Best process to scan in hundreds of 4x6 photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by CLS727, May 24, 2018.

  1. CLS727 macrumors regular


    Feb 5, 2018
    Hello, what is the best process to scan in hundreds of 4x6 photos from old photo albums?

    I have the Google "Photo Scan" App which does it with some augmented reality on my iPhone camera.... but the quality doesn't always seem the best?

    I have a Brother MFC-9130CW laser printer/scanner combo that can scan up to 1200dpi.... and a test I did with one photo gave me much better results with that than the Google iOS app.

    Obviously that would take MUCH longer, but I guess that's ok since I'm in no rush and would like the best possible digital copy of my family photos.

    The flatbed on the Brother scanner measures 8.5" x 12"..... if I lay down 4 photos at once, is there a software that will automatically save them as 4 separate images rather than me having to crop them myself every time?

    The "detect separate items" feature in macOS Image Capture doesn't seem to work very well.... is there a better scanner software I can use with the Brother that works better for photos? I have all the Adobe products with Creative Cloud subscription, but that only seems to offer PDF.

    Also, what format is better to save in? My options are: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, JPEG 2000, GIF, BMP, and PDF.

    Also, what is the easiest way to adjust the file date for each photo? So it's 1988 for example, instead of the date of the scan. I can do it in my Google Photos online account, but that doesn't seem to edit the original file.

    Thank you!!!
  2. kenoh macrumors demi-god


    Jul 18, 2008
    Glasgow, UK

    Can I be devils advocate? by hundreds, then I have to ask whether life is too short to do them yourself. Would it be a better use of time to batch them up and send them to a bureau to batch scan them for you using a scanner with a sheet feeder designed for this purpose? Then you use an EXIF editor (loads on the internet) to label them when they come back?

    I think of this as being like ripping my CD collection to iTunes in 2006... 3 minutes per CD seemed OK.... 400 CDs in and I was ready for Spotify... :)

    I am not really helping here and I wish I knew of tools to do what you need but I just think sometimes the right solution is to get your wallet out and pay someone to do it for you. ScanCafe for example costs 33 cents a picture.

    Happy to be told I am wrong and hope I am.
  3. CLS727 thread starter macrumors regular


    Feb 5, 2018
    Thanks, I've been looking into that too.

    This place is a little over an hour from me, and they say the drop-off price is $0.16 a picture for 600dpi.

    Not sure if 600dpi is good enough when my scanner can do 1200dpi?? I'm not planning on blowing them up or anything, just would like my family archive to be as high quality as possible.

    Also, they say they don't offer any service to set the dates for me that are written on the back.... so I'd still have to do that manually. I've never heard of a EXIF editor before.. I'll check it out thanks.
  4. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    I think given the time it would take this is probably the best way, unless you are not currently working anywhere so money is tight, but you have a lot of time on your hands.
  5. kenoh, May 24, 2018
    Last edited: May 24, 2018

    kenoh macrumors demi-god


    Jul 18, 2008
    Glasgow, UK
    Your average magazine is printed at 72dpi. When I export from Lightroom it defaults to 240 dpi. So I think (IMHO) 600dpi is good enough for what you are going to need them for. Bearing in mind they are old photos that are not likely the same quality of a modern digital image so I think the difference between 600 and 1200 is going to be a matter of diminishing returns. Why not fire a small batch over to them and try them out?

    When you batch them up, I would chunk them into logical years and months so when they come back, they are in a more "bulk tagging" friendly grouping for you. Also remember that something like Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Bridge allow you to add tags - en masse... might be worth considering.

    16 cents a picture is roughly 10p per image here in UK money. Minimum wage in the UK is £7.50 an hour (I don't know what you make but this is for example and it just makes more sense the more you earn). So unless you can do more than 75 images per hour yourself, then you are saving money by using the bureau.... the maths logic is a bit wonky but you get my drift. Realistically I think you are looking at maximum 50 an hour maybe less... so say you have 500 to do, that is 10 hours hard labour or £75 for your time on minimum wage. 10p an image from them, works out at £50 so 33% cheaper and you get to spend time making more memories while they are being scanned for you. Makes sense in my head but I am an idiot and not sure I am explaining my reasoning right.

    Plus, if that is your car in your avatar, then an hour each way to the bureau is an opportunity for big smiles! :)
  6. 0002378, May 24, 2018
    Last edited: May 25, 2018

    0002378 Suspended


    May 28, 2017
    Hey dude, I was wondering if I might be able to help.

