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Home /Entertainment / 10 Things You Might Not Know about 35mm Slides

10 Things You Might Not Know about 35mm Slides

By Christian Roemer

If you’ve read any of my blogs about slides before, you’ll know that I’m not a fan.

Between the hassle of a projector and the unreliability of the lamp, I just can’t think of many good reasons why slides ever existed at all.

Some might say, “Well, Christian, they were great for classrooms! You could show pictures to the whole class at the same time!” 

My response? “Yeah, theoretically, but I literally never saw a slide projector work like they were supposed to.”

Seriously. Every time I saw a teacher try to show slides in class, the projector wouldn’t work, the slides got jammed, the lamp burned out, the remote didn’t work, or the teacher just flat out didn’t know how to operate the thing. Given how often slides didn’t work, it might be easier to write an article about what people do know about 35mm slides. But that’s no fun, so here we go. Here are 10 fun facts about 35mm slides that you might not have known about.


The real name for slides is “reversal film”

Here’s a fun fact right out of the gate: slides aren’t technically called slides. They’re called reversal film. That basically just means the picture is placed on a transparent base.


Slides need a slide projector 

This one’s pretty obvious, and it’s honestly my biggest gripe with slides. You can’t really look at slides without a projector.


Slides are 2”x2” 

35mm slides are mounted in little cardboard cases. These little trays measure two inches by two inches.


Fingerprints can ruin slides

Since you have to use a projector to view slides, and any imperfections in the image are magnified 10x at least, fingerprints wreak havoc on slides. Keep those fingers away from the pictures, especially if you’ve been eating Doritos!


The first proto-slides were created way back in 1907

People first figured out how to create reversal film way back in 1907. That means slides have been around for over a century. Technically they weren’t 35mm slides back then, but still a fun fact!


Slides are easier to digitize than negatives 

Believe it or not, it’s actually easier to digitize slides than negatives. That’s because the colors are already correct on slides, whereas negatives need to be reversed. Maybe these slides aren’t all bad afterall!


35mm slides usually go in a carousel -

To make viewing easier, most slide projectors use a carousel to cycle between slides. The little 2x2 transparent pictures go in a round container that cycles through the images with a click of a button (supposedly!).


Slides hold color better than negative film 

As many problems as slides have, one thing they don’t struggle with is color. Slides will actually hold their color over the years better than negatives.


Slides were cheaper for a while 

Until about the 1970s, it was cheaper to create slides than to print images. In the 1970s, that reality flipped on its head, which is probably why we’ve seen slides go the way of VHS.


Publications used slides until around 1995

Print publications -- things like newspapers and magazines -- used slides as their preferred format all the way through 1995. Since the color is better on slides, they used slides for their improved contrast and resolution. 

After reading this list, you might be tempted to think that 35mm slides were actually kind of cool, and admittedly, they were. But even though these little transparent pictures had some nifty features, it ultimately wasn’t enough to save them from their own shortcomings. I mean, who has time to carry a slide projector around with them everywhere?

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