Help & Support
Best Slide to Digital Image Converters
How Can a Slide to Digital Image Converter Help You?
We spent more than 30 hours testing 12 slide to digital image converters in our lab with a variety of film, slides and print sizes and found the best tool for updating outdated film mediums is the Wolverine Titan. The Titan is compatible with most common film negatives, slides and prints of different sizes and anyone can use it, as it has the largest display screen of any converter on the market for easy image preview.
The Wolverine F2D Mighty has a 20MP output resolution, which can produce detailed digital copies of your old Super 8 film, 35 mm film and slides. This high-resolution scanner is also incredibly easy to use.
The less-expensive ION Film 2 SD Plus is a good budget option. It has a slightly lower output resolution (14MP) than the Wolverine F2D Mighty, but it can digitize more film types than other machines in the same price range.
Slide to Digital Image Converters: How We Tested and What We Found
Every slide to digital converter can convert 35 mm film to a digital format, so we specifically looked for slide scanners that also work with other types of media, including 126 slides, Super 8 film and physical prints. When choosing a converter, it’s best to start with a good idea of the kinds of media you want to digitize.
The best slide to digital image converters come with a plastic frame to hold the film and keep it flat. High-quality plastic frames should allow you to gently maneuver film or slides without bending, damaging or smudging them.
The output resolution of a slide to digital image converter indicates how clear the digital images will be in megapixels (MP.) A larger output resolution will mean a clearer and more detailed digitized image. This also means you can enlarge the image while still retaining quality, and higher-resolution images can be easier to edit.
Keep in mind that these converters can’t make a low-quality image suddenly clearer. If you have a fuzzy old photo, you won’t end up with a high-resolution image. A small, low-resolution film will not necessarily look better digitized, nor will it hold up if you’re hoping to blow it up to an enormous size. The software within these machines can’t work that level of miracle. Given this, we mildly favored converters that claim a 32GB output resolution, but we didn’t heavily penalize those that don’t in our rankings.
What you can expect are slight improvements thanks to the image-editing options built into these devices. Many include exposure and color balance options, which let you brighten a dark image or adjust the coloring. Some scanners include a companion CD with even more image editing software compatible with both PC and Mac. Even with the accompanying disc, none of the converters have extensive editing abilities, especially compared to powerhouse programs like Adobe Photoshop. All you can really do is slightly brighten or darken a photo, or tweak the red-blue-green composition.
Most of the converters we reviewed are capable of standalone operation and don’t need to be connected to a computer to function. Some units also have rechargeable batteries so you’re not tethered to an outlet.
Most models let you save images to an SD card to view on a compatible device, and many also have aa TV-out jack so you can display images on your TV. If you don’t need to see a large, high-definition version of your images, any unit with an on-board screen will let you preview all the images that you’ve saved.
Slide scanners generally fall under one of two builds: a small unit about the size of a grapefruit meant solely for slides and negatives, or a larger unit roughly twice as big and capable of handling slides, negatives and multiple sizes of physical prints. No unit weighs more than 5 pounds, so they’re easy to move around.
Most converters require an SD card to work, so the best models include a card in the package. Some devices are also accompanied by the necessary cables and a user manual. We found converters with cables and ports located in the rear of the device are easiest to use because they keep the wires out of your way. We also favored devices with SD card ports located on or near the front of the device for easy accessibility.
Models with built-in color screens give you a preview of your images before and after converting. Most measure around 2.5 inches, so while they give you an idea of how your photos will look once converted, the preview is small. Screens that were angled upward slightly were easier to view on a table than those that faced forward.
In addition to displaying an image preview, some screens let you select a format, adjust color and exposure, or view all the images you’ve converted so far. Most of the devices we tested have similar menus with the same set of choices, though a few, like the Sharper Image Slide & Negative Converter, are particularly easy to navigate.
