How to Scan 6 x 6 Color Slides

Updated April 17, 2017

Scanning colour slides in the 6- by 6-centimeter format takes a little time to get it right, but the slides of this size provide much more digital information that the standard 35mm slides. That means better images. Medium-format cameras, the standard of many professional photographers, produce an image roughly 2.25 by 2.25 inches or 6 by 6 centimetres. They are square and may be mounted or in film strips.

Clean the slides using compressed air or a lint-free cloth. These types of slides typically do not have any sort of cover over them when they are mounted. If you have them in strips, be careful not to scratch the emulsion or less shiny side.

Remove the inside cover of your flatbed scanner. In most transparency scanners, there is a soft pressure plate in the lid of the scanner for use during print scanning. If you remove this, it exposes the light source in the lid to allow light to pass through the slides.

Place your mounted 6 x 6 colour slides on the glass plate of the scanner. Try to make them even and level with each other and the guides along the sides of the plate. This will save you time when editing the images later. If your scanner came with templates for film types, as some of them do, you may have a 6 x 6 template available. You can fit the slides into these templates. If the slides are not mounted, but in strips, they may fit in a template or you may need to just lay them on the glass.

Open your scanning software and make a preview of the slides. You can choose to scan all the slides together as a batch or, in some software, scan each one separately. In general, scanning as a batch works more quickly.

Set the scanning resolution as high as you can. Many software packages have default settings of 200 or 300 dots per inch (dpi). These are low for high-quality scans. The more you increase the resolution, the better the final image quality will be. Set the resolution in the thousands, if possible. For example, if you can set for 3,000 dpi or 9,600 dpi, go with the highest number. This will make the scan take longer, but it will produce very detailed images.

Open your photo-editing software and cut the images apart, saving each one as a separate file, Once you have done that, then you can go back a select each individual image for editing. If you have enough hard drive space, also save the batch file because you can always go back to the highest resolution available.


High-resolution scanning can produce enormous image files, so it is a good idea to dedicate a large external hard drive as your photo work space.


Most low-end flatbed scanners do not scan transparencies such as negatives and slides. You will need a scanner that has a light source in the cover big enough to cover the entire bottom glass plate. Some flatbed scanners have devices that allow you to feed in negative strips from the top, usually in 35mm format. These will not work for 6 x 6 slide scans.

Things You'll Need

  • Compressed air
  • Flatbed transparency scanner
  • Photo-editing software
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About the Author

Shawn M. Tomlinson has been a newspaper and magazine writer for more than 28 years. He has written for a variety of publications, from "MacWEEK" and "Macintosh-Aided Design" to "Boys' Life," "Antique Week" and numerous websites. He attended several colleges, majoring in English, writing and theater, and has taught college classes about writing.