Epson V550 or V600 for old family photos, mostly small prints, some negs

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by lex_jenkins, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. I have thousands of old family photos, some dating back to the late 1800s, that I need to scan before the images fade or deteriorate completely. The vast majority are prints, most 4x6 and smaller - many, many b&w contact prints from box cameras. Perhaps 25% are color prints, most of which are fading and color shifting, including some Polacolor prints from the 1970s (the later SX types are okay and can wait awhile). I have only a relative handful of negatives, mostly my own from when I was a kid first getting into b&w photography.
    I'd like to do this as efficiently as possible, and I have more time than money so home scanning makes sense for me. I'd like to be able to scan multiple prints per scan and have software automagically recognize print edges and segregate each into individual files, if possible. This would minimize needing to remove photos from album pages.
    I'd hoped the Wolverine and similar type film/printer "scanners" (they actually appear to be re-photographers, using teensy 1-2/3" or smaller digicam sensors) would do, but customer reviews appear mixed. The reviewers who sound like experienced photographers mostly rate these scanners as mediocre or worse. Too bad, since they're much quicker than conventional scanners.
    So it looks like the Epson V550 or V600 would be my best bet among the currently available new all purpose scanners, that are within my budget. The quality is good enough since these old family photos are often soft anyway - poor lenses, out of focus, etc. They're important as memorabilia, and good enough is good enough. I have a dedicated film scanner for higher quality stuff, an older Minolta that's slow but good. If necessary I can also consider the aftermarket film holder/adapters to resolve the sharpness issues some folks have mentioned about the Epson flatbeds.
    The main issue is getting these scanned before any further fading, darkening, silvering out or other deterioration occurs. I've been putting this off for 10 years and really need to tackle it soon.
    After reading Epson's info on both scanners, and dozens of discussion forum threads, I'm still undecided about whether the V600 is worth the little extra money. Opinions seem mixed about the value of the ICE for prints - some owners say it erodes fine detail, which would be a problem with small prints where dust is large relative to the size of the print detail. I'm less concerned about automatic dust removal than just getting this chore done as efficiently as possible. I can retouch objectionable dust later, and I still have an old copy of Polaroid's rather good dust removal tool, which I've already used to good effect on other family photos.
    However I'm wondering whether the V600 can handle larger sheets (such as album pages with corner mounted photos intact), more prints per scan, and whether it can automatically segregate multiple prints per scan into individual image files. That would be a huge plus.
    And I'm open to considering another multipurpose scanner if it can handle this task more efficiently. Especially scanning multiple smaller prints per scan and segregating them into individual files.
    A few examples:
    I've already done some retouching here, to lighten and clarify badly darkened b&w photos at upper left and lower right.
  2. I have a V500 that I purchased refurbished from Epson's Clearance Center. Film scans are crisper than similar scans from a Epson 1640SU or 1650 or a Microtek 8700 all which use a white cold cathode florescent lamp. The V500, V550, and V600 all use a LED light source. Both the V550 and V600 have built in transparency adapter but the V600 software bundle includes PS Elements.
    The V550 claims it recognizes photo borders and scans each photo to a separate file so it will do multiple photos and the feature pitch of the V600 does not state it but it most likely will. (they probably bury that detail somewhere) Go with the V550 and purchase PS Elements from Adobe if you need it as the version bundled with the V600 is probably not the latest version.
    Epson Store
  3. I wouldn't expect too much out of "artificial intelligence" in the scanning software detecting pictures on the page. Epson Scan software is generally pretty lousy anyways, you really want something like SilverFast or ViewScan, which doesn't have that sort of feature. Scans at 300 dpi are fast. Even contact prints don't need more than 1200 dpi to get every detail.
    So far as I know, ICE is only for scanning transparent things (slides and negatives).
    If it's not practical to remove photos from the albums to scan, what really matters is choosing a scanner that is good at getting into the bindings, since the photos really have to be flat against the scanner bed if you want any sharpness. This problem shows in your scan above, there's just a "fuzz" through the binding area. So your primary selection criteria may be a scanner that has the scanning area very close to the edge of the scanner, so you can scan flat at the binding. If you're not scanning negatives, all scanners are plenty good.
  4. I have a V600 that I've only ever used for scanning negatives (and the occasional single print) before, so I had to try it out in order to answer your question Lex. The V600 does not automatically isolate multiple images in a single scan, at least not that I could see with a quick perusal through the settings. However, once you do the preview scan, it's easy to do so yourself. You just draw a bounding box around each image (click one corner and drag diagonally to the opposite corner) and then hit the "ALL" button and then scan. The scanner will then scan each box as a separate image. The whole process, from preview to saved images, took about 2 minutes for me to scan 3 items at 300 dpi.
    I'm still using the Epson software.
  5. The Epsons will work fine for what you want to accomplish, Lex. It's a big chore, but rewarding at the same time. I think I know you well enough to know that perfection is not the goal. I really need to get to work on my own project as well.
  6. Thanks for the tips and encouragement, folks. Cory, thanks for checking on that particular feature. My current HP all-in-one doesn't have any option to define each photo during the preview/scanning process, so the only way to do it is afterward by cropping each photo out after scanning.
  7. Since end 2007 I have an Epson V500. It will scan multiple photos in auto mode so it will be rather quick.
    I have done already hundreds of old family photos. The most work will be the old slides which I have to dupilicate or scan which is taking much more time.

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