Standalone vs. Computer-Dependent Converters
There are two main types of digital converters – ones with standalone functionality and ones that must be connected to a computer to work. Standalone converters are the smaller of the two and have small display screens built into them, which you can use to preview and edit your images or navigate the menu to find other settings. This style of converter is easy to move around and won’t take up much space when in storage.
The other option is converters that require a hard connection to a computer to run. These converters are much larger than standalone converters and are most commonly flat-bed scanners. They do not have a built-in screen and their bulky design makes them somewhat difficult to move around, so we recommend leaving them out on your desk.
Help & Support
For the most part, these devices are designed to be user-friendly, with simple interfaces and handy user manuals that come in the box. Manufacturers also provide you with multiple resources to troubleshoot problems or show you how to use a certain feature. Most companies also host informational resources on their websites, like video tutorials, user manuals, a FAQs section or even a community user forum. Company websites also give you at least one way to contact customer service should you ever need to talk to them.
With these converters, your cherished collections of memories needn’t spend a dust-covered eternity in the attic. The right machine will preserve your memories so you can easily view and share them whenever you want.
Cleaning Your Media Before Scanning It
For many people, their old slides, negatives and printed photos are stored in a closet, basement or attic, where they are susceptible to dust, mold, water damage or even fire. As a result, these slides can be coated in grime and particles that make it difficult for a slide to digital image converter to do its job. If you digitize your classic media without first cleaning it, any gunk on them will also appear in the converted image.
Few slide to digital image converters have a built-in scratch removal feature, or come with basic photo editing software, so it’s important to try and remove as much debris as possible from each of your slides or negatives beforehand. All the converters in our comparison do come with simple soft brushes for your media, which generally do a good job of removing most debris. However, you can also try using a soft cloth, compressed air or anything else along those lines.
Even after using a brush or cloth, you may still see imperfections in your newly digitized photos. If that is the case, Photoshop or another photo editing software may remove unwanted scratches or dirt or revitalize color. You can also trust your classic media to a professional conversion service, which we’ll talk about in the next section.
Using Photo Editing Software to Touch Up Your Converted Photos
Once you’ve digitized your old photos, you still may want to touch them up a bit before saving or sharing them. And although many of the slide to digital image converters in our comparison have basic exposure and color adjustment options built into them, those basic options may not be enough. Some of the converters come with a CD containing simple photo editing software whose tools and capabilities are more than sufficient for the majority of users.
However, for users who want to polish their digitized image collection beyond what these converters can offer, we recommend using Adobe Photoshop or a comparable program after digitizing your files to get the best results. With this type of program, you have much more control over colorization, exposure and spot correction, as well as other tools to edit and enhance your cherished memories. Those experienced in using these kinds of applications can even perform much more advanced edits, such as removing unsightly background objects in the photo, as well as spots and other blemishes.
If your images need extensive editing and you don’t own or know how to use photo editing software, there are a variety of services online that you can use. Typically, these services can clean up your images and even apply artistic touches if desired. You can find a professional service or find a willing freelancer through a site like Fiverr.
Best Ways to Store & Share Your Digitized Photos
Once you get your classic media all polished and converted, you’ll need somewhere to store your digital photos. It’s also good practice to make a copy of your photos as a backup. Most slide to digital image converters initially save your digitized photos to an SD card, and from there you can transfer them to a computer. Keeping them on your computer works well enough, but we recommend storing them on an external hard drive in case your computer crashes. You can also display a few of your favorite images on a digital photo frame.
There is also the option to store your digitized images online. If you’re already a dedicated Google or Apple customer, both companies have photo storage services. You can also opt for a generic cloud service like Flickr, Photobucket or Dropbox, among others. These services provide low-cost or free hosting.
You can also store your images on social media. Sites like Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest are designed to showcase photos over other types of media and are free to use. There are also social media sites dedicated to photographers – Behance and 500px (pixels), for example. Or if you’re wanting to have a digital portfolio, you can create a website that can host your images for little to no cost through sites like Squarespace or Wix.