What is a slide projector? It’s a projector that works like a digital video projector in terms of its use of lenses and mirrors minus the digital circuitry and info. It uses 35mm slides for projection onto screens.
A slide projector works like a film projector but it uses photo-film slides instead of film strips. It doesn’t create the illusion of movement using persistence of vision and sequential images running at 24 frames (or more) per second. Instead, it showcases photographs in projected slide form one by one.
It’s popularly used by consumers as a means of recording and showcasing their vacation photos in a slideshow format. It’s also used as an alternative to the overhead projector or OHP when it comes to doing presentations.
With that said, let’s discuss at length was exactly is a slide projector and whether or not it’s still being made in the present year of 2022.
What is a Slide Projector?
Ostensibly, a slide projector is a projector that projects slides. To be more specific, it’s an opto-mechanical (as opposed to digital) device that shows off photographic slides on the big screen. Many of them don’t have any digital parts or microchips in them, like old-timey film cameras.
A Descendant of the Magic Lantern
The 35-millimeter or 35mm projector is a direct descendant of the magic lantern. It became widely available among consumers in the 1950s as a type of home entertainment. They use the projector to view slide shows of different photographs or pictures in black & white or color.
Reversal film was used to make these slides that are supplied during family events and vacations. Slide projectors were also widely used in institutional settings and for educational purposes.
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Do They Still Make Slide Projectors?
So do manufacturers still make slide projectors? Yes, they do. However, they’re functionally obsolete and they’re pretty much treated as niche objects and appliances bought as curiosities by collectors of antique technology (like vinyl record players or boom boxes).
Available as Used Antiques or Brand New Retro Projectors
You can get them used in many shops and websites like eBay and Amazon because 35mm slide projector production effectively stopped at the Turn of the Millennium. Regardless, if you look hard enough, you can get them available as used or as newly made reproduction items.
There are also various types of 35mm slide projectors available on the Internet that range in different quality levels and functionalities similar to film cameras.
Buying Guide for the Slide Projector
The legacy of slide projectors cannot be denied. It’s likely your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so forth way back in the last century have their own shoebox collections of family vacation slides along with those wedding tapes that have sports games recorded over them.
In projection terms, a business projector projecting your PowerPoint Presentation is the current standard. However, the slide projector and OHP helped pave the way for them to even be used for presentations in the first place.
Are Slide Projectors Obsolete?
In a word, yes. They’ve gone the way of the dodo, the 8-Track, the VHS, the floppy disk, and the Nokia brick phone. Because technology marches on in a forward path, popular slide projector makers like Kodak have ceased production of devices like the carousel slide projector way back in 2004.
- Replaced by Digital Files: Photographic 35mm film slides have mostly been replaced by digital storage image files the same way digital cameras and smartphones have replaced film cameras and 1-hour film development of yore.
- Saved Media is Better: Instead of using multiple slide cards or film slides stored in a shoebox or the like, you can instead display media saved on your media device or the video projector itself then display them onscreen like they would appear on your PC screen or video monitor.
- An Undeniable Legacy: The impact of the slide projector on sequential presentations or communication strategy cannot be denied. It influences how presentations are done to this day with how even digital slideshow presentations on Microsoft PowerPoint are conducted.
Can You Still Buy Slide Projectors in 2022?
In 2022, if you have slides and you wish to project them then your best bet is to find legacy Kodak projectors. They’re likely the only game in town. There aren’t a lot of slide projectors being made in the present year.
- Retro Projectors: However, if you finagle your search options enough you can try your hand at retro projector manufacturers that make brand new projectors, slide viewers, or slide scanners that turn your old slides into JPG files. Or you can buy used ones off of eBay.
- Selling Off Used Slide Projectors: Old slide projectors are worth a decent amount of cash if they’re still functioning or are in mint condition. There are people who even sell old slides and make a pretty penny off of eBay bids for hundreds of dollars.
