New Options For Digitizing Your Printed Photos and Outdated Media (that don't involve buying a scann
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Last week I got a question about the best ways to digitize printed photos. I could totally relate to this person's concerns that her precious photos might get lost or damaged if someone else was working with them. Most websites advise you to purchase and use flat bed scanners for scanning photos. Although this is certainly the option that yields the most high-quality results, the reality is most of us do not have the time to slowly scan the boxes and boxes of photos we have stacked in our closets. Scanning those suckers one-at-a-time sounds a little like this: eeeeee-oooooo-uuuuuhhhhhhhhh. One down - 2,017 to go. That's pretty much the sound I make just thinking about the task.
Fortunately, there are some great DIY resources out there for digitizing your photos as well as some wonderful full-service companies.
Local option: a simple Google search for "(your location) digitize photos" should yield some local companies that can turn older media files like printed photos, VHS tapes, and more. Check out the Museum Of Obsolete Media for a complete list of old format media. And, no, you are not old if you have any of these. Technology moves fast!
Fort Collins, Colorado local option: Leave a Legacy
Dr. Marsha Knackstedt owns this shop, and she is very passionate about her work. She does a fine job digitizing all kinds of old mediums. Her prices are fair, especially considering the quality of her work. Tell her "FreeUp" sent you!
DIY option: Google PhotoScan
This is a relatively new option, with some great results! Have you ever tried to "scan" a photo by taking a photo of it with your phone? Although it's a good solution in a pinch, you often get lots of glare and strange angles. It's not easy to get a good shot. The folks at Google have tried to fix this by creating a dynamic (and FREE) app that captures several shots at different angles. What is different about Google PhotoScan is that they have built an algorithm to eliminate that annoying shiny spot that normally appears when you take photos of a photo.Their app removes the glare circles and straightens the image. In my opinion, the app can be a little tricky to learn at first, but the results are great. This is a nice DIY option if you're willing to put in the scanning time yourself. Plus, you never have to part with your precious photos.
Southtree - I personally have used this service, and was satisfied with the results. I was nervous about sending away my old VHS, but they did a great job (for a price, of course). Something I confirmed is that old media do, in fact, deteriorate. I lost some of the data on old tapes, but it wasn't their fault.
Two other options that I have not personally used, but have great reviews are:
Whatever you decide, I would highly recommend taking the time to pare down the photos you truly care about keeping before you actually start scanning. It costs money and time to do so, so you'll want to make some choices beforehand and come to terms with destroying the less desired ones. Believe me, you'll actually feel lighter when you get rid of the photos you really don't care to keep.
This can be a fun and fulfilling project! It's a nice excuse to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some wonderful memories. Happy scanning!
Peace and digital delight,