Best scanner for copious quantities of paper photo snapshots.
July 24, 2016 2:34 PM   Subscribe

I need the best scanner to process thousands of 3 1/2" by 3 1/2" family snap shots. Money is no object.

I want to hire people in my city to scan baby boomer's family snapshots. One article I read said that this group probably has about 3000 family snapshots.
I want to make my scanner's time as useful as possible so I would like some kind of scanner that you could just feed 5 or 10 photos through at once. Or more if that is possible. Does anyone know what kind of scanners the big companies like Scancafe use?
I have a Neat scanner for work but the slots are the wrong size. The receipt slot is too small and the paper slot seems too big I think the photos would be askew and have to be straightened in Photoshop which we don't have time for.
posted by cda to Technology (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I used to do this with a flatbed scanner that had an 11x17 inch glass surface rather than the standard 8.5x11. I'd line up the old Kodachrome photos in a 3x4 array, scan, then separate the individual photos into individual files using photoshop (which was the most time consuming part).

Using a setup like this, going a dozen or so at a time, 3000 photos would take 250 scans.
posted by Sara C. at 2:47 PM on July 24, 2016

I've used the ScanMyPhotos service for things like this. You can pay extra to get higher DPI
posted by softlord at 3:23 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My service is going to be about going to people's homes to scan the images or having them drop them off at our office for the day. My service is going to be an alternative to having them sent in the mail. In a survey I conducted people said they did not want to mail their family photos off. So I want to fill the niche of people who don't want to use a far off company.
posted by cda at 3:28 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I get the impression the Kodak Alaris is considered the standard high-quality/high-volume photo scanner. It's expensive. I have no direct experience with it.

I've got a Fujitsu ScanSnap, which is a pretty good sheetfed document scanner, but the few photos I've scanned with it have not resulted in great digital images. It may be that with more tweaking, I'd get better results. A fraction of the Kodak's price.
posted by adamrice at 5:14 PM on July 24, 2016 and sell specialized software for this, there are probably others. Both those websites have a lot of very good info.

See "scan multiple photos" on YouTube & Google for more ideas & tips.
posted by Fins at 6:24 PM on July 24, 2016

Fujitsu ScanSnap is amazing for documents. It is super fast and has great automation SW. I've been using mine for years and I've put thousands of pages through it, still works like a champ.

I only ever tried once or twice for photos back when I first got it. I wasn't super impressed with the resulting quality, but I never spent the time to play with settings to see if it got better.
posted by bigtex at 7:00 PM on July 24, 2016

Every cheap Canon multi-function printer I've recently installed for a customer has come with a scanner driver setting you have to turn off to stop it from doing automated image boundary recognition and splitting.
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 PM on July 24, 2016

Remember that baby boomer snapshots are mostly not going to be very high quality photos - any decent quality scanner is probably better than 35 mm film processed at a drugstore twenty-five years ago.

I got a cheap sheetfeed scanner off Amazon for my old photos, it was much faster than laying pictures out on a flatbed, even feeding them through one at a time.
posted by momus_window at 10:56 PM on July 24, 2016

Response by poster: thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. exactly what I needed to know.
posted by cda at 1:07 PM on August 12, 2016

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