to HOME pageScanning 35mm slides on a flatbed scanner

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If you have ever tried to scan a slide, and got only an image of a black rectangle in your scan, you're not alone! You either need an expensive transparency lid, or, you can use this quick, cheap and easily built gadget:

Make a triangle of two mirrors on a cardboard base, as in the image above.
Note the gap between the mirrors (at arrow). They must be separated a bit at this point. Why? Look at this drawing:

The idea is to reflect the light from the fluorescent tube in the scanning head up towards one mirror, then to the second mirror, and down through the slide. Because the light and the lens are not in the same plane, the mirrors have to be positioned a little askew. The bottom edge of each mirror will be almost, but not quite, at a 90° angle compared to the fluorescent tube.

You have to experiment a little to get the angle right, but it works! Make small changes in the gap, and check the result with a quick preview scan. If you can't get it to work, you may have to turn the pyramid around - the wide side of the gap should point in the direction of the fluorescent tube in the scanning head. The cardboard triangle should be parallell (or almost parallell) to the fluorescent tube.

Nic Marinos, a reader in Australia, kindly provided these comments and improvements, together with a clarifying illustration:

I thought you might be interested in the set up I finished with which incorporates some small improvements which enable me to set up the mirrors quickly and reproducibly every time. For example, if one uses two independent mirrors it is not easy to reproduce the rather critical angle between the top edges. By mounting them on a piece of cardboard (as shown in the attached diagram) and providing a couple of brackets near the gap with a threaded adjustment rod and nuts (which enable one to obtain and maintain the optimal angle between the two mirrors) one finishes with a stable assembly which does not have to be adjusted every time one gets to use it.

I found the cardboard mask (also illustrated) extremely useful in reproducing the optimal position of the assembly on the scanner glass. In my case, after a lot of experimentation, I found that the best place was against the front right hand corner of the glass. I use a UMAX 610S scanner which has a raised edge surrounding the glass and makes it easy to position the mask in exactly the same place every time. After the mask is positioned I place the mirror assembly on it so that the base AB of the assembly is aligned with line AB on the mask. For best results I find that I have to move the assembly centreline about 2-3 mm to the left of the centreline of the mask. I expect that such details will differ with each scanner.

Once again many thanks for making the basic design of the gadget available in the internet.

With best regards
Nic Marinos, Australia

Thanks, Nic, for these additional instructions, and good luck to all of you who decide to try this. It really works and costs next to nothing!

PS: Nothing prevents you from building the gadget in a larger size to scan 6x6 cm (2 1/4") or even larger slides, if you need to...