Digitizing Magic Lantern Slides

Dear Donia,

What is the best way to digitize magic lantern slides?

Magic Lantern slides

Q. Dear Donia,

What is the best way to digitize magic lantern slides? I understand they cannot be scanned like regular glass negatives. Thanks, Jen

A. Dear Jen,

Digitizing lantern slides can be tricky not only for getting the color right but also for avoiding Newton's Rings (a distortion that looks like moire silk caused by the two layers of glass of the slide). There are two ways that you can avoid the Newton's rings to get a good scan. First, you can scan on a flatbed scanner that has the capability of scanning with transmitted light (scanning light in the lid shining through the slide to the scanner) using a mount to raise the slide off of the scanner glass. A second way is to place the lantern slide on a light box and shoot with a camera with no other flash or light source.
With both of these methods, be sure to check the digital image to ensure that the color is correct. If not, you may have to adjust this in Photoshop or some other photo manipulation program but save the original scan or camera raw image as a master.
Finally, if you want to have a digital image of both the slide image as well as the information on the frame, you will need to make a second scan with reflective light or take a second image with no light table and flash.
See the Association for Library Collections & Technical Service's Minimum Digitization Capture Recommendations for specifications to follow. There is no specific entry for lantern slides but you can use the Photographic Film (35mm-4"x5") as a guide.