Experiences with Scancafe for digitizing negatives?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by pna, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. pna macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 27, 2005
    #1
    Hi all,

    I've found a number of posts on this forum discussing scancafe (http://www.scancafe.com ) as an option to digitize thousands of old negatives, but haven't found anyone here saying they've actually used them. I've found a few positive reviews on the web, and nothing negative, but am surprised that I'm not finding more people talking about their experiences.

    Has anyone here used scancafe? If so, how many negatives / slides did you have them do, and were you happy with the results?

    Thanks for any input.
     
  2. dork420 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    #2
    I'm VERY interested as well.
    I think the issues is then send your negatives to India for processing. So I guess there is that risk factor. But otherwise it's a great deal. And I've heard great things as well about the service.
     
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #3
    I've used them. So far I've send in three batches of negatives. They've been running a huge backlog and you can expect an eight week turnaround. Don't use them if you are in a rush or have any kind of deadline. But for digitizing your catalog of old film 8 weeks is acceptable. Once they scan your film you get to pick up to 50% of the scans to be deleted and not paid for. This is great because I don't have to cut my negative strips. I have them scan everything then I pick the best 50%.

    As for quality, their standard is to make 3000 DPI .jpg files. This results in a 13.5 megapixel frame. This is "good enough" for most snapshots and casual photography but does not capture all the detail in a very good frame shot with an SLR, first quality lens and a tripod on fine grain film. In most cases the 3000 DPi scans show that my camera/film or technique was the weak link. But in other cases the film should have been scanned at 4800 dpi to a 16-bit per channel TIFF file. Scan Cafe will do this for a higher price. My plan is to do everything at 3000 and then go back and re-scan the 2 to 5 percent of the frames that need the higher resolution scans. In most cases the 3000 dpi captures the film grain so there is little reason to go higher.

    After the scan they put some effort into hand corrections. They do a pretty good job. Every frame is rotated so the sky is up and the colors look reasonable. When I zoom way in I can see where some dust and scratches have been "Photoshoped". They use a minimalist's light touch, just rotate, crop and minimal color correction and dust busting.

    If you are very picky about color correction, like if you wanted to make a fine art, wall size print then you want a high res 16-bit tiff file. The default 3000dpi jpg scans are ok for on-screen viewing and maybe up to an 8x10 print

    If any of you want a $10 off coupon send me a PM. I can get a promo code that I send you. Bottom line is that I think you can beleive what you read on their web site. Pretty good scans done really cheap
     
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #4
    The biggest risk is when you send your negatives on their first leg and last of the journey to and from San Fransisco via UPS

    When you place the order you get a prepaid UPS shipping label that you print and are to apply to a box and then you drop the box off at any UPS pick up point. Once they arrive in San Fransisco Scan Cafe puts them on a forklift pallet, shrink wraps the pallet and has it air freighted overnight to India. The over seas shipping is done using large pallets in shipping containers and I think there is little chance of these being lost. I worry more about UPS shipping small boxes between my house and SF.
     
  5. pna thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 27, 2005
    #5
    Thanks for the writeup -- this is exactly what I was hoping to hear. Most of the negatives that I'm hoping to scan are from when I was just getting started with photography, or are just snapshots of friends and family. I'm pretty certain that there won't be many of mine that would require the higher DPI resolution. Scanning my father's slide collection, however, is likely a different story. He was a real master, and there are some really gorgeous shots that might benefit from the higher resolution.

    8 weeks. Fair enough. Should be long enough for me to figure out and upgrade to a good backup system for the new files.
     
  6. jimbrown82 macrumors newbie

    jimbrown82

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #6
    If you're still looking for a photo scanning service, you might also consider ScanDigital. The thing I like about them is all photos stay in the US. I was hesitant to send my one of a kind photos overseas.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    If you photos are going to be lost it will be lost be the local carrier. That would be UPS. What happens is that UPS delivers then to The SF Bay areas in California and then Scan Cafe places them on a pleetel that is shrink wrapped and they deliver the plate to the airline and they are flown directly. Unless the airliner crashes the fleet gets there. Return shipments are also palletized. But then in California the pallet is broken up and 1,000 packages are given to UPS. It's very unlikely that a full pallet on a direct flight would be lost or damages but little packages on trucks do get miss-deliver or stolen off a front porch or whatever happens to small packages.

    Inshore, I'd worry more about the film when it is on a local delivery truck than when it is on an airplane.

    The flip sade of overseas scanning is that most of the cost of scanning is labor. It is a very manual labor intensive process ESPECIALLY that part where they hand correct the scans for white balance and dust and scratches. Most US based companies just can't afford to do much hand work so all you get is a machine scan.

    A good compromise I've found is to let then send the film off to India and then re-scan the few best ones myself. It takes me about 30 to 40 minutes per image to "do it right". I can't even find the best ones until after they are scanned and imported to my photo library.
     
  8. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #8
    I suspect that after seven years they have found what they are looking for. Nice attempt at discrediting youor competition. In the future please try harder to place your ads.
     

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