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I have been thinking about building a drawered wood cabinet to store a collection of 35mm slides. Some of these are 70 years old and represent precious family history. (I have digitized them)

I asked a photography forum about doing this and they all think it is a very bad idea. They generally think that metal cases should be used but nobody is very specific about what's wrong with wood. I suppose they are right but before I give up on the idea I'd be interested in what you wood guys think.
 

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Like you, I have inherited B&W neg archives going beyond the 1920's.
I have inherited 2 suitcases of Kodachromes. Ready to digitize when I get around to it.
Some of that stash is already in archival pages designed to hold slides.

My plan is to talk to the local Librarian. Those people do study the archival storage of all sorts
of documentation. Their opinions in that business trump any amateur.

Wood cabinet work is normally finished in some way. It is possible that solvent vapor out-gassing from the wood (or wood chemicals like the smell of cedar), could damage/bleach the dyes in color slides of any age.
 

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bzguy
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I built some wooden storage drawers into a desk for 35MM slides, there are pictures of it by my name, I turned it into fly-tying material storage.
The problem with slides is that no matter how well you store them, over time they will degrade.
Take anything you really want to save and have it high-resolution digitally scanned if you really want to keep it.
 

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It's the degradation of wood over time and the slow outgassing which naturally occurs. These gases can contain acids, formaldehyde, peroxides, sulfides and many other agents harmful to photographic images. Consult ANSI Standard ph1.53-1984 for additional information. Also be aware certain plastics can also be harmful such as PVC and never use glassine. Temperature and humidity will also affect the stability so be certain as well that the environment is as controlled as is reasonable. Never keep photographic items in a basement or attic.
 

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bzguy said:
I built some wooden storage drawers into a desk for 35MM slides, there are pictures of it by my name, I turned it into fly-tying material storage. The problem with slides is that no matter how well you store them, over time they will degrade. Take anything you really want to save and have it high-resolution digitally scanned if you really want to keep it.
I have kept my slides in polypropylene sleeves in a cool place and they have survived quite well over the past 30 years. The big difference with color slides is the type of dye used in the emulsion. I shot mostly Kodachrome (K14 process) which is very stable over a very long period of time. Most people would have used an E6 processed films which are less stable over time but were less expensive to use and process in the first place.
 

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bzguy
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I have kept my slides in polypropylene sleeves in a cool place and they have survived quite well over the past 30 years. The big difference with color slides is the type of dye used in the emulsion. I shot mostly Kodachrome (K14 process) which is very stable over a very long period of time. Most people would have used an E6 processed films which are less stable over time but were less expensive to use and process in the first place.
Point taken and I agree, if stored properly even E6 will last quite a while.
I guess it depends on how much value you place on your images, some things will be priceless 100 years from now and there will be no projectors or even light boxes left by then except as antiques that may or may not function.
 

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One final point. A scanned image saved on a computer is not archival and will not last as long as the original. Digital files degrade over time and information is lost, files become corrupt. You should make multiple copies and store them in a redundant system. Film on the other hand, if properly stored and protected will last much longer.
 

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bzguy
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I really liked shooting with slow film, and would still be doing it if it weren't so expensive and inconvenient.
I resisted digital photography for a long time, and there are some die-hards out there that still swear by it for image quality.
But now the the 21rst century has arrived, it doesn't make sense to me to store images in a format that will become increasingly hard to simply view.
 

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I really liked shooting with slow film, and would still be doing it if it weren't so expensive and inconvenient.
I resisted digital photography for a long time, and there are some die-hards out there that still swear by it for image quality.
But now the the 21rst century has arrived, it doesn't make sense to me to store images in a format that will become increasingly hard to simply view.
I work in IT, and I have this conversation with people a lot.

Building a slide projector is easy: you need a lightsource, a way to hold the slide, and a focusing lens. That's it.

Building a way to read negatives is moderately easy: you need a light source, and a way to put the image with reversed color onto something viewable. That can be done chemically or digitally, either way works.

Building a device that can read a digital media (hard drive, solid state drive, floppy, CD, whatever) is hard. You need a compatible interface, a way to figure out the file structure, a way to figure out what the file IS, and a program that can read the files once you've found them. I can no longer get software to read files I created 15 years ago, or even read the floppy disks I stored data on 20 years ago. It simply can't be done. My photos taken on 110 film, though, are still perfectly viewable, and the negatives from when I started using 35mm should be usable for approximately the rest of my life if I store them carefully.


We're leaving fewer long-term records now than we have at any time in the past. Even paper can be preserved for thousands of years given the right environment, but digital files are transient.
 

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amckenzie4 said:
I work in IT, and I have this conversation with people a lot. Building a slide projector is easy: you need a lightsource, a way to hold the slide, and a focusing lens. That's it. Building a way to read negatives is moderately easy: you need a light source, and a way to put the image with reversed color onto something viewable. That can be done chemically or digitally, either way works. Building a device that can read a digital media (hard drive, solid state drive, floppy, CD, whatever) is hard. You need a compatible interface, a way to figure out the file structure, a way to figure out what the file IS, and a program that can read the files once you've found them. I can no longer get software to read files I created 15 years ago, or even read the floppy disks I stored data on 20 years ago. It simply can't be done. My photos taken on 110 film, though, are still perfectly viewable, and the negatives from when I started using 35mm should be usable for approximately the rest of my life if I store them carefully. We're leaving fewer long-term records now than we have at any time in the past. Even paper can be preserved for thousands of years given the right environment, but digital files are transient.
To this point, this is why I still maintain a darkroom, use film and now make my own platinum/palladium paper. Who knew in my lifetime silver halide would become an alternative process?
 

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Old Methane Gas Cloud
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Let me toss a few of things out here.

1 - Costco offers slide to digital conversion for about a dime less than others.
2 - Storing slides in the boxes that they came back from developing is probably worse than a wood cabinet due to the acid in the paper.
3 - Beware of fungus and bacteria eating the emulsion of the slides.

The math $0.39 times over 5000 slides . . . I don't want to think about it.

A typical slide (Kodachrome or Ektachrome) is between 20 and 30 megapixels. I don't know about other brands of film.
 
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