How To Convert 35mm Slides To Digital Images

Do you have a box of 35mm slides you’d like to convert to digital photos? You have two ways you could proceed. You could either buy a scanner that is capable of scanning film (both positives or negatives) or you could farm out the work. GT Recording, HomeDVD and iMemories are 3 such companies which offer slide scanning services. iMemories offers photo, negative and slide scanning.

[UPDATE – January 2015 I recently learned about two other local companies that offer slide scanning services, Omega Photo in Bellevue and Panda Lab in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Both offer slide scanning comparable to GT Recording but also high-end scanning if you want to get the best quality scans. This high-end scanning costs currently costs around $4-$5 per slide.]

If you want to buy a scanner you could consider something like the Canon CanoScan 9000F which has attachments that let you scan a few slides or negatives at a time at 4800 dpi. It costs about $200 or less. If you can get your hand on a discontinued Nikon Coolscan professional high-speed slide scanner, then you could use it. As I recall, these scanners could hold 20 slides at a time and would scan each one at about 4000 dpi in about 30 seconds and automatically move through the entire stack.

If you prefer to farm out this work you could drop off your slides at GT Recording in Seattle. They charge scan slides at either 3600 or 7200 dpi. They charge a flat $15 setup fee. They have different price tiers that currently look like this:

  • less than 100 slides cost $1.25 each
  • 100-499 slides cost $.99 each
  • 500-999 slides cost $.89 each
  • more than 1000 slides cost $.79 each

iMemories scans at 600 dpi and charges $0.49 per photo, slide or negative

Home DVD offers a range of resolutions at different prices. Refer to the table below for details. They’ll scan both photos and slides.

For photo transfer to DVD, your price is $0.99 per photo for any size up to 12 x 15 inches in size. All slides and photos needing to have additional adjustments to bring out the best image possible will be brought into Adobe Photoshop for repair at no extra charge.  Below is a chart that will help you determine which resolution would best suit your needs:

$0.35/slide 1000 dpi Prints 3″ x 5″—Non archival quality, but great for DVD slideshows
$0.55/slide 2000 dpi Prints 6″ x 9″—Best compromise between quality and price
$.85/slide 3000 dpi Prints 9.5″ x 14″—Excellent quality, superb prints
$1.05/slide 4000 dpi Prints 13″ x 19″—Archival quality scans
$0.99/photo 300 dpi Standard. Color corrected, for all photo sizes less than 12″ x 15″
$1.25/photo 600 dpi Excellent reproduction. Color corrected as standard

The per slide/photo charges described above include the price to burn your digitized JPEG images of your 35mm slides or photos onto as many DVD-R discs as necssary. There is a minimum charge of $45.00 per job.

[Update October 2015: A client offers 3 additional online scanning services. I haven’t tried any of them: DigMyPics, ScanCafe and DpsDave.]

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