There currently exist two options to convert film slides to digital images: using a digital camera or using a digital scanner. The least expensive way is to shoot the slide image with a digital camera by shooting the projected image or shooting the slide directly. Using a digital camera loses some or much of the quality. For better quality, use a digital scanner. For best quality, use a dedicated film scanner.
Images require large amounts of memory. Use a computer with plenty of available storage. It must have a USB port to connect to other devices, as well as a DVD reader/burner and associated software. Some type of photo editing software, though not necessary, can improve the quality of the images.
Camera and Tripod
Because the camera methods lose some quality of the original image, use a camera with the highest number of megapixels available to you. Some digital cameras have an accessory that attaches to the lens and holds a slide. Check if such an accessory is available for your camera.
Slide Projector and Screen
The lens of the projector is a limiting factor on image quality. Clean the lens well. If a screen is not available, project onto a completely white wall, preferably one with a satin finish.
A light box simply diffuses white light. It has a light source behind a piece of white translucent plastic or glass. The lens gets very close to the slide. So, to shoot a slide on a light box directly, the camera must have a macrofocus function.
Scanners use a process similar to photocopying. The scanner in a multifunction printer works but requires a large amount of editing time. The very best method is using a dedicated photo scanner. Until recently, they cost $1,000 to $2,000.
"Converters" by Ion, Vupoint, Haband and Memor-ease cost between $60 and $130. Converters use the same technology as digital cameras, but with a stable platform.
The cost of true photo scanners by Epson, Canon and Minolta begins at $90. Whereas the professional models can cost as much as $800, very good scanners cost less than $150.
Unless the slides are in excellent condition, choose a scanner with Digital Ice technology, which removes most specs and scratches automatically, leaving little or no need for touch-up in editing.
Charles Mathewson is a freelance writer residing in Plymouth, Mass. He worked as a newspaper reporter and editor beginning in 1988 for "Memorial Press Group" in Plymouth, Mass. and the "Brockton Enterprise." He has also published on Patch.com. Mathewson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Goddard College. He was selected to participate in the Nieman Seminar for Narrative Editors at Harvard University.