So you have decided to do something about all those photos, slides and negatives sitting in a box at the back of your bedroom closet. You are thinking about sending them off to be scanned at a photo scanning service but you balk at the two or three hundred dollars it’s going to cost to digitize all those images and put them on a DVD. So you decide you’ll use your handy dandy all-in-one and just scan them yourself and save some money. Sounds like a good plan…or is it? Here is why you may want to reconsider your home-scanning project and outsource it to a professional photo scanning service instead.
- Save Your Time– Even if you have a dedicated scanner, like the Epson 4490s, which is a popular model used by a number of professional scanning services, it will still take many, many hours to complete your scanning task. It can take as long a five to seven minutes to scan and correct a single image. Dedicated scanners enable you to place multiple images on the scanner bed at one time and digitize them at the same time, but you still have to learn how to use the equipment as well as the photo editing software you’ll need to make adjustments. You will need to make sure each image is straight on the bed, which can be tricky, and then you still have to correct each one for color, tint, exposure, fading, scratches, dust and other issues. You will also need to clean the glass after about every 50 images to make sure it is smear and dust free. Talk about a tedious task if you have several hundred, or like many people, several thousand photos, 35mm slides and negatives that need to be digitized.So let’s be conservative and say you want to scan 1000 images to digital. At five minutes each that is 83 hours, or more than two full work weeks, to convert to digital and correct your images. If it takes you seven minutes that’s 116 hours, or more. Add in the time it took you to learn how to use your photo editing software and the scanner. Do you have that kind of spare time?
- Save Your Sanity – I don’t know about you, but setting up, scanning and adjusting a thousand photos and slides, or even a few hundred, sounds extremely tedious. And it is. The sheer monotony of the job is enough to drive a person batty, not to mention it will make your eyes cross after staring at your computer’s photo editing software for hours on end.
- Save Money – You can get a good dedicated scanner, such as the aforementioned Epson 4490s, for about two hundred dollars. However, if you are scanning mostly slides, to get good results you need a slide scanner. This can cost big bucks. The pros use scanners such as the Nikon 5000 or 9000 for slides and negatives, which cost upward of $2000. Yes, you can find cheaper ones, but you will still be spending considerable money just for equipment. Also consider that you will need to buy decent photo editing software such as Photoshop (best choice) or less expensive programs like Photoshop Elements or Corel Paintshop Pro to make the necessary adjustments to your images, because trust me, most of them will need correcting. Over time, images fade, colors shift and often they acquire a weird color cast, such as a blue, pink or yellow tint. There also may be scratches, dust or tears than need to be fixed.You also have to consider the value of your time. Could your free time be put to better use?
- Get More Professional Looking Scans – To get high quality results requires some skill and knowledge. Photo scanning services employ highly skilled technicians that are experienced in the scanning process and have the know-how to make image adjustments that are most pleasing and true-to-life. The better companies, such as ScanCafe, do all scanning and image-correcting by hand to ensure the best results.
So if you are going to spend money either way – either buying a decent scanner and photo software vs sending your images off to a photo scanning service, you need to consider where you are going to get the biggest bang for your bucks.