Scanner recommendation for a tall pile of small prints

tkbslc

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I've agreed to scan my moms old photo albums. Mostly 4x4 and 4x6 prints and estimating about 1200 of them. I had purchased an Epson FastFoto 680W on Friday and was very optimistic about this task. It can autofeed a stack of 36 photos in about 90 seconds at very good quality 600 DPI. But, after only about 200 of my own photos (as a test/warm up) I started noticing a light colored band in the same place on all photos with a light background. And despite the scanner being meticulously cleaned multiple times, I can't make it go away. I'm going to return it as defective.

I tried the scanner in my cheap HP Envy printer, and it is not good and very slow. The images have all kinds of weird smearing like a low light pic from a smartphone. Terrible compared to the Epson above (although at least no band!). And it takes like 3 minutes for a 600 DPI scan of 3 photos, plus I have to crop them manually.

So, any recommendations? Try another Epson FastFoto? High Quality flat bed? If I go flatbed, is there software that will let me drop 4 photos on a flatbed, and quickly scan them into 4 separate files? I have no issue spending money if it will save me time and give high quality results. I just want a chance at finishing this without spending all my weekends for the rest of the year!

I'm hesitant to mail them to a service as I cannot risk them getting lost - even if it is a small risk.
 

djtaylor7

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I wonder what the quality would be like to set up the camera on a converted enlarger (or similar) and photograph them, using the Olympus 60mm macro lens or similar? Set white balance and exposure with a gray card.
 

Replytoken

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I believe Epson's Perfection V series is the one that always get recommendations. Work with your budget and see what models might be available. I will be looking at a similar project in the future and the Epsons are what I will be considering first.

Good luck,

--Ken
 
Last edited:

JBoot

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If you need to remove pics from albums....

After fighting for years to get old photos out of albums cleanly, I've been using Google scan photo app on my phone and storing the pics at full resolution. Once uploaded I download them and work them on the computer as necessary.

It scans via a series of pics that help you eliminate glare and straighten images. Much faster than my old scanner approach, reasonable quality and I don't risk tearing, creasing or otherwise compromising the integrity of old albums.
 

tkbslc

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Well I took back the Epson and decided to try a Plustek z300. I still have some quirks but at least it was $199 vs $599, so I am a bit more forgiving!

The Epson had really nice software and would autofeed 36 at a time. With the Plustek, it is almost as fast, but I have to hand feed them in rapid fire one at a time. So a little more work. And about every 30th photo ends up rotated at like 10 degrees and I have to rescan it. But other than that it is going very quickly. Once I get them out of the album, I can do about 100-150 photos in 10 minutes, including time to check the results and rescan a few that had dust or rotation issues. This is easily 10-15x faster than the flatbed.

In terms of output quality the Epson had a more neutral contrast and better exposure, which I preferred. The Plustek has sharper output, though, even though it is supposedly lower DPI. I'd still say Epson is better.

The biggest enemy for both of these autofeed scanners is dust and residue. If you have some sticky dust on a photo, then it sticks to the glass and drags the photos across it. This means you get a full height line across the next 20 photo scans (until you notice it and clean it). Since old photos usually have dust or some album residue, I'm ending up using a lot of canned air and soft cloth between each stack of 50 or so to keep the glass and rollers clean.

And obviously, the scan results are highly dependent on the original. If I have a well exposed studio portrait, the scans are stunning! For a faded, dark 3x3 instamatic, they look simply decent. Still, though, even for the 3x3 instamatic, they look so much better on a big bright monitor than on a little print in the album.

Just an update in case anyone was interested.
 
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