Saturday, October 8, 2011

Converting 35 mm Slides/Negatives into Digital Images

I went to college in the mid-1950s, got married and began raising my family in the late 50's and 1960s and so, like many others at that time, my camera of choice was a 35 mm. I took hundreds of pictures and slides. The photos were mounted into albums, but the slides were stored in a shoebox, especially once the slide projector got thrown out, as I expect happened with many of you of an older generation.

A few years ago, I decided that it was time to put my slides (and some of the negatives) into my computer, so that the family could enjoy them once again. My wife and I sorted the slides into the years that they were taken (beginning with my college days and our honeymoon) and I went online and purchased a slide converter – actually a digital scanner (a VuPoint that sells for between $70 - $100 at Heartland America). You place a set of 4 slides at a time into a holder and feed that into what is basically a digital camera that takes a picture of each slide (or negative) – in about 3-4 seconds and converts the slide into a digital image that is transmitted to and stored in your computer.

In this manner, I was able to scan over a hundred slide images into my computer. The quality was pretty good, but the scanner came with a photo shop-type program, called Photo Impressions 6 from ArcSoft, that can be used to really enhances the quality of the photos.

A scanner, either stand-alone or as part of an inkjet printer, can serve the same purpose for photographs, either black & white or in color. By scanning the photos into your computer, you can than manipulate them in a similar fashion, as described below for the digital photos made from the 35 mm slides and negatives.

Photo Impressions 6

I am very impressed with this photo shop-type program. It is extremely easy to use and can do a variety of jobs in fixing up low quality photos. In the editing mode, you can auto-enhance the photos,  eliminates red eye, crop and straighten the photos, and enhance sharpness, color and contrast and even blur the background. You can also do small retouches, ie, remove dust particles, or other marks.

I checked online and it is still available – either by purchase or in some cases even as a free download. I suggest you Google the program and take a look for your personal use in fixing up any photos on your computer.

In my case, I found that Kodacolor slides aged better than Kodachrome and to show you, here are a couple of digital images taken from my slides. The first two are Kodachrome images of my then  wife-to-be and I taken in 1956 just prior to my Military Ball (I was in ROTC in college.), while the third is a Kodacolor shot of my wife, Elly, and our daughter, Lori, when she was about one year old in 1960.

Elly in 1956 at UMASS before the Military Ball

Elly & Irv in 1956 at UMASS before the Military Ball  

Elly & Lori in Philadelphia in 1960


  1. Interesting about how you converted slides to photos!
    But what does one do with the "select profile" selections below and the choices therein? what do the choices do, and what do they mean?
    Very nice pictures of you and Ellie taken in the fifties. You should "muse" about that era more often. Perhaps you could post all your slides converted into digital photos. (O:)
    Ann and Lee

  2. I have converted hundreds of old slides this way, then trying to take the fade out with Photoshop Elements. In general, that works very well.

  3. I have just searched for free online image Converter and have tried a few, but was not happy. works great without a lot of complex processes. I was able to use it straight away.