The Guide to Photo Slides in 2024: History, Uses, Tips, and More

27 May 2024 by
Anna Lam

While photo slides were most popular during the mid-to late-20th century, there has been a recent revival in the digital age. That’s because photo slides offer something that digital images can’t: a physical, projectable, and vintage aesthetic that evokes nostalgia. 

Capture’s memory specialists want to make sure your memories survive, but we also want to make sure the history and importance of photography survive. That’s why we put together this complete guide to photo slides in 2024.

Keep reading to learn about the history and uses of photo slides, how to transition into the digital era, and possible creative uses for your old photo slides.

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A Brief History of Photo Slides

Photo Slides

The history of photo slides begins in 1849 with lantern slides made of transparent film. This was only around a decade after the invention of photography, but the lantern slides made a clearer image. However, these were much different than the modern slides because they didn’t use a projector. 

Still, if you’re wondering, “What are photo slides called?”, the term transparencies originated with these original slide types that acted as the predecessors to modern slide photography. 

Since the introduction of the original transparencies, there has been an assortment of other types like the 126 slides, which used a plastic frame instead of a cardboard frame, and the Ektachrome 120 medium format slides introduced in 1901 for use with the Brownie No. 2 camera. 

There is also the 127 Super Slide introduced by Kodak in 1912 that paired with the folding vest pocket camera, but it wasn’t for a few more years that the most popular type of colour slide became available. The original Kodachrome slide was introduced by Kodak in 1935 and offered a colour image that could be used with an electric projector to produce a slideshow. 

This allowed for better sharing of images with loved ones. Whereas traditional photography could be passed around a room to share the memories, slide photos made it possible for everybody to view photographic images in real-time. 

Kodachrome slides were 35mm photos usually mounted on 2x2 cardboard and had a protective cover. They were also more durable than standard print photos. For the next few decades, photographic slides were a popular format for many uses, but that started to change with digital photography.

The Uses of Photo Slides

Photo Slides

Photo slides offered some fantastic uses and advantages when compared with print photo albums. Because of this, they were used throughout the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond for certain uses. One of the main uses was to preserve family history as durable slide film. While not as protected as digital copies on a hard drive, slides offer more protection from the elements than print photos. 

Furthermore, the ability to use a carousel slide projector made them a clear choice for sharing memories. That’s why one of the most popular uses of slides throughout the years was education. Teachers and professors could present slide films to an entire class to enhance the learning experience. 

Similarly, slide photos were also used for business presentations, demonstrations, and photo exhibitions. While it may seem archaic today, before slide photos there wasn’t an easy way to present images to a large group of people.  

 Transitioning to the Digital Era

Digital camera

The slide era was ended by digital photography that offered more convenience, affordability, and functionality. Digital cameras made it possible to view and share images on monitors and televisions without taking up so much space. 

Plus, digital images aren’t susceptible to water damage, fading, and other issues. Additionally, you can easily share digital photos over social media, view them on an iPhone, or even enhance them and add animations, headings, chapters, and more with photo editing software. You can also make a slideshow presentation, organise photos easily, and do much more once you have digital copies. 

If you’re wondering, “Can I get photo slides made into prints?” then the answer is of course! You can first scan them into digital format and then use those digital copies to create beautiful prints to share with family, create photo albums and scrapbooks, place them in frames, and more. 

With so much greater functionality, it was clear that photo slides would mostly be left in the past, but they are still popular for their vintage appearance, creative uses, and nostalgic memories. If you have old slides that contain your most precious memories, it’s a good idea to transition to digital to preserve the images forever. 

You can do this with a slide scanner machine that connects to your Windows or Mac computer and adds the photos to your hard drive. There are even stand-alone slide scanning machines that transfer images directly to an SD card. That way you won’t need an adapter. You can find these devices on Amazon or other online stores. 

Another option is to use a professional slide preservation service like Capture. We’ll not only transfer your slides to digital copies, but automatically integrate with Google Photos for easy digital photo album organisation. Plus, we use professional equipment and a state-of-the-art tracking and security system to monitor your photo slides throughout the whole process and ensure the memories are safe and secure.

 Sharing and Preserving Photo Slides

Photo slides

As you can see, digitising photo slides ensures that they are protected from fading, water damage, loss, theft, and other problems. However, that doesn’t mean that they are completely safe because hard drives don’t last forever. That’s why we recommend storing your photos on more than one device, especially a cloud like Google Photos or Dropbox. 

You can use software to store and organise photos however you want. For example, you can create folders to organise by year, holiday, person, vacation, and more. Then, you can create specific slideshows to send over social media or email or even view offline with your loved ones. 

However, just because you have digital copies doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your slide mounts. In fact, we recommend saving them if they contain precious memories. Make sure you store your photo slides in a cool, dry place. Moisture, sunlight, and heat can damage them, cause fading, and negatively impact your memories.

 Reviving the Nostalgia: Modern Uses of Photo Slides

Photo slides

If you are unsure what to do with your slides, there are plenty of great ideas. Many people use their photo slides for non-traditional uses these days. For example, you can make creative arts and crafts using slides including collages, lampshades, purses, art installations, and more. 

Some people online have even created curtains, wall décor, and other fantastic projects using their old slides. You can also incorporate them in your interior design to create a vintage aesthetic that also presents your wonderful memories. 

Finally, once you digitise your slides you can bring them to social media with the tag #ThrowbackSlide. You can show off your old nostalgic memories to your followers, friends, and loved ones. Most people like reliving the past and some of your slides may evoke nostalgic emotions for yourself and others.

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Professional Slide Digitisation Service

Photo slides offer great uses because you could use a slide projector to present slideshows of memories, educational images, and more. While the 35mm slide is by far the most popular, there are plenty of other slide mount types. It’s important to preserve these artefacts in the digital age as well as the memories they contain. That’s why it’s a good idea to preserve the images digitally using a slide scanner or professional slide transfer service. 

If you want to digitise your slides, Capture offers professional services trusted for over 20 years. Click here to learn more about our slide and photograph digitisation services!

*This article is brought to you by Capture HK.

Capture HK is the premier analogue media digitisation company in Hong Kong.

Capture HK's business covers photographs, photo album, slide digitisation, videotapes digitisation, including VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS-C Hi-8, Video8, Digital8, DV, DVCAM, MiniDV, DVC and digital media digitisation, including Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media (SM), MultiMediaCard (MMC) Compact Flash (CF), xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick, USB Drive, CDROM, DVD.

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