How to choose a photo scanning service
Memories 2 Digital • September 25, 2019Photo Scanning
You've probably looked into scanning your photo collection at home, only to be put off by the massive time investment, plus the cost of purchasing a quality photo scanner. The obvious next step is to look into hiring a professional photo scanning service to do the job for you.
Tips on picking the best photo scanning company
Don't make you decision based only on the base price per scan
Make sure to research exactly what's included in the price. Many companies will charge a low base price, and then offer "add-ons" for higher resolution, color correction, photo rotation, organisation, etc.
This can seem attractive at a glance, but choosing a vendor that includes everything in the price can come out much cheaper.
It's often best to go with a higher image quality (usually 600dpi for photos, and 2400-3000dpi for slide & negatives) as it means that you won't need to re-scan the originals to make larger prints or show them on the big screen.
Check what size originals (prints, slides & negatives) the company can scan
Many vendors have a limits on the types of media that they scan scan. In general, high-speed photo scanners can't scan anything smaller than wallet size (2.5" x 3.5"), and prints larger than A4 (11.5" x 16.5") though this will vary based on the company.
If you prints are large, small or fragile the company will generally require them to be scanned manually at extra cost (generally $2-5 per image). Make sure that the company gives you the option of having them scanned, or returning them without scanning in the case that you don't want to spend the extra.
Check what image enhancement the company offers
Most photo scanning companies will offer image correction or enhancement.
Many vendors will offer automated (basic) correction included in the price or as an additional extra for a small cost. The enhanced versions are generally improved over the original scans, but sometime the software will get it wrong and your image will appear washed out or over exposed. It's a good idea to check if the company will provide both the originals and the color corrected variations.
Some vendors will also offer manual corrections and enhancement, usually at a cost of $3-10 per image. The corrected scans will almost always look much better, but at the high cost it only really makes sense to have this done for your favourite photos.
What format will the the scanned images be supplied in
Most services will provide scanned images as either JPG (lossy compressed image) or TIFF (lossless uncompressed)
JPG files will be much smaller in size, costing less to store and will work with most software, smart TVs, etc.
Tiff files, on the other hand, are much larger (up to 10 times as large) and are not supported as well. The main advantage they provide is the ability to perform correction work at a later date, and the higher fidelity will result in crisper prints/enlargements.
Does the company subcontract or outsource (in country or overseas)
The vendor should clearly state where the photos are scanned, and who/how they are shared. There's a few services that claim to be Australia based, but ship you media to India for scanning to save on labour costs.
Check their terms and conditions or FAQ page, and consider the risks of services that outsource (generally, lower quality scans, risk of loss in transit, lack of confidentiality, etc).
How are the originals sent to and returned from the company
Ideally, the vendor should accept drop-offs if you are located near their offices, as the risk of transit loss is minimal.
If you are shipping your originals to the vendor, make sure that they are using a reputable courier or postage service. Some vendors will also allow you to arrange your own courier if you prefer.
Be sure to check the fine print in regards to insurance, as many postage carriers will only count the value of you package (originals) at the cost of the media, leaving you with almost nothing in the case of loss.
What contact methods does the company offer
Make sure that the company has a contact number & email available on their website.
Some companies that outsource scanning are just fronts for an overseas business, and can't be contacted easily if anything goes wrong during your order.
Our Photo Scanning Services
Here at Memories 2 Digital, we're proud of the services & quality we offer. Our Photo Scanning service includes everything in the per photo price (600dpi scans, image correction, rear side scanning, rotation, etc) while offering extremely competitive pricing.
We use high quality scanning equipment from Kodak & Epson, and custom software for managing orders and tagging & organisation of scanned photos.
If you have any questions, head over to our Contact Us page and give us call or drop us an email.