I assume most of us have boxes full of 35 mm slides taken at airshows, aircraft exhibitions and Open Days. Before the digital camera took over, making slides was the most efficient way to keep an aviation photo archive because of its compactness. However, colour film material will detoriate over time. Kodachrome slides seem to have survived the best. Other marks like Agfa, Gevaert and Fuji are much more sensitive to storage!

Hawker Siddeley P.1127 Kestrel XP972 -original scan

Hawker Siddeley P.1127 Kestrel XP972 -original scan

In general the best solution is to scan these precious slides. I use an Epson Perfection V600. With a  special template I can scan 4 frames slides or 12 unframed film strips in one single scan session. With dpi set at 3200 and a pixel width of 5500-6000 you have scanned up to the grain of the film emulsion. Using a large file size of 80% it will give JPEG files of some 4-5Mb.

Scanning under these conditions will take 5 minutes for 4 slides. Much more time will have to be spent on perfecting the images. Persistent dirt particles. Mould and the notorious ‘Telegraph cables’ (caused by dirt in the camera)  will have to be removed. I use Photoshop 12, but of course other software can be used as well.

Hawker Siddeley P.1127 Kestrel XP972-improved scan

Hawker Siddeley P.1127 Kestrel XP972-improved scan

In general it will take some 15 minutes up to one hour to clean-up depending the condition of the slide. The older the slide, the more work it will be to improve the raw scan into a good image that can be used for purposes like Internet or publication in books and magazines.

If slides have been stored under moist conditions, the will (always!) be infected by mould.

Re-storing at better conditions may slow down the  growth of mould, but once infected this process is irreversible. There is only one good solution: after scanning the slides must be thrown away immediately. Infected slides will (always!) sooner or later also affect other slides not yet infected..

To give you a good idea on a scanned slide, just have a look at that nice in-flight shot of the Hawker P.1127 Kestrel prototype before and after cleaning!

As slide show I have included a few dozen of selected slides showing various aircraft types, all taken over the period 1965-1979. As you will see even slides made more that 50 years ago still can give good quality images with some patience.

I hope you’ll enjoy the show!

Nico Braas