Convert your slides to digital with the best scanner devices in 2018

Author: Zoltan Peter

About 200 million photo slides are waiting to be digitalized in the US alone.
How many have you got?

The age of slides is definitely over - you need to scan your photo slides to digital as soon as possible to preserve them for your family - forever. Convert 35mm slides to digital at home with these excellent slide scanner devices. Described in this article you will find an overview of slide scanning methods. In this article I will talk about slide scanning devices exclusively. Scroll down to see my reviews of the best slide converter devices available on the market this year. The choice is up to you. Convert slides to photos now and relive your memories. In this article I will provide you with reviews and guidelines for choosing the best scanner device to convert slides to digital.

Explanation of technical parameters

In order to make an informed decision, you must know what the technical parameters of these scanners mean. I will explain all of them very shortly below. If you are an expert, feel free to scroll on.

Resolution: the higher the value, the more crisp and detailed your scan will be. A value of 500 DPI means 500 dots per inch - that's 500x500 or 25000 dots per square inch. Check out this wikipedia article for more details if you wish. Several devices boast extremely high DPI values - most of these are result of postprocessing steps, not physical resolution. These are basically zoomed, interpolated images with no added details. I will always display the physical resolution of the device in my reviews.

Sensor: the sensors are small components designed to capture the light, responsible for building the image. Most digital imaging devices use either CMOS or CCD sensors. CCDs consume much more energy, but create less noisy, sharper images. Since slide scanners usually don't run on battery, the power consumption is not relevant. Avoid CMOS sensors and buy CCD whenever you can if you are interested in high quality images.

Color depth: digital images are represented by numbers - RGB (red, green, blue) values. The higher the color depth, the longer numbers are used for storing image data, resulting in better representation of the original image. Monitor and TV screens usually have 32 bit color depth, so don't worry much if you can't pick up a 48 bit scanner - you won't see the difference.

Format: there are LOTS of film and slide formats. Check out this article for a comprehensive list. Identify which kind of format your slides have and choose a device which is capable of processing these formats.

Why you should never scan slides with flatbed scanners

There are lots of articles all over the internet about scanning slides and negatives with flatbed scanners. It is definitely possible, but I strongly advise you do NOT do that. First of all, you need to pull off tricks to scan slides on a flatbed because slides are designed to be lit THROUGH. Your flatbed scanner will NOT send light through the slides, it will just collect reflected light, resulting in very bad scans. However you can build clever little devices to reflect light through the film to make a mediocre scan, but it's just that: mediocre. Not good enough and definitely not top notch. Observe the differences in this nicely conducted experiment.

Very important warning regarding film rolls

Just a reminder to be on the safe side. Please, never try to process undeveloped film rolls. Never take undeveloped films out of their casing, this will destroy the film. If the film is in the casing, you can be almost sure it's undeveloped. Make sure you only use developed films.

Image transfer from standalone products

Many of the slide converter devices have NO way of directly transfering images to your Mac or PC. They store images into a small internal memory, which can be extended.
In order to store more than a few dozen images on your device, you definitely need to use an additional SD card to extend its memory.
Transferring images from SD card to desktop devices is tricky. You need an SD card reader or you can use your digital camera as a card reader. Just load the SD card into your digital camera when you're done with scanning and transfer images from your camera as usual.

Okay, let's start the slide converter reviews. Convert slides to digital in your home.

Pacific Image PrimeFilm XE 35mm Film & Slide Scanner

Resolution4100 DPI
SensorCCD
Color depth48-bit
FormatSlides, 35mm film
CompatibilityWindows, Mac
User manualClick to download PDF
Customer rating
☛ check price on Amazon

PROs: the strengths

CONs: the weaknesses

The verdict

Very good quality scans, high value bundled software for digital post processing. No film roll processing. Fairly expensive.

Jumbl 22MP All-In-1 Film & Slide Scanner

Resolution3200 DPI
SensorCMOS
Color depth32-bit
FormatSlides, 35mm slides and negatives, 110, 126 KPK, Super 8 Slides, Super 8 Negative
CompatibilityWindows, Mac (data transfer only). Standalone product - results stored on SD card
User manualClick to open
Customer rating
☛ check price on Amazon

PROs: the strengths

CONs: the weaknesses

The verdict

Very high degree of compatibility, but weaker scan quality. Scan all popular formats. Friendly price tag. Very popular device.

Wolverine F2D Super 20MP

Resolution20 Mpix (roughly 3000 DPI)
SensorUnknown
Color depth32-bit
Format35mm slides, 110, 126 KPK, Super 8 Slides, Super 8 Negatives
CompatibilityStandalone product - results stored on SD card
User manualClick to download PDF
Customer rating
☛ check price on Amazon

PROs: the strengths

CONs: the weaknesses

The verdict

Very similar to the Jumblr device. High compatibility, no computer needed to process scans. Cheap and efficient device to transfer slides to digital.

Wolverine Titan 8-in-1

Resolution3000 DPI
SensorCCD
Color depth32-bit
FormatSlides: 135 (35mm), 110, 126 KPK, 127 VPK, Negatives: 135 (35mm), 110, 126 KPK, 127 VPK, APS, Microfiche, Super 8 and 8mm movies
CompatibilityStandalone product - results stored on SD card
User manualClick to download PDF
Customer rating
☛ check price on Amazon

PROs: the strengths

CONs: the weaknesses

The verdict

Probably the best standalone slide converter product. Highest range of formats processed, the LCD screen and the HDMI option makes it more versatile.

Epson Perfection V600

Resolution6400 DPI
SensorCCD
Color depth48-bit
FormatAll medium format film (24x36mm to 4x5 inch), 35mm film strips, photographs
CompatibilityWindows, Mac
User manualClick to open
Customer rating
☛ check price on Amazon

PROs: the strengths

CONs: the weaknesses

The verdict

Highest DPI in this review. Very versatile device, scanning almost anything and everyting. Including photos. Very high quality scans, high customer ratings and popularity. Lots of very valuable automated image correction options.

Wrapping it up

In the $70-$150 range you can usually find standalone devices with cheap hardware producing mediocre quality scans. Most of these devices are compatible with all the popular film and slide formats and have a very simple user interface with just a handful of functions. Images are recorded to SD card, which must be transferred to Mac or PC in a separate step. You might need to buy an extra SD card and/or a card reader to store and transfer your scans.
In the $200+ range you will find devices that directly transfer slides to digital onto your Mac or PC. They come with crisp CCD sensors and high value bundled software to enhance image quality. Some of these devices are versatile like the Epson Perfection, but many are specialized to process a single format only.