Digitizing Slides with a7R II and FE 90

Started Jun 22, 2016 | Discussions thread
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JamesJimmy Regular Member • Posts: 451
Digitizing Slides with a7R II and FE 90

Let me share my results in digitizing slides from about 34 years ago. I picked up a slide carousel from my dad's house to try my hand at digitizing slides. Below is the set of equipment that I used:

Setup of camera and lens:

  • Sony a7R II (Manual exposure: 1/80 sec at 100 ISO, AF-S)
  • Cowboy Studio wireless trigger
  • Sony FE 90 (f/8.0, autofocus, filter size is 62)
  • XCSource step up: 62-67, 67-72, 72-77, 77-82
  • XCSource step down 82-77, 77-72, 72-67, 67-62, 62-55
  • Fotodiox step up: 55-58, 58-62, 62-67, 67-72, 72-77
  • Fotodiox set down: 77-72, 72-67, 67-62, 62-58, 58-55, 55-52
  • Nikon ES-1 slide copying adapter: extended about 3/4", filter size is 52

Why the crazy step up and step down filters? I just needed a way to attach the Nikon ES-1 to the FE 90. The filter sizes were different and I needed about 3" extra distance.

Lighting Setup:

  • AlienBees B800 flash (1/16 power)
  • Cowboy Studio wireless receiver
  • PC sync cable from wireless receiver to flash


  • Blow dust off of slide on both sides using Giotto Rocket Air Blaster
  • Place slide into Nikon ES-1 Slide Copying Adapter
  • Emulsion side (non-shiny side) towards camera
  • Extend the ES-1 to about 3/4" (It can extend up to 1")
  • Adjust the slide to be level
  • Change distance between camera to flash to adjust for exposure (1 to 2 feet from ES-1 to AlienBees)
  • Autofocus and shoot
  • Setup at shooting takes about 30 to 60 sec


  • Crop
  • Temp 5450K
  • Exposure (0 to +2.0) but most were +0.25 to +0.5
  • Highlights: -30, Shadows: +30, Whites: 0, Blacks: +100
  • Clarity: +15 and Vibrance: +15
  • Noise Reduction left at default

Full size image below:


Since I already had the everything besides the filter rings and Nikon ES-1, the cost of this setup was very reasonable.  The quality of the capture was very good.  I think that having more resolution in the camera sensor or higher dynamic range in the sensor would provide little or no improvement to the result.  I notice that the dust and paper fiber at the edge of the image is much sharper than the Kodachrome grain.  Now I have about 15 more carousels to process.

Although Kodachrome and the Ektachrome provided a rush of nostalgia, I am so glad that I'm using digital.  The image quality is so much better now: resolution, noise and dynamic range.  Kodachrome pretty much crushes all shadows so there is very little detail left.

This has been a very enjoyable process to finally digitize some of my fathers slides and share with my children and my siblings.  Now my kids can see what I looked like when I was their age.  They wonder why me and my brothers look so nerdy back then.

 JamesJimmy's gear list:JamesJimmy's gear list
Sony FE 35mm F2.8 Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony a6000 Sony a7R II Samyang 14mm F2.8 IF ED MC Aspherical +8 more
Olympus Air Sony a7R II
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