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Journal Reality Master 101's Journal: The product I've been waiting for 5

If you're like me, you have thousands of family photographs lying around that you would love to digitize for posterity. If you're also like me, you started scanning with a flatbed scanner, but the magnitude of the task just defeated you. You said, "there has to be a better way to do this". Well, finally there is. Somebody at HP got a clue and created a scanner with a photograph feeder! Stick in a stack of 24 photos, hit the button, and boom! They get scanned in. For me, the $280 or so would be worth it if all I ever did was just scan legacy photographs and then throw the unit away.

I ordered my unit. I can't wait to do it.

Now if I can just find some good picture organization software. Any suggestions out there? I want something that lets you select from a list of people/places for each picture. The other thing is that it should index picture files, and not try and store the pictures into its own "repository". Oh, and the index information should be exportable into an ASCII format.

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The product I've been waiting for

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  • Sounds pretty cool. :)

    Unfortunately, you're still left with the fact that you're making a copy of a copy. This may not be a problem if you're scaling the photos down, but if you're trying to get hi-res scans of your photos for posterity (as I have tried) then you'll start to notice all kinds of things such as scratches and color bleeding on the prints. I've heard that if you have the hardware to scan the actual negatives then the quality improves, but I haven't had any experience with it myself.
    • Stupid me, I forgot to mention this: you might want to check out SourceForge [sourceforge.net] for some photo-indexing software. I've happened across a couple of web-based projects that handle this, perhaps you'll find something up your alley.
    • Unfortunately, you're still left with the fact that you're making a copy of a copy.

      Yup, there's no getting around it. In fact, I've done some experiments with scanning prints and then getting new prints made from the scans to compare apples to apples. The first thing I learned was that 35mm prints are much lower resolution than you might think, even with an SLR camera. 300dpi was enough to capture most of the information. As you point out, there is a lot more information in the negatives that doesn't make it to the print. The JPEG process also robs some detail.

      But you know what? Unless there's some picture that has a lot of detail that's important to the scene, it didn't really end up mattering that much, to me at least. The point of a photograph is not so much the detail, but to invoke the memories and moods of the people or scene within it. The slight loss of detail didn't spoil any of that for me.

      I'm not planning on throwing away my prints, anyway. Those will go into the "real" albums, but my real motivation is for my future generations to be able to all share in the history and record of the family, rather than just one person having the albums and that's it.

      By the way, I believe this scanner can do slides and negatives, although they won't work with the feeder.

  • http://www.acdsystems.com/English/Products/ACDSee/ index.htm [acdsystems.com]

    Crazy fast, handles lots of pics, and you can add keywords to shots. I've been using it for viewing and organizing images for a few years now, although probably not all the features you'd be using. There's a trial though, so you could try it and see how you like it.
    • There's a trial though, so you could try it and see how you like it.

      I downloaded it, and it looks very cool! It seems to make it really easy to add keywords and categorize your pictures.

      I particularly like the XML export feature. The only problem is that it only seems to export the keywords, but not the categories or any of the meta information like the picture date! That seems like a pretty big oversite. I don't know if I'm just doing it wrong or what. Have you played much with the export feature?

      Thanks for the pointer!

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