One Slide To Scan.
December 23, 2017 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I have a very small number of slides to scan, perhaps only one. How best to get this done?

When I search for scanning services, they seem oriented to big batches of 100 or more slides. I've not found any place that caters to scanning just one or two. Any ideas?

I've thought of getting a slide scanner, but even the $35 one from Walmart seems like overkill. And the optics of buying myself a present at Christmastime are not good.
posted by SemiSalt to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Extremely low tech: Take the slide to a photo lab and get a print made, scan/photograph that.

More tech-savvy option: Smartphone negative/slide scanner apps/devices. Here is an Instructible for a DIY device, but even that's probably overkill for just one slide. I think if you can evenly light the slide from behind and keep it flat as you snap a photo, you can probably find a free app to clean up the results.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:24 PM on December 23, 2017

Call your library and ask if they have a scanner.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:24 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you can find a local pro-oriented photo lab they should be able to do it for you. Or ask around on Nextdoor or similar sites to see if anyone around you has a slide scanner they’d let you come use for a few minutes.
posted by primethyme at 12:39 PM on December 23, 2017

Best answer: This really depends on how nice a quality scan you want and the timeframe. Most any photo lab will scan a single slide for you, no problem and you'll have a very nice quality scan. Even the mail in places will do single slides, it's common for people to scan a bunch at home at low res then pay for a few good photos to get high def scans at a lab. If you call and ask they'll do it. That would be the nice-resolution version.

For mid quality, fine for most things, a local lab or library or workplace might do it. And ask around, many people own flat bed scanners and will do one slide for you. I have one and it only takes 10 minutes, I bet you have a friend who has one already.

Things like the $35 scanners from Walmart and taking photos with an iphone will give you a low quality kind of scan, which might be fine if that's what you need.
posted by fshgrl at 1:23 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a Lomo Smart Phone Scanner that is basically a plastic box that fits over your cell phone and holds developed film or slides. Checking Amazon I see it's about the same price as Walmart scanner tho.

You might want to look at the Helmut app. It is a scanner app for your phone.
posted by porkygrrl at 2:36 PM on December 23, 2017

Where are you based? Many U.S. public libraries have scanners that work with slides, and you can scan to your email. I used one just last week in the Bay Area.
posted by vickyverky at 3:13 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you know anyone connected to a local photography enthusiasts group, odds are that they have or at least know someone with a slide scanner. I'd start there.

(I mean, actually, I'd start with myself, because I have one; but unless you live near Cambridge, UK, that's not likely to be much use to you)
posted by parm at 3:22 PM on December 23, 2017

I used a white slightly translucent plastic cookie container, and then backlit it with a gentle light from a laptop showing a white PowerPoint slide. Then used my cellphone to take pictures of the slides with flash disabled. If you can find a way to rest the cellphone to minimize movement, all the better.
My cellphone was a Galaxy S7 Edge and it did a stellar job.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 3:26 PM on December 23, 2017

Call local photo development places. Costco or something may be able to do it. I had negatives scanned at Costco before. Also photo stores may be able to point you in the right direction. Also check local colleges and college libraries as they may have slide scanners or scanning services.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:31 PM on December 23, 2017

Response by poster: Wow, great responses all around. Thanks to everybody.

I'm going to try one or more of the phone camera options, but I'm not too confident because my Moto X's camera doesn't do macro very will. However, my Canon Powershot does. I have a slide sorting device that should work as a back lit stand.

I took a look at Helmut. As best I can figure, it only does color negatives, not positives. And when I did take a picture, it stashed it somewhere I can't find. Or maybe it crashed because the app closed.

We have a pretty good local library and a camera shop that boasts of a complete photo lab. So two additional options.

The picture is for an alumni yearbook, so I doubt the quality has to be stellar.

Thanks all.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:49 PM on December 23, 2017

If Helmut can get a good-quality picture, it doesn't matter whether it "reverses" what it thinks is a negative - there are plenty of free image-editing apps that will reverse the picture for you. That wouldn't be a good solution if you had a lot of the, but with just one or a small handful, Irfanview or something like it will easily give you the inverse image.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:40 PM on December 26, 2017

Response by poster: Mission Accomplished.

I had my light box out in order to pick the exact slide I wanted, so I tried taking a picture with the Powershot. It was almost good enough given the ultimate use. You can view it here.

However, by that time, the responses above had reminded me that we have a full service camera store (with lab) here in town, and I got it scanned there. Of course, it's much, much better. (This is not the 4 meg version supplied by the lab. I reduced the size for internet use. Probably still higher resolution than your monitor.)

For the geeks out there: the slide is printed "Kodachrome Transparency" but is undated. I think the big K put dates on everything, so I may have used a cheaper processor. Anyway, it dates from between 1972 and 1976.

It's my college classes 50th reunion year, and this picture is for some sort of yearbook being prepared for the festivities. They asked for a photo taken not too long after graduation.

Thanks everyone for your help.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:24 PM on December 27, 2017

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