How To Convert Film Slides To Digital Pictures – Easy DIY setup for any camera

How To Convert Film Slides To Digital Pictures – Easy DIY setup for any camera


Our memories are more like photos than videos. We remember moments. Snapshots in time. Photos allow us to share these
moments with others. Some may have been there with us and photos
give us a common anchor point. Some may not have been, separated by distance,
time or both, and photos allow us to share our experience with them. Imagine what it’d be like if you could move
those memorable moments captured with physical images into the digital world. You could have a historical record that doesn’t
degrade over time. You could instantly share them others around
the world. You could compile them into new and different
ways. Stick around and I’ll show you how to move
from imagination to reality. In this episode, I’m going to show an easy
DIY build to help you digitize either slides or negatives. Its primary materials are some cardboard
and an inexpensive light you can get at the home improvement store or online for less
than ten dollars. And you can use any camera. An SLR if you have one. Or your phone. Or anything in between. Welcome to the House of Hacks. If we’re just meeting, I’m Harley and
I show you how to create stuff in the workshop. Sometimes it’s out of wood or metal.
Today it’s going to be out of cardboard and duct tape. Basically, we’re going to make a light filled
box. This does two things for us. It diffuses the light nicely so we don’t have
any hot spots in our final image and it gives us a place to mount either a slide or negative. Whatever’s mounted here gets lit up nicely
and then we can use any camera to make an image of it. I’ll show some samples from my SLR and my
phone later in the video. Let’s get started. The tools we’re going to need are: a box knife, a straight edge, a right angle, a pen, and a measuring tape. The materials we’re going to use are: some scrap cardboard. (Both corrugated and non-corrugated.), white duct tape,
or you can use white paper or paint, shop lamp, daylight balanced LED light bulb, and glue. I’m going to be using this inexpensive shop
light as a light source. They come in various sizes. This is one of the smaller ones with an 8.5”
reflector. You can get them at any home improvement store
or online. They’ll take any kind of light bulb, but I’m
going to be using an LED. These run cooler and have great color rendition. I recommend using daylight balanced for the
best color in your final images. And this one happens to be a 100 watt equivalent. Since the light is going to be bouncing around
inside the box quite a bit, I wanted something with a higher wattage in order to be able
to keep the ISO in the camera down lower. I’ll leave Amazon affiliate links to all
of this down in the description below. First, let’s make a box to contain the light
and give us a place to mount the slides or negatives. This needs to be large enough for the light
to mount to and also so there’s enough room for the light to disburse nicely. Too small and you may end up with some shadows
or gradients. I’m going to use an old cardboard box that
was used for shipping. You could also use some foam board from the
craft store and cut it to the desired size. First I mark a circle where I want to put
the light. Now, I’m going to cut a hole in the cardboard
above the reflector for the film mounting point. I have a number of different film sizes I
work with, so I’m going to make this a bit larger than the largest negative I’ll want
to duplicate. In my case it’s 120 film and making it a
bit larger keeps the thick edges of the cardboard from casting shadows on the film. This gives me an idea for the size to cut
the rest of the box to. I want the box to be about as deep as the
light is round, so, looking from the top, roughly square. The idea is to have the light shine in one
direction, bounce off the back and then into the film mounted on the same plane as the
light. If we put the light on the opposite side of
the film so it’s shining directly on it, we might get some hot spots or an unevenness
of exposure from the middle of the film to the edges. Bouncing it this way should help eliminate
that problem. So, this box is a bit larger than I need. I’ll use a box knife to cut it down to size. I don’t want the inside of the box to be
this brownish, cardboard color because that would give us a color cast to the light. I want it to be as close to a neutral white
as possible. I’m going to line the inside of this box with
white duct tape. But you could also use white paint or glue
white paper to the inside. We just need it to be white. And of course, this step could be skipped
if white foam board was used. Now that the box is white inside, I’m going
to tape the box closed. Next, I’ll tape the light to the box. To do this, I’m going to first put down
a layer of tape on the outside of box. Then I’m going to tape the light to the
tape on the box, making sure to fold over the end of the tape to give me a little pull
tab. By taping to the tape on the box instead of
the box itself, it’ll be easy to remove the light without tearing up the box. We’re almost ready to use this, but first
we need an easy place to put the film. In addition to 35mm film cameras, I have a
number of cameras that take 120 film and expose it in different aspect ratios. Some give me square images and some give me
wider images. I’m going to use this thin cardboard to
make different holders for the various sizes so I can convert images from any of my cameras. For each type of film, I cut a large base
piece that covers the hole in the box. These can all be the same size. Then each base gets a smaller hole for a particular
film format. Finally I make holders appropriate for each
type of film to hold it in place. For slides, I cut some cardboard and glued
in a U shape around the hole. Then I glued a small piece of cardboard on
the corners to help hold the slide in place. This will allow the slides to be consistently
placed in the same location. For film, I’ll use cardboard folded to the
correct size to make a sleeve and line it with fabric to minimize scratches. I can then run the film through this sleeve. Like the area around the opening for the light,
I put more tape on the box around the hole where the film holders go and also on the
film holders themselves. Then whatever film holder I need for the project
at hand can be taped to the box and removed without tearing anything up. Now that we have the box constructed, let’s
put it to use and get it setup. I’ve got a nice stable setup here with the
box on the table and the camera on a tripod. When you set this up, you want to make sure
your camera is straight on with the image that you’re taking a picture of. If there’s any angle involved at all, one
side will be smaller then the other and you’ll have distortion that you need to fix in post
processing. They way that I’ve found easiest to set this
up is to level the camera and then raise and lower the tripod until the images were centered
between what I was taking the picture of and the camera. And then I could move the box in and out to
change the zoom level until the image completely fills the sensor. In my case, I have a 35mm camera, full-frame,
and a true macro lens and 35mm slides that I’m taking pictures of so I can perfectly
fill the image of the slide with the camera. If you have a different camera, different
lens or different film, then the aspect ratios may not perfectly line up and you’ll end up
with black bars on either the sides or top and bottom in order to see the entire image. If you’re using a zoom lens in your setup,
you want to set it to something over 100mm ideally. This’ll give you the least amount of distortion. If your wider than that, then the edges may
get distorted because of the lens optics. Now that we have the physical setup, we need
to setup the settings inside the camera. There’s two things we’re concerned with: exposure
and white balance. For exposure, we need to make sure the light’s
on, set the camera to manual mode and look at just the white light coming out of the
box. We want to set this so that our camera’s histogram
is as far to the right as possible without actually getting clipped off. I have a video that talks about this in more
detail. This’ll give us the most amount of brightness
in our images without glowing out any details. For white balance, you want to use the custom
setting. How this is setup will vary from one camera
to the next, so look in your user’s manual to find out how to setup yours. Now that everything is setup, I’m ready to
put a slide in the holder and start making images. This box will work with any camera. I just showed an SLR but I’ve got my phone
here and I can use it to just kind of position there and take an image. It’d be better if I had a tripod for my phone
if I was doing a lot of these. But I don’t and hand held works fine enough
for demonstration purposes. I also found that digital zoom works but having
a clip on macro lens works even better. These are inexpensive for cheap ones. They’re not perfect lenses but they’re satisfactory. As I mentioned, different cameras, different
lenses and different films will give you different aspect ratios and may require some post processing. Slides of course don’t require post processing
for color correction but you may need to adjust for crop. Negatives will need some color correction. Obviously you need to invert the colors and
I go into a lot of details about different camera lenses and the effects that they have
and also how to post process negatives in this video over here. I’ll see you over there. Down here is a video that YouTube thinks you’ll
enjoy. And when making things, remember… Perfection’s not required. Fun is!

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  1. Have you converted physical images to digital using this or another method? How did it work for you?
    For more details about using different cameras and lenses and how they impact the resulting converted image, check out this video: https://youtu.be/iMO50AlGyrw

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