The best slide viewers in 2024: the easy way to rediscover your old slides

Kodak 35mm Slide and Film Viewer, one of the best slide viewers, on a cluttered wooden table
(Image credit: Kodak)

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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(Image credit: Kodak)

1. Kodak 35mm slide viewer

The best slide viewer for those on a budget

Specifications

Illumination: Natural white daylight LED backlight
Color temperature: 6000K
Power source: 4x AA batteries, not included
Dimensions: 16.5x7.6x15.2cm
Weight: 400g

Reasons to buy

+
Simple to operate
+
Inexpensive
+
Bright illumination
+
3x magnification

Reasons to avoid

-
Batteries not provided 

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.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
The best slide viewer with a built-in screen

Specifications

LCD: 5-inches
Power source: computer via USB port, power bank or mains via optional adapter
Dimensions: 13.4x13.6x9.5cm
Weight: 530g

Reasons to buy

+
Viewer, editor and scanner in one
+
Powered via USB 
+
14MP or 22 MP interpolated images

Reasons to avoid

-
SD card required for scanning
-
Mains adapter not included 

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.

(Image credit: Kodak)

3. Kaiser Diascop Mini 3 Slide Viewer

The best compact slide viewer

Specifications

Magnification: 3x
Power source: 2x AA batteries, not included
Dimensions: 25x75x60mm
Weight: 400g

Reasons to buy

+
Very compact 
+
Easy to use
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic build
-
2x AAs required

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.

(Image credit: Kodak)

4. Rybozen Ultra-thin Portable Slide Scanner & Viewer

Budget lightbox offers low-tech scanning option

Specifications

Magnification: N/A
Illumination: LED
Color temperature: 5000K
Power source: 6x AAA batteries, not included
Dimensions: 15x15.8x1.3cm
Weight: 235g

Reasons to buy

+
Slender and lightweight 
+
Viewer and scanner combined
+
LED light source doesn’t get hot
+
Battery or mains 

Reasons to avoid

-
Viewing area is small

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.

(Image credit: Kodak)

5. Pana-vue 2x2 Slide Viewer

Basic but practical, with 4x magnification

Specifications

Magnification: 4x
Power source: 2x ‘C’ batteries, not included
Dimensions: 25x25x25mm
Weight: 340g

Reasons to buy

+
Stack and view up to 36 slides
+
Small and portable
+
Simple to operate and easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic-y 
-
Small screen

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.

(Image credit: Kodak)

6. Photolux SV-2

The best handheld slide viewer

Specifications

Magnification: 4x
Power source: 2x AA batteries, not included
Dimensions: 13.5x9.5x8cm
Weight: 196g

Reasons to buy

+
Conveniently palm-sized
+
Batteries included

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic construction
-
No scanning
-
Only 2x magnification

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.

(Image credit: Kodak)

7. Kodak Mobile Film Scanner

Low-tech scanning solution that uses your smartphone

Specifications

LCD: None (uses your smartphone screen)
Power source: 2x AA batteries
Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.5 x 1.7in
Weight: 0.5lb

Reasons to buy

+
Low-cost

Reasons to avoid

-
Not really a slide viewer
-
Cardboard construction
-
Batteries required

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.

(Image credit: Kaiser)

8. Kaiser Diascop 50N

Load up multiple slides for a mini slide show

Specifications

Illumination: 15W, E 14 pear-shaped bulb
Color temperature: 2700K
Power source: Mains
Dimensions: 150 x 80 x 175 mm
Weight: 900g

Reasons to buy

+
Load up 20-40 slides at once
+
Mains powered
+
3x magnification

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for handheld use
-
Not battery powered

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. 

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Gavin Stoker

Gavin has over 30 years’ experience of writing about photography and television. He is currently the editor of British Photographic Industry News, and previously served as editor of Which Digital Camera and deputy editor of Total Digital Photography


He has also written for a wide range of publications including T3, BBC Focus, Empire, NME, Radio Times, MacWorld, Computer Active, What Digital Camera and the Rough Guide books.


With his wealth of knowledge, Gavin is well placed to recognize great camera deals and recommend the best products in Digital Camera World’s buying guides. He also writes on a number of specialist subjects including binoculars and monoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, trail cameras, action cameras, body cameras, filters and cameras straps. 

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