I’ve been on a kick getting all sorts of old family photos digitized (aka scanned) so that they’re preserved and are usable in our new digital world.
I’ve tried two services, ScanMyPhotos.com and Scan Cafe. I’m still waiting for my Scan Cafe photos, but I have mine back from ScanMyPhotos.com. Here are my overall thoughts.
Before sending your photos, you need to bundle them by size (all the 3x5s need to go together, all the 4×6 need to go together, all the 5×7 need to go together). The scans are returned in one “directory” on a DVD, so if you want to have any separation between bundles, you should include an index card with description. That’s purely for your reference. There’s an additional fee for the photos scanned in order.
Also, you need to make sure they’re all “right side up” and the good side is always up. They will, for a nominal fee, go through your photos and do that for you.
You’re responsible for packing the photos and shipping. They were very accommodating letting me encase the photos in a plastic bag to protect against moisture.
The photos were scanned the same day they received them and were returned promptly.
The results were mixed. The scans varied in quality, with glossy photos doing better than matte.
They do auto-crop the photos, but that proved problematic. More than a few photos were chopped off correctly. Pictures of sunsets, where there’e s a very dark foreground or silhouettes were especially prone to incorrect cropping.
On the other end of the spectrum, the majority of the photos need additional cropping (there’s a very thin black border).
On the spacers with text letting me know where one batch stopped and the other one started, the black text shows distortion in the colors (there’s separation with a blue and purple halo).
I also had a couple photos that were scanned at some odd angle.
While they do offer automatic color correction for an additional fee, I forgo that. The scans I received were more or less true to the originals. I did not send them photos that showed fading or other problems.
Once the photos are returned, you’re responsible for removing any dust or scratches, rotating them correctly, and additional tweaking. I’ll need to go through most of mine and adjust as appropriate.
ScanMyPhotos.com will scan up to 1000 photos for $49.95. There’s no prorating, so if you send them 500 photos, it’s the same price.
Additional services, such as scanning the photos in order, color correction, and making sure the photos are the right-way-up are sold separately. Scanning in order is $19.95, color correction is $49.95, and rotating the photos is $59.95.
Assuming you want all the bells and whistles, that brings the price to $179.80 per thousand, or as low as $0.179 cents a photo. Keep in mind there’s no pro-rating.
If you just want to get your photos scanned and scanned quickly, it’s great. If you’re competent with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, iPhoto, Picasa, etc., you’re probably ok rotating the photos and doing minor adjustments.
It was certainly faster and easier than me scanning all the photos, but I’m still planning on adjusting them as needed before I create a photobook, etc. If you don’t have a scanner, it’s a great option. There’s certainly more work on my part than I’d like, but I can live with that.
Here’s an example of overzealous cropping. The bottom half of the photo is missing:
This photo was scanned incorrectly:
The black text is not truly black:
This photo needs to be cropped to remove the black border: