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Digitizing a Large Amount of Photos? 112

mcj0422 asks: "With what seems like the many increasing disasters, and also the freak accidents that can happen, there are certain non valuables that people end up losing, the main one being pictures that are printed on film. I know my mom has several thousand photos in our basement, which could be wiped out by water damage in one heavy rain season. Are there any scanners designed to take loads of pictures and turn them into digital files? Is there a service that does this, if so which ones would you recommend?"
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Digitizing a Large Amount of Photos?

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  • Using a standard scanner and some scripts that used image magick to do some sorting and converting. I don't know of any bulk scanners other then network copiers. You could try using those. I presume you will be doing this in a linux enviroment.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SocialEngineer ( 673690 ) <invertedpandaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:50PM (#15107157) Homepage

    I'd go with the usual "teenager next door with too much time on his/her hands" approach. Five bucks an hour and all the lemonade he/she can drink.

    Unless said photos are pornographic.. Then you might have a problem :)

  • weekend + flat-bed scanner
    • Yeah, I scanned about 70 rolls of pictures that way. I also created a database for entering information about the pictures after I scanned them. Hard work but I'm really happy with the result.
  • by SeanTobin ( 138474 ) *
    BritePix [britepix.com]
    Dig My Pics [digmypics.com]
    Digital Memories Online [digitalmem...online.net]
    Digital Pickle [digitalpickle.com]
    Photo Max [photomaxtivi.net]
    Slide Converter [slideconverter.com]

    I'm sure there are more services, but I'll leave the job of going to page 2 up to you.
  • ADF it (Score:4, Informative)

    by yasth ( 203461 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:54PM (#15107188) Homepage Journal
    Most ADFs can feed photos too. Hp even made a scanner (HP Scanjet 5500c) Just for this purpose. Of course image management gets tricky, but picasa could probably be a good starting place.

    • I have the mediocre at everything hp laserjet 3015, and I love it for the posters purpose, The photo's arent perfect when scanned but at least I can preserve the memory. If you go with this approach you will still be sittin around at the computer but you can watch tv while the scanner goes, just be ready for the boundless number of jams to the ADF (automatic document feeder). Luckily for me I dont shoot film any more, so of my (approx 15000-20000 photos) pictures about 80% are now digital originals backed
    • ADF is a good way to scratch all of those originals and/or negatives. If you care anything about your originals I would pay CAREFUL attention to the method that's used to scan.

      ADF + Scratching = AWFUL digital backup.
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:54PM (#15107193) Homepage
    I work for a law firm. We use several brands of bulk scanners, connected up to OCR engines. You don't need the OCR, but the scanners are nice.

    We stack the pictures in, face down, they get fed through to a flatbed scanner. But I doubt you would be willing to pay what we did to get the device.

    A GOOD digital photo store should have a similar setup.

    Whether they will charge you a reasonable price with a discount for bulk is another matter.

    • by temojen ( 678985 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:47PM (#15107606) Journal
      HP Officejet 6110. Automatic Document Feeder, decent scans, and under $800. Just don't walk away and leave it scanning or it'll do 3 pages at once and jam. We've used them for over 10000 pages where I work.

      But really... If you have the negatives, always scan those (with a filmscanner) rather than prints. Prints almost always have less information than the negatives, and deteriorate faster. A good enough filmscanner (if your slides and negatives are dust free) should only cost $250 if you need to scan only 35mm. One that can handle 35mm and medium format, with dust and scratch removal will cost ~$900.

      And get VueScan. Having to manually save each image in photoshop really really sucks when you've got a few hundred images. VueScan saves directly to file, rather than sending the images back to an interactive program. And it works on Linux, MacOSX, and Windows. Watch for scanner compatibility though... the CanoScan models need drivers not available for Linux, but the Epson, Nikon, and Minoltas work in Linux.
  • All Scanners (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gates82 ( 706573 )
    I thought most scanners are basically designed to take photos and turn them into a digital format.

    Seriously if you are talking about a system that you can just pop a stack of photos on and have the process automated you'd be talkin' $$$$$.

    Personally I really like epson scanners if yuo get a USB 2.0 or Firewire compatible one they are fast. Store the photos in a lossless Jpeg, RAW, or my preference in TIF. Back up to a RAID 5 or Mirror and then archive with RAR and recovery segments onto DVD-R.


    So who i

    • Store the photos in a lossless Jpeg, RAW, or my preference in TIF.

      If you're keen to use compression to save disk space, just be aware that TIFF encapsulates several different compression engines including the lossy JFIF used in JPEG. If you're given the option then go for TIFF-LZW, or maybe just use PNG.