- Nostalgic Antiques or Old Junk: Nostalgic antiques like old slide projectors, OHPs, carousels, airequipt magazines, and so forth can get high prices if they’re particularly rare. However, most used slide projectors are cheap, commonplace, and don’t even get any eBay bids.
What Should You Look for When Buying a Slide Projector?
Magic lanterns serve as the direct ancestor of 35mm slide projectors, which would then later evolve to LCD, DLP, LED, and LCoS digital video projectors of the present day. They were widely used in the 1950s the same way digital projectors are used now.
They specifically use Kodachrome slides because Kodak was the primary maker of these film slides for use in their brand of slide projectors.
- What are 35mm Slides? The 35-millimeter slide is a small piece of positive film that’s surrounded by cardboard or hard plastic in two-inch squares. These slides are developed by using special color-reversal 35mm slide film ersus the print film for slide processing.
- How Were Slides Made Back in the Day? In case Millennials and Gen Z are curious where old people got all their slides, they were taken at family events and vacations then processes in Kodak Film Development branches as slides for their Kodak slide projectors.
- Wide Array of Applications: Slides were used for religious events at churches, educational purposes at schools or universities, and business presentations. However, in the mid-2000s, production of both slide projectors and slides ceased altogether.
- Various Types of 35mm Slide Projectors: The simplest slide projectors are small and require the images to be singly inset by hand one by one. The most elaborate of slide projectors use a carousel of slides that automatically turn or turn at the touch of a wired button.
- Converting 35mm Slides with 35mm Projector: If you have 35mm slides, you can convert it to other formats with the assistance of a 35mm projector. The projector should be used to judge the slide condition then be photographed digitally on the big screen.
- The Most Elaborate Slide Projectors: You can even hunt down or avail of the most elaborate of slide projectors that feature specs like automated slide placement, multiple slide selection, high-resolution lenses, and various user controls like the aforementioned slide control device.
- The Components of a Slide Projector: A slide projector has four main elements—focusing lens, reflector and condensing lens to direct the light to the slide, electric incandescent light bulb or lamp, and slide holder.
- 35mm Viewers vs. 35mm Projectors: A slide viewer allows you to preview the slides via personal slide-viewing device. Just put the slide on the viewer to see it on your own. A projector is used to project the slide images into a large viewing surface like a wall or screen.
The Ultimate Legacy of Slide Projectors
With that in mind, it’s likely that when buying a slide projector, there are more used ones available than newly made ones. Then again, it doesn’t take long to find a brand new novelty item retro projector on eBay along with the old dusty ones.
After all, eBay was originally known as the online garage sale before Craiglist took that title and eBay management started becoming more of an Amazon web shop competitor in terms of selling OEM electronics and appliances.
Some Final Words
Slide projectors have been around since the 1950s and mainly present film photographs in 35mm slide form for slideshow purposes (hence the name of the device). Currently digital projectors are far-and-away more advanced than the latest slide projectors available.
You can even replicate the slideshow format of the slide projector using a PC, smartphone, or tablet connected to a video projector with ease. With that said, if you’re interested in this classic projection technology as a curiosity or for art-tracing purposes, here are our recommendations.
The Top Slide Projectors in the Market Today
The Kodak BC4404 Carousel 4400 Projector is a discontinued projector available for $140. It comes with a remote control that allows you to focus, reverse, and forward the slideshow presentation. It weighs 14.75 pounds, it has a 3-position lamp switch, and it features a rear leveling foot.
Most of the current slideshow devices out there are either slide viewers or slide scanners. Among the best scanners or slide converters out there is also made by Kodak, known as the Kodak Scanza Digital Film & Slide Scanner.
With the Scanza, you can convert not only 35mm slides into JPG files—you can also deal with 8mm, Super 8, 110mm, and 126mm film negatives and slides as well. It comes with a tilt-up 3.5-inch LCD monitor to preview the slides before scanning into something usable in modern projectors.