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35mm slide viewers

A 35mm slide viewer to avoid!

I’ve a collection of 35mm slides, many of sentimental value – in my view there’s no substitute for viewing original and evocative pictures on the actual film that captured a scene for posterity, like playing back a treasured tape recording of some original sound tracks hailing from bygone years.

To preserve images for the future it’s easy enough to scan them onto disk or upload to the cloud, but I think that simply flicking through a slideshow of JPEGs on a screen isn’t the same as seeing ‘the real thing’. I used my legacy Microtek Scanmaker 8700 to scan twelve 35mm slides at a time onto hard disk, but how best to view the slides themselves periodically, though?

The obvious answer is to use a battery-powered slide viewer, so for starters I tried a Hama slide viewer model DB 54. It’s a compact 2 x AA powered thing containing a filament light bulb and plastic lens, and I have to say it proved to be a complete waste of money. Here’s why: the plastic lens was of such poor optical quality that it distorted the image like crazy; I had never seen such a bad example of pin-cushioning and the centre of the image suffered from a mini-magnifier type effect. It was hopeless. Secondly, the small torch bulb produced a mediocre, dimly lit, yellowing image that detracted even more from the quality of the image.  No, the Hama DB 54 was not for me and mine’s headed for the recycling bin.

Then I remembered that, actually, I had in fact bought one of these some years ago and thought the same of it then. I’d sent it back. Catch me once, shame on you – catch me twice, shame on me!

Scouring the web for alternatives I found a neat LED 35mm slide viewer branded as PhotoLux SV-2.  Desirable features include a real glass lens and x2 magnification and it uses daylight-temperature white LEDS for a light source. It’s 2 x AA powered – and it proved infinitely better than the Hama.

To demonstrate the problem of distortion I made a 35mm transparency slide based on a simple grid and photographed the results, which speak for themselves.

Slide viewed through the Hama DB 54 [click to see]Same viewed through Photolux SV-2 LED viewer [click to see]Test slide demonstrating distortion of Hama DB 54 slide viewer [click to see]Same grid viewed in Photolux SV-2 [click to see]

You can buy the Photolux SV-2 from Amazon. For more intensive use the Photolux SV-3 handles negative strips as well as slides, has a push-button slide collection tray and is x3 magnification, needing 4 x AA but it has a mains adaptor socket as well.