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05-16-2010, 09:15 PM   #1
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Cheapest, easiest bulk scanning of thousands of family shots

I have been working against the tide to scan in all my worthwhile legacy prints, mostly 4x6 and 4x4, for the family archives. The important ones I will do one at a time but 99% of the rest may never be printed again but I still want to get digital copies. I was unable to find any adequate consumer priced batch scanners for sale or bigger ones for rent

The service firms I researched [BritePix.com for example] offer the 600dpi I want for the bulk work and free enhancements (scratch, dust, fade, etc.) for 29 to 50 cents per. I have no experience with any of them and am looking for recommendations; either a batch scanner to buy/rent or a service firm you have good experience with. I have thousands of shots including those found in the parents attic from 100 years ago (I do those one at a time of course). No negatives or slides to be scanned this time.

Suggestions? I KNOW that many have had to blaze this trail before me.

Thanks in advance.


Last edited by imtheguy; 05-16-2010 at 11:16 PM.
05-17-2010, 07:44 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Scan Cafe

I had a good experience with Scan Cafe a few years ago. Everything was scanned and originals returned as promised.
05-17-2010, 01:51 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
I have been working against the tide to scan in all my worthwhile legacy prints, mostly 4x6 and 4x4, for the family archives. The important ones I will do one at a time but 99% of the rest may never be printed again but I still want to get digital copies. I was unable to find any adequate consumer priced batch scanners for sale or bigger ones for rent

The service firms I researched [BritePix.com for example] offer the 600dpi I want for the bulk work and free enhancements (scratch, dust, fade, etc.) for 29 to 50 cents per. I have no experience with any of them and am looking for recommendations; either a batch scanner to buy/rent or a service firm you have good experience with. I have thousands of shots including those found in the parents attic from 100 years ago (I do those one at a time of course). No negatives or slides to be scanned this time.

Suggestions? I KNOW that many have had to blaze this trail before me.

Thanks in advance.
So you are wanting to scan prints and not the negatives? If so any consumer scanner will do this for you easily and quickly if you don't mind keeping it fed. A sharp 600 dpi scan is possible with nearly any scanner and fast. An epson v500 would work perfectly for this. It has ICE, will auto correct the color decently, and auto crop and rotate your images. you just place a few images on the scanner and hit scan. A lot of those places that scan in bulk use the same Epsons you can buy and do yourself, they just send them to India or someplace else(without telling you) and use cheap labor. Not all of them, but many of them. I have nothing wrong with foreigners or their work, but I wouldn't trust my stuff in international post. You could easily scan thousands of photos in a weekend. I make photo montages for people on the side and have a Creo-Scitex scanner, but honestly for this type of job it's overkill and my Epsons were faster. My $.02.

Last edited by Vertex Ninja; 05-17-2010 at 02:26 PM.
05-17-2010, 08:43 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by harmonica2 Quote
I had a good experience with Scan Cafe a few years ago. Everything was scanned and originals returned as promised.
QuoteOriginally posted by Vertex Ninja Quote
... An epson v500 would work perfectly for this. It has ICE, will auto correct the color decently, and auto crop and rotate your images. you just place a few images on the scanner and hit scan..
Sweet! A good answer for both ways to go. Now I see also why I couldn't find the right scanner. The Epson v500 sells seperately from the document feeder so I never saw it as an option. With about 1,500 or so pics to scan, I can go either way.

Thanks for the recommendations!

05-17-2010, 09:14 PM   #5
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I don't think 1500 is that many, even if you only did 100 or so a night(not too bad) it would only take a couple weeks tops. Then you'd be left with an OK film scanner if you decided to shoot more film later. Can you put a price on your time?

Only other advice I can offer is that ICE isn't perfect and it's far more time efficient to clean the originals before scanning them than having to spot clean them later.

Good luck!
05-19-2010, 08:19 PM   #6
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Find a printshop with scan to file capabilities. The big machines are a whole lot faster. Most are using their color copiers as scanners. My Xerox and Ricoh both are capable.
05-19-2010, 08:28 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
I have been working against the tide to scan in all my worthwhile legacy prints, mostly 4x6 and 4x4, for the family archives. The important ones I will do one at a time but 99% of the rest may never be printed again but I still want to get digital copies. I was unable to find any adequate consumer priced batch scanners for sale or bigger ones for rent

The service firms I researched [BritePix.com for example] offer the 600dpi I want for the bulk work and free enhancements (scratch, dust, fade, etc.) for 29 to 50 cents per. I have no experience with any of them and am looking for recommendations; either a batch scanner to buy/rent or a service firm you have good experience with. I have thousands of shots including those found in the parents attic from 100 years ago (I do those one at a time of course). No negatives or slides to be scanned this time.

