Between my amateur shutterbug dad and professional photographer father-in-law, we’ve got a mountain of 35mm slides in our lives. To view them, the process is semi-arduous: First, we have sift through them to find the right ones, then set up a projector and screen, next properly put the slides in the carousel slots (hello, upside-down Grandma!), and, lastly, hope that the bulb isn’t blown.
As pleasantly nostalgic as it is to hear the whirring fan and smell the burning hot dust coming off the projector, it’s simply not a convenient way to show off family photos. The least costly solution is to digitize your slides so you can print and email images—not to mention launch effortless slideshows from your computer.
Here are three top-of-the-line slide-converting scanners that will turn all your oldest memories into easy-to-enjoy digital files in no time.
Pros: You get a compact, lightweight 35mm slide and negative scanner that connects to your PC via a USB 2.0 port. At the press of one button, it creates high resolution (five megapixels) images in seconds. The included software offers user-friendly features with automatic settings such as exposure, color balance, and a fixed focus range. The software also allows you to remove red-eye, crop images, and make other simple (and flattering) edits. Choose to scan images as a “jpg” (lower file size) or “tiff” (more information in the file).
Cons: Not Mac compatible. Since it does not come with any memory, you’ll need that extra room on your PC—at least 128 MB RAM and 50MB disk space.
Wolverine F2D200 Scanner, $129.99
Pros: This cute red standalone device doesn’t require a computer—or much desk space either. This small, lightweight box (14 ounces) is completely portable and can operate via an AC outlet or any USB port (PC or Mac). The 2.4-inch color LCD screen allows you to view the scans as they transform into high-quality, five-megapixel images within five seconds.
Cons: The built-in memory doesn’t hold much (25 slides at a time). You’ll need to purchase extra memory cards or transfer the files to a computer or external hard drive. At $10 each, a 2GB card is the max storage size you can buy. Nowadays, that’s very little space and, therefore, may not be cost-efficient. Also, images are only converted to “jpeg” (“tiff” isn’t an option).
Pros: Epson scanners and printers are extremely durable and eco-friendly. Its recyclable design is energy-efficient and mercury-free. It scans 35mm slides, negatives, medium-format film, plus regular prints and documents of up to 8.5-inches-by-11.7-inches. The provided software comes with Digital ICE, which automatically removes dust and scratches from your scans—perfect if you’ve been storing these items in less-than-optimum conditions, like a dusty attic.
Cons: As a “flatbed scanner,” it is not portable, and will take up a considerable amount of room on your desk (19-inches tall, 11-inches wide and 5-inches deep). You’ll need lots of room on your computer, too. The software requires a minimum of 350MB of available hard drive space, and 1GB of free hard disk space for Digital ICE.
WANT A PRO TO SCAN SLIDES FOR YOU?
Consider sending your slides and negatives to DigMyPics.com.
Pros: It doesn’t get any easier than simply dropping off your stuff at the post office. Conversion starts at $0.39 cents each, so you decide how much you want to spend. Using topnotch technology, this US-based company offers a fast turnaround (10 to 12 business days on average), a mini album of the images scanned to “tiff” format on each CD, and a consumer-friendly guarantee. If you’re unsatisfied with their work, they won’t charge you for up to 35 percent of the scanned slides.
Cons: Mailing your precious memories is risky. Though unlikely, the fact is they could get lost in transit. Also, this service offers several tempting extra features, like making a DVD movie with sound and fade, which can add up especially if you’re converting a ton of slides (1,000 will cost $390 excluding shipping fees).
About Our Expert: With 20 years as an editor, director and producer of photography for magazines and newspapers, Amelia Hennighausen has been immersed in the change from film to digital from the beginning. Also, as a professor of photojournalism at New York’s Fordham University, she’s made it her job to keep on top of the latest developments in technology and to stay current with the most recent trends.
[Photograph of slide carousel by Alex Palomino]