31 March 2015

My photo scanning journey #1: High-speed scanner

Many of you mentioned you have been putting off scanning your old photos for years because you know that scanning photos takes hours, days, weeks, and maybe even months.

That was true a few years ago. Now you can scan boxes of photos in just minutes.

At least fourteen major FamilySearch Libraries have these special scanners available for use.

It is so much faster here that I actually paid for an extra checked bag on my last flight back from my parents' home so that I could fill it with family photos for scanning in the Salt Lake City Family History Library. I have completed scanning all our known extant photos that we had as prints. It took me less than 5-10 days with just 2-6 hours each day, and I went through over 4,600 scans, mostly scanning at the slower rate of 600 dpi for recommended high quality (while 300 dpi is unbelievably fast).

Not all of you will live close enough to Salt Lake, but might live close enough to one of the other major libraries that has these. Ask your local major FamilySearch Library if they have one.

Read about the technology and deal with FamilySearch: http://graphics.kodak.com/DocImaging/MY/en/Industry_Solutions/Photo_Scanning/Photo_Scanning/FamilySearch/index.htm

Here are examples of scans that came out of the high speed scanner from my own family photos:

The author lifting weights
My parents and older brother

These are the same special scanners (among others) that are brought to RootsTech each year for 2-3 years now. If you do not live near a major library, you may want to gather your photos for scanning when you fly in for RootsTech next year (at least you might consider it, RootsTech is a wonderful conference).

If you have a huge project, you might even find it worth renting one of these scanners for a few days. It might be a few hundred dollars, but you will be able to finish your several boxes of photos in just a few days, when you have been possibly waiting years to have time to do it the old fashioned flatbed way.

Note: Oversize and extremely delicate photos will still need to go on the flatbed, but even the paired flatbed (attached to this special scanner) is faster than most other flatbeds. The high speed feeder is delicate enough to handle most photos (including many types of old photos) and even standard newspaper (which is a good example of delicate paper). You may want to test it on some types of paper and photos to get a feel for what it can handle before putting your most delicate items through.

Warning: Other high-speed scanners that were made for scanning documents in an office setting will tear up all photos. Don't assume those will work the same.

This is #1 in a series about my photo scanning journey. Future posts may include how I organize my photos, and turn them into photo books. This project is about recent prints from the 1970s through about 2004, but the same ideas can be applied to old prints in some circumstances.