I’ve read a lot on Scancafe.com and the reviews are always so positive.  The pros and magazines couldn’t find a single thing wrong!  This company is flawless it seems.  So, I decided that it was time to get that pile of old photos scanned.

But, you know, never trust anyone.  So before sending off the hundred’s (if not thousands) of photos in the archive, I thought it best to test the service with a sample lot of 100.  The results were a bit different than what all the fantastic quotes on their site say.

Here is the 1 minute summary:

In a good showing of customer service, many of the points I make in this article are addressed by Wade from ScanCafe.com in the first comment to this posting, please see his comments to get a good understanding of where I may not have fully understood all the options available.

I’m a photography nut.  I’ve also been in the tech industry my whole career.  Putting those two together means that I’m going to be a bit more concerned with quality than the ‘average joe’ who just doesn’t want to take the time to scan.  My photo archive is a treasure trove of memories that I want to last lifetimes.  And being a techno control geek means that almost no one can make me happy.  If this sounds a lot like you, this review is worth reading.

The good:

  • Price per scan is competitive (although prices are going up…again.  May 10th, 2010 is latest increase).
  • New feature of sharing to Facebook while you review was a nice surprise (didn’t see  listed on their website).
  • Someone else does all the work for you!

The bad:

  • The amount of time from date of shipping to receiving back (roughly 3 months).
  • Risk of loss (your cherished & irreplaceable family photos travel to India)!
  • The person scanning decides how to crop.

The ugly:

  • Color correction not always the best.
  • Their automated software can result in artifacting.
  • Hidden costs – I assumed to much here that the cost of scanning plus the initial shipping cost was all I was going to pay.  But yes, you do have to pay another charge to get your photos back.

What you may have missed…

  • They use Epson 4490 flatbed scanners, currently selling at Amazon.com for 120 bucks.
  • Your prints ship to India…..India!
  • They promote that every photo is hand touched for scratch and dust removal.  I think they mislead on this point as many of the photos returned had software removal done only.  (They say they run Digital ICE and then do manual).

My advice to you:

You simply can’t beat the price in terms of the amount of time it takes. But what you can beat is the quality. Anyone who thinks that person churning out scans with a stated time of 4 minutes spent on each one simply can’t compete with your own talents.

This service is truly for those photos that are ‘nice to have scanned’. If you are serious about your photo collection and have the ability to perform the color correction and dust/scratch removal, then do it.

The nitty gritty details:

The good:

Price: Pricing is the best if you cost your order by price per scan. The real cost savings is by sending multiple hundreds of photos for scanning.  If you have a few dozen like I used as a sample lot, then the cost wasn’t that great.  The reason is the shipping cost of $10 on the front and the surprise $10 on the back.  Again, I had no idea I was going to pay another $10 to get my photos back.  Seriously, why is this not mentioned?  Picky on my part?  Sure, but this made my gut think they may not be upfront on other things too…

Facebook: While doing the review process, I noticed the option to connect to Facebook and share the previews.  This wasn’t mentioned on the site or in other reviews which can only mean it is a fresh/new feature.  Very handy for us Facebook users.

When you share to Facebook, the system creates a new album simply named ScanCafe.  Using Facebook, you can further sort and move your photos out of this album and into your current or new albums.

The bad:

Timing: This service is painfully slow.  I wanted to write this review a month ago, but was still waiting on my photos.  The service does give an accurate estimate, I just happened to miss read it.  I placed my order on March 6th and the estimate given was April 27th for scanning.  My eyes mistakenly read March 27th.

After a month went by I re-checked my account to then realize the schedule date for scanning to occur (in India!) was April 27th.  Again, I assumed to much.  I thought that was when I would get my photos back.

The slow boat from China had them back in May.  I almost forgot about them….

Solution: What would be great when you are ordering is a big picture of a calendar that shows you the current date and the date when you get your photos back in your hands.

Cropping: When I scan photos from the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s, I actually like having the original border of the photo.  For me, it leaves that visual impression you have of the original photo.  All film in those days (for the ‘cheap’ family cameras at least) had that thick white border.  It means something.

Not to ScanCafe, every photo was cropped to the edge of the ‘white’.  So here is another thought to ponder.  What about Polaroids.  What makes a Polaroid picture?  Two things, the colors it produced and the nice white border and thick chemical pack on the bottom.  They crop that off too!

Polaroid scanned by CanoScan 8800F

Polaroid scanned by CanoScan 8800F

Polaroid scanned by ScanCafe

Polaroid scanned by ScanCafe

Solution: Don’t crop.  During a customer’s review process, add a cropping tool which is used on sites like Shutterfly or even Walgreens.

The ugly:

Color correction: (http://www.scancafe.com/scanning-quality/color-correction) Let’s continue on this Polaroid point for a second.  A Polaroid has a very distinct coloring to it.  There are filters in Photoshop and software you can purchase that will specifically take any photo you have and make it LOOK like a Polaroid.  Some filters will even go as far as adding that nice white border and chemical pack.

So why does ScanCafe run color correction on a Polaroid photo and effectively nullifying the very essence of the photo? Dunno!

Furthermore, the large portion of the photos became distinctly darker.  If you look at the marketing materials on their website (http://www.scancafe.com/scanning-quality/color-correction) you will see that they promote taking dark photos and, through the magic of color correction, make them lighter.

Here is a great example of the results I received, I rather enjoy my scan as the details in the shadows are present:

Nancy at lake

Image scanned with CanoScan 8800F

Image scanned with ScanCafe

Image scanned with ScanCafe (click to enlarge)

Solution: Have a choice between original scan and color corrected scan.

Artifacting: The website has a long explanation on why their process is superior to the competition (http://www.scancafe.com/scanning-quality/scratch-removal).  And a key quote here is “Software has its place, and ScanCafe certainly uses it where it makes sense”.

What looks very obvious to me is that when dust/scratch removal was done, they only used software. The supposed additional manual process missed obvious scratches and dust.  For the record, if you go to the photo scanning specific page, it does in fact state “Scratch and dust removal” (http://www.scancafe.com/services/photo-scanning).  It even says that a technician will spend 4 minutes per image addressing all the problems they list including scratch and dust removal.

Crop of ScanCafe Sample 1 of Artifacting

Crop of ScanCafe Sample 1 of Artifacting (click to enlarge)

Crop of CanoScan 8800F no Artifacting

Crop of CanoScan 8800F no Artifacting (click to enlarge)

Solution: I don’t know there is one here other than to say that if you don’t pay the ‘pro’ price, you get the peon service.  The $0.22 per image scan price means you aren’t going to get results like that shown on the website.  Simple enough.

Hidden Costs:You might have guess I’m a little peturbed on the cost of shipping back.  Not that the amount is horrendous, it’s really the point of misleading your customer.

Ok, I’ll do it myself!

Equipment: You can buy the same scanner that ScanCafe uses for $120 off of Amazon.com. I personally use a CanoScan 8800F.

Time: To do nothing more than scan 100 photos, you can pull it off in about 60 minutes. If you are on Windows, don’t quote me on this. My work flow on the Mac is much faster than what I could pull off Windows.

I scan with Mac’s built in software Image Capture that dumps the images straight into Aperture. I’m also able to place 3 to 6 photos on the bed at a time and with Image Capture, I select the border of each image (after preview scan) and then it scans each photo.

At 600DPI, it takes about 7 seconds per photo. But you have to include time to swap photos, straighten them, etc. If you go up to 2400DPI, that takes about 2 minutes per photo to just scan.

Results: Here is a sample of a photo scanned by ScanCafe, then by the CanoScan 8800F with the final color corrected version through Aperture and Photoshop. The series below has the CanoScan first with the 1970′s cheap ‘ole film color cast intact. The 2nd is ScanCafe’s version of scan and correction. The final photo is my color correction.

