do it right, you need the right equipment, and that means buying a scanner. A high quality flatbed scanner is about $200. A professional quality scanner such as the Nikon Coolscan 5000ED will set you back about $1500. Ouch! And what if your slides have already faded or color-shifted to pinkish or blue tones, or they have scratches? Then you need to color-correct each slide using software such as Photoshop. So now you have to invest additional money for photo software (Photoshop runs about $600) plus have the skill to use it, not to mention the time - about 40 very boring hours - and tedium involved.

Benefits of Using a Slide Scanning Service

A much easier option, one that actually will save you money and hours of mind-numbing scanning and repairing, is to use a slide scanning service. In addition to scanning 35mm slides to digital, they will also scan negatives and prints. Most companies will scan 35mm, 2.5, 127, 126 and even 110 small format slides and take them in carousels, sleeves or boxes. You just have to box up your slides and photos and send them in. The best part is they will clean your slides and photos of any dust and remove scratches and minor blemishes. Once they've converted the 35mm slides and images to digital, they will even do things like cropping, red-eye removal and make color corrections, getting your pictures as close to the original state as possible. Just imagine, those old photos of your mother or grandmother in her pink poodle skirt will have renewed color and vibrancy!

Get Your Photos on DVD to Share

Once the scanning of your 35mm slides is completed your original slides will be returned to you along with a DVD(s) of your newly digitized photos. And then the fun begins. Aside from the pleasure of de-cluttering your closet or garage, you can easily sort and date them, send out DVDs of your photos to family and friends, create photo books and family histories, and upload them to online photo sharing sites. Scanning 35mm slides to digital ensures they will be preserved for years to come and you won't have to worry about them getting dusty, fading or even lost or damaged due to fire, flood or some other disaster. And who wouldn't love to reminisce about those days of poodle skirts, crew cuts and Elvis. Valerie Goettsch is webmaster of Digital Photos 101 a resource for photo enthusiasts with reviews of digital cameras and the latest photo services and software. Click here more information on scanning 35mm slides to digital

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