  • I have seen a van for Pickled Pics [pickledpics.com] driving around. I have never done any business with them but they seem to do exactly what you want. Hope this helps.
  • Photos ? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    In paper format : You can have a lot of HP scanner with feed-in paper tray (like a printer or copier) and all the software you need to do the job.
    In negative format : you need a negative scanner and they come with all the software you need.
    Now, I realy do not believe that this silly question that can be answer on any photo related site is on Slashdot !
    Come on people, take a walk to the near bridge then jump !
  • Nothing beats the cost-effectiveness of a teen-ager, a desktop scanner and $20.
  • Unless you want to go the negative scanning route (which is the best option if you have all of the negatives, the money, and the time), your best bet is to get a mid to high quality fast flatbed scanner. You can arrange probably 5 to 7 3x5s on the bed and chop them up into the individual pics later. You're best off scanning at the highest resolution you can afford (time and storage-space-wise). When it comes down to it, it'll be a fairly time-consuming task to do it all, but it should be worth it. As mentio
    • You'll probably want to be involved in the finalizing steps, though (cropping, color correcting, etc).

      Actually, if all that you're looking for is a backup archive, you can just do a fast and rough sort into piles (such as family, dog, car, food) then scan 5 or 6 images to a page and just save the data without touching it.

      If you need to find a specifc pic, fire up Picassa (Windows only sadly) and scan through for the picture. It'll be faster than cataloging and captioning everything.

      Most of the scanned photo
      • Very good point. Just do this for a rough archive and then deal with the rest when the time comes around for a reprint or whatever.
      • If you need to find a specifc pic, fire up Picassa (Windows only sadly) and scan through for the picture.

        gqview [sourceforge.net] on Linux/UNIX will do just fine for this. Flip through the pix (it'll do the flipping for you in slide-show mode), then right-click the chosen cluster to "edit in the GIMP" to crop down to just the one you want.

  • Changed my mind. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:04PM (#15107282) Homepage
    I checked some prices. Services appears to charge no less than $1/picture even in bulk.

    For over 1,000 photos, I suggest you buy a high end scanner for over $500 and pay a teenager $20/hour to do it.

    • $20/hour to scan pictures? At least you aren't cheap like a lot of these people saying $5/hour for the job (or one was a flat $20), but $20/hour for a simple task is REALLY high. If teenagers won't do it for less than that, hire an illegal for half that--and they'll probably do a better job to because they value the money more.
  • by Ucklak ( 755284 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:06PM (#15107294)
    If the images are 4x6 or smaller, you could scan them at least 3 or more at a time.
    Just scan them into one large TIFF and do cleanup later.

    That way you scan a pile or box at a time.

    Cleanup is a bitch but worth it.
    Just crop the images out of the TIFF, color correct and remove dust.
  • SANE and scanbuttond (Score:3, Informative)

    by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <drewNO@SPAMzhrodague.net> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:12PM (#15107352) Homepage Journal
    Grab yourself a $40 USB scanner. Stick it on an old PC, and install your favorite GNU/Linux distro. Then use SANE [sane-project.org] and scanbuttond [sourceforge.net] to bulk-scan your photos. Here's how I am doing just about the same thing:

    I inherited my grandfather's QSO cards (W3FFZ) from the 50's. I figured I'd scan 'em and put 'em on the web. For the scanning process, I have scanbuttond run my script to scan a postcard size from the scanner, and toss it into a directory. So what I do now, is I go over to the scanner, put a QSO card in, close the lid, and press a button. The scanner scans the card and I can then flip it over and press the button again.

    It is difficult to bulk-scan things in general. You really need to apply meta-data to your images, whether you populate any comment fields, the way you name your files, etc. I find it best to go through and rename my images as I take them out of my camera/phone.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Photos will look dim and generally awful when scanned from prints. If you really care about the images, and it's in any way possible, consider scanning negatives. Many flatbed scanners also include negative feeders (I've seen some lower-end Epsons within the past week that have this).
  • by purduephotog ( 218304 ) <hirsch@@@inorbit...com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:18PM (#15107419) Homepage Journal
    Easiest? Pay someone.

    Not too many people make photo quality digitizers that are affordable for the average joe. The teenager approach might work but you've got definate food-put issues to deal with- greasy fingers, etc.

    You might find it easiest to make up a 4x6 template, some bright lights, a glass coversheet, 2x polarizers and shoot thru the glass with a macro lense and capture a 6mp image of the 4x6. You'll have dye mis-match issues for colour balancing but that would probably be your fastest route. (If you have a vacuum plate/table that would work better than the polarizer/glass method).

    • You might find it easiest to make up a 4x6 template, some bright lights, a glass coversheet, 2x polarizers and shoot thru the glass with a macro lense and capture a 6mp image of the 4x6.

      I'm somewhat confused. Why is this method superior to using a device that's designed for digitizing flat work? Most inexpensive scanners can get 6MP from a 4x6 (that's less than 600 dpi), although frankly for dimestore/commercially printed 35mm prints I think that sort of resolution is overkill. You're going to be looking at
  • by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:25PM (#15107469) Homepage Journal
    Floods are not the only disaster which can affect valuables such as photos. And there are actually very few such disasters which would completely destroy a photo while leaving a digitized version of that photo intact. Make sure you have a safe location to store the copies. While you're at it (perhaps even before) you might want to make sure you've got a safe location for the originals.