I like mine better :)

Solution: Have a service that just scans, nothing more. That would be the winning formula as us control freaks can then do the ‘real work’!

Merry-go-round Photo scanned with CanoScan 8800F

Merry-go-round Photo scanned with CanoScan 8800F (click to enlarge)

Merry-go-round Photo scanned with ScanCafe (click to enlarge)

Merry-go-round Photo scanned with ScanCafe (click to enlarge)

Merry-go-round Photo color corrected by Miles (click to enlarge)

Merry-go-round Photo color corrected by Miles (click to enlarge)

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66 Responses to ScanCafe: An un-candy coated review

  1. Wade Lagrone says:

    Wade from ScanCafe here, chiming in!

    What a thorough review! People really can differ on personal preferences for color correction, and we very much do have a house approach on color correction (we try to be consistent from order to order, with allowance for color profiles of different films). That said, just a couple of things;

    1. If you don't want us to crop images, there's a field on the order form called Optional Scanning Notes. Customers can request that there. It's free.

    2. We do scan paper photos on Epson 4490s. They are great machines, for what we use them for. Slides and negatives we scan, however, on Nikon 5000's or 9000's, as they are vastly superior for slides and negatives.

    3. If there's a cast to a photo that you actually want to remain in the finished jpg, that's also another comment you can, as a customer, make in the scanning notes field.

    These are just facts to add in. But we totally understand your main point: that if you have a relatively small number of photos, a very personal viewpoint on color correction, the right equipment, some skill, and a fair amount of time–well, then it might make sense to do scanning yourself.

    Your other main idea, that of requesting scans without color correction at all–we're happy to do that as well, and most commonly do for our professional photographer customers. (Actually, the feature that is really popular there is called Pro Library, we send both a "raw" scan, in TIFF, and a finished and color corrected jpg. That's a few cents extra per scan.)

    Hope this helps!

  2. Thanks for the great post!

  3. Subir says:

    Miles, Thanks for the great post!

    I just got my negative scans back from ScanCafe and was comparing them to the respective positives that I had scanned using a Canon LIDE 200. Even without any re-touching the LIDE 200 scans were more vibrant – even at full size (600dpi). The ScanCafe scans were very noisy at full resolution (3000dpi) even though they were from a negative. The issues with the photo scans from my scanner were dust and scratches.

    I have 3 more batches bound for ScanCafe….and was wondering, based on your experience, if I should request the scratch and dust removal service but ask them to refrain from color-correcting? Is processing photos through Aperture tedious? For e.g., how long did it take you to correct the merry-go-round photo?

    I just bought my MB Pro and am deciding between CS5 and Aperture….any suggestion is welcome. I am a novice in photo correction.

    Would you know if color-correcting contributes to noise?

    Apologize for the barrage of questions. Thanks for all your help!

    • michaelmiles says:


      I think their scratch and dust removal does a good job and when the process, whether by software or by hand, is done at 3000dpi, any artifacting that I noticed on my report above should be negligible….should be….

      Photoshop does have a built in filter for scratch/dust removal that could be acceptable for you. This is such a hard topic because everyone has different degrees of acceptable, especially when it comes to their own photos/art work/etc.

      I use Noiseware Professional (their non-'pro' version is pretty darn good too!) to do the bulk load of dust removal and photo grain removal if need be.

      As for scratches, the healing brush and healing clone tools in CS5 work well and fast. With practice you'll get quicker with them.

      For timing, that is tough call. For a 'general' photo with dust and say minor scratches (minor meaning very thin, don't cut through intricate patterns, you could spend as little as 5 minutes a photo.

      Maybe less, but that is where ScanCafe really does a great job and that is the amount of work done for you. You just can't beat that!

      My future shipments to a scanning service will be for those photos that have no sentimental value, limited to no dust/scratch/damage.

      All photos that hold a personal value and especially those with extensive damage/scratch/dust I'll take my sweet time doing. These are the photos that can take up to 20 to 30 minutes to work on, but the end result would be 'frameable'.

