Looking for a scanner to digitize hundreds/thousands of photos

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by matt_england, May 30, 2007.

  1. I'm looking for a scanner to digitize hundreds/thousands of photos. I currently
    have a couple of flatbed scanners, and it's a tedious chore to put 4 or 5
    pictures on the bed, scan from the computer, peel off the pictures, adjust the
    digital pics, and over and over again.

    Is there any way around this? Special hardware possibly to automatically "feed
    in" various sized pics, possibly get a separate image scan per pic (so I don't
    have to digitally separate them)?

    And can I get hardware to do this economically? eg, a ballpark guess would be
    that I would want it less than $500...but if there's something that does the
    above that costs more, please let me know.

    I figure there exists some extremely-pricey solution that allows something like
    http://books.google.com to scan a bunch of book pages (...or do they simply hire
    a bunch of lackeys to sit their and toss books on scanners?). If so, I guess the
    question becomes: is there an econmical, available version for little ole' me?

  2. "And can I get hardware to do this economically? eg, a ballpark guess would be that I would want it less than $500..."


    butthe real question is what level of quality are you looking for?
  3. Obviously I'm a newbie.

    As fas as quality goes: I'm not sure what "choices" to choose from. How does one measure scanner quality? Are there general resultion "ranges" to choose from that correspond to some bottom-line-purchase price?

    Please pardon my ignorance, and thanks for any help.

  4. In the past scanners have been produced with bulk 4x5 loaders, one from Epson (2580 I think), one from HP. I don't think either did well enough to warrant an equivalent model in the next product cycle.
  5. by "quality" I mean what end result do you desire. Do you just want a digital archive or do you want professional reproduction grade scans that can print at 11x17 inches @ 300dpi or even larger ?

    Economically if you have thousands of images to scan and need high quality one of the new Hasselblad X5 Flextight scanners.


    Only $19,995 at B&H.

    With a price like that why do I say it is economical? It makes an 8000ppi 16 bit per channel scan of a 35mm iamge in 1.55 minutes. That is very fast. A standard desktop dedicated 35mm scanner like the Nikon Coolscan 5000 ($1000)at 4000ppi takes about 7-10 minutes from start to to finish per slide and that is if you know what you are doing and are very fast, so figuring you have 4000 slides, do the math. time is money.

    If you just need a good digital record and have a high resolution DSLR (Nikon D200, D2X, Canon 5D or 1Ds models) get a macro lens that will let you do 1:1 instead. That will take you less than a minute per slide and you'll ahve something that is fine for a website or a small print. "The DAM Book" by Peter Krogh devotes a chapter to this technique.
  6. jtk


    If you're not after fine scans you can readily do what you're after in a typical Kinkos office.
  7. Matt, are you scanning prints or negatives? When you said "pictures", I assumed prints. Batch scanning is much easier to perform from the negatives. Multiple negatives can be loaded via either a roll feeder or in a film holder on flat bed scanner. A film scanner's software can usually differentiate between frames, saving you the step of separating the images from large scan. A good quality flatbed scanner that can scan film (like the EPSON V700) can be had for $500 or less. You can also find some dedicated 35mm scanners new/used for that price as well. <P>As Ellis said, knowing the ultimate end-use of the images will help in sending you down the right path.
  8. Thanks for all the feedback.

    My basic purpose is to convert a physical library of pictures to a digital one. Right now I have lots of prints (not negatives, although some of those exist as well, but more likely prints) that are sitting in room and are subject to loss/destruction (eg, fire, general "slip through the cracks" loss, etc). Further, I want to give away many of these photos but still retain a copy for myself (I figure this is best done digitally). Finally, I want to be able to print "resonable" quality pics from the resulting digital sources when I want to do so such that I can effectively pitch my physical sources (or give them away as previously mentioned).

    Most of these pics are of the 5x7 or smaller category.

    I suspect the quality this thread speaks of may be much greater than I desire. These are pictures mostly of people, I don't seek state-of-the-art, highest quality, I mostly want to retain memories in a reasonable-grade fashion.

    Does this answer the questions of purpose?

    Having said all that, the Kinkos option appeals to me best thus far. Anyone have a guestimate/ballpark on the per-print cost for this? I'm not looking to hold anyone to exact number, I just want an order-of-magnitude range so I can gauge feasibility.

    Thanks again,
  9. "Having said all that, the Kinkos option appeals to me best thus far. Anyone have a guestimate/ballpark on the per-print cost for this? "

    Use a place like Kinkos for the scans but not the prints. Scan, edit in Photoshop (don't expect the scans straight from the scanner to be good enough to print) and then print at a place like winkflash.com ($.12/ 4x6 on Fuji Crystal Archive).

    Personally I'd buy an Epson 4990 or similar scanner and do the scans at home.
  10. Ok, thanks for the winkflash.com costs.

    Anybody have an idea of the Kinkos scanning costs? This is what concerns me the most; I expect the prints to live in digital flavor mostly and physical flavor rarely (especially with the increasing popularity of digital photo displays, digital-photo usage by late adopters, etc).
  11. I just called a local Kinkos. They quoted me $1 per print (after a $7 initial print charge). Ouch. However, if saves me hours of time, I suppose it might be worth it compared to a new scanner I might have to buy.

    Is this cost in line with what others understand?

    Mostly what I'm trying to do is save the time to have to manually scan all this stuff myself.

  12. "My basic purpose is to convert a physical library of pictures to a digital one. Right now I have lots of prints ..."

    Piece of cake. Use a Fujitsu Snapscan, about $400 new. This is a color document scanner that will do about 15 sheets per minute. I use one for document archiving, but it's decent for photographic images as well. After some Photoshop work, you can expect inkjet reprints to be as good as the original print.

    The thing is fast. Load the hopper with a stack and just hit the big green Go button. The software will give you a file per sheet, or multi-pages per file (for formats like TIF and PDF that supports it.) Since your prints are shorter than 11 inches, I don't think you'll even be able to keep up feeding the hopper.

    A bit cheaper are the Visioneer Strobe series sheet feed scanners. It's not as good mechanically or optically as the SnapScan, but the software is better in some respects.
  13. "Use a Fujitsu Snapscan, about $400 new."

    Does this scanner handle the fact that a stack of photos will be of various sizes (ie, physical dimensions; eg, 4x5 vs 5x7, etc), or does one need to organize the same-sized photos together for each "hopper fill"?

    And are there any pointers directly to a recommended model? I see several listed here:


    (which is the first google hit on "Fujitsu Snapscan".)

    Can one literally just place a stack of prints in the "hopper" and watch a bunch of digital files appear on my computer? It's the mechanical part of this process that worries me the most.

    And I'm also wondering: why did no one else besides Robert mention this? I guess I'm a little skeptical.
  14. jtk


    Matt, the reason nobody mentioned that scanner is probably that this is a photographic forum. Some kinds of equipment are not usually thought of as "photographic," even though they may be adequate for undemanding purposes, such as 1:1 copies or online posting.
  15. Most halfway decent flatbed scanners have some sort of an "autocrop" feature - it is part of the scanner software. The automated document feeder is part of the scanner hardware. At a buck a scan, you have to decide how much your time is worth. The other intangibles are how well the scanner software "autocorrects" what you scan, for color and "density". I have an Epson 4870 and was impressed by how much better it does on color photos (in the auto mode) than the similar, but older, Epson 2450 I use at work.
  16. There are actually plenty of scanners with ADFs out there. The reason the snapscans would be better than most is that their ADFs are a straight-through feed rather than a reversing feed so the photo doesn't have to bend as much. Also in order to get a reliable feed you would still have to sort by size.
  17. "Does this scanner handle the fact that a stack of photos will be of various sizes"

    A qualified yes. The scanner can be set to automatically detect document size, and the software will do the right thing. This works well for mixed letter, legal sized paper documents and bank checks, but I simply haven't tried it with mixed size prints.

    I've had this scanner for a few years, and have probably run tens of thousands of sheets through. However, I've used it only once for duplicating 4x6 Costco prints. It's "good enough." If you can wait, I can run a stack through this weekend and let you know how well it does.

    Looking at your link, I think I have the S500 model; it's the only black one I see.

    Oh, one more thing. The SnapScan has two sets of sensors, one for each side of the paper. This really makes double sided scanning a breeze, but may come in handy for prints as well. The print has different textures front and back, and one side may feed better than the other. Flipping the stack will still give images.
  18. Robert- The SnapScan sounds great. I can certainly wait for you to run a test. I'd be particularly interested in scans of a collection of various-sized prints. -Matt
  19. my 2 cents.

    1_Glue them to a 8x11 sheet of paper, one that have thin pale line on it so you can disposed them align and straigth (by glue i mean anything you could fine that dont damage the original..it could be a simple piece of magic scotchtape roll and apply to the back of the image

    2_Use a epson scan to do the 1 scan on the entire sheet. do them all.

    3_Open the the scan in CS and use the crop and straighten command under FILE > AUTOMATE.

    4_You will get in no time separate scan that are title UNTITLED 01-02-03...so you just have to rename them.

    fast, easy to do, save you a s*** lot of time. cost barely nothing to do, and can accomodate many different size on the same sheet (indeed it would be best to put the same kind of color / BW and small / big print together.

    As for how much it cost approx. Depending of the printer you get it could be as low as 1.50$ for a 8x10 print on glossy paper on a epson r260 (89$) or else in the same family, a 4x6 cost around 40 cents.

    i use to do that for my family stuff that dont need to be scan on my Imacon, was fast and for the web,email, slideshow, or small print this is all it take. Now thanks for the digital era ; ) a canon a540 and a epson picturemate and my wife is good to go on her own for the kid multiple pictures. LOL
  20. Looks like I may have got to the party late LOL.
    Kodak has a line of document scanners hidden away that few photographers know about which sound perfect for you; they are being used by service companies to scan in those infamous "shoeboxes full of pictures".
    I've used the i660 myself to transfer old photos and snapshots to DVD, and know of some photo labs using the i1220.
    The i660 lets you stick in a big stack of any sized prints wallet sized and larger (it scans up to 12x30 inch) in any orientation. The scans are excellent, if 300dpi/24bit works for you, and it crops to size automatically. The included software allows easy rotation of the imported images.
    If the scanner is out of your reach (the i1220 runs about $1000), there are some good labs out there offering their services for a reasonal price. Just google for shoebox scanning.
  21. Why bother? Use a service like www.scanmyphotos.com and enjoy life. The Wall Street Journal did a test of similar services [creating digital archive of family photos - slides/prints]. Just pack up the photos and send them out, receive cd/dvd.
  22. Again, great feedback. It appears that reasonable scanning options exist, as well as the http://wwww.scanmyphotos.com service which also looks quite reasonable.

    The next newbie question: is 300dpi good enough? (And a side note: I'm not sure what the "24bit" means in the "300dpi/24bit"; comments?) Wayne Fulton seems to think so:


    Bob Williams also provides some additional (possibly redundant) comments:


    Does the community here feel these comments to be legitimate?
  23. 300 ppi for same size is OK, if you plan of emlarging any one of them you will need more ppi, like 600ppi 9to double the size of your original) or 900ppi (to triple the size).

    24bit mean 8bit per channel R G B, 8 + 8 + 8 = 24bit.

    Sorry didtn read the info in the link, so i cant comment.

    The easiest route and the cheapest one will be the option i have describe earlier. If you are ready to pay and enjoy a mohito while someonelse is doing the job, the scanmyphotos sound like a great alternative...hiring a kid at 4$hre also sound like a good idea ; )
  24. Get a quote from Jaincotech.com. They specialize in volume scanning for pro photogs on Imacon 949 scanners. They work by custom quote only but as an example I get 4x5 transparencies scanned in 16 bit, 2050 dpi for $14 each. This includes dust spotting. Likely 35mm scans will be a lot less. Ask for Guatam Pai and tell him I sent you.
  25. "The SnapScan sounds great. I can certainly wait for you to run a test."

    I got around to running a deck of 4x6 prints through my SnapScan. It does indeed work fine. The hopper will take about 30 prints and scan at maybe around 20 prints/minute. Stack the prints long side down so that the actual transport takes less time than the other orientation. You can also add to the hopper continuously as the hopper runs through its stack.

    I mis-remembered one thing though. It's better to scan one image per PDF. If scanning multiple images to a single PDF, the softeware won't insert page breaks on print boundaries.

    One more thing. Be careful that the prints don't have left over glue or stickiness on the back. That'll contaminate the rollers and leave you with streaks on subsequent scans (and a cleaning job.)
  26. As far as the i1220 / s1220 Kodak scanners: I would not recommend either one. Actually, the much more expensive s1220 scanner seems to be a repackaged i1220 with some photo editing software that isn't near as good as Picassa.

    These scanners consistently have green streaks going through the entire image in all heavily colored or dark areas of photos. Not acceptable for photos but perfectly acceptable for documents without much color-- but then again, that is really what this scanner is -- a document scanner. I know this because I am now on my third i1220 / s1220 and Kodak's Rochester, NY tech guys have no clue what they are doing or selling.

    I operate a family archiving company in San Diego and we literally scan thousands of photos per week. I personally will not give up until I find a quality alternative to flatbed scanning and I'll make sure to keep everyone posted on what solution I find. For now, forget about Kodak's "Photo Scanning System" because that is simply false advertising.
  27. You are looking for somebody else to scan your shoebox cheaper than you can. Thats impossible. Its like paying sombody to cut your fingernails; tie your shoes; because "it's a tedious chore".

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