    Now, one thing I need to know is - are all the photos exactly the same size ? In other words, when you perform a single scan, can it be assumed that the resulting picture can be broken up halfway heightwise and halfway widthwise to give you the 4 individual photos ?

    I ask this because, if your pics are all the same size, I can write a simple program that will run through all your scans (4 pics in one), and break them up into 4 individual pictures for each scan. It should be fairly easy, actually, and I have written image manipulation programs before for my own personal use.

    Now, assuming my program will work, I could send you the program with instructions to run it. Or, you can upload the pics and I can perform the crop for you and send 'em back.

    Let me know if I can help.

    EDIT - Just to clarify, the process I mentioned will take care of splitting up the scans into individual pics, but you will still have to manually scan them 4 at a time before running my program.
    --- Post Merged, May 24, 2018 ---
    I'd say PNG is the best format. It is also a lossless format (no quality lost).
    --- Post Merged, May 24, 2018 ---
    Are you talking about watermarking the actual picture (like older cameras did) ? Or modifying the file metadata ("Date Created" timestamp) ?

    For modifying the file timestamps, I'd say the only way I can think of is one of the following (all involve some kind of scripting/programming)
    - Writing a Shell (command line) script
    - Writing an AppleScript
    - Writing a Swift/Java/some other kind of program

    (And I can help with this, too)
  7. kenoh macrumors demi-god


    Jul 18, 2008
    Glasgow, UK
    For the date requirement I was assuming the OP meant they wanted to override the Capture Time field in the image EXIF data.
  8. 0002378 Suspended


    May 28, 2017
    Ah ok, I don't know about EXIF, but I'm sure there has to be a way to automate manipulation of that field for a big batch of pics.

    Thanks. Let's see what the OP says.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you're going to do it yourself on a scanner bed, check out the "ViewScan" app.
    Worth investigating...
  10. bunnspecial macrumors 603


    May 3, 2014
    How old are the prints?

    If they are from 35mm and printed optically, there MIGHT be some value in a higher resolution scan. If they were done at a mass market retailer in the past ~20 years, its likely that they were done on a Fuji Frontier or similar. In that case, you're probably getting all the information there even if scanned at 300dpi.

    If they are a smaller than 35mm format, the value of going to a higher resolution is still questionable even if they were printed optically.

    I'll go one step further and say that even when I start with a good negative and print it on a good enlarger with good optics, there's not a WHOLE lot more detail to be seen on a print with a 4x loupe than can be seen with the naked eye. I don't know when I last scanned a print, but just based on that I'm going to agree that 600dpi is more than plenty.

    If you want to pull the the most resolution you can out of a film image, you really need to scan the negative/transparency. I regularly scan those at 4000ppi or better, but prints are NOT worth using that kind of resolution. Heck, a typical 1990s ASA 200 or 400 color print film will grain resolve(or rather dye cloud resolve) at around 2400 ppi-especially if it's under-exposed. If you start with a 35mm negative, you are doing a 4x enlargement to get a 4x6 print. That works out to 600ppi.
  11. dwig macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    As bunnspecial correctly stated, scanning the original film can yield higher resolution results.

    • Machine printed color prints will never retain more that about 200ppi worth of detail. Scanning at higher resolutions will not improve detail, but can yield "smoother" images that enlarge better.
    • The auto detection of multiple prints can sometimes be improved by placing a dark sheet of paper behind (above on a flatbed scanner) the prints and leaving a gap between the prints so that there is a more distinct separation between the individual prints.
    • Give up on the idea of adjusting the file date. Doing so is worthless as any copies will get new dates. Either "embed" the dating info into the filename (e.g. "1983 Summer - John in the backyard.tiff) or use a tool to add metadata to the header of the files. Actually, doing both is a good method. I use Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Bridge for this purpose, but there are a wide range of options.
    • If you have to choose only one format then TIFF is the hands down best choice. Personally, I prefer to save a "master" copy as a TIFF at the full scan resolution (most of my family archive images are scanned negatives at reasonably high resolution) and a lower resolution JPEG (typically 4"x6"@300ppi = 1200 pixels x1800 pixels)
  12. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    This doesn't answer the OP's question, but I'll post it anyway.

    With "hundreds" of photos "in the box", perhaps some "triage" is necessary before doing anything more.

    With, say, 600 photos, there might be only 300-400 that are really worth "keeping for posterity". There could be duplicates, pictures of poor quality or little intrinsic value, etc.

    Might be worth a day or two or three to "pre-sort" everything into
    - "must scans"
    - "scan later"
    - "don't bother..."
  13. oldhifi macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2013
    I would take it to a professional, otherwise this will take days..

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