Why Buy a Slide to Digital Image Converter?
The top performers in our review are the Wolverine F2D Super, the Gold Award winner; the Wolverine SNaP-14, the Silver Award winner; and the Sharper Image Photo, Slide and Negative Converter, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a slide-to-digital converter to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of the 10 converters.
In today's world of easy, smartphone-enabled photography, we've gotten used to having all our photographs in the palms of our hands. Old slides and film negatives don't have a place in that world. They gather dust in attics or basements, memories sealed away and mostly forgotten. That's where slide-to-digital converters – slide scanners, for short – come in.
Slide and negative scanners are small, portable devices that usually operate without being connected to a computer. You use them by placing your old media – slides, film negatives and the like – into a plastic tray that comes with the scanner and insert that tray into the device. Inside, a light illuminates the image, a camera snaps a photo of it and software automatically adjusts the exposure and color balance. Some converters have a small amount of internal storage, but all have external SD card slots that can take expansion cards up to 32GB in size, which is more than enough to save every slide and negative in your garage and easily port them over to your computer or phone.
Slide Converters: What We Evaluated, What We Found
A quality slide scanner should be compatible with a wide variety of slide and negative sizes, have a high output resolution, and offer easy portability. As we evaluated the 10 most prominent slide-to-digital image converters on the market, we asked these three questions: What types of slides and negatives does it accept? How crisp are the pictures it converts? And is the converter light usable anywhere, without being tethered to a computer?
Compatibility: Looking Beyond 35mm
Every slide and negative scanner can, at the very least, convert 35mm slides and film. What sets each apart is what other media it can convert. Some have small, flatbed scanners you can use to convert photos, while others accept a variety of slide and negative sizes, such as 126, 110 and even Super 8 film.
In our evaluations, we favored scanners that can convert a wide variety of slides to digital format and those that accept large, 5 x 7-inch photographs because they are more likely to fit whatever needs you have. If at all possible, though, you should check your slide collection and see what format your slides and negatives were taken in before picking a converter.
Resolution: The Bigger, the Better
Output resolution is a measurement, in megapixels, of how big your photos are after they are converted to digital format. The more pixels in a photo, the bigger the photo and the more space there is to capture tiny details from the original slide.
Greater resolution also gives image editing programs more data to work with, in turn making it easy to digitally remove dust and scratches. We gave additional props to scanners that have high capture resolutions. If they feature built-in, automated dust and scratch removal, so much the better.
Portability: Standalone Conversion
Thankfully, most slide converters don't need to be plugged into a computer while they're transferring your old media to digital space. Easy portability also means being able to use a converter without having to buy an expansion card. A handful offer built-in storage, and while it's not much – 20 megabytes will only hold one to two dozen photos – it's enough to let you convert a few attic-bound slides into photos without having to drag the entire box into the living room. When ranking scanners, we ranked those that offer internal storage above those that don't.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our evaluation methodology, nor was that methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Which Scanner is Best For You?
For most people looking to convert their slides and negatives to digital, the Wolverine F2D Super should prove more than capable. While the device can't scan photos, it can handle more types of slides and negatives than any other converter we reviewed, including Super 8 film. At 20 megapixels, it has the highest output resolution of any scanner we evaluated, and it offers more internal storage than any other device.
If you only have 35mm film or slides but also want to scan your printed photo collection, we recommend the Wolverine SNaP-14. While this device doesn't support less common slide and film formats like 110 or 126, it has a flatbed scanner on top, capable of converting photographs up to 5 x 7 inches. Its 14-megapixel resolution and 14MB internal storage are both second only to the F2D Super.
Your cherished collections of memories needn't be forgotten in storage, and finding the right converter can make all the difference. Figure out what sizes your old slides and negatives are, read our articles on slide to digital converters if you're struggling to make up your mind, and you'll have your entire library of family history safely online in no time.