As I mentioned in a previous post I have a box of slides that need to be digitized and converted into a better form for viewing. As I’m discovering, 35mm slides aren’t the easiest thing in the world to work with. Modern printer/scanners aren’t really all that good when it comes to them, because they’re not print media (pictures), they’re transparent, so they don’t scan very well. One needs a dedicated piece of equipment to work with them, and the better ones are expensive.
When I first got the slides, I used an app on my Android phone called ‘Lightbox’ which basically did what it says, backlit them so that I could take a picture with a second phone, in order to see the slides as if they were in a projector. Of course, that’s a quick and dirty method, I need something that can be used to doing the same thing, but with a bit more clarity as well as finesse in bringing out the natural colors and nuances of the slide in question. I knew that there were dedicated machines to do the work, as well as businesses that are skilled in doing it, but many of the businesses are still in their infancy, charge an arm and a leg for the work, and there’s the bugaboo of sending your memories out to a 3rd party, and you might not get them back. US Mail has never been an exact science.
When I got home, I had more opportunity to seek out a machine that could do the work and do it efficiently for an affordable price. Oddly enough, I found one that had good reviews on Amazon, and it had a familiar name. With a little digging, I discovered it wasn’t really made by the company emblazoned on it’s chassis, it was just being used because it was familiar to consumers, but sneakily enough the company name was actually being used in a legal sense. (Kodak had gone through bankruptcy in the early 2010s and sold off many of it’s lucrative patents) The nuance wasn’t really lost on me, as the company that had processed the slides, made the original film and even produced the camera that originally took the pictures were all one and the same, but it’s definitely a different world. The Kodak building might still be in Rochester, NY, but it’s most definitely NOT the company it once was.
Even so, after purchasing the unit through Amazon, it took a little trial and error before I could use the unit efficiently. It has a slider that one can load and push through the unit, which is set up to receive slides of different shapes and sizes, one just has to find the right one and it works pretty well. I wouldn’t say that it works professionally, but certainly way better than the clunky way the Lightbox app operated. I was able to hook up the unit to my computer via USB and instantly copy the scanned slides to my hard drive, once I had adjusted the slide for size as well as being sure the slide wasn’t in the unit backwards. Several times I had to look at a slide to be sure that it wasn’t reversed, going back in my memory about how a certain piece of furniture or light switch was situated in my parent’s house, so as not to give the reverse impression of the items in the slide.
I have about 700 slides and all in all it took me about 3-4 hours to process them. I did have to scan some of them multiple times in order to be sure they were done properly, since some of the slides weren’t in the greatest of shape after having been stored in various places over the years. Certainly some of the really old ones (1950s) were completely oxidized and useless, though for the most part they showed people I’d never met and had no idea who they were. Since my parents are deceased, I can’t use them for reference, and my cousins don’t live close by, so it’s likely they wouldn’t recognize them either. Who they are will remain a mystery. Such is the way of historical records sometimes, without proper annotation, it’s just a picture.
But, I’m pleased to have them in my possession, and for the longest time they were just sitting in my brother’s attic, unused, unseen and unknown. Now I can share them with him, with my cousins and for a new set of eyes, my birth mother, who missed out on my youth and all the adventures I had. She’s been very pleased and intrigued by the images. So I’m happy it all worked out. Thanks Kodak.