What is the best slide projector?

Slide projectors have been around for well over a century, providing  the opportunity to take images and display them on a bigger screen for clearer viewing.

Photography and film technology have advanced exponentially since they were invented, and nearly all of our pictures and videos today are digitized and captured with smartphones. But there are a lot of slides, negatives and 35-millimeter film stored in basements and attics that can be meaningful to look at and even digitize into a permanent format for future use.

For its high-quality resolution and transportability, the Rybozen LED Illuminated 35 mm Slide Viewer is the best.

What to know before you buy a slide projector

What type of slides do you have?

There are many types of 35 mm slides. Most have a mount size of 2 by 2 inches, but they have different sizes of film transparency. Knowing the kind you have leads to the best projector for you.

  • Standard 35 mm slides are 2 by 2 inches and have a transparency film size of 24 by 36 millimeters.
  • Half frame 35 mm slides are 2 by 2 inches but have a transparency film size of 18 by 24 millimeters, nearly half of the standard size. It looks much smaller than a standard slide but is easily displayed.
  • 126 slides are 2 by 2 inches with a square transparency of 28 x 28 millimeters.
  • 127 slides are 2 by 2 inches with a square transparency of 40 x 40 millimeters and fills up the mount more completely than a 126 slide.
  • 127 super slides are uncommon, but the transparency is the full 2 x 2 inches of the slide with just the slightest border.
  • There also are 110 slides that have a tiny 13 by 17 millimeter transparency. They come in both 2 by 2 and 1 by 1 inch mount sizes. 

What can be done with 35 mm films? 

Some slide projectors have a built-in scanner that digitizes 35 mm film. The film negatives are fed into the scanner a few frames at a time. The scanner saves the scanned images to a file or computer. 

What is the difference between DLP, LCD and LED?

There are three main projection technologies.

  • Digital light processing projectors display sharp images and don’t require filters. They also have 3-dimensional capabilities and a lamp life of 2,000 to 5,000 hours.
  • Liquid crystal display projectors are quieter, less expensive, offer excellent color display and have no moving parts. They are excellent for movies, but they require regular monitoring of the filter.
  • Light-emitting diode projectors produce little heat, use less energy, have low maintenance costs and run up to 20,000 hours. They do not offer the same brightness as DLP and LCD projectors.

What to look for in a quality slide projector

Mounting cartridge

Some slide projectors have cartridges that store multiple slide mounts for viewing in succession. Others have a single-loaded mount for viewing slides one at a time. 

Adapters

More expensive projectors that also have scanners come with adapters for different types of negatives and film. These adapters attach to the machine, then feed that specific kind of transparency.

Focusing lens

Slide projectors include a focusing lens in addition to the display lens. This lens fine-tunes the image. It is most helpful when projecting images on a screen or wall. 

How much you can expect to spend on a slide projector

Inexpensive slide projectors, which are small, portable and display one slide at a time, cost $20-$40. Middle-range slide projectors cost around $40-$75 and include multi-slide cartridges and some digitization capabilities. Expensive slide projectors run $75-$200. These include adapters for multiple types of negatives and film; they can digitize the images into multiple formats. 

Slide projector FAQ

Will a microfiber cloth clean old negatives?

A. No. Using a microfiber cloth seems like a safe way to clean off old slides, but using one can smear or scratch the transparency. This leaves the slide permanently marred.

Should I wear gloves to handle negatives?

A. Yes, because they keep your fingers from touching film transparencies. Fingerprints on the emulsion side of the film can be difficult to remove and even cause degradation. 

What’s the best slide projector to buy?

Top slide projector

Best Rybozen LED Lighted Illuminated 35 mm Slide Viewer

Rybozen LED Lighted Illuminated 35 mm Slide Viewer

What you need to know: This compact slide viewer displays high-quality resolution and can be transported anywhere.

What you’ll love: Featuring a premium glass lens and 2x magnification, your 35-millimeter slides are viewed without blurriness. The viewer weighs just over 7 ounces and is easily carried to and from your home or studio. It comes with two AA batteries.

What you should consider: Some reviewers said the battery compartment can be difficult to open.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top slide projector for the money

Best Porta Slide PS-E2 Illuminated Slide Viewer

Porta Slide PS-E2 Illuminated Slide Viewer

What you need to know: This portable slide viewer is designed for both tabletop and handheld operation.

What you’ll love: It works with both 35 millimeter and 2- by 2-inch slides. Weighing less than 6 ounces, it’s is ideal for handheld use. It has a metal folding support for displaying on a table. It comes with two AA batteries and a limited one-year warranty.

What you should consider: Some consumers found the screen too small for viewing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Kodak Scanza Digital Film and Slide Scanner

Kodak Scanza Digital Film and Slide Scanner

What you need to know: From a leading brand, this scanner and viewer converts negatives and slides to JPEG files.

What you’ll love: It features a 3.5-inch high definition color display with adjustable brightness. The file conversion takes seconds. Multiple adapters and film inserts are included. It is compatible with both MAC and PC.

What you should consider: The picture quality of converted files varied.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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