June 23, 2008

ScanCafe for digital copies of treasured photographs

Kevin Kelly's blog Cool Tools is a favorite of mine because I'm always finding good information about products and services that make life easier.

 Scancafe 2

He's found a service that can scan your old photos and slides cheaply called Scancafe.

Here is how it works: You pack up your images and mail them to ScanCafe's headquarters in Northern California.  They count them up, and repackage them before shipping the pieces to India.  In India they are scanned, touched up, rotated and then privately posted to your account at their website.  You then go through the images online and select the ones you want to keep.  You are allowed to dismiss (and not pay for) up to 50% of the total for that order.  You can reject the images because you aren't happy with how they look online, or simply because you don't want the image.  In the specific  case of original photo negatives, there is no reliable way to communicate which image(s) you want on the strip, so ScanCafe will scan the entire strip of negatives.  You'll have to reject the particular frames you don't want (but no more than 50% of the total order.  Combine them with slides to keep your percentage down.)

After you've made your selection, ScanCafe will send the originals back to the US and then from CA they will ship you a DVD/CD with your images and your originals.  It takes 7-8 weeks door to door.  The quality of the scan is great for everything except huge billboard enlargements.  The photos are scanned at 3000 dpi which gives a file about the quality of a 7 megapixel digital shot.  You can scoop the final jpeg images into iPhoto or Flick'r or Blurb books.  They are rotated into correct up-down/sidways orientation by hand.

Some people are concerned about sending their precious originals to India - or anywhere for that matter.  They should not be. ScanCafe has a very elaborate tracking and shipping system that would work even if you were shipping jewels.  Their scanning facilities in Bangalore are more organized than you are.  I have more trust in this system that I would handing them over to any neighborhood scanner.

I have a big crate of old slides and photo albums just waiting to be scanned.  So far, I've taken a number of slides to my neighborhood camera store for a specific project and been pleased with the results.    If any of you have used ScanCafe, I'd be interested in your experience.

Posted by Jill Fallon at June 23, 2008 2:33 PM | Permalink