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Thursday, 16 June 2022

Slide Copier

If you want to copy of an old photographic colour slide or negative, say, to post online or to make a copy of someone else’s slide, what do you do? You take a photo scanner if you have one (I have a Canon flatbed scanner with a film and slide copier in the lid), scan in the image (I use 3200 or 4800 dots per inch), and, of you are a perfectionist, tidy up to dust marks and scratches with Photoshop or similar. It makes for a better quality image than you ever used to get projecting the slide on to a glass bead screen.

But what did you do in the pre-computer nineteen-sixties and seventies? Think: Tandy TRS-80 introduced 1977, Sinclair ZX80 and ZX81 in 1980 and 1980, the 8-colour BBC Microcomputer in late with 1981 and the Sinclair SX Spectrum in 1982. None of these would have been capable of running photo-scanning devices even if they had been available. For example, to Hewlett-Packard Scanjet was introduced in 1987. It operated in black and white at 300 dots per inch, could handle only reflected documents and not film or slides, and cost a fortune.

So what did you do? Another trip to the loft has found my slide copier.
 

 
 
I have the cheapo SLR Mk II version, basically which is a metal frame that just screws to the front of a camera lens. It appears to have cost me £5.34 in around 1974. Here it attached to the front my Zenith E single-lens reflex camera. I have also used extension tubes between the camera body and the lens.


It was terrible. I could never get it to produce a decent image no matter what kind of lighting I used.

For example, here, in a copy from a friend’s slide, I am nearing the top of Ben Nevis in April, 1974, straight up from the Glen Nevis car park. It has not been Photoshopped. I did not even manage to get the light consistent on this one. You didn’t get to see it until the film was processed, and the cost meant you couldn’t have as many goes keep trying until it was right.
 

Looks like another item for metal recycling. Thank goodness for modern photo scanners.

For the sake of completeness, here are the instructions that were in the box (or download as pdf)  





22 comments:

  1. Could you show the slide on a regular screen and take a photo of it? I guess it is the same idea as your little mini one. Interesting inventions!
    I wonder what will happen to all the digital photos we have if ever we cannot access the old computer files...

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    1. Yes, I think you could alternatively have taken a photograph of a projected image but it would be difficult to get the right exposure and light levels. I've backed up all my digital photos multiple times to external hard drives and memory sticks and given copies to various family members. Have also had some printed to keep in old-fashioned albums. Am in process of scanning my parents' photo albums. I've put some of the portraits of people in my Ancestry.com tree. You read about those who have lost everything in house fires, etc., and the family photographs are often the thing that devastates them the most.

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    2. Good ideas. We do have back ups but haven't shared them around and you are right about loss of memories. They might not matter to the next generation, up to them, but my personal nostalgia will sustain me in my dotage.

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  2. Replies
    1. Geeky men liked others to think it a mystery.

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  3. I was never such a purist as you, but I did have a Canon slide copier like yours. After I'd copied all the family slides (my dad was a fine amateur photographer) I donated the unit to my local library. It's still in use; it's a good little machine.

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    1. Sounds like it worked a lot better than mine did - or maybe it was you that worked a lot better than I did.

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  4. I've never seen a slide scanner like that one. In fact, I didn't realize it existed in the 1970s. I have an older Epson flatbed scanner and it does a great job which is good because I still have many photos and slides to scan. That is a slow project but well worth the results. I agree with you about backing up digital photos multiple times. I have over a hundred years worth of family photos and they mean the world to me.

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    1. It does, Bonnie, it takes absolutely ages. You really have to want to do it, and regard it as a long-term project. I reckon I can do a box of 36 slides digitally in around 30-60 minutes, but photoshopping them all would take a lot longer. The cost of film meant you simply would not have do it in the 70s.

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  5. We have no slides but do have lots of a5 sized albums of tiny photos passed on by previous generations. Loads of farming scenes occupied by people we can't now name unfortunately.

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    1. If they were mine I would still be thinking about scanning in the ones I do recognize or have meaning.

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  6. My grandparents had boxes of slides but no-one ever thought of having them scanned or copied in any other way. After January 2001, when my grandma died (grandpa had died in 1989) and we had to empty and sell the house, I guess the slides ended up in the large landfill container we had set up outside for the many unwanted, unneeded and unrepairable items the house was filled with during non-stop residence by one family since 1935.
    (We still have plenty of things from that house - most of my living room furniture and my everyday crockery is from my grandparents, for instance.)

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    1. That's sad, but it happens. My uncle disposed of most of my maternal grandparents photographs. My aunt later remembered some of them, such as pictures of my great- and great-great grandparents. We have no idea what they looked like now.

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  7. I've got a box of my wedding slides somewhere, but we never even had a viewer, so we only saw each picture by holding it up to the light. I don't think I'll ever bother converting them.

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    1. Perhaps it depends one's interest in nostalgia. I would be be scanning those as a top priority, but not everyone has the same kind of interests.

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    2. I have most of the same photos in a wedding album.

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  8. I have read the instructions and now I feel like slashing my wrists. Sure that figure on the slopes of Ben Nevis is not an escaped chimpanzee?

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    1. I have sent a copy of the instructions to the question setter who is planning to include some items based on them in your next pub quiz. So I suggest you learn them. I also have inside knowledge that there will be questions about the conversion of Kelvin colour temperatures into mireds, and the meaning of abbreviations such as TTL.

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    2. P.S. There were no such questions in the pub quiz you bounder! Now I suspect that you were simply winding me up for your own amusement!

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  9. Dear Tasker, yes, technology has become so much better and easier to use.
    We had such a lot of slides - now they are on CDs (here hopefully they last some time).
    One thing - I think - was good: using films which had only a limited number of photos made you think a lot before you took a photo - nowadays I drown in photos on my cellphone and computer - much too many, because so easily to take.

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    1. I have things on CDs and DVDs too, but my collection of old photos (not about recent ones but scanned slides and albums) now occupies around 30GB - around 7 DVDs which is awkward to manage. There will be more when I scan my parents photograph albums. Also, they are not always as reliable and long-lasting as we were once led to believe, and a lot of computers now come without DVD/CD drives so you need an external one. It isn't easy, is it.

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