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35mm slides (transparencies) to CD/DVD

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Your colour slides are very precious and contain many memories. But they can deteriorate and fade with time or even be destroyed by fire, flood or damp. Also slideboxes take up a lot of space - you may no longer have room for them. What I offer is a scanning service that transfers your slides to digital images on CD. They can then be copied onto your computer and viewed, edited and printed in the same way as photos from a digital camera. You can take your new CD of slide photos to a high street photo shop or chemist and have prints made directly from it. Please note that the CD is only used as a storage medium for photo files: it is not a playable slideshow.

35mm negatives to CD/DVD

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Are your old prints fading? If you've still got your negatives they can be scanned in the same way as slides: what you get on CD is the positive image, not negative. You are then in a position to make fresh prints as for the slide CD above.

CD/DVD? Well which is it?

This can cause confusion because people associate CDs with music and DVDs with films. I simply use blank CDs or DVDs as a storage medium. I copy the images onto a CD or DVD and you copy them onto your computer. The only difference is that the DVD holds a lot more. I use whichever is necessary to hold your images.

I could do that!

You could certainly buy your own equipment and scan the slides yourself. Some flat-bed scanners have accessories for scanning slides. One way to do the job cheaply is to use a stand-alone slide copier available for under a hundred pounds. Things to watch out for:

  • Any item that 'scans' a slide in under a second will actually be an imager or copier, rather than a scanner.
  • It is important to check the real dots per inch - "interpolated" dots per inch are not the same thing.
  • Read reviews of any equipment you want to buy.
  • Blemishes can be very difficult to deal with if the scanner does not have infra-red scanning or digital ICE.

Digital Ice

The equipment that I use is a professional standard Nikon Coolscan with Digital ICE. Digital ICE is a system of taking an infra-red picture of all dust and blemishes and removing them automatically from the image (not from the slide itself). It may be that you have no dust, blemishes or mould (yes - mould) on your slides because you have kept them carefully. That's what I thought. All my slides were in proper slide-boxes in dry conditions. But I was horrified when I scanned them to find the majority of slides with one-colour areas especially blue skies, were spattered with dark dusty spots that I couldn't brush off. Some of the older ones were even succumbing to what may be mould in the emulsion. Slides won't last for ever. Maybe I should have kept them in the freezer. (Historic slide collections are routinely maintained in cold storage with careful humidity control.) Occasionally I come across a customer's slides that have shown hardly any signs of deterioration, but they would represent no more than five per cent of all the customers' slides that I have seen.

I should make it clear that Digital Ice won't always produce these miracle results. Kodachrome can sometimes work and other times not work: it appears that they have changed their formulation from time to time. Also it doesn't work with black and white film.

I then spend a short time digitally removing as far as possible any blemishes that even Digital Ice couldn't remove. Finally I try to correct any faults in the original picture such as under-exposure or colour casts.

On the left is a slide from the early 1950s. It doesn't look too bad at a glance and may even pass muster when projected.

But close up? Large areas of the slide are badly blemished and I was unable to clean it off. You can see the effect of applying automatic Digital ICE by moving your mouse over the picture.

example of blemished slide     

















By the way I came across this slide again and had a go at reproducing the above effect which I had done four years ago. I was astonished to find I could not reproduce it as the slide had deteriorated far more!


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