Suggestions? I KNOW that many have had to blaze this trail before me.

Thanks in advance.
Cheapest way is buy a scanner, use it, then sell it. That does not factor your time into it, but you'd have more control over the custody and handling of the prints.
05-19-2010, 08:32 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
I have been working against the tide to scan in all my worthwhile legacy prints, mostly 4x6 and 4x4, for the family archives. The important ones I will do one at a time but 99% of the rest may never be printed again but I still want to get digital copies. I was unable to find any adequate consumer priced batch scanners for sale or bigger ones for rent

The service firms I researched [BritePix.com for example] offer the 600dpi I want for the bulk work and free enhancements (scratch, dust, fade, etc.) for 29 to 50 cents per. I have no experience with any of them and am looking for recommendations; either a batch scanner to buy/rent or a service firm you have good experience with. I have thousands of shots including those found in the parents attic from 100 years ago (I do those one at a time of course). No negatives or slides to be scanned this time.

Suggestions? I KNOW that many have had to blaze this trail before me.

Thanks in advance.
Cheapest way is buy a scanner, use it, then sell it. That does not factor your time into it, but you'd have more control over the custody and handling of the prints. I have an Epson 4990, now discontinued, but something similar should work.

05-19-2010, 08:48 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by graphicgr8s Quote
Find a printshop with scan to file capabilities. The big machines are a whole lot faster. Most are using their color copiers as scanners. My Xerox and Ricoh both are capable.
Thanks for the reply but I may not understand. How is this different than sending boxes off to someone like BritePix? Do you mean a local shop (FedEx Kinkos?) so I can keep track of my boxes?
05-19-2010, 08:49 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Cheapest way is buy a scanner, use it, then sell it. That does not factor your time into it, but you'd have more control over the custody and handling of the prints. I have an Epson 4990, now discontinued, but something similar should work.
Agree that is one strong option I am considering. I was looking for an Epson Perfection V500 Office Scanner either used or for rent. As you say, I can buy it new for $300 and resell.
05-19-2010, 08:51 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vertex Ninja Quote
I don't think 1500 is that many, even if you only did 100 or so a night(not too bad) it would only take a couple weeks tops. Then you'd be left with an OK film scanner if you decided to shoot more film later. Can you put a price on your time?

Only other advice I can offer is that ICE isn't perfect and it's far more time efficient to clean the originals before scanning them than having to spot clean them later.

Good luck!
My time is free these days and most pics would not get any personal attention once scanned. But thanks for the tip to at least wipe them down as I sort, whether I send them off or batch them up to do myself.
05-19-2010, 08:56 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
Agree that is one strong option I am considering. I was looking for an Epson Perfection V500 Office Scanner either used or for rent. As you say, I can buy it new for $300 and resell.
I'd just get the regular photo version. I'm not sure if the feeder even works with photos. It's probably just as quick to lift the lid, put the images on the glass, hit scan, repeat. You can always surf the net or something while it scans.
05-19-2010, 09:15 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vertex Ninja Quote
I'd just get the regular photo version. I'm not sure if the feeder even works with photos. It's probably just as quick to lift the lid, put the images on the glass, hit scan, repeat. You can always surf the net or something while it scans.

I have been using my current flatbed and its just too slow, well, I'm too slow, even though its one button push to make a file on the connected computer. After years I still have only a couple hundred done. Its BORING!
The Auto Doc Feeder is advertised to handle pics down to 4"x5" so all the old 35mm 4x6 shots should be fine. But many are my parents that are mostly 4x4. Thats another vote to send it out.
05-22-2010, 05:10 AM   #14
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If you only need quite low resolution scans (say max 3Mp) the easiest way is sending them of to be scanned, probably costs about the same as a scanner. Cheapest I think is to buy the scanner, do the work, then sell the scanner. This way you get more control of the result.

Does the Epson V500 hold 24 frames in strips or is it less? I have a feeling it is less. I would not go for a scanner that holds only 12 (or even worse only 6!) frames at one time. It all depends on how much time you have, reloading three or four times per roll is no fun.

If you go for buying a scanner I would recommend you to get one that takes 24 frames (12 mounted).

Regarding time then, when I got my V700 I did some 1200 scans in four or five weeks. And I didn't work around the clock either, Vuescan and 'scan from preview' is a really comfortable way to do large amounts of scans, much MUCH better than Epsons own software.
05-22-2010, 08:30 AM   #15
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The v500 is advertised to hold 30 "documents" in the hopper at a time. Does not mention a different number for framed pics. I am upping my estimate of shots I could send out to about 2,200 now especially since the v500 is rated for 4x5 and up leaving out a lot of old 4x4.

Thanks for the input Jimfear.
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