Studio made slide scanner

I’ve never been happy with the results of scanning slides on my Microtek ScanMaker 4850 with the slide attachment. Some of the slides came out fantastic while others were horrible. So I started doing a little research into buying a new slide scanner and read quite a few online reviews and comments by others. While some seemed pretty good they were quite expensive and I wasn’t about to plunk down several hundred dollars for a scanner I wasn’t sure would really do the job for me. The lower end ones seemed to be no better than the set up I had already, however the least expensive scanner intrigued me. It was an attachment to your digital camera that held the slide. You would then point your camera with the attachment towards an appropriate light source and take a picture of your slide.

As I thought about this I decided I needed to do a little proof of principle research to see if this could really work. As I got into it I realized that I could put together something that worked on this principle myself. Here’s is the set up so far:


The set up starts with my light table, something I put together years ago from an old studio lamp and some sand blasted glass. I found that it really helped to eliminate extraneous light and to have the slide well away from the glass so that the camera could focus on the slide and not on the texture of the sand blasted (not really “ground”) glass. To accomplish this quickly, again I’m still in the proof of principle mode here, I taped together some card stock as shown.set-up-2.jpg

It also was helpful to have the slide line up in the same place every time as my light table did not uniformly distribute light over the glass. The center was brighter than the edges. At this point I taped the box onto the glass and tilted the “light table” so that I could use my camera on a tripod to try a few shots. Those initial test images were promising but there was too much light coming in from the studio as incident light on to the slide.

I took a plastic container that once held yogurt, cut a hole in the bottom of it and painted it black and then set that on top of the slide holder. I placed my camera on top of that container and had my scanner.


When I get a little more time I’ll work on getting the camera settings fined tune. Here’s one of my test shots after a little doctoring with my Paint Shop Pro application.

Fish Table

I have got tons of slides, I can’t wait to scan some of the best and put them up in my portfolio of my new web site.

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