Scanning Family Photos

From: P. T. [P.]
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2010 7:41 PM
To: Eric Forsberg
Subject: personal question

Eric: I have a pile of old family photos I want to scan. Can you recommend the best way to do this, to end up with quality scans?

I’m not very happy with what comes out of the Xerox copier. Can you recommend some kind of equipment, or a service that would do this for me?

Thanks for any leads.

P. T.

I’m not a big fan of the companies that provide the service.  I have researched them, and the thing is that it is expensive and you don’t have a human proofing everything and I prefer to be able to see my scans after I scan them in case I want to re-scan or try a different setting.  I have had INCREDIBLE success and happiness with the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 series!  You literally place a stack of about 30 pictures on the feeder, hit the button and walla – it scans beautiful at 300 or 400 dpi (any higher is pure digital waste as the size of a traditional photo at 4×6″ even, is being over-scanned for pixels not present any higher than about 320).  Anyhoo – it scans BOTH sides so if there is writing on the back?  No problem as that back will be the next photo imported.  It numerically auto-numbers the photos upon import and, upon import – take it into Picasa.  That’s a free photo management and editing system from the fine folks over at Google and the ONLY app you should use on the PC (else, iPhoto on the Mac).  It will allow you to title and tag your photos, as well as do LOTS of great correction work, including an “Auto Adjust” feature that takes a worn photo and performs miracles.  Then, just to be tricky – I highly recommend a $50/yr. Pro subscription on Flickr.  That’s owned by Yahoo and it is king of digital photo management.  It is your BACKUP and that is ever so important when archiving photos.  It also allows you to set them as private too, so you if you want, it lets you declare whom may see them by their email address.  There is fantastic integration between Flickr and Facebook too – you can auto post photos and even galleries upon your Wall – quite neat.  Anyway, Flickr does not discriminate on file sizes (so you have the original resolution), and it allows you to geotag said photos upon a map (and in batch – and that’s a grand feature right there).


  • Keep a lint-free rag (get at auto body type store as they are used to dry cars professionally) and a bottle of isopropanol (rubbing) alcohol near-by.  Use to clean the scan head surface between every few batches as residue from scans will manifest themselves as rainbow streaks upon your scans.
  • Possibly purchase an external HD to scan photos to as they will take up ROOM (but that’s because they are high quality, and in some cases, Modified by Picasa, which by the by … never alters the original scanned photo when you modify it, but instead, creates a Modified version).
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