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  1. #1
    Digitizing Old Photographs

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    Digitizing Old Photographs
    This is a scanner and scanner software question.

    I have searched the forum (a little bit) here ---> Scanning Software Recommendations and here ---> Scanner Choices .

    The situation: I have a lot of old photographs that I would like to digitize, edit (mostly crop) and caption. I currently own a Canon ImageClass MF212w printer/scanner, but I am prepared to buy new hardware and software if the cost is not too high. I'll be working off the laptop listed in my sig.

    My question is: How would you go about doing this? What is the simplest, easiest way to digitize a boatload of old snapshots? Also, what kind of file would be likely to remain viable the longest? (I was thinking, as a final step, I could convert everything into a PDF. Then, I would not have to worry about the software becoming obsolete.)

    It's a big question, but I'd be grateful for your thoughts.

    Thanks.
    MacBook Pro 13" 2017 • Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports
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  2. #2
    Digitizing Old Photographs
    badshoehabit's Avatar
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    Aug 02, 2011
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    You can arrange a series of photos on your scanner then scan into Photos (or other app) on your MBP. You then have to separate them so it's Image > Duplicate Image as many times as you have individual photos then crop etc. It's too time consuming to scan each one individually.

    I've found the quickest way is to photograph each image on my iphone then let them sync into Photos via Photo Stream; this way you have each photo separately straight away and I've not found much degradation in quality.

    Thinking about digitising mine meant throwing out about 95%! Other than childhood snaps (B&W), I rarely, if ever, looked through print stashes and kept very few even from significant trips yet I frequently look into the 15 years of digital albums I have stored in Photos on my MBP. Perhaps because it's so accessible. Although I had a good SLR camera, I also felt the images were nowhere near as dynamic as the digital ones.

    On storage - no-one knows what future tech will bring but one thing is certain, prints still exist from the first days of photography in the 1820s. If you want your images to be preserved indefinitely - for family for instance - you will need to keep up with tech and transfer them if necessary. Or print...
    Sue

    If the shoe fits, buy it in every colour.

  3. #3
    Digitizing Old Photographs
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    There are pretty much 3 ways to digitize paper based photos:

    - Scan them yourself.
    - Take photos of them using your cellphone's camera.
    - Use a photo digitizing service.

    All of these choices have their pro's & con's. Most likely the most common choice is scanning them yourself.

    Probably the biggest hassle with digitizing photos (via your own scanner) is time & handling...especially if you have a lot of hard-copy photos to digitize. You pretty much need to place each photo to be digitized by hand (no auto-feeders). Usually (if placed properly & depending on the size of the paper photos)...you can scan from 2-4 photos at the same time (depending on the size of the scanner).

    As far as file format. I know you said you wanted to use a format that would remain viable the longest...and PDF was mentioned. PDF format is really a format created by Adobe. If Adobe went out of business...PDF format could become obsolete as well. While this might be very unlikely...it could happen. Other digital image formats that are really not tied to a company name are:

    - TIFF
    - JPEG
    - GIF
    - PNG

    I would probably go with one of these formats before going with PDF.

    HTH,

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
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  4. #4
    Digitizing Old Photographs
    RavingMac's Avatar
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    If the photos are in decent condition and not “valuable art or collectible” quality, the quickest and easiest I’ve found is one of the Fujitsu Scanners. I have had good success loading the Sheet Feeder and letting it go. Takes almost no time to scan a dozen photos that way
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  5. #5
    Digitizing Old Photographs
    RavingMac's Avatar
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    We own the older generations of both of these, and both work well. The more expensive one is better for auto feed

    https://www.amazon.com/Fujitsu-ScanS...-1-spons&psc=1

    https://www.amazon.com/Fujitsu-ScanS...s%2C184&sr=8-3
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  6. #6
    Digitizing Old Photographs
    Sawday's Avatar
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    I have a Canon 9000F. The included software MP Navigator allows you to place several photos just leaving about 1cm between each. They do not need to be accurately aligned. The software automatically separates the images into individual images and squares them up.
    Experience teaches you to recognise a mistake when you make it again.

  7. #7
    Digitizing Old Photographs

    Member Since
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    I'm the family genealogist, and my pet project (and peeve for all of my relatives) is the preservation of old family photographs. It's a bit of an obsession - but, one that has merit. A good friend travelled to his home province after decades away, with a portable scanner and laptop. He visited his oldest relative with the express purpose of preserving family photos, which he did over the course of a couple of weeks. All the albums, safe on his hard drive. Not a month had passed... the community was hit with flooding, and the family album he'd scanned spent a considerable amount of time underwater, ruining most of the content. That drove home to me the importance of digitizing anything you want to preserve (and of course, multiple backups).

    The quality of the scan is very important - those who are suggesting shooting pics with a cellphone... not my recommended workflow. Here are my essential tips:

    1- a flatbed scanner that can give you 1200dpi scans.
    2- up to you if you'd like to scan everything at 1200 for future-proofing the files... but definitely smaller images or anything with detail, go for 1200. 600dpi is minimum for my purposes, and usually only reserved for already-large photos (like 8x10s).
    3- TIFF format, no compression. Then I use a script (or an app) to resize images down to JPGs at 96dpi for use on our family website and for insertion into MacFamilyTree (genealogy app)
    4- If you're the well-organized type, it's useful to maintain an Excel / Numbers file (or whatever works for you), since - particularly with group photos, or photos about which you'd like to record additional information, filenames can get pretty long
    5- My high-resolution rationale: So often when scanning old family pics, and viewing them at high resolution, you can make out details in the background that can be invaluable; a piece of family jewellery; the location of a building; details that can help identify where the photo was taken; lots of stuff!

    Happy scanning!

  8. #8
    Digitizing Old Photographs
    IWT's Avatar
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    A very interesting and informative post, NSMacGuru. Than you. You are obviously a dedicated enthusiast.

    Ian
    Ian

  9. #9
    Digitizing Old Photographs

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    Thank you all for these outstanding and helpful responses, especially to NSMacGuru, not because the other responses were not good, but because NSMacGuru was thinking along the same lines as me.

    @NSMacGuru: You state, "Then I use a script (or an app) to resize images down to JPGs at 96dpi." Can you recommend a script or app"?

    Thanks, thanks, thanks to all.
    MacBook Pro 13" 2017 • Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports
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  10. #10
    Digitizing Old Photographs
    Slydude's Avatar
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    Some may find this site useful. Getting at the full content of the site requires membership but the cost may be worth for those contemplating projects requiring a lot of scanning.
    “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
    Kevin Durant

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