How to scan and archive 35mm slides – Part 2

by Sasha on May 20, 2008

So if you read Part 1, you’ve gathered your slides, purchased your 35mm slide storage box from Archival Methods, and you’re computer is set up and ready to go, so now what?!

My scanner can do four slides at a time, so I would assume most consumer scanners out there are the same.

1. Wipe down scanner bed with silk chamois.

2. Clean each slide with sild chamois, getting as much dust off as you can.

3. Your options will probably set to a default of 300dpi and 24-bit. If you plan on blowing up a really large print of a specific slide then you can choose 600dpi, 48-bit. Just a note, that the scans will take quite a bit longer at the higher dpi and bit rate.

4. Scan away!

5. Name and save files to folders you’ve created on your computer or external hard drive.

6. BACKUP! Always create a duplicate backup. Purchase an extra external hard drive just for that purpose or burn copies to DVDs. If you’re really obsessive, give some DVD copies to another family member for safe keeping. I know someone who keeps an external hard drive backup in a safety deposit box. Think about it!

7. Store slides in a cool dry place for permanent storage.

And now I’ll get into specific details. When I scan I use Photoshop, so when each set of four slides are done, the unsaved files are open on my desktop. I save my files as native Photoshop files (PSD files) and then create jpegs later. Supposedly PSD files have the most information and are also the largest file size so that’s why I first save them that way. If you’re not using Photoshop I recommend saving them at the highest quality jpeg or tiff possible. You can always make a photo smaller later but you can’t go back up without losing quality. Yes, it will take up more hard drive space but you really should keep them at highest quality.

As far as naming, there are many ways. I myself would like to do some more research about file naming photos. What I did for now, and this might change later, was name them according to event or category. So let’s say you have 100 slides from a trip to Disney World in 1984. Here’s how I would title the files: Disney_84_1, Disney84_1, or DisneyTrip_84_1. And then all you do is change the last numeral 2 to 100. If anyone else has any good ideas on naming out there, please send them my way.

Now, for file structure on your computer – I created files that exactly match the way the Archival Method Storage Box is constructed. I had so many slides that I had to buy 2 of the large boxes and 2 smaller trays for the few hundred extra leftover.

The system is constructed as follows:

1 – Master Box (holds total of 1200 slides)

6 – Slide Trays inside Master Box (hold 200 slides each)

8 – Slide Bins in each of the 6 Slide Trays (hold 25 slides each)

My folder structure on my computer is set up to mirror the physical box.

  • Main folder is titled “Box One”
  • In the “Box One” folder I create 6 more folders titled “Slide Tray 1, Slide Tray 2, and so on until Slide Tray 6.
  • In each of the 6 “Slide Tray” folders I create 8 folders “Bin 1, Bin 2, Bin 3, thru Bin 8.”

Hopefully I’m making sense and not confusing you, but if you follow this method, you’ll always be able to account for all your slides or go back and scan something again if necessary. You’ll easily be able to locate the specific slide.

Well, that’s it! Happy scanning!