How to Use a Camera Type Slide Duplicator to Copy 35 MM Film Negatives

Written by shawn m. tomlinson
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How to Use a Camera Type Slide Duplicator to Copy 35 MM Film Negatives
To get duplicates of negatives, you can use a slide duplicator. (slides and loupe image by tim Elliott from

In the days before digital scanners, the best way to make copies of slides was to use a slide duplicator. Essentially, this unit fits the camera like a lens--or attaches to a lens--and has a translucent screen at the end farthest from the camera. You insert mounted slides, hold the duplicator to a light source and focus as usual. The mounted slide image exposes onto the film in the camera. This is not quite as easy with negative film, but it can be done.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Slide mounts
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Light table

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  1. 1

    Acquire empty slide mounts. These are available online or from photo stores. They range from cheap plastic to archival mounts with glass. You'll need as many slide mounts as the individual images on your negatives. If you have 100 pictures, you need 100 mounts.

  2. 2

    Use a light table--which shines light through a translucent piece of glass--to place your negatives for cutting. You can do this without a light table, but it will be harder to make precise cuts in the negatives and you may ruin an image. You can also use an old 35 mm splicer block. Make sure you cut negatives on glass of some sort to avoid damaging wooden furniture, or if you are very careful you can use scissors for your cuts. The cuts need to be right down the centre of the blank spaces between the images on the film.

  3. 3

    Cut each negative image apart carefully. Do not trim off the sprocket holes on the top and bottom of the film because you will need these to place the negatives into the slide mounts.

  4. 4

    Place each negative image into a slide mount, being careful to align it precisely. With most mounts, there are guides inside to make it hard to do this wrong, but being careful also can prevent damage to your negatives.

  5. 5

    Place each mounted negative image into the slide duplicator as you would a slide, focus the image and take the photo. If you are using a digital camera, you can turn your images into negatives with a photo processing software package.

Tips and warnings

  • If you want negative copies of negatives, use slide film to record the images. Otherwise, the two negatives will cancel out and you'll have a positive image as a copy.

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