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Home /Science / What Is the Best Way to Scan Slides?

What Is the Best Way to Scan Slides?

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By Christian Roemer

I’ve never understood slides. Obviously, I understand how they work. They’re weird little transparent pictures that require a projector. Sometimes the slides are in a bizarre round atrium looking thingy, sometimes they’re in a deck.

I understand how slides work, but I always get tripped up on why they exist in the first place. 

Slides seem so pointless and contrived. They’re an obvious downgrade from pretty much every other picture viewing medium. They’re a pain. I’d love someone to help me understand why slides became a media format that anyone used.


To see what I mean, let’s contrast slides to the other tried and true method of picture viewing that existed for about 70 years prior to slides being invented: pictures.


On the one hand, we have pictures. Good, clean, easy to use, no fuss, no worries, pick-it-out-of-a-drawer-and-look-at-them pictures. A printed picture is always ready to go. If there’s a picture you want to look at, you just look at it. Mission accomplished. Let’s go drink a milkshake.


Slides are basically the exact opposite of printed pictures on the convenience scale. Let’s say you have a slide that you want to see. The process looks like this: you get out your projector, find a clear wall, plug in the machine, wait for it to warm up, hope the bulb isn’t busted, load the slide deck, scroll through other pictures you didn’t want to see, hopefully make it to the slide you wanted to see all along, pray that nothing in the machine busts, and finally check out the picture you set out to see.


But we’re not done yet!


After you finally see the picture, you get to reverse the whole process! Unplug the machine, pack the slides back where they belong, carry the machine back to its storage spot, hope you don’t break the bulb, stub your toe on the door as you try to open it with your foot, curse the world, and finish the slide watching session weeping softly to yourself.


On the one hand, you look at a picture. On the other hand, you take a whole bunch of highly unnecessary steps to look at a picture. Can someone please help me understand why this technology was ever invented?


The truth is, the sooner you can get your slides to be something other than slides, the better time you’ll have. Picture viewing can be a fun, relaxing process -- not a stressful, impossible one. Since we live in the 21st century, your best option is to digitize your slides. You have three options to get your slides digitized, one of which is clearly better than the others.


Option 1: The Movie Theater Pirating Method 

This method requires that you project your slides only a wall and take a fuzzy picture of them. You’ll need a tripod. You’ll need a projector. You’ll need tons of free time. To accomplish this feat, first set up your projector. Then set up a digital camera on a tripod. Lastly, start flipping through the slides, taking a picture of each image projected on your wall with the digital camera. It’s very meta, and the quality leaves much to be desired. You don’t want to do this method.


Option 2: The Helicopter Parent Method 

This method involves spending more time and money micromanaging something that’s honestly better left to someone else. You’ll need to purchase a scanner. Amazon sells slide digitizing scanners, but you can also use the flatbed scanner on your printer (if you have one). Settle in for the long haul, because this method will take forever. Scan each slide individually, save them on your computer, copy them onto a USB drive, and you did it! It only took a million hours!


Option 3: The Genius Method 

Send your slides to Southtree. All you do is pack a box and ship your slides to us. We do the digitization so you don’t have to. When we’re done, we send back all your slides plus a USB thumb drive with all your pictures conveniently digitized on it. So simple. So fast.


Saying you have three options to digitize your slides seems like a bit of a stretch. It would be like saying you have three options to travel to Paris from New York: fly, row a boat, and swim. Yeah, technically those other two methods might get you there, but are they worth the trouble? Flying is obviously the smart choice.


Digitizing with Southtree is also the smart choice. Besides, do you even own a projector anymore?

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