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Thread: Digitising 35mm slides - a whizzer wheeze

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    jonoslack's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    East Anglia & Cornwall (UK)
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    Digitising 35mm slides - a whizzer wheeze

    Hi There
    This one is actually from Kevin Miller in Paris, (so, thank you!).
    Many of us will have struggled with the concept of digitising a large number of slides - I've given up on a number of occasions.

    This makes things much much simpler:
    1. if you haven't already got one - beg, borrow or steel a carousel projected
    2. load slides
    3. set up camera on tripod as near to the projector as possible
    4. do slide show
    5. take pictures of good slides (and note the number)

    You'll find that the images are good enough for most purposes, but of course if you want a proper scan you can just do those slides.

    Apart from the fact that it saves huge amounts of time - it's also a fairly pleasant experience.

    Hooray (and thank you to Kevin).

    all the best

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Member kevinparis's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
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    Re: Digitising 35mm slides - a whizzer wheeze

    Thanks Jono… I hadn't spotted your post…..

    Its a common dilemma …. the boxes full of slides…maybe your own.. or more likely your parents. you know that there are images in there.. maybe images with more sentimental than artistic value.. the question is how to unlock them.

    We will all have tried the scanning route.. its slow and painful and ultimately soul destroying.

    my road to damascus moment came one evening in Maui… and involved a bottle of red wine, a flashgun, a macro lens and the discovery of Stirling Moss.

    We were visiting Cams father. We had discovered that he used to race sports cars in the 50's in California. He had dug out some old slides - taken we think with a Nikon rangefinder. Unfortunately when after dinner we decided to look at these slides, the little ancient slide viewer refused to work.

    As we were about to give up on the idea I had a literal flash of inspiration. Grabbing Cams Olympus E-1, the new ZD 50mm macro I had just bought, along with a flashgun and a wireless trigger, I laid them out on the table.

    The flash was set up facing the camera, a bit of kitchen towel acting as a diffuser. Focussing the Macro lens at its closest, I literally held the slide in front of the lens and fired the shutter. After a bit of fiddling with the exposure, I quickly snapped about 50 slides in less than half an hour.

    Dropped the images into Aperture, and we were all soon looking at the pictures on the laptop. Because they were now on the laptop, we could now take the images with us back to LA to show her mum.

    Wind on to this summer, where I was spending a lot of time in Scotland due to my fathers terminal illness. As a way of passing the time I decided to tackle the boxes of several thousand slides in the attic.

    For this I would need a more industrial approach.

    I found the carousel projector and set it up on a table. I found a piece of ground glass in one of those things you use to transfer old movies to video, and set that up in front of the projector and focussed on that.. I then set up the E-P1 on the table with the macro lens and focussed on the ground glass screen. The live view was great for nailing focus.
    After a few tests of proof of concept, I then built a couple of rigs, using a german meccano like construction kit… also found in the attic, to hold the ground glass screen and the camera in position.

    A shutter release for the E-P1 was the next stage.

    With all that in place I was good to go… I placed the first carousel in the projector, focussed and fired away. 80 slides in about 10 minutes. Unfortunately the gearwheel that turns the carousel disintegrated… so I was left hand feeding the slides… which in retrospect was a blessing as it was much quicker.. I could easily feed 250-300 slides in half an hour.

    It didn't matter that they were upside-down or back to front - I just made sure they were dropped in in landscape orientation, Everything else could be fixed in Aperture

    I had a mix of half frame and full frame slides - and that did require a little bit of adjustment.

    The results - while probably not suitable for exhibition quality prints, at least unlocked the images from their tiny cardboard frames and allowed everybody to look at them, and to sort out the memorable images from the forgettable ones.

    Someone with more patience than me could probably come up with a more precise methodology… but it worked for me and I now have 5000 slides in an Aperture library that I can sort, correct, keyword and share with the family or on the web

    And of course if I do discover some hidden gems I can always go back and scan them properly



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