Can I scan slides on my flatbed scanner?

If you look at your memories that are lying down in the corner of your house, they normally constitute to more than 50 percent of photos. The rest will mostly constitute to the negative 35mm films or transparencies.

If you don’t know, the negative transparencies are the rolls that are inserted into any analog camera in the early 70s till the 2000s or even later. They are the films that are exposed to light for a split of a second to capture the light that falls on them.

The way these negatives capture the sunlight is as said, negative. The true colors are inverted and captured. While developing, this has to be reverted to true colors and developed.

Similar to the negatives are the positives, also called slides. They are those types of materials that can be projected through light on a white wall similar to how the modern days projectors work.

You can be changing slides one by one manually and you will be displaying the content of the slide on the screen that the slides are projected to.

This is where the modern PowerPoint gets the name slides from. If you actually show the slides to sunlight, you can easily figure out the content of the slides.

Why do you think the negatives cannot be projected like a slide?

As we have already spoken, they are both slightly different though they both are transparencies. While the negatives are an impression of the inverted light, the slides are a direct impression of the light falling on it.

This is why the slides are also called positives. They actually contain the true colors that can be printed on any material without inversion and if the Sun passes through them they can directly be projected on a wall.

How to scan slides?

With the above knowledge and a little common sense, I went ahead to explore how to scan slides. Scanning is nothing but converting the hardcopy to a digital image that is ready for print.

To do this, the first thing is, you need to have a scanner. If you think you can scan even negatives using a standard flatbed scanner, please read this article.

As a note, I would like to bring to your notice that even in this article, we are against going ahead with scanning the negatives using just a standard flatbed scanner.

You can view the types of scanners here in this article that covers most of the types, which even helps you scan negatives and slides, a professional way.

But, as opposed to negatives, the slides are a little easier to scan. Without wasting time, let us get started.

How to scan slides using a flatbed scanner?

If you have read the types of scanners, you would be, by now, certainly be familiar with flatbed scanners. These scanners are the typical ones that are available in the market.

Being the most affordable scanners, a light moves and passes through the photos that are kept above a glass. While it passes through, the light collects the information in the form of bits or pixels and stores them in the PC.

So, essentially, if you have to scan anything using a flatbed scanner, you will have to place the hardcopy on the glass, which is for all practical purposes called a flatbed.

If you just place the slides like any other hardcopy and scan them, you will just be capturing the positive frame like the following image.

Slides scanned like Photos

Select such kind of a scanner that can scan at least up to 1200 PPI resolution.

Oh! Then what do we do? Don’t worry, going forward, we will cover the procedure step by step in this article.

The first thing you have to start with is the light. The light? No, not the light that is already being produced by the bar that moves from one place to another.

The is the backlight that helps the scanner better understand the slides. Remember, a light from behind the slide makes it easier for us to understand the content?

The same light is required from behind to scan the slides that are ready to be printed, better.

How to arrange the backlight to scan slides?

  1. There are many options to do this. The best option is to find an LED light that is flat in shape. The bigger the LED light can cover the flatbed area, the better.
  2. Now place the slides on the flatbed. Place as many slides as the LED light can cover
  3. Place the LED light on the slide so that it covers the whole slide light it up.
  4. Turn on the light, so you can start scanning. See to it that the light does not get turned off during the process.
  5. Scan the slide at at least about 1200 PPI. If you scan at a lower resolution, you might not get a good output, since the slides are, as is 35mm size, which is way too small to scan at any lower resolution.
  6. In some scanners, you have the option to crop the soft copy, right during the process of scanning. If you have the option to crop while scanning, then you will be provided with one more option of previewing before scan.
  7. Start previewing before scanning. This helps you to crop that portion and scan only the required part of the slide and save it to an output directory right out of the box.
  8. Using a scanner that allows cropping multiple slides from the preview will make the process faster
  9. After doing all this, scan the images. If you want a step-by-step process to do this, please follow this article.
  10. Now that you have scanned, the images are stored in the computer, in the location that you provided it with.

If you look at the images, they are already ready to be printed, but for some minor scratches. These scratches are a part of the originals. As the slides are very small (about 35mm), when you scan them at a high resolution and try to zoom in, these scratches will be visible to your naked eye.

How do we fix the scratches in the slides after scanning?

Well, this is a lot tougher for the fact that there is a lot of manual intervention needed, and getting human resources is equally expensive.

If you want to do it all by yourself, you can follow the below video and learn the process. I am reiterating that it is not an easy task.

Using Gimp

Using Photoshop

How to scan the slides removing the scratches?

This option is a better option, instead of wasting time, if you are a newbie. But, this involves spending some bucks.


If you have a large no. of slides along with your friends and family members, you can plan on purchasing a scanner by referring to this article.

If you enjoy scanning relishing the old memories, you can take up the task of scanning. Otherwise, it is better to hire a resource to do this job for you.


The second one is the best option if you are really concerned about the quality. Outsource the whole set of slides to a reliable shop that is in the field and knows how to professionally handle your priceless memory.

Yes, these are priceless as, if you lose them or damage them, you are in for a shock that may last for a lifetime.

We at ScanJunction understand this fact better by handling your priceless memory, we follow the safety first protocol.

Find such companies that understand the safety of your photos is the most important part of the process. In addition, see to it that they provide good quality photos in a range of resolutions based on your requirement.

If you want to know more about resolutions, please read this article.


So the bottom line is, if you know photoshop or any other restoration apps and have time, you can scan and do the scratch removal once you scan them using flatbed scanners. If you are not familiar with any of these then better to buy a professional scanner or get the slides scanned at a professional place that values your priceless memories.

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