How to Digitize Your Negatives and Slides?
You know that box of pictures on the top shelf in the back of the closet, that one that has the old prints on the top, and on the bottom are the sleeves of negatives? Or perhaps you have a tub in the attic with boxes of color slides from trips and reunions and events?
Today, of course, we are digital people, and, when we take photos, they often get uploaded immediately to cloud storage from which we then select the precious ones for social media.
Still, there are those old negatives and slides hidden away. We know they are precious bits of history, unrepeatable moments of past times. We can convert slides to digital so they could be easily viewed and stored for posterity. This is probably a good time to launch into that project.
SLIDES AND NEGATIVES SCANNING ENSURES PROTECTION FOR DECADES TO COME
Before you get started, spend some time holding the images up to the light to get an idea of what’s on them. Perhaps they are already labeled in some way, so you know the dates, locations, and perhaps the individuals that will be in the images.
As you go through them, you’ll be sorting the slides and negatives into groups (cataloging them). Consider four possible groups:
- Discard: Some cat pictures are cute but, really, how many photos do you need of Felix sleeping on the sofa?
- Archive: This group is for images that you aren’t interested in spending the time and money to digitize but, in that they are irreplaceable, they should be saved.
- I’m not sure: With some images, you can’t tell from a negative or a slide even when projected exactly what you’re seeing. If the time and money are available, these should be digitized just to see what treasures await.
- Digitize: These are the images you know you want to convert digitally, enjoy, share, and save.
Browse Our Other Content Related to Photo Scanning:
- Photo Scanning Services – Digitize Pictures
- Aperture Card Scanning
- Film Digitizing Services for NDT X-rays
- Microfiche & Microfilm Scanning – Digitizing Services
- NDT X-Ray Film Scanning
- Slide & Negative Scanning Services
Possible Methods of Digitizing Slides and Negatives
Several possible methods are available for those who want to convert negatives and slides to digital images. As we go through these, we’ll try to point out the major pros and cons of each.
We should also note that we are not differentiating greatly between slides and negatives because most software applications that deal with images will have an “invert” option that allows negatives, either black-and-white or color, to be turned into positives. For this reason, the basic hardware and software for both negatives and slides are essentially identical.
This is the least expensive method of converting slides and negatives into digital images. Many of us already have all-in-one printers that actually have flatbed scanners built into them.
- Workable scanners can cost less than $40
- Application software often allows for image quality to be increased up to 2400 DPI
- Must be backlit; there is an online workaround for this involving a Jerry-rigged cardboard piece that works like a backlight
- Getting an acceptable image often involves the use of Photoshop or other image enhancing software
- Best use requires a specially designed sleeve for negatives and slides
- Tedious; even if multiple images are scanned at once, each must be dealt with individually
Slide Scanner/Digital Image Converter
A slide scanner/digital image converter is a specialized piece of equipment intended to take individual, rolled, or sleeved images and convert them into positive digital images.
Prices for these begin at less than $40 and range up to around $300 for personal use.
- Can cost about the same as a flatbed scanner or all-in-one
- User friendly and usually compatible with whatever version of computer you’re using
- The quality of the final saved image depends on the Megapixels of the scanner (you get what you pay for)
- A dedicated piece of equipment; unlike an all-in-one, you won’t be using this for anything other than converting old slides and negatives
- Speed; it can take more than 30 seconds for a single scan of an image, even longer if scanning at the highest resolution
There are several clever ways of projecting images from your slides and negatives and taking photos of them. Several pieces of specialized and typically expensive pieces of equipment are required for this.
- Often produces the best possible DIY resolution
- Gives you the opportunity to evaluate the image in great detail and decide if it’s worth saving
- Expensive; requires a DSLR camera with the ability to shoot in different formats and a way of projecting light through the image and/or a camera with a macro lens
- The least user-friendly method
This method should be called “the weekend saver.” For those who do not wish to purchase new hardware, download new software, and spend days fulfilling the promise of saving those old photos and slides.
In general, professional copying will run about $1 per scan.
- The best quality data retrieval and potential reproduction
- Digital data saved in various formats (just get the images on a flash drive or into the cloud and decide for yourself what images you want to print or share)
- Saves time and not the most expensive alternative
- Entails trusting your slides and negatives temporarily to outside professional
- Turnaround times may vary
Converting old slides and negatives to digital formats is an emotionally uplifting experience. It amounts to fulfilling commitments to yourself, your personal history, and those who helped make those memories.
