What Is a Digital Slide Scanner?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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A digital slide scanner is a device that can be used to scan slide images and create a digital picture file based on that image. These devices are usually fairly small, often able to easily fit on a desk, and different sizes of slides can then be inserted into them for scanning. Software is often provided with these scanners to facilitate the process of importing and saving the image file created through the scanning process. A digital slide scanner can also be a small adapter or similar device used to more effectively scan slides using a flatbed scanner.

The basic purpose of a digital slide scanner is to create digital images based on physical media, such as slides that are often used in slide projectors. These slides are frequently created based on photographs, allowing someone to create a slideshow of pictures taken during a holiday or vacation. As digital slideshows have become easier to create using basic video editing software and to display through a computer or television, these physical slides have become less necessary. The use of a digital slide scanner allows someone with old slides to create digital images based on those slides, which can then be manipulated or used to create a digital slideshow.


A digital slide scanner typically consists of a fairly small box into which slides can be individually inserted for scanning. These devices often have frames into which the slide is first placed, and then the frame is inserted into the scanner, allowing for easier insertion and removal and more accurate scanning. The digital slide scanner connects to a computer and the scanned image is then sent to that computer. Software provided with the scanner can typically be used to make minor changes to the image, such as cropping or rotating it, and then to save the image as a particular file type.

Some digital slide scanner models can also feature functionality that supports the scanning of other types of photographic media. This can include the ability to quickly and easily scan photographs into digital files, or to transfer negatives and reels of film into a digital format. A digital slide scanner can also be an adapter device that can be used to facilitate the use of a flatbed scanner for scanning slides. Since slides are naturally semitransparent, flatbed scanners often do not work very well for scanning them. The use of an adapter, however, can enhance the scanning process and produce a clearer and crisper digital image.


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