Neat DIY Projector Rig Lets You Digitize 15 Slides Per Minute Automatically

Not having a dedicated film scanner is no barrier to being able to digitize your slides, but DIY methods we’ve presented in the past tend to be time-consuming. Even if it’s an easy DIY solution that will let you, say, use your desktop all-in-one to scan them in, it’ll still take you a long time to digitize the hundreds of slides you might have lying around.

Well, we’ve finally stumbled across a rig that fixes this problem: All you need is a modified slide projector, a macro lens, and an intervalometer to digitize hundreds of slides in minutes.

The solution comes to us via Victor Kaijser Bots, who built this nifty DIY rig a couple of years back that allowed him to scan almost 1,000 slides per hour, almost entirely automatically.

All he had to do was modify his slide projector, set up his DSLR with intervalometer and macro lens attached at an appropriate distance, and then set the automatic advance on the slide projector and the intervalometer at the same interval.


In the video he shows the slide projector advancing at its fastest setting every four seconds, which comes out to 15 slides digitized every minute. And the only work you need to do is load up a new set of slides every time the current set is done.

Bots admits that results “might be better with an expensive (and slow) scanner like the Nikon Coolscan,” but his purpose was to digitize his memories on the cheap, and this rig allowed him to scan in 1,500 slides in an afternoon.

Check out the video at the top to find out how to build this rig for yourself, and if you do put this idea to use, drop us a line in the comments and let us know how it went!

(via DIYPhotography via PopPhoto)

  • Zos Xavius

    actually with the right optics and a good sensor you should be able to get really good results. this is a really great idea! it would be interesting to modify it to take MF slides. another project would be to make one that takes rolls of film and advances the film automatically. hmmmm….taking pictures with a camera and then taking pictures of your pictures with another camera….yo dawg…. ;)

  • Stefan Nilsson

    Anyone got recommendations on building a rig to digitalize 35mm film? I guess using a macro rail instead of a regular tripod is a good start but my main issue is to place the film in front of it. I place my film in a Instamatic film holder and then hold it in front of the camera but it’s to easy to tilt or move it and screw up the focus.

  • Matt

    From some experience in film scanning, as a hobby. I would say it is really hard. Film curl is an issue, a good film holder is one of the prized things on scanners. I had a really hard time with MF film even with a Nikon 9000. If you press them up against glass you get netwon rings wich destroy the image. I thought about wet mounting, but most chemicals are toxic.
    The best thing is to send them to a scanning service and spend your time taking photos. They have the tools and skills.

  • Stefan Nilsson

    True, but the cost here is $40 per film. Way to expensive.

  • devtank

    Ok well this isn’t a substitute for actual scanning. Scanning images creates a much higher quality and greater bit depth then a digit camera especially used with non specific lenses.

  • David Liang

    I thought about building a rig when I started shooting film, because the costs do add up from getting lab scans. But after researching a bunch of DIY projects and learning more about the scanning process, I decide it was just better to buy a scanner. I’m not sure how one controls or adjusts the exposure to capture film correctly with a camera, but I know with a scanner that’s made for it, including the software it would be easier and more straight forward.
    The Epson v600 is a great scanner and goes up to medium format, it’s not that expensive either. As far as scan quality some people will complain about color accuracy, well you’d have the same issue with a DIY rig. In both cases you have to learn to adjust the image after capture/scan. As far as sharpness/detail goes the Epson does quite well, especially if you know how to properly sharpen in post.
    The rig seems like a really cool idea but for $200 you have a straight forward solution to scanning film, which is great if you shoot a lot.
    It also looks like the DIY guy is scanning color reversal film, that’s great but what about color negative? It takes a lot of skill and experience to manually convert negatives in photoshop, where as with scanners and software it does the heavy work for you, and you just need to refine.

  • Vsevolod Zhovtenko

    Boy, I have that projector! But I use it properly – to project my 6×6 slides.

  • cchdisqus

    for a project where you aren’t concerned about long term archival of your photos, Jpeg is fine, but if it is, you definitely want a Raw (convert to Tiff later). Just a suggestion. But at that point you might also want to use a scanner as well.

  • James

    Long term archival = the negative/slidejames

  • cchdisqus

    true, but multiple versions are good to have, slides can always burn in a fire, get damaged, stolen, etc. you just never know! Libraries and Museums follow this same protocol.

  • fds

    f9 or f11, would be better

  • imajez

    A modern ff digital camera is more than enough quality for 35mm scans and raw files are certainly not lacking bit depth compared to scanners.

  • imajez

    Why would you use aperture priority? Set the correct exposure manually and leave it at that. It’s not like the projector bulb is going to vary in brightness.

  • tedjerome

    You need autoexposure to compensate for the fact that the photos are *different* and require individual exposure settings.

  • Peter “Pots”

    I would suggest a half-decent flat bed scanner and load film strips in the supplied holders, etc. It is fairly fast, fairly reasonable, and decent (not superior) quality.

  • dodude

    aren’s scanners good for that? I’ve never tried it, but they advertise it.

  • 4wallz

    I didn’t build a rig but bought a Nikon Coolscan V and digitized my whole film library then sold the scanner for what I paid for it. (Bought it used to begin with)

  • dbur

    Wouldn’t auto-focus work better? I know my slide projector has auto focus because the slides don’t all sit in the frame in the same way. You can see an adjustment occur fairly often as you sequence through a stack of slides.

  • imajez

    All my slides are different too, but if scanning them in I would use same exposure specifically to maintain those differences. I want my blacks to stay black and my whites to stay white and not have either end up grey. Auto will get tripped up when copying slides just as it will when photographing the real world where auto is more faff than manual most of the time. Use auto with say high or low key slides and you’ll get a really poor capture.

    If a slide has been badly exposed that is a different matter, you may need to tweak slightly, but otherwise, they should be captured identically.

  • Vin Weathermon

    35mm scanners are abundant; I want a 120 (medium format) film scanning solution but they are $5k+. If anyone has a similar way to go here I’d like to know…