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Monday
Dec292008

Looking Into The Past: Scanning Old Film Slides With The S5700 / S700

Slide Viewer Fixed To Front Of S5700I've been hassling my Dad for ages to get the old Film Slides he took in the '60's down from the attic so I could have a go at scanning them. Just before Christmas he handed me a whole box, and I had to have a long think about how I was going to transfer them to digital.

I ended up fixing a small slide viewer to the front of my Fujifilm S5700 / S700, setting my camera to Super Macro Mode, using a custom white balance, and snapping away for several hours.

So here's a selection from the results, and how I did it.





Slide Viewer Fixed To Front Of S5700


I thought about using a flat-bed scanner to digitise the slides, but without any type of holder it would have been a nightmare. I found that by taking out the eye-piece lens from the slide viewer, I could use elastic bands to fix it steady onto the front of my camera and then shoot in Super Macro Mode.

It's worth noting that I've left my Cokin A Thread Adapter fixed to my S5700 - it gave the back of the slide viewer a stable platform to sit on. The elastic bands are those dropped by Post-Men....

Capturing Film Slides With The S5700 / S700


Next up I had to figure out how to get a decent picture. I didn't need to use the tripod to avoid camera shake (the slides were solid in the holder, which was fixed to the camera), it was really to enable me to use a constant light source and put the camera's view-screen in a comfortable position for me to look at for several hours.

Ideally I should have used natural light, but every day was too grey and overcast, meaning that I would have to have bumped up the ISO on the Fuji to get correct exposures, causing more noise. Instead I found the whitest bulb in the house, a fluorescent one, took a custom white-balance against the white screen inside the viewer (when empty), switched to manual mode and tried to judge each exposure separately.

Slide As Taken By Camera


The difficulty was that although over 40 years old, these slides held more dynamic range than my camera could capture, and I didn't fancy doing 300 HDR's, so I had to experiment to see what exposure worked best, and this changed for almost every slide.

The colours showed up well if I underexposed , but then I'd lose the detail in the shadows. I couldn't rely on the automatic exposure settings in the camera, which tended to really over-expose each shot, probably because of the large dark border around the slide. I tried multi, average and spot metering, but had to return to manual mode to get anything decent.

Post processing consisted of rotating, cropping, basic colour correction, a pass by Noise Ninja, a little bit of levels tweaking (with masks) on some of the photographs, but with about three hundred to do It was just very basic.

I've given the files to my Dad so he can pick out any he wants to be really cleaned up, then I can use cloning and spot-removal to get rid of all the scratches and dust marks.

Still, not bad for 40 year old slides, some elastic bands and a budget Bridge Camera!

You can see a larger selection in this Flickr set, but I've put a few below for you to take a look at too.

HMS Defender
HMS Defender


Crossing The Line Ceremony
Crossing The Line Ceremony


Dad, Anti-Flash Gear
Dad, Anti-Flash Gear


So, get up in your relatives lofts and dig out their old slides, you might be pleased with what you find!

Cheers, Rob.

Reader Comments (6)

Nice pictures. If you really intend to scan a large quantity of these, you still may want to consider a scanner. Although film scanners are very expensive, Epson flatbed scanners come with a holder for slides (and negatives). They also come with software that removes dust and does basic color correction that restores color in slides that have deteriorated. This can save a lot of work later.
I had one of these donated to me, and a few years ago I spent the better part of winter scanning my collection of about 1800 slides. A bit boring to do, but internet radio really helps :).
It did give me a good way to rediscover my old photographs, however.

December 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterC0mdrData

Hi COmdrData,

Great idea, it was hard work scanning all those old slides, but thankfully I've done most of them, just a few "bought" slides to do, and they can wait, but your advice is perfect for anyone attempting a similair (or bigger) task!

Happy New Year, Rob.

December 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

Hi Rob,

Loved the ingenuity with all this - bet it took ages!!
(Film and slide scanners can be bought for about £50-£60 nowadays, handy if you've got hundreds to do!) Must've been really enjoyable going through them all. Just hang on to those old slides though! You'll still be able to see them in 20 years time, a CD will probably be no better than a coaster for your coffee cup!

All the Best,

Victor

January 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

Nice work! I've actuall dug out all the old slides my dad gave me years ago to give this a try. Unfortunately I dont have a small slide viewer so I am going to make my own from cardboard box and use the cover from a coffee can for the front white screen. Thanks for the idea and for posting the process on how you did it!

~John R

January 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Rosalia

Hi John,

Can't wait to see your pics! It's great to look back in time!

Cheers, Rob.

January 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

Rob, you are VERY lucky your Dad had only 40 slides. I have thousands of slides from my Dad that go back to the early 50s. I've been scanning for years with various scanners with mixed success. Many of his slides have bacteria eating away the color, which I'm trying to save.

My problem is that I've never found a way to scan his hundreds of stereo slides, which are amazing. I have viewers, but I don't think the camera solution would work. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!
thanks for the interesting article... a year later... LOL
ilene

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterilene hoffman

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