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Thread: Blowing dust from 35 mm slides

  1. #1

    Blowing dust from 35 mm slides

    I have a lot of 35 mm slides that I want to scan into jpeg files. Many of the slides have dust on them that will show up when they are scanned. I know there are a number of photographers here on the creek. What would you recommend to clean the dust from the slides without damaging them. I know that many canned air products are flammable, which may harm the positives.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

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  2. #2
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    I use a good quality feather duster that doesn't get used for anything else. It doesn't build up static either. Cheers
    Every construction obeys the laws of physics. Whether we like or understand the result is of no interest to the universe.

  3. #3
    Falcon Dust-Off compressed air should do just fine. Beseler makes one called DustGun 100 which is supposed to be non-flammable if you are really concerned about it. You can get either one of these from Amazon or the mecca of all things photographic - B&H Photo. They will also sell lots of the bulb type hand held blower brushes, if you want to do things the retro way.

    Most if not all good film scanners will have a feature built into the firmware for automatic dust, speck and scratch removal as part of the scanning process. One of the good ones is called Digital ICE. This was a few years ago, so there may be others.

    Of course if it is an important image, you can manually remove the dust in Photoshop or another editing program. There may be software that will process your scans with a dust removal filter.

  4. #4
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    I'm not up on current products, but I had my best luck with a fine anti-static brush and a *good* blower bulb. It gives a lot of control (and avoids the expense of canned air.) If I was tackling the problem today, I'd head to Light Impressions, plus B&H and Adorama, to check their stock.
    Last edited by David Bassett; 02-05-2019 at 2:29 AM. Reason: typos

  5. #5
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    You can buy one can of air, then simply refill it as needed with your compressor.
    The most important thing to commit to memory is to never shake the can and never hold it other than straight up. I usually sit the can of air on a table or such and position the film at the proper position.

    One difference that canned air and re-filled, the original store -bought can lacked oxygen.
    Someone else will have to fill in the voids in my knowledge.

  6. #6
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    I used a good quality make up brush

  7. #7
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    cleaning and scanning slides

    Lee, I would definitely use an anti-static brush made for negatives and slides. The one I had in my darkroom days, er, years, worked extremely well - I used it on every negative before enlarging.

    I don't know if they still make them this way, but I was told the one I bought contained a small amount of radioactive polonium, an alpha emitter - similar to what is used in smoke detectors. (Polonium is an alpha emitter - totally safe if you don't eat it or grind it up and suck the dust into your lungs! Alpha particles are stopped by a piece of paper or the skin.) The ionizing radiation, combined with conductive bristles on the brush, reduced the static charge on the film and dust particles so they could be brushed away. I read that beta emitters are used now since the half-life of polonium is short.

    I also used gentle canned compressed air made just for cleaning film.

    Even without an ionization source, I'd go with an anti-static brush since they have conductive fibers which can discharge the particles so they don't jump back onto the film. Otherwise the simple act of brushing the film can create charges that can attract dust!

    Ah, and don't do this in the wood shop after sanding. Duh.

    Do you have a good scanner? I have a professional Nikon scanner made for 35mm film and slides, used very little. I haven't used it for years and can't guarantee how it works but if you are interested I can send the model number and you can research it. If it looks like it might work on your computer then YOU can use and store it for a year or 10!

    If there is some buildup of dirt or something else that won't come off easily there are other methods, more involved. The worst thing to encounter in old slides is what looks like some sort of fungus that fans out from spots on the film. I hope you don't find that!

    JKJ


    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    I have a lot of 35 mm slides that I want to scan into jpeg files. Many of the slides have dust on them that will show up when they are scanned. I know there are a number of photographers here on the creek. What would you recommend to clean the dust from the slides without damaging them. I know that many canned air products are flammable, which may harm the positives.

  8. #8
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    Lee - When you're done, I'd be interested to know what you used for scanning the slides and how it worked for you.
    Last edited by Alan Rutherford; 02-05-2019 at 4:17 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    I don't know if they still make them this way, but I was told the one I bought contained a small amount of radioactive polonium, an alpha emitter - similar to what is used in smoke detectors. (Polonium is an alpha emitter - totally safe if you don't eat it or grind it up and suck the dust into your lungs! Alpha particles are stopped by a piece of paper or the skin.) The ionizing radiation, combined with conductive bristles on the brush, reduced the static charge on the film and dust particles so they could be brushed away. I read that beta emitters are used now since the half-life of polonium is short.
    The Staticmaster is still available and works great for vinyl record albums as well. The Polonium cartridge is replaceable when the material reaches its half-life.

  10. #10
    One thing to watch for if you use the 'canned air' is that a bitterant is added to make the stuff unpalatable for recreational inhaling. If you tip the can a bit while using it & liquid sprays out, it will leave residue.

    Try licking your fingers after getting that stuff on them

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pratt View Post
    One thing to watch for if you use the 'canned air' is that a bitterant is added to make the stuff unpalatable for recreational inhaling. ..
    Wow, I never heard of such a thing as bitterant. I wonder if it was in the film dusting cans I used in the '70s and '80s or is the recreational inhalation thing a newer phenomenon. (I don't understand some sectors of the human race.)

    JKJ

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Wow, I never heard of such a thing as bitterant. I wonder if it was in the film dusting cans I used in the '70s and '80s or is the recreational inhalation thing a newer phenomenon. (I don't understand some sectors of the human race.)

    JKJ
    It was completely new to me when I read about it a couple of years ago. Then I had to do the taste test & that was just about the bitterest thing I've ever tasted. Had no idea you could get high off it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pratt View Post
    It was completely new to me when I read about it a couple of years ago. Then I had to do the taste test & that was just about the bitterest thing I've ever tasted. Had no idea you could get high off it.
    I looked up the recreational inhalation - it's called "huffing" and apparently people die from it. https://americanaddictioncenters.org...e/side-effects Elsewhere said some inhale spray paint. https://americanaddictioncenters.org...-abuse/huffing

  14. #14
    Lee, I rented a Hasselblad slide scanner for a day for my old slides and it did great even with dusty slides. All of mine were large format though, but don't see why it wouldn't work on 35mm. I would highly recommend it if you can find a place that rents them out. You'll just need a very large hard drive though as each file can be several hundred megabytes. :-)

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