Scanning Slides with a Slide Scanner

Slides used to be one of the most popular ways of showing off holiday snaps or other photographs of a wider appeal. With most people heading into the digital age though, many have tried to scan their old slides onto computers, a process which can often be disappointing without having first read some tips on scanning slides.

The reason for the poor quality of many images which have been scanned from slides is due to one very simple consideration for which the remedy can be found relatively easily.

Let There Be Light

Light is key to the process. Scanners transmit light against images, in much the same way that office photocopiers work. Obviously, slides are transparent, meaning that light shines through the image being scanned rather than reflecting off it as it should.

The scanner being used therefore needs to have in-built capability to scan transparencies; this takes the form of a Transparent Materials Adapter, usually referred to as a TMA. This is part of some scanners' specifications, but by no means all, and individual scanners should be checked. Expert help from the manufacturer or an accredited expert should be taken if no TMA is present.

Getting Started

If a TMA is part of the scanner's specifications then the actual process of scanning transparencies is not over-complicated. The first step is to ensure that the scanner's glass is clean to prevent any distortions or disruptions to the quality of the final image. A lint-free cloth sprayed with a mild variety of glass cleaner is usually best for this job.

The TMA should be opened next and the transparencies to be scanned placed in the slots indicated on the TMA's template. Additional leaks of light cab ruin the process, so if less than a full sheet of slides is being scanned additional light shields are necessary. These additional shields should come with the TMA.

It should also be borne in mind that different scanners from different manufacturers have different specifications and this may mean small alterations to the process on different devices. Instruction manuals should be consulted for specific details.

The adapter with the slides needs to be placed on the glass of the scanner, the marking symbol or arrow in its corner aligned with the similar mark on the scanner bed. The images can then be scanned, saved and altered using one of the many kinds of software available for such a purpose.

Choose Your Resolution

The resolution at which the images are being scanned is another factor to consider. If images are to be expanded or blown up in any way then details can be lost if images are not scanned at a high enough resolution.

In fact, scanning slides, negatives or film will likely be the only time you need to use the maximum resolution of a film scanner. If you think of resolution as an enlargement value then you can understand that a small object will require more enlargement and therefore more resolution.

The scanning of an old image can present the chance to restore it to former glories, with photo software allowing for colors to be reinvigorated and images sharpened. This is a good idea if the images are going to be presented in public or beyond the immediate circle of friends and family, or if images have spent a lengthy period of time in storage conditions which have been less than perfect.

The user manuals of individual scanners can provide additional and more specific guidance on the process using different devices. It always pays to read through the manual before you get started, but playing with the settings will help you learn also. 

Hopefully these tips will help you get started with your own slide scanning. Using a slide and negative scanner isn't easy if you are new to the process, but a little effort will get the job done and bring you some peace of mind that all of your memories are better preserved.



About Me

I am a freelance writer.


I love technology and English literature.

This free website was made using Yola.

No HTML skills required. Build your website in minutes.

Go to and sign up today!

Make a free website with Yola