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Teaching an old Dog New Tricks - Learning to use a Slide Duplicator

Posted Dec 02 2008 3:06am
My dad recently moved from a lovely big house in the Coromandel, into a smaller unit in a retirement village. Like everyone who has gone from big to smaller, they were faced with a lot of things that were ‘surplus to their needs’. The items of value were passed down to us kids (6 of us), and the rest was sold in a garage sale. Amongst other things, I am now the proud new owner of a huge box of slides, and a slide projector, which as yet, I don’t know how to use.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s slide photography was the way to go. Easy to store, family movies, and probably cheaper than film developing. My father was one of the many who used this medium, and he was a good and prolific photographer. By the 70’s, only the diehards were still doing slide photography, the rest was now using film. No doubt, like my parents, there are thousands of families with boxes of slides hidden away in a cupboard or attic, and hardly ever seen. Heck Slide projectors are becoming a thing of the past as well. I can’t remember the last time I watched a slide show with family images, but it was probably when I was younger than 15 anyway. That’s at least 30 years ago.

All the slides were taken on a retina 111c 50mm focal length, 7 bladed compur rapid lens speeds 1 second to 500th pus B & T for flash photography Flash bulbs were used and one had to calculate distance and aperture for each shot.Dad still has the camera – it cost 71 pounds or $142 back in the late 50's. It was also used for candid photography at weddings for a professional photographer. It had a unique lens system - the front of the standard lens came off and two supplementary lenses were available, a 40 mm wide angle and an 80mm telephoto lens.

As a scrapbooker I’m interested in the family history, so I was pleased to get these boxes of slides, however, I can’t use them as slides, unless I get the slide projector out and do some family movies – which might be on the agenda this winter. Nothing like hot chocolates and the rest of the family over to ooh and ahh over our baby photos of nearly 50 years ago! But as a scrapbooker, I really don’t want slides – I want photos. Which got me thinking of how to convert them to digital images.

First I looked into buying a scanner, but there are drawbacks to these. Firstly is the expense, and then the time. A good negative/slide scanner for good quality images will set you back in the vicinity of $1500 to $2500. However it’s slow going. The scanning process itself is slow, and then once converted you have a bit of work to do on the colour settings etc..
I then looked at commercial places, and the cheapest I could get them scanned were with someone who could do it for $150 for 500 slides. That’s quite good. Not bad – but I have way more than 500 slides.

I asked my camera club what they thought, and was told of an attachment that could be put on my existing camera lens, where you slide the slides in, take a photo of it, and hey presto, you have a RAW file or JPG that you can then work on in Photoshop, then print for the scrapbook albums, or simply make up a slideshow that will work on any computer. Now this sounded promising. Racing home I immediately googled and one of these attachments on the computer. They’re called a Slide Duplicator. Not too bad a price at $69 from Bug Eyed Digital in the USA, although the postage and packaging was $29. No choice in that though unfortunately, so I ordered it and it arrived last week.

I’ve taken photos to show you what it’s all about.. Firstly – the slide duplicator




My lens on my camera is a 58mm, and the slide duplicator is a 52mm, so I needed a stepping ring for it..


Then a lens. The best lens for the job was my 28-80mm lens that I got with my Canon EOS 500 film camera many moons ago. I tried all my digital lenses but they weren’t the right ones. 18-55mm digital lens was too small, 75-3000mm was too big, I have yet to try my 100mm macro – but I would imagine it’s slightly too big. Although F2.8 would probably be better !


Next are the slides themselves – this is just a very tiny cache of what I actually have to duplicate. My mother has just told me she has another huge box up at home for me to sort through as well.


Lastly – there is the slide holder – which holds just two slides at a time, that you push though the ened of the attachment, look through your camera, and take the photo.


The last two nights, I have spent sorting through the slides my dad gave me. I’ve sorted them out into several piles. My baby/childhood photos. my brothers childhood/baby photos, my mother and father’s wedding day, any of Mum, any of Dad, any I could use as a stock libray, and historical shots. Some of these slides I have no memory of, I can’t ever remember seeing them, others I remember well. Some of them are really interesting historically, as landscapes, cityscapes have changed so much since the 50’s and 60’s. On a visit to New York my dad took photos of the shop window fashions in the late 50’s early 60’s. Some even have price tags on them. Beautiful outfits for only $54 yet so elaborate they’d probably sell these days for $600 to $1000! Another lot of slide images were from the Rockefeller Centre in NYC looking out over Central Park. Interestingly enough I was there in 2006 and took the same photos. I can’t wait to compare them!

Today I spent about 40 minutes duplicating about 75 slides. The results? Well – some are better than others. They aren’t as sharp as I would like, yet some are sharper than others. I suspect it’s something I’m doing so will experiment more tomorrow. However here are some of the results so far..

Me at about 6 months old – probably the sharpest image I took – got to find out what I did differently on this one.

Me at 12 months old – no wonder I like photographing birds so much as that’s a bird down my bib front. I feel though that this image could be sharper.


Me blowing out candles on my cake at two with my brother helping. Sharper than most images.



Me at 7 on Mt Ruapehu in the snow – the snow is black from the neighbouring mountain Ngauruhoe belching out smoke. This is probably the sharpest image so far.


That’s it for now. I obviously have my work cut out for me in the coming weeks. Keeps me out of trouble I guess!

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