    By far the hardest, costliest, riskyest, and most time consuming part of this process will be arranging a several-thousand photo collection to be scanned. If you are going to take that step, I'd recommend you arrange to wind-up with both a digitized copy and an old-fashioned one.

    We have a good understanding of what it takes to preserve photos, with almost 200 years to learn from our screw-ups. We don't have the same experience with digital artifacts, and the experiences we do have says we're abysmal at it. Physical objects can survive thousands (millions?) of years by accident while we've all experienced the loss of digital ones which were important just seconds ago.

    If these photos are important,

    1. Move the originals to a safe location, today.
    2. Arrange to have physical copies made. (Go ahead and have digital ones made, too, if that makes you happy.)
    3. Store the copies in a safe location, too, but define 'safe' differently. (Safe from what? Fire? Flood? Theft? Copyright infringement? Rivaluos siblings? CDROT? Sunlight fading? Obscurity? Prying eyes? Obsolescence?
    4. Also be aware that making a digital copy of some things (like a photo) can introduce threats which were not there before. A machine jam while scanning or improper handling of unstable photos can cause irreparable loss. I'd hate to see your precious photo collection lost completely to a freak minor auto accident or random theft. Also beware that digitizing a photo is a lossy process: no matter how high a resolution you have a photo scanned at, there will always be some information which cannot be recovered from the digitized version, should the original be lost.

      And finally, understand that the simple act of making a digital backup of something like a photo makes the original a tempting target for disposal in the name of 'efficiency'. If everyone in the family has a digital copy of every photo in the box, it might be a lot easier to justify leaving the box in the basement for the termites. And once the box is gone, will you really care about your copy on your crashed hard disk, when you're sure you can get another copy from anyone else at the next reunion. Until you find-out everyone else was counting on getting a new copy from you...

    • there are actually very few such disasters which would completely destroy a photo while leaving a digitized version of that photo intact.

      While true, I can burn a dozen copies of my photo collection to DVD and mail them to relatives and friends in various parts of the planet. It any disaster(s) manage to wipe out all of New England, California, Florida, and Australia, I don't think I'll really care much about the survival of my pictures.

      More on-topic, I'd suggest just buying a cheap flatbed with an a
      • by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @04:59PM (#15108816) Homepage Journal
        While true, I can burn a dozen copies of my photo collection to DVD and mail them to relatives and friends in various parts of the planet. It any disaster(s) manage to wipe out all of New England, California, Florida, and Australia, I don't think I'll really care much about the survival of my pictures.

        You are only considering disasters which share location as a common mode. Think outside the box. I could imagine many disaster scanarios which would wipe-out all of your photos on multiple continents.

        How about a manufacturer recall due to a defect which causes premature bit-rot. One you don't hear about until it's too late. It wouldn't really matter if the disks were stored together or apart.

        Or how about a mis-aligned read/write head on your burner. Sure, you verified each disk (on your own writer) after you burnt them, but now your drive is dead, and you discover no one else can read the disks you wrote.

        Or, how about a lawsuit? The software you use to view the disks gets injunctioned off the market by a patent infringement lawsuit. (That almost happened with GIF, remember.) You did remember to back-up the viewer along with the photos, right? And an operating system to run it...

        Or what if you can't find a DVD player? (What if the MPAA tells DVDCCA to stop licensing the manufacture of DVD players in a few years so that Disney can sell all those cartoons all over again to a new generation of toddlers without worrying about the turn-of-the-century-disks cannibalizing their new sales.)

        And those are common-mode disasters. It wouldn't be too hard to come up with a dozen unique, plausible, reasons why 12 DVD's mailed to 12 different locations would be unrecoverable upon return 5, 10, or 50 years later. Let's see:

        1. Never made it to destination
        2. damaged in-transit:sending
        3. damaged in-tranisit:returning
        4. misplaced upon arrival
        5. misfiled and lost
        6. damaged through neglect
        7. damaged through intent
        8. stolen
        9. guardian moved and left no forwarding address
        10. guardian in jail
        11. guardian deceased
        12. discarded as unimportant ("Honey, you don't need to hang onto that old thing. You haven't even seen a birthday card in 30 years. And besides, he sent 11 other copies to other people, surely they couldn't have all gotten discarded. If he ever does ask for it back, just say you never got it, or it was damaged in transit...")

      • It any disaster(s) manage to wipe out all of New England, California, Florida, and Australia, I don't think I'll really care much about the survival of my pictures.

        I suspect these are precisely the circumstances under which you'd start caring a lot about the survival of your pictures, especially if you have relatived or friends there.

    • Katrina Lesson. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by twitter ( 104583 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @05:02PM (#15108842) Homepage Journal
      Here's what my step brother found out when 7 feet of salty sewer water rode over his house:

      • Photo albums: bulky for travel. Left and ruined.
      • External hard drive: Great idea, but he left it and it was ruined.
      • CDs: washable and fully recovered.
      • Network: not used.

      The big lesson was that forsight is required. The hard drive would have been best to run with, but it's fragile, so pack them well. A CD book good, but heavy unless you move to DVD. As usual, having multiple live copies is the easiest solution.

      Everyone's pictures are important, so digitize them soon. My digitized pictures are outlasting the ink in my physical versions. Even older silver based black and white images are going away. Digitize as quickly as possible and store the originals as well as you can - correct humidity, acid free backing and all that. Real dissasters can and will take your physical copies. Give gift CDs to friends and family of the images you think are most important. That will protect you against fires in a way that is too expensive and time consuming with physical coppies.

      I'd recommend you arrange to wind-up with both a digitized copy and an old-fashioned one.

      Is there a way to end up with less?

      • Is there a way to end up with less?

        You could have only a (digital) copy of the original, or (especilly if digitizing off negatives) you could get a reprint as well.

      • I think there's another avenue here that people aren't considering: organize and protect the negatives. Aside from the portable hard drive, and perhaps the DVDs (depending on how you did the digitization), a binder full of 35mm negatives in archival sheets have a very high information density.

        Since they are the originals -- the true originals, not 1st generation copies like prints -- you have all the information needed to reconstruct prints at a later date. Physically, they're quite robust: I'd say they're
  • by peacefinder ( 469349 ) * <alan...dewitt@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:37PM (#15107533) Journal
    I know this is over-budget for pratically everyone, but I just have to share.

    My workplace recently replaced our venerable Fujitsu 4097D scanner. We ran hundreds of thousands of sheets through that thing, and it never needed service beyond my unskilled labor and Fujitsu's ScanAid consumable kits. But when the lease ran out, we chose to replace it with a color model.

    Since the 4097D worked out so well, we looked at two of the current Fujitsu models. Both of these scan up to 600 dpi x 24 bit color (optical) and have hi-speed USB2 and SCSI interfaces. Both have flatbed capability in addition to the ADF.

    The successor to the 4097D is the fi-5750C. It's roughly $6,000 and has a duty cycle of 8,000 pages per day. (They call that a "light duty" scanner, which cracks me up.) It also has a clever rotating 200-sheet 57 PPM ADF unit that makes it easy to use for both right- and left-handers. It can scan up to 12"x18".

    The model fi-4340C is a bit more reasonable, going for about $3500. It can handle a slightly less huge variety of paper, and has a duty cycle of a mere 3,000 pages per day. It has a fixed 100-sheet 40 PPM ADF. It can scan up to 8.5"x14".

    We purchased the fi-5750C. The hardest part of the installation was getting it upstairs... it's bulky and almost 80 pounds. Once I had it running, I took a small stack of mixed-size photos and dropped them in the ADF... it handled them wonderfully. Obviously a 600dpi 24-bit scan doesn't run at 57 PPM, but it's still pretty quick and it produced very nice-looking scans. Most importantly, the ADF didn't damage the photos.

    One of these weekends I'm going to bring in a portable hard drive and a box of photos, and see how many gigabytes I can fill up in a day.


    On a more realistic level, here's a couple things to keep in mind. First, scanning a photo print is making a copy of a copy. If you have access to negatives, try to scan them instead. I have no idea what equipment does that well, but I expect it's very expensive. It's probably best to work through a service for that.

    Second, digitizing is the easy part... indexing is the hard part.
    • Pardon the self-reply, but I took a moment to look into film scanners.

      Check out this review site [imaging-resource.com] for some good info. An excellent Nikon film scanner went for about $3,000 a few years ago, and there were several sub-$1000 film scanners on their list. Presumably something better or cheaper can be found now.
  • I have a similar store of old photos, but they're already water damaged. I still have the negatives, though, which appear to be in decent condition. I've looked into commercial negative scanning, but it's prohibitively expensive, and the negative scanning attachment for my scanner only does one at a time. Can anyone recommend a simple automatic feed negative scanner?
    • Here's one [google.com] that's apparently very good. No personal experience with it, though.
      • I've been working on this project off and on for months. I bought one for around $500 from eBay, and plan to sell it once I'm done. I finally finished scanning recent history, and am as far back as college. After that, I'm taking on dad's slide collection. At this rate I should be done in about 6 months.

        This is not an urgent thing for me, but I'm pretty happy with the scans I'm getting. I settled on jpeg and decided to live with scans that end up ~10MB/photo. In raw format, at the highest bit depth, I
    • I've used a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual II scanner for negatives.
      It worked pretty well, came w/ software for dust correction (canned air works well too).
      It was cheaper to buy one of those and re-sell it on ebay when I was done than to get a professional place to scan my slides/negatives (it does both).
      I lent it out to a couple of friends and they thought it was easy to use also.
      It worked w/ Macs and PCs - I didn't check for Linux support.
      If the negative was saved as a .bmp file, it created a 36 MB fil
      • If the negative was saved as a .bmp file, it created a 36 MB file - the .jpg version was 2 or 3 MB.

        I hope, therefore, that you chose to save them as BMPs ... that file size ought to have been an indication of how much information it was throwing away in the JPG versions.

