Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: New Life for Old Slides--Going Digital

If I'm ever going to get my family histories into shape--illustrations and all--I have to admit that I can't always do everything myself. Up until now, I've been scanning my own slides, four at a time, then cleaning up the results with Picasa. It's slow and the results are, well, literally spotty. 

UPDATE: There are newer and faster methods for scanning slides, in 2022. This post is a bit outdated, but I did scan the very best of the family slides professionally.

Of course pros can scan slides at a higher dpi, much faster, and wind up with a higher-quality image full of detail and color. But with a bookshelf full of slides, I feared emptying my wallet over this.

Turns out my local Costco will scan 35 mm slides at high resolution for less than 30 cents each, including automated cleaning (especially important with old dusty slides) and other nitty-gritty services that make a big difference in the quality of the .jpg output. I bet other places have similarly reasonable prices for scanning slides, with good results.

Here's a slide taken more than 30 years ago, showing my oldest niece with my parakeet Tyrone. (Aren't they both the cutest things?!)

This professionally-scanned slide is obviously squeaky clean! And the image is really sharp. You can count almost the eyelashes on my niece's face and the feathers on Tyrone's wings.

I can't afford to scan every slide, but I'm picking and choosing the ones that matter. This is a worthwhile investment in documenting my family history.


  1. Thanks for the tip. Once I finish sorting through the several thousand slides belonging to my dad and grandfather, all know where to take them. Costco did a beautiful job with yours!

  2. Michelle, Good luck sorting! You're lucky to have so many slides to choose from. Best,


  3. Our slides were deteriorating faster than I could afford to pay for professional scanning. Even the cardboard was falling apart on their frames! One night we set up the projector and screen and had a slide show, and I put the digital camera on a tripod and photographed each image on the screen. It wasn't a perfect solution, and we are still having small batches of the slides professionally scanned every couple of months. But now we can enjoy all the images digitally, and I've been using them on my blog.

  4. Wow! Inventive idea--I'll keep that in mind. The Costco photo people can't scan slides mounted in metal frames, only those in cardboard or plastic, so I might have to do it your way. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Heather that's a brilliant idea!