It doesn’t have to consume vast amounts of time or money and is well worth the investment of both.
You can contact them if you are in search of convert slides to digital service in the San Francisco Bay Area. They can digitize your negatives and slides at the best affordable prices.
Would you like to receive a free quote to archive your historical, stored Aperture Cards/ films? Call +1.510.900.8800
Request for Quick Quote
eRecordsUsa digitized 14 years of our organization’s archive of CCC Legacy, newspaper-style monthly journals into test-searchable PDF documents. From the start, I was impressed by their professionalism and interest in meeting our needs. This professionalism and customer focus continued through the completion of the project as we worked through issues with the quality and format of the source mat...
- Tim Montgomery
- CCC Legacy
I wanted to create electronic copies of 25 old high school yearbooks. Between my brothers and sisters, we had hard copies of yearbooks covering the years 1946 – 1970 (from when my oldest brother started kindergarten to when my youngest brother graduated from high school). Electronic copies (PDF) allows for easy distribution among family and friends and long-term preservation of the content. eR...
- Robert Duesterhoeft
Our school wanted to archive all of our yearbooks, and eRecordsUSA, scanned them beautifully and accurately. They shipped back the 53 original yearbooks promptly. We are quite pleased with the service and product that they provided.
- Brenda Riley
- Notre Dame High School
eRecordsUSA, yearbook scanning service is great. Many of my classmates either had not purchased their Senior yearbook or had lost it. I was able to reproduce it on CD for my 40 year High School reunion. All that received a copy were very thrilled and so grateful. I do recommend eRecordsUsa and their yearbook scanning service.
The digitizing of sixty-four years of back issues of our journal Military Collector & Historian by eRecords was superbly done and exceeded our expectations. I recommend them highly.
- David M. Sullivan, Administrator
- The Company of Military Historians
We are very pleased with the scanning work eRecordsUSA, has done for us, especially when they were willing to spend so much time discussing details. We feel that the work you did was better than our highest expectations, on the " Writing of Victor Houteff" PS: We have added a Bonus over the total, because of the good work.
I really love working with this company. They understand my needs and deliver a great service with a quick turn around. Highly recommend!
- Jennifer Serr
- The Sewing Room & Sewing with Jennifer Serr
Our company had about 5,000 pages of historical sales records that existed only in hard copy. We need to have these records scanned and imported into excel where they could be filtered, sorted, and subtotaled. eRecordsUsa did this for us in a fast, economical, accurate, and professional manner. I highly recommend them.
- Jim Sullivan
I went to eRecordsUSA to have data extracted from scans and photos of several hundreds of tables from archival materials. The price was good, and the quality was outstanding. I\'m grateful that they were able to compile the data in a format to my specifications. eRecordsUSA compares favorably against my previous experiences with digitization with freelancers and other companies, and best of all, t...
- Daniel Gross
- University of California, Berkeley
Very professional. Scan quality is quite good considering the age of the Magazines/ documents. Quick turnaround time, and good customer service.
- Michael Tang
- Penthouse Magazine
I am a happy repeat customer for over 3 years now! eRecordsUSA scanned all my course readers so I could go to class with my ipad instead of a heavy backpack full of paper. Very happy to have found them! Fast and reasonable turnaround time. With OCR, so all my documents are searchable. Thank you, eRecordsUSA!
- Ramon Rick
- Stanford Student
eRecordsUSA and team scanned our office documents - Great customer service, very good work quality at a very reasonable rate and they completed the project in a very timely manner. After our first project I have decided to use their services for my personal photo scanning. They actually come by your office and pick up and drop off the stuff. I recommend their service without any hesitation to a...
- Sunita Babbar
- Access Mortgage
Ritika at eRecordsUSA was very easy to work with. The quality of the scans was excellent and eRecordsUSA was able to scan 25+years old blueprints that were 105” x 44”. I will use this service again.
- Travis Newton
- Macro Plastics
I used eRecords to scan a boxes of academic and work related binders I had sitting around. They did a phenomenal job with great quality and at a reasonable price. They are highly communicative and deliver what they say they will. I highly recommend their services.
- S. Hutchinson
- Stanford Graduate
eRecordsUSA was awesome!!! They were in constant communication with us and delivered their Document Scanning / Book Scanning service on time. We will definitely be using them again in the future.
- Nicole B
- Clickatell Inc