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Best Ways to Digitize Your Old Slides

From weddings to family vacations, your treasured memories remain locked in slide form, but you probably haven't used your projector in ages. Fortunately, you can digitize slides, which converts the images into digital photos. Here are five different ways to digitize your slides. Choose the method that works best for your experience level and technology preferences.

Convert Using a Slide Copier

If you own a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, consider digitizing slides using a slide copier or duplicator. Sometimes called dupers, these devices fit on the front of your camera and allow you to take a high-resolution photograph of each slide. It's best to shoot in RAW format rather than JPG to give yourself maximum control over the final image in post-production.

Scan Your Slides on a Flatbed Scanner

The scanner you use to digitize documents and photographs can also transfer your slides into digital images. This method produces only medium-quality images because the small size of slides creates images of lower resolution. This method allows you to convert slides to photos without purchasing any other equipment, though.

Employ a Digital Image Converter

For images of the highest quality, use a digital image converter to transfer slides to digital photographs. These specialized scanners take photographs of your slides with high-resolution cameras and allow you to work through boxes of slides in much less time than you would have to spend using other methods.

The best digital image converters, such as the Wolverine Snap-14, convert a single slide in three seconds or less and allow you to fine tune your images on the machine. For example, you might need to brighten the final images or apply minor color corrections.

Photograph Your Slides

If you own a slide projector, you might digitize your slides by taking photographs of the projected images. Use a matte white backdrop and a high-resolution camera. Make sure you stand directly in front of the projection of the slide (but behind the projector) and keep your camera level. Whenever possible, use a tripod to ensure maximum image stabilization.

Alternatively, you can use a macro lens to take a close-up photograph of your backlit slide. Put your slide on a surface that emits light, such as a flatbed scanner or a tablet, then focus as closely as possible with your camera. A macro lens allows you to focus more closely, which results in higher resolutions because you don't have to crop as much of the final image.

Hire a Professional

Duplication houses and photo finishers often offer slide duplication for a fee. You drop off your boxes of slides and they perform all the heavy lifting. They return your slides as well as a DVD or other medium containing your digitized images. While this strategy might result in high-quality images, it can also cost considerable cash. To save money, consider converting most of your images with a slide to digital image converter, then save the professional route for your best or favorite slides.

Converting your slides to digital images allows you to enjoy them more fully with modern technology. Then you can post them on social media, email them to friends or print them to display in your home.