How to Scan Slides
Although you can get dedicated slide scanners, many modern flatbed scanners, for example, the Canon CanoScan 5600F which I use, come with an attachment for scanning 35mm slides.
I was delighted to discover my new scanner would let me scan slides, but I nearly wept with frustration trying to follow the instructions telling me how to do it. After much trial and error I got it sussed and hope these instructions will help make the process easier to understand if you want to have a go yourself.
This is the scanner I use and I've been generally pleased with it so far.
How Long Does it Take to Scan Slides?
With a CanoScan 5600F, In total, including loading and unloading the slides on to the scanner, it takes 5 minutes to scan 4 slides.
To scan an ordinary film’s worth of 24 slides you need to allow yourself half an hour. And if you’ve got boxes and boxes of slides – your winter evenings are going to be filled for months and possibly years to come!
Scanning Slides with a Canon
- First find your slide scanning attachment - you may have to scrabble around in the bottom of the box for it. I didn't notice mine when I got the scanner out of the box to start with.
- Unclip the middle bit and set it aside. (You can use this bit for scanning negative film.)
- Lift the scanner lid and slot the attachment in to place on the glass plate between the two notches.
- Remove the white screen underneath the lid - It won't scan the slides with this in place.
- Place your slides as pictured with the narrower edges parallel to the narrower end on the scanner. The CanoScan 5600F scanning attachment has room for 4 slides at once.
- On your computer go to devices and printers and select the scanner.
- Select Image scan
- Select scan and import
- Click on photos/documents
- Tick use the scanner driver and click on open scanner driver.
- There are various settings which you can play around with, but for starters, leave them as they are and click preview. This will show you what the slides are and you can choose whether to scan them or not.
- Tick all the ones you want to scan and press scan. This is the time consuming bit. It takes around 3 minutes to scan four slides once you press scan. You may want to do this whilst watching TV, reading a book or cataloguing your CD collection!
- When Scanning is done it gives you the option to retouch and save the images or scan more. For safety’s sake, click 'save the images'.
- On the next screen if you want to scan more click on scan.
- Once you’ve scanned all you want click retouch and save and then select exit.
- All of the images you have scanned should be ticked by default. You now need to click on save in the bottom left of the screen, which means your slides are now saved on your computer. The default setting saves them in the pictures file on your computer in a folder called MP Navigator EX under today’s date.
- If you want to append the approximate date you took the picture to the file name you will find the date that the slides were processed on the front of your slides.
I use a cleaning cloth from a pair of glasses to clean my scanner bed and flick surface dust from slides.
Common Problems with Scanned Slides
Unfortunately slides do deteriorate over time when kept in ordinary household conditions.
When you open the saved files you will see how well or badly your slides have kept over time. You may find you want to do some airbrushing to remove marks or to adjust some of the scanner settings, for example, if the picture has faded.
If your house is anything like mine, you will also discover mysterious hairs have appeared - sometimes these are on the scanner screen, sometimes they are on the slide - they can be removed with a lint free soft cloth.
In the pictures below you can see when I first scanned the slide (P1) there was a huge hair and a smaller one (circled). Believe it or not, the huge hair (which clearly came from a stray woolly mammoth) wasn't obvious with the naked eye looking at the slide.
I gently wiped the slide on both sides with a dry lint free cloth. Then I re-scanned it (P2). This showed I had successfully removed the larger hair and moved the smaller one (circled).
Rather than scan for a third time I opted to airbrush the small hair out (P3).
I can safely say that having spent hours scanning and then messing around with airbrushing marks and hairs, I am thoroughly converted to the joys of digital cameras, but it is a real pleasure getting the old slides scanned and having easy access to pictures that I hardly ever looked through due to the hassle of setting up the slide projector.