Best scanning service for old photos and films?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by AppleHater, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. AppleHater macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
    For this holiday, I want to have all my photos and 35mm film negatives from the past to be scanned. Could you suggest me a good place to have them scanned for a reasonable price with good quality?
  2. HantaYo macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2012
  3. AppleHater thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
    Based on google search, I was going to go with ScanSafe. So, the quality is different that much between the two?
  4. allisonv7 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2004
    I'm getting ready to start doing this myself with my grandfather's slides. I'm going to get a scanner off of Amazon for ~$150 and give it a go. The family doesn't really want to send them away and the local place that does it charges $1/slide.
  5. Old Muley macrumors 6502a

    Old Muley

    Jan 6, 2009
    Titletown USA
    I've used ScanCafe twice, and won't use them again. The first batch of negatives I sent out they did an OK job with. Probably not the best, but given the quantity I had to have scanned I figured it was worth it. With my second attempt, I was very disappointed with the results. I had a bunch of 120 format negatives as well as some color slides and 8mm film that I sent it. Scanning took for friggin' ever, and I was unhappy with the results. Most of the slides had strong moire patterns evident and the negatives had colors that were way off. The 8mm film was jumpy and now always cropped correctly. I'm not sure what the term is for it, but sometimes the very bottom of an image was cropped out and it appeared at the top of the image instead. If I had the time I'd do the scanning myself.
  6. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Costco uk does this. Not sure about stateside
  7. AppleHater thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
    Scanning myself isn't really the route I want to take as long as the cost is reasonable. DigMyPics seems to be specialized for slide films and I wonder their reputation for photo scans and 35mm negatives.
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You will get MUCH better results if you spend more on a scanner or if you send your slides to an outfit who has a better quality slide scanner.

    Also think about your TIME. It takes about 6 minutes to scan a slide after you get into the routine. You have to...
    1) physically move the slide from storage box to the scanner and back and
    2) enter some kind of title or caption.
    3) Do at least some minor edits (for sure you need to white balance the image) and
    4) likely some minor "dust and scratch busting"
    The above take about 6 minute AFTER you get really good at it. It takes longer at first. This means you can do 10 slides an hour (after learning how to edit one slide while the scanner works on the next one) A better use of your take is to get a job at McDonalds for minimum wage and use that money to pay Scan Cafe $0.37 to scan your slides. Doing this you will have twice as many slides scanned per hour worked.

    $1 per slide is about right. If you pay yourself minimum wage (just under $10 per hours here) you can do them for $1 each after you come up to speed.

    In any case get a purpose built slide scanner, not some cheap flatbed scanner. The problem is DYNAMIC RANGE. The cheap scanner just don't have the range to get the shadow and highlight details.
    Look for a used Nikon 5000ED on eBay
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Did you complain to the people at ScanCafe? You should have asked for a re-do or refund. Usually they are quite good because they us a human in the loop and don't just use some automated machine. But I guess if the human is not doing his job correctly you could have the results your describe. Did you ask the to fix this?
  10. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    KUDOS to this post ChrisA!

    You are bang on with every point! :)

    I run a transfer business and no, I'm not looking for the OP's business as I don't believe in shipping family memories (ie. you can't make another copy of your film reel from Christmas 1979 or slides from your 1964 trip to Hawaii, if they were to be lost!).

    Support your local business. $1 per slide is right.

    Plus, this is the digital age. We're so used to taking multiple photos then deleting the ones we truly want.

    But taking multiple photos of the virtual same thing isn't new lol Every slide transfer I do has photos which are almost duplicates of each other. 1 particular client had 7 photos of his father standing in front of their garage mechanic business - only difference was his father waving in one. Minor differences throughout, but that was the major difference. He had other similar situations as well.

    So I recommend clients sort through their slides 2 times. I guarantee they won't have the same amount when they're done. They will have a lower cost to their project, but more importantly, they'll have the memories they truly want.

    As well, most families enjoy going through the slides and reliving the memories. Even if they don't have a project, holding them up to a light and remembering that time so and so was there etc..., is part of the process.

    Can someone scan their own photos? Absolutely. I don't chastise anyone for doing it. If anything, I cheer them on for preserving those memories.

    But it's like hiring a painter - sure, you could paint your house, but:

    1. will you do as good of a job as someone whose profession is exactly that
    2. does it matter if your efforts aren't quite as good?
    3. how much is your time worth?

    If someone is a-ok with all of those, then give 'er :)

    Yes, family finances may play a part too, but it's like anything in life - if you truly want it done, you'll find a way to save the $ for it.

    Again, great post Chris!

  11. allisonv7 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2004

    I'm going to give it a go and see what happens. if I can find access to, or purchase, a quality scanner, I can do it for sure. Yes, it will take time, but it's something we can turn into a family project, sorting through the slides and scanning. I'll also process them all in Photoshop, which I should be able to do relatively quickly. After a workday, I can use a monotonous task like that sometimes :)

    If the quality of whatever scanner I end up using proves to not be worth the effort, then I'll pay to have a couple done at the local place and check the quality before I go all in.

    Thanks for all the advice!
  12. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    I'm glad you mentioned having a few samples done because that is something I always recommend clients. Any reputable transfer business will definitely do some sample so they can show the quality of their work. Good luck! Then you can research how to organize everything with keywords etc. in your favorite photo viewing program. That, is an entirely different subject. Lol :)
  13. dwig macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    +1 about considering either a better scanning service or a better scanner.

    It should be noted that the Nikon scanners are no longer supported by Nikon and the Nikon software and drivers will not work on modern Mac OSX versions. There is 3rd party commercial software that will work, but the added cost needs to be figured in when making a buying decision.

    I would suggest that a current production relatively high end flatbed scanner would be a very good consideration, specifically the EPSON v800/850 (and older v700/750) models. These can scan a batch of 12 mounted slides or 24 35mm negatives unattended and deliver excellent quality. They can also scan any film format up to 8x10 and prints up to 8.5x11.4. These EPSON models will out perform less expensive scanners, either flatbed or dedicated film scanners, and are much more flexible and fully supported by the manufacturer on the newest OSX releases. True, the Nikon film scanners are a little better, but they are far less flexible, can no longer be serviced, and require 3rd party software support.
  14. lcseds macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2006
    NC, USA
    I bought a nice flatbed scanner with slide tray to scan hundreds of photos and slides from years ago. That was six years ago and I think I scanned about 20 pics. I finally gave up the idea because each scan was time consuming with minor editing. Boxed everything up and shipped it to Scancafe. For about $180 everything was scanned and on disk. Some of the enhancements are not great, but it's easier for me to tweak as they are now digital. Plus, to be honest, slides are old and not always pristine in the first place. Or the old photos.

    My goal was to digitize for permanent storage and viewing, not making prints from them again. So while many are not perfect, they weren't before the scan either. If there are a couple that you want perfected, separate those and have those more carefully scanned and fixed. I had good intentions, but like the attic or garage cleaning, I just never got around to putting the time in.

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