108 Winter St

Saugus MA 01906


Nikon SF-210 Feeder & Slides

Slide Scanning Tips - Cleaning 35MM Slides

In addition to providing a service for digitizing your transparency film I've created this page to help the do-it-yourself crowd.

Scanners for Slides

Beware of inexpensive (~$100)  slide and negative film copy machines, heavily advertised on the internet.  Many are not scanners at all and make very low quality digital versions of your film. On of my customers borrowed one of these machines from a friend. He quickly gave it back after seeing the poor quality and then sent his Fuji slide film to me for conversion to digital.

There are many good scanners on the market today which will scan film. Some do a better job than others.

Unfortunately one of the best desktop film scanners, the Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED, was only produced for a short time and is no longer available.

Many of the currently available "flatbed" scanners have the capability to scan film.  This often employs a light built into the hood of the scanner.  Although flatbed scanners do a reasonably good job, they are usually quite slow and most will only scan a few slides at a time.

Copying Slides with a Digital Camera

Another very fast way of digitizing 35MM slides is to photograph them using a digital camera.  A specialized film holder and macro focusing lens may be needed. This slide copy method is fast but image quality will likely not be as good as as output from a dedicated film scanner, especially since fine debris on the film will show.

Cleaning Mounted 35MM Slides

35MM film left unprotected will often have fine debris and fibers on the film. Loose debris can be removed using compressed air.  Heavier layers of debris can be loosened with a soft clean brush before using compressed air. Compressed air for cleaning film should be moisture free.  Air pressure should be at 60PSI or lower to reduce the risk of loosening slide mounts

To speed the process cleaning slides with compressed air I put about 40 slides in plastic boxes like the ones shown in the photo above.   I hold a finger over the top or the box so the slides won't fly.  I leave some space in the box to allow movement and keep my finger slightly above the box so air can get around and underneath each slide. I buy my slide handling boxes in bulk from Jron Corp. Notice I did not call them slide storage boxes as they are not meant for archival storage. Archival storage boxes are available for film in the standard 2" square slide mount.

I have not attempted to clean water damaged slides or transparency film with fungus.  Kodachrome film emulsion is especially  susceptible to the growth of fungus. If your film smells like mold or mildew, chances are some has grown on the film itself.

Sorting Slides Before Scanning

If you have a large slides to digital project, there can be advantages to separating your film into different groups prior to starting the project.  Many film scanners have a special setting for Kodachrome.  The unique properties of Kodachrome emulsion can cause problems with some scanner output.

Sorting your slides by film type and by format can make your project go smoother.