Slide Storage: Carousels or Sheets?
November 25, 2006 10:45 PM   Subscribe

Which is best for the long-term storage of slides: Kodak-style slide carousels, or polypropylene sleeves? In addition to scanning, I want to try to preserve the analog originals for the next generation in my family. But how to do it?

I have a fair number of slides, some of which are my parents' and grandparents', all 35mm and mostly Ektachrome and Kodachrome. I'm currently scanning them, but after scanning, I want to store them safely. Right now, most of the slides are in Kodak slide-projector carousels, but I'm wondering whether it would be better to put them in polypropylene slide sleeves.

Both the carousels and the polypro sleeves seem to have their benefits and detractors. The sleeves keep the slides free of dust and may limit oxidation, but there's also the possibility of moisture and condensation inside the sleeves. The carousels ensure nothing comes in contact with the film, but still seem to allow dust (small amounts) and air into the boxes. Some of the older Ektachrome slides have faded rather severely; if possible, I'd like to halt this process if possible, but I don't know what causes it.

The carousels are obviously more convenient if we ever wanted to project the slides, but I'm not sure we'll really ever want to. They're more just a storage container at this point. I have more than enough space to store them all (since they're in them already), so compactness isn't much of a concern. I don't want to go with loose-file systems like bulk boxes, because they're too hard to organize, and through in order to pull out particular slides. I'd rather avoid systems that require a file drawer, although I suppose I could get one if this is the best route.

I haven't found much on the 'net that's not produced by people trying to sell me stuff, except for this one thread on Does anyone have any experience or strong feelings either way that they'd like to share?
posted by Kadin2048 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
AFAIK, the rate of film degradation varies according to temperature and humidity. Keeping them in a cool, dry place will probably help.

(I Am Not A Photo Archivist.)

posted by neckro23 at 12:09 AM on November 26, 2006

Its possible to scan in the older ones, and have them repaired, and reprinted (or whatever it is called when you make slides).
posted by SirStan at 12:20 AM on November 26, 2006

I would go with the carousels rather than any plastic. The chance for humidity and the plastic sticking to the emulsion far outweigh the chance of dust in a closed box. Personally I use the Logan metal slide boxes. There are two types, grouped or individual storage. I use the grouped kind simply because you can store more. This page has other options. Also I would get the Ektachrome slides duped as soon as possible. Some of mine are beginning to lose it at the twenty year mark.
posted by Gungho at 5:38 AM on November 26, 2006

I used to work in the slide library in the Art History department of my college. The slides were stored in card-catalog-like cabinets with little acid-free cardboard dividers. It became clear to me that the primary determiner of slide quality over the years is the film/process used to print them. Some of the oldest slides in the collection (1950s) were in great shape, while there was a large batch done in the '80s (IIRC) that we called "pinkies" because the colors had faded so far towards red as to make the slides basically useless. All of the slides were stored/treated in the same manner, but some simply did not stand the test of times as well as others.

I say store them in whatever way is most convenient, scan them ASAP, and buy replacement bulbs now - Kodak is only planning on providing support for slides and slide projectors until 2010, I think.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:27 AM on November 26, 2006

Wow. Kodak is getting out of the Carousel business?

I concur with the people who say scan'em. Whether that means "buy a used Nikon slide scanner and do it yourself" or "have a professional service unmount them and drum scan them" depends almost -- but not quite entirely -- on what's on the slides, and what quality you want out of them (it's not remotely unreasonable to get 4000x6000 pixel scans out of slides, and you can push Kodachrome even further than that).
posted by baylink at 10:03 AM on November 26, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone who's responded so far. I am planning on scanning the slides ASAP; in fact it was deciding that I would scan them that got me thinking about better storage options. Since I'm going to be taking each slide out of the carousels, one by one, to scan them, I thought it would be a good time to move them to sheets, if they were demonstratively better. Sounds like they're not though.

I think I'll just scan them, and then put them back in the carousels. Some of the Ektachrome ones have definitely started to fade, so I want to get them digitized as soon as possible.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:09 PM on November 26, 2006

If the slides are mounted you don't have to worry about them sticking to slide pages even with some humidity. Always store film and prints in a cool, dark, and dry place. That is absolutely mandatory. Keep the pages in a 3-ring binder and store them in a plastic tub with a few dessicant packs in for good measure. The biggest issue is going to be with dust and for that the polypropylene pages are far superior than the carousels.
posted by JJ86 at 7:12 AM on November 27, 2006

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