Odds are, you’ve probably got some old film negatives or slides sitting around somewhere that you’ve been meaning to digitize for quite some time now. And with a slide to digital image converter at your side, you can quickly check this chore off your to-do list and get all of your newly-digitized images uploaded and shared on social media in no time.
Update, 9/14/21: Checked content for accuracy. Replaced ClearClick with DIGITNOW.
These devices might seem daunting, but they’re actually super easy to use and are designed to facilitate speedy conversion. That said, there are definitely a few features and other bits of information you should know about before jumping in:
- Format Compatibility: Not all converters can scan every size of slides and negatives, so double check what kinds of film you have and ensure you choose a converter that’s compatible. Most of these devices do work with 35, 110, and 126 negatives and slides, but only a few support 127, Super 8, microfiche, or physical prints.
- Photo Editing Options: While these converters don’t exactly have Photoshop built into them, some do have basic photo-editing abilities that’ll allow you to adjust the color or exposure of each image. This is often enough to make your photos look decent, though, you always have the option to skip this step and just edit your photos on your computer. Additionally, you’ll want to verify the output resolution of the scanner. We favor scanners that offer between 14-20MP, as they can usually upscale your photo and make it larger without mucking it up.
- Accessories: The best digital image converters come with a variety of accessories, including frames to hold your slides and film, cables to power it or connect it to a computer, a film cleaning brush or cloth to remove dust, and a user manual. Some might also throw in an SD card, but you can always use one of your own if you prefer.
If your old slides and negatives have been sitting around, it’s likely that they’ve accrued dust or possibly even fallen victim to mold or water damage over the years. While not every slide can be salvaged, you should take a moment to clean each one off the best that you can before running them through your image converter. These devices typically come with a gentle brush that you can use to clean off any dust particles or other gunk on your slides, though you can use a soft cloth just as easily.
It’s worth noting that if there is more severe damage, such as that from mold or water, there won’t be much you can do. However, you might be able to fix things with photo-editing software if you’re familiar with that. You could also send your classic media off to a professional photo-digitizing service or still digitize them and send the files off to a professional photo-editing service. These options can be expensive, especially if you have a high volume of images you’re looking to process, but it can be hard to put a price on cherished memories.
The Wolverine Titan 8-in-1 is an easy choice for our best overall slide to digital image converter thanks to its wide format compatibility, large built-in display, and high output resolution. The Titan 8-in-1 offers standalone performance, so you won’t have to bother plugging it into a computer to get it to work, and its small lightweight design makes it easy to carry around or store.
The film-to-digital converter works with the widest variety of formats of any converter in our lineup, including 135 (35mm),126, 127, 110, Advantex APS slides and negatives, microfiche, and Super 8 movie film. It’s unable to scan and convert physical photo prints, however. It can also digitize an image into 20MP JPEGs in about three seconds, which makes for pretty fast processing. It includes fast-loading slide adapters that allow you to quickly move your media through the converter with minimal effort.
The 4.3-inch color display lets you see your images before and after digitization and rotate them clockwise as needed. It lacks serious photo-editing options, however, so touch-ups will require separate editing software if you want edits made. Images can be saved to SD or SDHC cards (not included) up to 32GB for easy transferring to your computer once you’re done converting. The device also has an HDMI-to-out jack for viewing on a TV, if you prefer. It also comes in three colors, which is a nice bonus to have. Overall, the Wolverine Titan 8-in-1 is easy to use and makes the conversion process fast and easy.
Wolverine Titan 8-in-1
The Titan 8-in-1 has massive compatibility and a large screen to work with.
If you want to digitize your classic media but are on a budget, the Zonoz FS-3 22MP All-in-1 is a wonderful, affordable choice. It offers excellent format compatibility—supporting 35, 110, 126 slides and negatives along with Super 8 film—and its standalone functionality lets you convert your images wherever you’re computer as you won’t be tethered to a computer.
In addition to the Zonoz being budget-friendly, it also has the highest output resolution—22MP. This means your images will come out looking sharper than they would on the other converters. It also has basic photo-editing capabilities, like brightness adjustment and image flipping or mirroring, making it less likely you’ll need to fuss with separate photo editing software after. It allows you to use SD cards up to 32GB (not included).
The Zonoz has a small built-in color display that allows you to view your images and various menu options with ease. It comes with adapter tray frames for fast media loading, a cleaning brush, USB and TV cables, and a user manual. It’s easy to use and comes with everything you need to get started.
Zonoz FS-3 22MP All-in-1
The Zonoz FS-3 22MP All-in-1 is perfect for scanning common media types on a budget.
If you’re going to scan and digitize a ton of photos, you’ll need a lot of storage. Your best bet for such a scenario is the Kodak SCANZA. Where other devices limit you to 32GB SD cards, the SCANZA allows SD cards as large as 128GB (not included). We also like it for its large display, powerful photo-editing options, and a full array of included accessories, making it well worth its slightly higher cost.
The image converter works with 35, 126, 110, and Super 8 negatives and slides. Compatibility is a little more limited than most other devices, but it should be enough for most people. However, as we mentioned above, it’s got plenty of other terrific features and accessories that more than make up for this shortcoming. It ships with a USB power cable, an HDMI cable, AC adapter, a video cable, six adapter trays, and a film cleaning brush.
The bright 3.5-inch TFT LCD screen makes it easy to see your photos and the menu options, and it allows you to adjust its angle so it’s more comfortable for you. The interface allows you to easily capture an image once it’s in frame and review the images you’ve previously digitized. up to 22MP as well.
The Kodak SCANZA offers tons of storage space, making it perfect for large conversion projects.
The DIGITNOW All-in-One Scanner is a solid option for anyone needing to convert physical photo prints in addition to 35mm slides and negatives. The standalone device is easy to use, especially with its small 2.4-inch color display that allows you to view your images and navigate the handful of menu items.
Adapter tray frames for holding your slides and photo prints are included, and the slots for inserting them into the scanner are clearly denoted on this device. However, you will have to manually switch it between the film-scanning and photo-scanning modes; while this is kind of annoying, it only takes a second so it’s not a huge deal. The converter is compatible with 5×7, 4×6, and 3.5×5 photos, and can digitize them up to 16MP.
Digitized photos can be saved to an SD card and a 4GB memory card is included, which should be sufficient to hold up to 1,000 photos. The converter also comes with a disc of image retouching software (only works with Windows—sorry macOS users), so you’ll have some recourse for editing your photos even if you don’t own Photoshop. You can also plug the scanner into a USB port on your Mac or Windows computer to transfer them without an SD card.
Use the ClearClick Scanner if you need to digitize smaller physical photos or 35mm film.