Using an inexpensive film scanner is a cost effective way to digitize slides and negatives. This post takes you through the process I use to digitize slides and negatives using the film scanner I recently purchased.
Like many people over the age of forty, I have hundreds, if not thousands, of pre-digital slides and negatives I want to digitize. Film deteriorates over time so converting them to a digital format effectively protects the images from decay as well as from fire and flood, especially if they are backed up and saved in the Cloud. It would probably cost me thousands of dollars to get my photos converted professionally, so I digitize slides and old film negatives myself using a film scanner at a fraction of the cost.
I’ve recently been digitizing my old 35mm colour slides and print negatives and getting good results. If you are thinking about doing this too, here is what I do, and use, so you can see how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to do.
What I use to digitize slides and negatives
I use a jumbl All In One Film Scanner, but there are other similar ones available on the market (see below). I’ll describe how the “jumbl” works in this post, and I believe some of the others work in a similar way. However, you should verify before your purchase. The jumbl is currently unavailable. However, the Magnasonic 22MP is a very similar model.
See the Magnasonic 22MP on Amazon here
The jumbl film scanner with provided accessories
The jumbl film scanner can convert 35mm, 126KPK, 110 and Super 8 (cine) negatives to jpegs which can be saved onto your computer. The device comes with:
- 35mm slide holder
- 35mm film negative holder
- 110 film negative holder
- Super 8 film holder
- USB to mini USB lead
- TV Cable
- Mains power plug
- Cleaning brush
- Instruction manual
The jumbl is a stand alone device so it doesn’t need to be connected to a computer to work. This is ideal if you want to take it somewhere, say to visit an elderly relative to scan their slide or photo collection. It has a built in memory that can store up to 50 images, however this won’t be enough if you have a lot of slides to scan in one session. There is a slot for an SD card, so I do recommend that you get one as you will be able to store a lot more pictures.
The film scanner can be powered either directly from a wall socket using the plug provided and the USB cable or you can just plug the USB cable into your computer. I recommend doing this so that you can easily transfer files.
How to use the film scanner
jumbl film scanner controls
The device is very easy to use once you have read the simple manual. Everything is done on the jumbl’s screen using the arrow buttons on the top to navigate the short menu.
Start by selecting the film type, then insert the correct holder and feed in the slides or negatives and scan each frame by pressing “OK”.
Before each scan, you can edit the image by adjusting the exposure and color levels. However, I found that the screen is too small to be able to meaningfully do this, so I find it much better to scan using the default settings and then edit later (if you need to) on your computer (see below).
So far, I have converted all of my slides and some of my negatives. This is an example of a 35mm slide conversion:
Picture taken in 1989 at the Beamish Industrial Museum in Northern England.
This picture has not been edited and was converted using the jumbl’s default settings.
Here is an example of a negative conversion:
I took this picture in 1987 in the Lake District, England.
Again, this picture has not been edited and was scanned using the default settings. Once the film negative option is selected on the menu before you scan, the device automatically flips the negative to a positive image.
Once you have finished a scanning session, you can easily transfer the images over to your computer using the USB lead. You just select the “USB MSDC” option on the menu, press “OK” and your computer will detect the jumble as an external drive.
You can also select the “Playback” option on the menu and view the images on the screen. Alternatively, you can connect the jumbl to a TV using the cable provided to view the images.
Picture after adjusting levels in Photoshop Elements
Some of my pictures were under or over exposed when they were taken, so editing can improve them. I now use Photoshop Elements for this, mostly changing the levels of brightness, contrast and tonal range.
Here is the same picture after a bit of an adjustment in Photoshop Elements.
With the combination of the jumbl and Photoshop Elements, I’m getting very satisfactory results with my old pictures, many of them taken 40 or more years ago.
Photoshop Elements can be purchased on Amazon:
See it on Amazon here
I also recommend that you clean your films with compressed air before you scan to get the best results.
See this product on Amazon here
You should also regularly clean the lens on the jumbl with the brush provided.
My only criticism with the jumbl is that you have to control the scanning from the device itself; I would like to be able to do it from my computer like I do with my flat bed scanner. However, this is only a minor criticism; it works very well, it produces good results, is very simple to use and is reasonably priced. I have no problem recommending it.
The jumbl film scanner is currently unavailable. The Magnasonic 22MP is an almost identical product:
Magnasonic 22MP Film Scanner
See it on Amazon here
If you need an SD card:
See this product on Amazon here
For me, the results that I’m getting with the jumbl film scanner are more than adequate and have been better than expected considering the age of my slides and negatives. However, I do recognize that the images are not high definition. If that’s what you’re looking for, you will probably need to go for a more expensive scanner.
Shown below are some of the best selling higher quality film scanners. Unlike the jumbl, I haven’t used any of these, so I can’t comment on their quality, ease of use etc, so I suggest reading the reviews before any purchase.
Some other film scanners: