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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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  • All Scanners (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gates82 ( 706573 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:54PM (#15107194)
    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 is hotter? Ali or Ali's sister?

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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?

  • 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.
  • Quick work only. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by twitter ( 104583 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @05:23PM (#15109018) Homepage Journal
    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 the camera method. It takes time to split them up, but you can save that task for later. With proper equipment layout, this can be almost as fast as the tripod way. You can find tough old HP scsi scanners at used computer shops and buy them for a song. Many USB scanners also have good sane backends. See the list of sane devices [] before you buy.

    The easiest thing to do, is to use a photo scanner like this []. I'd rather use kooka than a script but scripts are flexible and powerful.

  • by anomaly ( 15035 ) <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @05:58PM (#15109283)
    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'd be at over 140MB/photo. Disk is cheap, but not *that* cheap. What I'm getting is darn good, and will more than suffice. I'm not a professional, tho.

    Whenever I walk past the computer, I swap out the negatives and queue up four more to be scanned. It takes a while, but my life is not consumed with this effort, either. Thankfully I switched to a digital camera about 4 years ago, so all new pictures are already digital. I know that the scope is limited to the one big container of photos and negatives I've got left to scan.

    As I finish a group of pictures, I move the scans to a directory with the rough date of when the photos were taken. I then run a batch utility to update the EXIF data with the "originally taken" date. iPhoto works VERY well with that.

    When I'm done I plan to sell the scanner on eBay. We'll see how that works out. :)
  • Bash script it (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @06:49PM (#15109599)
    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 sequentially into the top LH side of the scanner in portrait aspect. (after having removed prior card(s))
    # Output: ROTJ-[cardnum]-Side[side].jpeg
    # Generates thumbnail of most interesting side of each card: ROTJ-[cardnum]-T.jpeg

    if [[ $1 ]]; then
    for ((cardnum=$firstcard; $cardnumtemp.tif
                    gqview temp.tif
                    echo "Rotate 90' counter-clockwise? (y/n) [n]"
                    read answer
                    if [[ $answer == 'y' ]] ; then
                                    convert -rotate -90 temp.tif temp.tif;
                    # Resize, de-screen, JPEG, and rename image
                    convert -quality 95 -filter Gaussian -resize "600x600" temp.tif ROTJ-$cardnum-Side$side.jpeg
                    #gqview ROTJ-$cardnum-Side$side.jpeg # View final masterpiece

                    # Create 64-pixel thumbnail of photo side
                    convert -size 64x64 temp.tif -resize 64x64 +profile '*' ROTJ-$cardnum-T.jpeg

                    # Then do caption side of card
                    echo "Card #$cardnum, ROTJ-$cardnum-Side$side.jpeg"
                    echo "Turn card over, Caption side down, and hit enter"
                    echo "Scanning card #$cardnum, Caption side..."
                    scanimage -d mustek_pp:Mustek-600CP --mode color --resolution 300 --format TIFF -l0 -t5 -x61 -y87 >temp.tif
                    gqview temp.tif
                    #echo "Rotate 90' counter-clockwise? (y/n) [n]"
                    #read answer
                    #if [[ $answer == 'y' ]] ; then
                    convert -rotate -90 temp.tif temp.tif;
                    # Resize, de-screen, JPEG, and rename image
                    convert -quality 95 -filter Gaussian -resize "600x600" temp.tif ROTJ-$cardnum-Side$side.jpeg
                    #gqview ROTJ-$cardnum-Side$side.jpeg # View final masterpiece

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