        A while back here on Slashdot there was a discussion of what file format people would want to use for archival purposes -- really long-term storage, not just a few years or decades. There were some very convincing arguments for using plain-o
  • Get a flatbed scanner with a negative holder, find the negatives, and scan those.

    It will look much better than the faded colors of an old print.

    You can only fit 2-3 prints on a flatbed at the same time, but you can usually fit at least two strips of negatives -- between 8 and 12 pictures -- at the same time on a flatbed.

    *However* no matter how you dice it, it'll take a long time to properly go through them. But then again, going through old pictures is kinda fun. :)
  • epson (Score:3, Informative)

    by khang ( 115702 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:58PM (#15107719) Homepage Journal
    i'm actually doing this right now

    don't get the document feeders like the others say, they're made for documents, not photos.

    get yourself an epson perfection 3490 or 3590. THe difference betwee the two is about 50 dollars, one has an automatic FILM FEEDER. I didn't think i needed a film feeder so i went with the 3490. Both can take a "Multi Photo / Business Card Feeder" ~$150. But epson doesn't want you to know the 3490 takes the multi photo, just so you can order the more expensive one. But it's in the manual on their support site.

    The automatic photo feeder holds about 25. it does jam once in a while, but usually it's because the photos don't line up correctly. I scan my photos at 300dpi, each takes about 35 secs. The only annoying thing is it comes out reverse, so you might want to sort it backwards.

    all in all it's pretty decent. the only bad thing is the dust problem. For some reason they don't make the higher end scanners with feeders. I think these higher end use some system to detect dust and remove it from the picture. So in the end, I occasionally remove dust from the flat bed and any noticeable ones from the photos.

    HP had a similar solution but it seems to be off the market now and they rather you buy some very expensive solution instead.

    the other thing is, you can also use the flatbed for multiple photos, it autocrops the pictures. throw 3-5 photos on the flatbed and it'll automatically find the pictures. I had some issues with it cropping too much, but it's still quicker than 1 by 1.
    • Since I have to mod points with which to reward you, I wanted to thank you. This is exactly what I'm looking for.

      The scanner [epson.com] is $130 with a negative scanner. (The next model down was $100, so only a $30 difference now.)

      The feeder [epson.com] looks like it will scan anything for which I have no negatives.

      Perfect! Thanks

      Now I just need to come across the money with which to pay for them.
      • I picked up the Epson 2480 when it came out; kind of an earlier version of the 3590. It's fantastic for large volume home-quality photo archiving, but wasn't up to scale for "professional" scans; film, print, or otherwise. I don't know if the 3590 has improved much, but a few tidbits of advice:
        • I had a lot of photos of varying sizes; even slightly varying, as if from different photo labs, but the same "size". A stack needs to pretty much be exactly the same width or the feeder gets confused.
        • Keeping the s
  • I purchased my mom a Canon CanoScan LiDE 25 scanner a couple years ago. Not only is it cool because it is thin and light, and doesn't need a power connection (it's powered by the USB cable), but it came with a nifty feature in it's driver where if you put several pictures on the glass, it attempts to use the white space around them to guess that they were individual pictures and then saves them as such. I tasked her to scan in many family pictures (mostly 4x6") and I'm sure that feature saved her some tim
  • Photograph them (Score:5, Informative)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @03:05PM (#15107782)
    If you already have a good digital camera and you want to digitize prints, my advice is to photograph them. There are special rigs specifically for photographing documents, but it's actually fairly easy to set up yourself. Get a tripod that allows you to reverse the central stand, i.e. so it points down between the legs. Then place is on a desk, do some tests so that you have it manually focused correctly on the desk. Take photographs of graph paper to make sure everything is level. Also, get some good lights - it's just the bulb that is important - you want ones that are "full spectrum". Diffuse the light through something, or bounce it. If you do some tests you should be able to get it so the photo is very evenly lit.

    The advantage with this setup is that once it is all correctly set up, you can photograph a lot of pictures very quickly. If you have a Mac, you can plug your camera into it and use the Automator to trigger the camera shutter so you don't even have to touch the camera and risk knocking it. You can even get the Automator to automatically crop/thumbnail/whatever the images.
    • Re:Photograph them (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zathrus ( 232140 )
      f you already have a good digital camera and you want to digitize prints, my advice is to photograph them

      I've seen a couple of people say this now, and I have to scratch my head at it.

      Even a basic scanner can do 600 dpi. For a 4x6 picture that's 8,640,000 pixels, or roughly 8.6 MP. You'll have to have a pretty high end camera to exceed that -- and that's discounting the likelihood of photographing something besides just the picture. Also realize that with a scanner you get even higher resolutions with large
      • I guess it depends on what you're photographing, but if you are copying normal old prints then a good digital camera has more than enough resolution - in fact higher resolution would be completely unnecessary.
        • I guess it depends on what you're photographing, but if you are copying normal old prints then a good digital camera has more than enough resolution - in fact higher resolution would be completely unnecessary.
          I have photographed family pictures for which we have no negatives but I needed a macro lens to get close enough to make the photo full frame and stay in focus. Most digital cameras don't have replaceable lenses and that's a problem.
          • by nuggz ( 69912 )
            If you want high quality photos, use a SLR.

            The current entry level products are all capable of generating very good images.
            (Canon Nikon Olympus Pentax)

            Some of the kit or consumer lenses aren't great but you can easily replace them with excellent mid range glass.
      • Having done a lot of scanning of regular ol' prints myself, you'd be surprised how low resolution they are. 300dpi is often overkill.
        • My question on the procedure isn't the resolution, it's the ease of use. Seems like it would be easier to just plop the prints face-down on a flatbed scanner and hit "Scan" than to set up what's essentially a homebrew copystand.

          I've used a real copy-stand quite a bit for making 35mm slides from flat-work, and it's not exactly a brainless procedure. I wouldn't recommend doing it without white balancing, because otherwise your color could be all off, and while it has its place -- particularly if you want to d
    • Quick work only. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by twitter ( 104583 )
      Yes, that does work but it has a few drawbacks. I've used that as a way to digitize my notes. A combination of lights makes a good source for multi colored graphs and pictures. It's faster than a flat bed scanner, but ... it's not flat! Most camera lenses will "barrel" and "cussion" your picture.

      A scanner can take more time, but it's worth the effort. Kooka works as well as the best Windoze software with them and you can scan in several photos at once. The quality, at all resolutions, is better than

  • by nonetheless ( 600533 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @03:09PM (#15107809)
    High resolution scanning of 35mm negatives is reasonably expensive. For reference, Digital Pickle [digitalpickle.com] charges $0.75/picture. If you have time on your hands and money that you can part with for a few months, you mgiht consider getting a very good film scanner, treating it very gently, doing the scanning yourself (or, as others have suggested, paying a very careful teenager), then reselling the scanner.

    The Nikon Coolscan [nikonusa.com] line appears well reviewed. The best of the line, the 9000, runs ~$1700 on eBay, or ~$1900 new. If you don't need to do any medium format film scanning, consider the 5000, which operates faster. Once you've scanned everything you have, resell it on eBay. With luck, the only thing you'll lose is your time.

    I'm planning on doing this in a couple of months.

    • I spent a good part of last year doing all of this myself. In all, I think I scanned in the neighborhood of 225 rolls of film and lord knows how many color slides, using a Nikon Coolscan IV negative/slide scanner (and used their included software). All in all it was much more time consuming than difficult. I bought some canned air, gave each strip of negatives a spray, fed it in for a prescan, drew boxes around the desired scan image, and let it fly. A few minutes later, I just selected each image, chos
  • Most traditional photo developers offer the option of printing to CD. There are services that will scan all your photos or negatives for you, but they are quite expensive. About 30-50 cents per photo.
  • by patrusk ( 955763 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @03:09PM (#15107823)
    As a photo lab tech, I occasionally get giant batches of photos or slides to digitze. We have an Epson 4870, which has incredible resolution and Digital ICE built in. Most of the time we just put as many photos as will fit on the scanner and set the selection to scan them all individually at sufficient resolution to get a good 4x6. You typically need a 5mb file to get a 300ppi 4x6, so you'll need to set your resolution to a level that will yield at least that size. Smaller photos will require a higher scanning resolution. Digital ICE will clean up some of the dust and scratches, but not all of them, and can sometimes double your scanning time. Once I feel like I have a good amount of photos to work with in Photoshop, I crop them all, usually manually, and then I create a few actions for color correction, exposure/contrast, dust and scratch cleanup, and sharpening. Usually Auto-Color Correction and Auto Levels will work just fine, but sometimes you need to do some fine tuning. You can either use these actions on each of the photos individually, or you can batch-process all of them at once. While I would love to have an Automatic Document Feeder, I don't think we get enough of that business to justify the expense.
  • by J05H ( 5625 )
    Patience and a decent flatbed scanner works great.
  • Walmart will scan photos for $10 for 40 negatives.

    The catch -- you have to ask for an "8X10" scan, and they may or may not do it for you.

    (You get a ~2 megapixel scan normally)
    • Are you talking about scanning negatives or scanning prints?

      $10 for 40 negatives makes sense (although personally I think it's a bit steep -- most WalMarts have Fuji Frontier series equipment, and a brain-damaged monkey could scan negatives on that; the trick is dust and quality control) but I'm not sure why you'd say anything like an "8x10" scan.

      Saying "8x10" makes me think that they're cropping the frame to an 8x10 aspect ratio, which is different than a 35mm film frame -- the film is much longer than an
      • Scanning 35mm negatives is easy for most modern labs (I work at one, see my other post). That's how we do all prints anyways, it's just a matter of selecting whether or not a CD will be written. Our store does 'em for 24 cents per image.
        • Oh, I'm aware, I worked in a lab. I cut my teeth on a creaky old Fuji FA series and then later worked on a SFA and a Frontier. However some labs charge a relatively obscene amount to scan negatives; I can understand charging less for a CD when it's done at the time of development versus later (when the negatives have been cut into short strips that can't just be run through as a batch), but there are still places out there with Frontiers charging upwards of 50-75 cents/frame for scanning, using the built-in
  • There might be some freeware that does it as well, but Photoshop Elements does a lot of this. You can scan several photos in one pass and it will find, straighten, and save each photo individually. it has the color correction features of photoshop, but quicker for most uses. It has a nice sorting/cataloging setup and lets you group, add keywords, and archive to CD/DVD. (full disclosure: i work at adobe, but have nothing to do with the photoshop stuff.)
  • One of the real problems with scanners is the speed. I have a Digital rebel that I have setup controlled by my computer to take a picture of the document/photo. It can be crun directly from the computer and lets you quickly see what you get. For slides you can take pictureers of the displayed image on a good bead screen. This is by no means the best quality uou can achieve but probably better than tha $40 scanner and alot faster.
    • I built a jig to hold my D60 with a macro lens mounted and a slide at a distance that let me get full coverage. Run with the lens open pretty wide, use my light box as a fairly even light source (blurred out by the shallow depth of field of a wide open macro lens) and it's been a fantastic scanner.

      I should build a slide feeder, but even as it is, with a couple of rails built out of styrene that I have to manually drop a slide into, I've been through hundreds of slides by just hanging out a few evenings, an
  • Chinese Slave Labour
    • Actually I heard someone propose a photo-scanning service that used offshored labor for the more repetitive tasks (I think this might have been in reference to scanning books), but the real problem is transportation. I think you're going to lose the advantage when you factor in the cost of FedExing all those photos to India or China or wherever, just to have somebody sit there and scan every one.

      Plus, I've seen enough negatives and prints get lost just going from the minilab where I used to work, to the big
  • Metadata Problems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by boyfaceddog ( 788041 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @05:14PM (#15108933) Journal
    I will promise that data associated with the photo will be lost. The only SURE way to keep the data with the scanned photo is to attach the photo to a sheet of white paper, type the data on it (names, dates, locations) and scan the whole thing. This makes for a very large file, but on the pluss side, the white paper gives you an accurate whitepoint in the photo.
    • That's actually a really good idea.

      It might be a bit much for most people's level of interest, but at the very least I would suggest scanning ANYTHING that looks like it has informational value. If there's writing on the backs of the photos, scan the backs. (Frame numbers, name of the drugstore it was printed at--common with stuff from the 50s and earlier, handwritten notes, etc.)

      But I wouldn't just stop at photos, I'd also suggest scanning the envelopes that the photos are in, and anything else that's in t
  • If you really cared about the pictures, you'd buy a drum scanner or send them off to a company like West Coast Imaging [westcoastimaging.com] or Nancy Scans [nancyscans.com] that will give you the highest possible scan quality. If you want "good enough" quality, get an Epson 4490 or 4990. The 4490 can scan legal-sized reflective media and 6x12cm medium format, two strips of 6 frames of 35mm, or four mounted slides. I'd recommend SilverFast Ai Studio [silverfast.com] for bulk scanning.
  • Bash script it (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    scanimage, gqview and imagemagick can be your friends.

    I hacked up a quick bash script to do that very thing, but in my case it was a collection of bubblegum cards. If you have a large number of photos all the same size this may be useful. You may still wna tot keep the back-of-card code, since photos are often written on the back with important details.

    # Scans in a full set of Return of the Jedi bubblegum cards
    # Rotates picture in memory if desired.
    # Input: 132 Cards, both sides, inserted seque
  • Unless you want to rig up some sort of convoluted Rube Goldberg machine (and also assuming a cheaply available auto-feeding scanner isn't, err, available), just sit down and start scanning, boy! I turned a couple bleach boxes full of 1.44MB floppies into a CD - they all take up 216MB on my drive now. O.o Took about six months of on-again, off-again work, but now I have a half-dozen of relatively reliable pieces of media floating around with that data, all easily reproducable.
    Do it now, before it's too late.
  • If you're that concerned about the value of the photos, you might want to consider scanning the negatives with a 16-bit prosumer+ type of scanner, like the Nikon ED series. Yes it takes longer and is more time consuming, but if you devote some proper time to it, over the course of a year you can get quite a lot accomplished.

    Considering the amount of cleanup over aged materials and dust and scratch removal, perhaps http://nikonimaging.com/global/products/scanner/co olscan_4/ [nikonimaging.com] this might be best suited for you

  • They're cheap & most have auto document feeders built-in.
    What's more, they scan quickly... direct to memory (for a while).

    Scanner quality varies, of course, & it may be only FAX quality.

    Oh, wheren't there some high-end film- & slide-scanners around?

    I've got a heap of slides to scan, ie, if one at the right price
    turns up at a supplier near me... ;-)

    Suggestions? (I also have snapshots - color & B&W - to scan.)
  • scan the negatives (Score:2, Informative)

    by coaxial ( 28297 )
    I've been considering this for a while now. My recomendation is to scan the negatives. Wet drum scanners are the best, but it may be prohibitively expensive, and possibly overkill. You do have your negatives right? The big problem I ran into looking at film scanners is that the vast majority of the good ones are 35mm only. My parents have a lot of photos in a variety of formats. 110, 117 roll or medium format, along with 35mm. All those need scanned, which means for me I'd have to go with a flatbed,
    • Minolta makes (or made, as a discontinued product from a now-defunct company I guess the past tense is safe) a neat negative scanner that would take 35mm and medium format, I think it was called the Multi Pro. Their naming conventions have always escaped me, I think the "Dual" model in each new series is the 35mm/APS model and the "Multi" indicates medium format capabilities. So there were several different versions of it with different sensors, I think the last model was made in 2005:
      Review here http://www [kenrockwell.com]
  • Simple advice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mgblst ( 80109 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @05:32AM (#15112196) Homepage
    OK, this may not be popular, but realistically don't even bother. Nobody really wants to see all those photos. Maybe you do, and your brother and sisters - but I can guarantee none of your kids will. Not 1000s. Maybe keep a couple of good ones around, give one each to the kids - that is all you need. You think these things will be cherished for generations to come - that is just kidding yourself.

    Don't mean to be cruel, but this is realistic. Before you take on such a task, ask yourself is it really worth it. The most cherished these photos will ever be is by your mum, and then less so for each generation after that.
  • I've been meaning to do this as well. I've seen that there are special scanners that are the size of standard photos - any thoughts on those? Recommendations?

    I've tried using a flatbed scanner, but it takes forever. To improve efficiency, I put multiple photos on one scan, but then you need to do lots of processing to separate the images out. Its a real pain.

  • by TheRealFoxFire ( 523782 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:37AM (#15112730)

    Whatever you do, you're probably not thinking enough. Archival is hard.

    Here is what I'm doing, and the rationale for why

    First, I bought an Epson Perfection 4990. It does 48-bit negative scans with Digital ICE for dust removal. The scans of a 24 exposure roll take 180 minutes, but trust me, its worth the time to not have to spend the time in Photoshop removing the dust by hand.

    You are scanning negatives right? Photos are great, but they are a small dynamic range snapshot of what the camera actually recorded. Scan negatives, and scan them in high bit depth, otherwise you're not really archiving digitally, you're making a lossy copy. You want to be able to make large prints, not just 4x6's forever.

    I use the bundled scanning software, but other packages are probably as good or better. Each picture is numbered sequentially, and the negatives are moved after scanning into an archival binder with non-PVC negative protector sheets, and each sheet is labeled with the range of image numbers. This is important, as you *will* need to go back and rescan a few images for some reason at some time, and the negatives themselves will last longer than the digital media if neglected.

    Now, as for the format, I'm encoding to JPEG 2000, which preserves the lossless, 48-bit image, at 1/3 the size of a tiff. However, no software really uses it, so each DVD includes a Windows and Linux statically linked build of the converter.

    Each image group is burnt onto two DVDs, one DVD-R, and one DVD+R, from two different reputable manufacturers. DVD reliability is all over the map, and you don't want bitrot taking out one brand. Burning in different formats mitigates the risk that one format stops being as readable in the future. Each DVD also includes parity (PAR2) files, about 5-10% of the disk depending on how full they get. This allows you to verify the disk is intact, a step you should do to all the DVDs once every couple of years. If the disk is starting to fail, you can copy both DVDs to harddrive, recover from parity, and burn anew.

    Each DVD set is a mix of half DVD-R, half DVD+R (eg Disk 1=-R, Disk 2=+R, etc), and a set is sent to my parents for safe keeping, and one set stays here. I've sent the negatives home too, since they live in a safer climate.

    Finally, the useless master DVDs with JPEG2000's are nice, but people really want to *see* these images. Here, metadata is key. Make sure each image is at least tagged with basic metadata in the Dublin Core set, like date, subject, location. I'm doing that as a baseline, and adding Flikr style tags to all the images, and Getty TGF tags for locations. The images are then converted to JPG at HDTV resolution for viewing, and I'm writing a viewer application for searching, and all of this will go online.

    Its not an easy project, but its really rewarding to come across old photos and know that they won't sit in a photo album or shoebox unseen, and future generations will have something to look back at. Have fun!

  • The HP ScanJet 5500c is discontinued but you can still find it online for less than $100. It has a feeder specifically made for photos up to 5"x7" and it does work. Like most HP Scanners, you have to learn its subtlties but it is still the best bang for the buck on volume photo scanning. The driver that comes with the scanner and the drivers offered for download by HP have problems, but there are some 3rd party patches available (a quick google will get you there fast) that make the unit much more reliable.
  • Get the damn things out of the basement! Seriously, put them into some sort of above-ground storage, preferably with some sort of climate control.

    Last year I was at my parents' place for a long weekend and found all these photo albums from when I was a kid just sitting in a plastic storage crate on the basement floor. So I moved it onto a shelf; it's their house, they can do what they want, but at least I tried something sensible.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous