Mar 23, 2011


Like most people I have a box full of photo stuff that sits quietly in a box wondering about its purpose in life. Various photo negatives taken by my parents that came into my possession and have done nothing since. I recently opened up this box. They look like antiques. Memories from a bygone era. I wondered what the photos were of. Most of all I was upset at the amount of space they took up.

So I decided to haul the box up to the nearest photo developing store (yes they do in fact still exist) and get a quote. I then left and put the box back in its final resting spot. It is incredibly expensive to get physical format negatives scanned let alone printed. Wow!

Fortunately I came across Scancafe. They scan your negatives for a fraction of the price. Price list is here. In some cases it was 5 to 10 times cheaper. And if you don't like a photo you don't pay for it (up to a certain limit). How are they so much cheaper?

Turns out your media is sent to India to be scanned. I believe they repackage individual packages into one mega-package in order to save on costs.

So the obvious downside is that it takes a while to get your negatives scanned. And I mean a while! I placed my order January 14 and they were finally scanned for review on March 22. I knew this beforehand and my feelings are who cares how long it takes. These negatives have been sitting in a box doing nothing for years.

It's a nice process.

  • Bundle everything up into a box.
  • Estimate how many you have and what type
  • Get your price, pay, and print out shipping materials
  • Take it to UPS and watch online where you are in the process.
  • Once they are scanned you review which ones you want and you can order additional services like photo retouching or additional DVDs.
  • Then you checkout, pay the difference, and your media and DVDs with digitized photos is sent to you.
I'm not sure what the quality is like. You can see an example of the online low-res scan on my previous post. Even that is fine enough for me. The online scans were low res but to be honest I'm not much of a "-phile" about most things. I have over 1500 albums and CDs and I still have never owned a real stereo system. As far as photos go as long as I can see the picture without horrible distortion or resolution I'm fine. When they sit in a box the resolution is zero so any thing is better than that.

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