POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 10, 2010
My recent column on digitizing family photos received a lot of attention, and a number of readers wanted more information on how to get started. Here are more tips:
After scanning hundreds of family photos, my first suggestion is, let a professional do it. Scanning a large collection is incredibly time-consuming. Getting high-quality results also takes practice and, yes, even more time. Scanning services use high-speed gear and will provide you with digital images on a CD or DVD. You can't beat the convenience.
Now the downside: Unless you get it done here in Hawaii, you'll have to ship your precious pictures to the mainland.
Rick Marine, President of Century Computers, a firm that does commercial scanning for businesses, suggests that if you don't want to let your photos out of the house, get a scanner specifically intended for photos with a quality gray scale and a feeder, so you don't have to do one at a time. You'll also want a machine with high resolution. You can use the 3-1 office scanners so popular (and inexpensive) nowadays, but they won't deliver the quality. Epson, Cannon, Kodak and Nikon make some great products ranging from $100 to $500. (We looked at the V330 in the last column for only $100.)
Now some techniques: If you do buy a scanner, be sure and scan multiple photos at once. This sounds obvious, but the stock software on 3-in-1 home office scanners won't allow for this. With Adobe Photoshop ($100) you can fit in as many shots on the glass as room allows for and scan them all together. All you do then is open the file in Elements' Editor and select "Divide Scanned Photos" from the menu. You'll save an incredible amount of time by doing so.
You also can archive your old photos with nearly any digital camera. The caveat is that you must use the standard, or optical, zoom to capture your images, rather than the digital zoom. Also, always use natural light -- no flashes, please! It's also helpful, but not crucial, to have a tripod. For restoring old photos, Photo Elements works great, but you can get pretty good results from Picasa from Google (picasa.google.com) to correct some color problems.
You can archive your shots in a number of ways:
» Buy an external drive ($100 will get you 500 GB).
» Save them on CDs or DVDs.
» Store them off-site with a service such as Snapfish.com, Flickr.com, Picasa.com, Photobucket.com or simply en masse with Mozy or another online file storage company.
Cliff Miyake is vice president/general manager in Honolulu for tw telecom. He can be reached at Cliff.Miyake@twtelecom.com.