Digitalization of 24 x 36 slides and negatives

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Like any photo hobbyist or professional photographer, I was confronted quickly with the problem to digitalize my slides and negative.
Indeed, once the photo equipment became mostly digital oriented and the problem of organization and storage of the photographs solved, many people wish to digitize his old silver production.

full frame equipment

I quickly abandoned the idea to treat several thousands of slides or black & white or color negatives with a slide scanner.
The result was good but it took two to four minutes per slide including the presentation, the "minimum" treatment on Adobe Photoshop Elements.
The final purpose is more to have a trace of the memories rather than to have a perfect digitalization; it will be always possible to have a very good digitalization after by scanning from original.

In seventies or eighties, it was frequent to find an accessory for reflex camera to duplicate the slides: an extension tube with a slide adapter and frosted glass, the whole being screwed in front of a lens or having its own convergent lens. It is possible to reproduce personal slides with this simple system. The result often suffered from denatured colors and especially of a strong contrast.

With "digital age", the software correction of the colors became very easy. The functions of contrast and corrections of the colors are standard functions in much software. Some other treatments allow a High and low correction Light: DXO but also the function daylight integrated built-in some Nikon cameras.

To duplicate slide or negative, I finally used a full format DSLR, an extension tube, a macro lens with a 1.0 x reproduction ratio and a slide copying adapter with a frosted glass.
I used a Nikon D600 of 24 million pixels, an AI PK13 extension tube, a Micro-Nikkor 55 mm/f2.8 and the Nikon ES-1 slide copying adapter (designed for this purpose).
The result is a very high quality image.


  • Set the camera in Aperture priority mode and to fix it between f8 and f11 to have a good field depth but avoiding diffraction.
  • Set the camera on 200 ISO.
  • Set the camera in mode RAW, that will allow the post treatments without loss of quality.
  • Set the lens on the 1.0 reproduction ratio.
  • Set the focus, not on the lens but by sliding the slide copying adapter until you have a correct focus (the picture below shows the real settings).

    settings of D600 with Micro-Nikkor

  • Check the photo frame. It is the most precise and sharp step; the carry-slide must be as horizontal as the camera. A camera with Live View or a 100% viewfinder like Nikon D3 facilitates these adjustments.
  • Take the picture then to pass to the following negative or slide.

  • Once the photographs taken, it is necessary to pass to the phase of post-production

  • I am using systematically DXO software to treat by batches all photographs taken, not to correct the lens defects but to eliminate too strong contrast, to clear up the photographs and to convert them from RAW to Jpeg. I could pass from RAW to Tiff to avoid any loss of quality but because some slides are directly good enough, they necessarily do not pass by one another treatment.

  • Then I take again the photographs under Jpeg in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

  • For negative the color, I use first the command "Filter > Adjustments > Invert." and as the result is often bad because depend on the color on the origin negative mask,
  • I correct the color dominant with "Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Color For Skin Tone" or "Color Variations".
    An alternative to this manual operations is using a batch freeware as Irfanview which allows an inversion batch of many photos in several directories in one step. < BR >
  • For the slides and negative, I resize the photograph, if needed, I use the orders " Accentuation> Auto Color" or " Accentuation> Auto Contrast", even both.
  • For Black and White pictures, I use "Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove color" command.

  • After these operations the photographs are digitized, we have just to rename and classify them.

    If you have not a Full Frame DLSR, you can use an APS-C DLSR with convergent lens and slide duplicator.

    APS-C equipment

    Nikkor zoom-lens 35~70 mm with convergent lens

    extension tube with adapter sold on ebay

    I found on eBay, for few Euros, an accessory to screw in front of an objective, itself laid down in front of a digital reflex. This accessory with the diameter 52 mm is composed of a convergent lens, an extension tube of xx cm and a carry-slide with its frosted glass. The whole is manufactured in India with a poor quality (the two only screws leveling and badly are screwed) but it works.
    To duplicate slide or negative, once lens assembled with the convergent lens, the extension tube and the carry-slide, I proceed like following with my reflex camera APS-C.
    The quality is less than equipment with Full Frame DSLR and Micro-Nikkor but cheaper. The procedure to take pictures is the same.


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    Photos and texts of this page are on the responsibility of their author only and in any case of Nikon Corporation
    Created May 23rd 2010, Updated October 31th 2015
    © Pierre J.