Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was going through an old box of photos, and I found some of these guys:

I've never seen them before. I scanned this one in my flatbed scanner, but it didn't come out very good. When I look through it, the quality is a lot better. Is there a trick to scanning these? I'd like to digitize them.

share|improve this question
Any good quality flatbed scanner with a transparency adapter will work to digitize your pictures, or there are Camera based slide… – Moab Apr 1 '12 at 20:37
Have you tried putting a mirror behind the transparency? – Lèse majesté Apr 1 '12 at 22:15
@Lèsemajesté: Just tried it. Did not work at all; came out even worse than what you see above. – mpen Apr 1 '12 at 22:30
@Mark: Worse in what way? If it's too bright, then just put a layer of paper between the mirror and the slide. You just need the reflected light to be roughly the same level as a photograph would reflect back at the sensor. Or just save the scanned image in RAW format and adjust the exposure in an image editor. – Lèse majesté Apr 1 '12 at 22:34

Here's the problem: slides are intended to be viewed by putting light through them from behind. Your scanner is trying to bounce light off the front, though, which just doesn't work well, resulting in terrible color. What you need is a scanner with a piece of hardware called a Transparent Media Adapter or TMA. A TMA is a cover for the scanner that has a light source built in to it that shines light through whatever you put in the scanner. The reflective light on the scanner's bar is then disabled, and you can take good images of slides, backlit as they should be.

TMAs are available as an accessory for many good quality standalone scanners, but they might be pricey, especially if you have a lower-end scanner or multifunction scanner without support for an add-on TMA (in which case you would need a new scanner). So you might want to think about paying someone else to do the scanning; many camera stores offer this service.

share|improve this answer

There is slide scanning hardware. Also, those camera stores that are still in business can generally do the work for you.

share|improve this answer
@mark A camera shop will be the most cost efficient solution unless you have enough slides to justify a the purchase of a media adapter or a dedicated slide scanner – CyberSkull Aug 18 '12 at 0:05

Welcome to Kodachrome and slides. Dedicated slide scanners are expensive. You can get flatbed scanners that have a transparency adapter available for scanning film and slides. Some of the Epson scanners are pretty cheap and come with one prebuilt in the lid and also have the adapters to hold the slide or common film formats in place for scanning.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.