The best slide projectors today are very different from the clunky and heavy devices of old. Light, compact and often battery-powered, they make it easy to view 35mm film slides in a fuss-free way, and don't take up much space either. So whether you have shoeboxes full of 35mm film slides and want to travel back in time, or are re-discovering a love of shooting on film, they offer a practical and portable alternative means of bringing those images to life.
Of course, a dedicated projector isn't the only way to see what's on your slides. Other options include mains-powered light-boxes, handheld loupes that utilize ambient light, and if you want to digitize said slides, the film scanner too.
Below, we've gathered together the best slide viewers, some of which double as a scanner of sorts. Each device offers something slightly different, so you're sure to find something that meets your specific needs.
The best slide viewers in 2024
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When you think of 35mm slide film, you think of Kodachrome – so it makes sense that there exists a Kodak branded slide viewer and negative viewer combined. This angled desktop device is both battery operated and features a daylight ape-ing backlit LED display, with a 3x magnifying glass provided so you can really pore over the details of your shots.
Operation is straightforward: whereas the slides are slid into the device top-down, a second slot at the side is provided for inserting strips of negative, complete with quick release button for when you’re ready to slide in the next strip. Unsurprisingly, the four AA batteries required to power the device, slotted into the base, are extra, as is a power cable should you want to plug it into the mains, but neither is a deal breaker at this price point.
Overall, this is a simple, practical and affordable device from the most recognisable name in old school film photography.
Rather than a magnifier, this slide viewer features its own five-inch LCD screen, which lets you view, edit and scan film slides and negatives. It can also convert them into handy-to-share JPEG digital files, thanks to 14MP sensor.
While not a professional-grade film scanner by any means, if operated as a standalone device, either 14MP or interpolated 22MP files can be saved directly to SD card (though you’ll need to provide your own card). More usefully, a USB cable for connection to your computer and HMDI cable for hooking it up to a TV set are provided out of the box, as are adapters for differing film formats, including 35mm, 126 and even 110 film, plus a cleaning brush to avoid dust intruding.
However, if you want to power the device via the mains rather than utilizing your computer’s USB port or USB-equipped power bank, you’ll have to shell out extra for a mains adapter as one isn’t included out of the box.
Kaiser is known for its broad range of photographic accessories, so it’s no surprise that it also offers options when it comes to 35mm slide viewing, including lightboxes. Like the inexpensive Kodak alternative, this compact viewer offers 3x magnification, is powered by a pair of optional yet essential AA batteries and, uniquely, features a fold out prop that allows for a more comfortable viewing angle when set down on a desktop.
The viewing area here is a compact, yet sufficiently large, 2x2-inches. Like the old school slide viewers people owned in the 1970s or 80s, the bulb in this device is activated by inserting a 35mm slide in the available top slot, and simply pressing down on it. There’s not much to this device and equally little it seems that can go wrong. An easy to use and affordable solution then; all you have to do is stump up extra for the batteries required.
A lightbox is a traditional way that professionals used to review their slides and negatives. And this slimline version offers an acrylic panel and LED light source for slide and negative viewing. It also acts as a portable scanner, in conjunction with your smartphone and SlideScan or FilmBox apps. In short, you're getting practicality, portability and value for money in spades, as long as you’re not expecting professional grade results.
Strips of film and slides can be placed side by side or in rows on the device to be viewed or ‘scanned’ simultaneously. Although there is an option for mains power, portability is offered by the fact that six optional AAAs can also be inserted, though this of course adds to the weight.
The viewing area is again a very compact 5x4-inches, but on the plus side this has allowed for the set up to stay very portable and lightweight. The lamp life of the LED is said to be a generous 10,000 hours, while a leather effect carry case is provided out of the box.
• See more options in our Best lightbox for photographers & artists guide.
An incandescent light is at the heart of this boxy viewer designed for tabletop viewing that allows users to stack and view up to 36 slides, while claiming to offer easy push-pull operation. The square format view screen resembling a standard definition TV set of old goes slightly further than others here in offering 4x magnification, but enthusiast photographers wanting more in the way of detail may prefer a lightbox and a handheld magnifying glass or loupe instead.
It’s compatible with both 35mm and all 2x2-inch (5x5cm) slides, but is battery operated only, with no mains power lead provided out of the box. Like the majority of its rivals, the batteries required also need to be purchased as an optional extra.
This Photolux branded ‘SV2’ handheld LED illuminated device, also alternatively known as the Zuma Z-SV2 in the States, is another option for viewing 35mm slides that is as simple as they come. Offering a so-so 2x magnification, it’s powered by two AA batteries. You slide your 35mm slide for viewing into a vacant slot at the top, which activates the built-in daylight white LED light source and… that’s essentially it.
Unusually, the 2x AA batteries required for the light are actually included here. Extremely lightweight at just 196g and compact too, with a viewing screen size of 5.5x4.5cm, this basic yet supremely portable viewer would be ideal for casually browsing slides when feet up on the sofa. For the price too it feels like you really can’t go that far wrong.
This is a low-tech, left-field solution to viewing your slides. This is a carboard, collapsible device that is designed to help you digitize your transparencies and negatives using the camera on your smartphone. A free downloadable app helps you with the process.
For something that looks like a cardboard box, it seems a bit expensive; but more robust film scanners cost significantly more. It is not a quick way of viewing boxes of old slides mind. Sold under the Kodak brand in the US, but found as the PictoScanner in Europe.
This device features like a low-tech slide projector - allowing you to fill the chute with between 20-40 mounted transparencies (depending on the thickness of each). You manually advance through your images by pushing the bottom slide into the path of the light - viewing it on a 3x3in magnified screen.
The light is mains powered, but the image advance is not - and when you have viewed the slides they drop down, so you can't go backward in the slideshow. The whole device tilts upwards, so you can position it at the best angle to view it on a table.