How to Convert Transparencies to Digital Images without a Scanner

By Editorial Team

Updated December 13, 2019

Convert Transparencies to Digital Images without a Scanner
i All photos by the author

You have boxes or slide trays full of transparencies and you want to convert them to digital images so you can store them in your computer or on a CD for you and your family. However, Scanners for transparencies are expensive and take a minute or two to scan each transparency. Here you will learn how to Convert Transparencies to Digital Images quickly and without a Scanner.

You will need a digital camera with a Macro/Magnifying Glass setting, and preferably with at least a 6 Megapixel resolution. Also, a light table is best to illuminate the transparency.

Using a Static Free brush, available at most photo supply stores, carefully brush each side of the transparency to remove dust particles. (See photo)

Place the transparency on the light table, and, using the Macro setting, carefully frame the image and photograph it.(See photo)

If a reflection of your camera appears on the image, get a black framing card with an opening the size of the image on the transparency. The framing card is generally available at photo supply stores. Place the framing card over the transparency and the camera's reflection will disappear. (See photo)

Continue this process for all of your transparencies, and transfer the images from your camera to your computer. Now, using photo manipulation software such as Photoshop, you can color correct, crop, rotate, and adjust the images as you wish. It's a good idea to label each photo for categorization and archiving and save them as .jpg files. (See photo) As .jpg images they will take up less memory to store plus the .jpg standard will be with us for a long time.


Remember that you are saving these photos for the future, so take special care to focus, correct and caption each photo. You can make your own framing card using stiff black paper and an Xacto knife.

Items you will need

  • Transparencies

  • Digital Camera

  • Computer

  • Photo Manipulation Software