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Can I Scan Slides On My Flatbed Scanner?

Who doesn’t like a good photograph? Everyone does. In recent times, technology has evolved from viewing pictures in a book album to looking at pictures on slides. These days it is unusual seeing people looking at an offline photo album as online photo albums have replaced the conventional way of preserving images.

With the help of a flatbed scanner, slides from your computer or any other device can be scanned. This article will guide you in the process of scanning quality images from your flatbed scanner. 

Sharing pictures online or scanning old images to store on clouds is pretty simple. Scanning of slides is an issue. Peradventure you possess a collection of photos existing only as slides, frustration might have set in one way or another when trying to scan them.

Don’t sweat it too much, luckily for you, there’s a method to scan slides requiring a standard flatbed scanner. Placing a slide on a flatbed scanner to scan doesn’t work in that manner, unlike pictures. They may be difficult to scan. Trying to capture events that happened long ago using this method will not work, due to the way illumination from the scanner falls along with the slide. It will produce a bad image.

Thoughts of a slide scanner might cross your mind as the only solution. But, there’s good news! A cheaper solution is available.

Scanning slides

Scanning slides using a flatbed scanner gives birth to a dark, non-usable image. This method isn’t cumbersome at all as it is just about angles.  A paper pyramid is built using a thin card, foam core board and thick paper. This makes sure that light emitting from the scanner diffuses, lighting the whole slide.

Making your simple slide scanner 

If you’ll be making use of foam or cardstock, ensure you print it onto paper firstly before tracing onto the preferred material.


Making your simple slide scanner 


Fold, cut and gum as directed for the paper version. For the different sides of the diffuser, there are two flaps to be secured to minimise leakage of light and better stability. It is important to point out that commercial slide diffusers were always readily available for slides scanning on a flatbed scanner. Moreover, they are not easy to see nowadays.

Scanning slides in the correct manner on a flatbed scanner

Clean up your slides before trying to scan them. The reason for this is that slides have been kept in boxes for a very long time and as a result, they become dusty. The image should be wiped with a micro-fibre cloth.

The next step to take is to secure a method to protect your slide diffuser from your flatbed scanner. Do not use gummy tape as the residues can affect the quality of scans in the future.

The positioning of the diffuser is done so that the slide is positioned at one end of the pyramid shape. It gives room for the most abundant amount of illumination to be diffused to the image.

Entirely all software of a scanner features a preview function. The preview function is for affirming that the image is picked and the right area for the main scan is selected.

As a result of light and dark properties, there is the necessity to pick the area inside the framework of the slide for scanning. The purpose of this is to ensure the image present in the slide isn’t too dark, thereby rendering it useless.

Note: As you carry out scanning, pick a format like BMP (Bitmap) and ensure you choose the largest dots per inch (DPI).

Also note: Carry out scanning in an area devoid of light because the lid of the scanner will remain open. There’s a need to avoid printed lines on the diffuser to be picked by the scanner.

Tools for repairing scanned slide images

Different tools exist for repairing scanned slide images. There are free tools and also premium tools like the Adobe Photoshop premium.

  • Users of Windows 10 can make use of windows photos
  • Users of macOS should try the photo app for elementary fixing of photos
  • There is a whole range of image editors on Linux for elementary photo fixes.

A lot of photo editing applications have the required tools for repairing a slide. The method is similar to eliminating creases and spots from a picture. It might even be that just a slight adjustment of the colour is needed.


You now have knowledge of how to scan slides with a flatbed scanner. Scanning old slides doesn’t have to be costly. All you need is a proper device that ensures that long-forgotten pictures are captured and can be enjoyed for viewing again.

All that’s just required is a flatbed scanner, a photo editor and a sheet of paper. Results gotten using the “back lighter” might be good or bad. If it works out perfectly well, then that’s great! If it doesn’t work out well, then try out some other methods.