      Other answers: CS5 is above and beyond what Aperture can do. The fine tuning of controls is simply unbeatable. Aperture has the spot touch up brushes, but I spend more time TRYING to get them to act and behave like Photoshop. If budget is of no concern. Buy CS5 and get a Lynda.com training account and go to town.

      Color-correcting does not affect noise. Image adjustments do. You can expect a 5% increase in noise for every filter you run on a photo, rule of thumb. Here is a good article to help get started with image noise, know what type you got before you go 'solving' it: http://bit.ly/NoiseInfo

      Hope that helps! It all comes down to balancing price, time and quality. No service can give you 110% of each of these. If you are awesome at price and time, then quality must be limited. And vis-versa, you can spend hours on an image for the best quality, but the amount of time goes through the roof ;)

    • michaelmiles says:

      Oh, and btw. Aperture and CS5 are two totally different programs. Aperture main function is an image database. It just happens to do some editing features. Photoshop's main function is to do photo editing and happens to come with Adobe Bridge that does image database functions. I'm a big fan of Aperture, it works for me. But I would try the trial for both Aperture and Lightroom and go with what suits you best. Your new MBP will come with iPhoto which may suit your needs as well, but if you have more than 1,000 photos, I find iPhoto both slow and hard to categorize (which everyone does categorizing different ;)

  4. Subir says:

    Thanks a TON for the detailed information. Very, VERY helpful!

    I am in a preservation mode, so want to get my ~8000 photos into digital format before they deteriorate any further. Based on my expertise, I think ScanCafe can do a better job of dust/scratch removal and I'll keep the color correction task for myself. As I learn and get better, I will re-scan my high-value photos and get them to a state that is satisfactory to me.

    I did send ScanCafe a few of the sample images where they had over corrected the color – they too felt it was an error and are currently researching and repairing the images.

    I did sign up at Lynda.com – seems like a great service.

    Thanks again for taking them time to respond. I look forward to your future posts…..tutorial on scanning photos/negatives…maybe?! ;o)

  5. Steve says:

    Thanks so much for a very informative post. I just ordered a relatively small scanning job from ScanCafe but now I'm second-guessing myself. I really only want a few frames from the negatives I'm sending them. I think I'll just scan them on my own. (Will ScanCafe allow you to cancel an order once you've placed it, if you haven't mailed it out yet? Hmmm…)

  6. Everglade says:

    I have been gathering photos to send to ScanCafe, and placed the order this morning. After reading this review, I decided to have ScanCafe color correct my photos — I don't have the time to do it myself, and it looks like ScanCafe did an adequate job.

    One note – on the order, ScanCafe asks if you use a Windows or Mac. I suggest selecting Mac — that way, files are compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux according to the helpful CSR I spoke with.

    Also, I confirmed that ScanCafe DOES charge for shipping back, which is approximately what is charged for shipping to them.

    The completion date ScanCafe noted was December 8th if sending on October 21st. This is the day I will be able to view the photos online and eliminate any I don't want. After that, I will still have to wait to receive the physical photos — so pay attention to what the completion dates mean. I won't have my photos back by December 8th — I'll just get to look at them.

    All of the major scan companies seem reputable — ScanCafe, ScanDigital, DigMyPics, and even FotoBridge. ScanCafe is the one that I hope will meet my needs the best.

  7. CJC says:

    Michael, your post is very helpful. I am not the professional you are and probably fall in to the category of just being happy to have the pictures scanned. My question is, have you used any other services such as <a href="http://www.imemories.com” target=”_blank”>www.imemories.com? Any you would recommend over ScanCafe? Also, can or will ScanCafe or any competitor fix obvious problems like red-eyes (boy, that proves I am not a professional). Thanks!

  8. michaelmiles says:

    I'm looking into this, I have not seen imemories.com before to be honest, but I'm very intrigued and plan on doing some research this weekend. To be clear, I have not used any other service other than ScanCafe, I was planning on sending the same photos I did with SC.com to other services, but been to busy to manage this "project".

    As for red eye reduction, SC.com does offer it as a FREE add on service, so if you go with them, just ensure that this option is checked off, more info here: http://www.scancafe.com/scanning-quality/red-eye-

    I'll re-post on what I find on imemories.com, the other service I do know of is <a href="http://www.digmypics.com” target=”_blank”>www.digmypics.com which has gotten a lot of positive reviews and to be fair and balanced, all the services have positive reviews.

    Ugh, I know, what do you go with? I would approach it from the stand point of this:

    1) How much time do you have? Doesn't matter, check a positive in SC.com otherwise Digmypics.com would be faster because they scan in California (compared to India)

    2) How much do you have to get scanned? If it's just a couple of hundred, I'd go with the cheapest bidder hands down, nothing to lose really. If you have THOUSANDS, then send a few to each service and see which one does the best job for YOUR EYES. That is the problem with these types of reviews is that everyone sees things differently. Same thing when buying audio speakers, nobody hears the same way, so you can't trust reviews alone. You have to see what works best for YOU. What this also does is get the b.s. marketing out of the way.

    I don't like the fact companies tout that 'the pros' use them when the pros are using the higher end service that costs 2 to 4 times as much and the quality is 2 to 4 times better. So don't get caught up in that…thus going back to point number 2 above, you gotta see it to believe it ;)

    Hope I helped there! Good luck!

    • CJC says:

      That does help. I'll figure out how many I want to scan and then take one of the two routes you suggested. Your suggestion and original review were very helpful. Thanks for the thoughtful response.

  9. Matt says:

    Great ScanCafe review. Is ScanCafe your preference for scanning when you choose to go out? Fotobridge is first up in Google. Any insight into them?

    Thank you!

    • michaelmiles says:

      Matt, I don't have personal insight but checked out there site. The things I noticed is that they are located in New Jersey, so you photos stay in America and also would mean you get your photos back sooner (from send to receive).

      They scan at 300dpi for their 'entry level' service and use their Intelligent Digital Finishing procedure. So considering if you are control freak like myself, you may want to verify you can choose to have this or not (e.g. auto remove dust, color correction, etc).

      One cool thing, the have FREE RETURN SHIPPING (their caps, not mine ;). That is great in my book, I don't like being dinged at the end for another charge to get my photos back.

      They also have a service to scan both sides of the photo called "Text Note Archiving" which I find pretty nifty as I have notes on almost all the photos I have yet to scan.

      Hope that helps! Digmypics.com is also another state side scanner with great reviews and I have yet to do business with them yet, so can't give much more info…

  10. Another Customer says:

    I've done thousands of scans with scancafe, a combination of various formats of negatives, slides and prints. Timing was the least of my concerns, though I agree it is a long process compared with the competition. Prior to sending my first batch to scancafe I had sent samples to other services for comparison. I would suggest that other people do the same so they can judge for themselves. The corrections done on the same scans varied with each provider, and this may come down to personal aesthetic preferences rather than objective quality differences.

    I paid extra to get the uncorrected tiff versions of the scans, which nearly doubles the price of the standard formats. This negates some of the savings however I also took advantage of their 50% off promotions (hint: get on their mailing list as these and other promos are sent out frequently — more on this at the end of my comment). The tiff option is for the entire order, so unfortunately you cannot choose this for just selected images. You can however ask them to re-correct images that you're not satisfied with during the review process. Note that the previews are relatively small, so it's less than ideal and in many cases I did not notice problems until I received back the dvds with the full size scans. Also, the facebook feature is handy, though they are the same size as the previews which are far below the maximum allowed by facebook.

    My main concern overall is the quality of course, and in this regard I was satisfied with the negative scans though not the print scans. Yes, many of the negatives will need additional corrections which is why I opted to get the tiffs. The prints however suffered with terrible artifacts, similar to what has been described in the main review here. There is no point in correcting these images as I will have to re-scan them anyway. These artifacts were not very apparent in the small online previews, but quite noticeable in the full size images. I find it hard to believe that anyone spent several minutes on these or that any real quality control was done, since the artifacts are quite glaring in some cases. Otherwise perhaps they are so used to seeing these that they don't realize what a problem it is.

    Clearly there is a problem with the scanning process for the prints. They look similar to bad digital ice type artifacts, like blocky smears and smudges. I sent samples to scancafe with arrows pointing to the problem areas. They offered to re-scan the images if I sent them back, but had no explanation that gave me the confidence to bother. Since this happened on all batches that included prints, I believe it was not the fault of a single operator but rather the process they use.

    continued on next post…

  11. Another Customer says:

    …continued from previous post

    One more item that could use improvement is the red-eye correction. They gave me the impression that this was done by hand rather than using automated red-eye removal tools, however the results were only marginally better. For those who want more realistic red-eye correction who are unable to do this themselves, try a freelancer site such as scriptlance.com or elance.com. Many of the providers will even work on sample images free of charge to show the quality of their work. This way you already know what you're getting before you decide who to hire.

    As far as charging .24 for the raw tiff, this seems rather high compared with the cost of scanning, especially since the work has already been done, but the prices are stated clearly so one can make their own decision about this. DigMyPics offers tiff versions without a per item charge, though they do charge for the extra DVDs to store them and the tiffs have the same corrections as the jpegs so they are not raw scans.

    On a more positive note, everyone I spoke with or emailed at ScanCafe was very courteous and professional, and I did get the sense that they wanted to do whatever it would take for me to be satisfied. At this point I do feel comfortable recommending their services negative and slide scanning, just not for prints. If they've addressed and fixed the print scan issue, then hopefully they'll come forth and acknowledge this.

    Now, regarding the discounts. You can get on their mailing list by signing up at the scancafe.com website (might need to create an account). The discounts generally range between 20 to 40% with various stipulations, but ever couple of months or so they run a 50% off scanning services deal. The way this works is that for every $150 gift card you buy, they will double the amount to $300. There is a limit of two per customer, so you can get $600 worth of scanning for $300 each time they run this promo. If you have friends and relatives then they can take advantage of this as well of course. These promos generally run for one day only, but once you receive the gift card you can wait to use it until you're ready.

    Now, having said that, there are a couple of items to keep in mind. You can only use a single gift card when you place your order (the deposit), and a single gift card when you make your final payment. For any extras included shipping and taxes you'll need to use an alternate method of payment (like a credit card). Due to the shipping costs in both directions, it's more economical to place larger orders vs. several smaller ones. So if you have about $300 worth of scanning, then you can use one $300 gift card ($150 for the deposit, and the remaining $150 for final payment). If you have $600 worth of scanning, then you can use a full $300 gift card for the deposit, and another $300 gift card for the final payment. If you know you're going to reject some of the scans, then take that into account as well when making your estimates. I tend to keep most of the scans and I also pay for the pro options, so I think scancafe has still done pretty well despite the 50% savings (they do all of the scanning and corrections prior to uploading the previews, so the work is already done whether or not you take advantage of their offer to let you delete up to half of the scans).

  12. Between me and my husband we've owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I've settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  13. T Workman says:

    Another idea to consider: I'm usually happy with Scan Cafe service, (they scanned over 2,000 slides for me and saved me so much time,) this last order returned in horrible condition. Our wedding album was returned extremely dirty, with smudged prints on it, and someone WROTE on the cover with brown permanent marker!!! "Album 01". Our lovely leather album, which was in perfect condition when we sent it to have the photos scanned, is ruined. It has red/brown scum all over it, which I have tried to remove with leather cleaner, but there is no way to remove the ugly handwriting on the front top left corner or repair the damage to the edges of the binding. We are not happy. This book has a lot of emotional worth to us (it was lovingly put together for us my my mother and grandmother) and if I had known it would be damaged, I would never have sent it away. We have always kept it clean, covered in tissue, in a box. I still can't believe someone would write on it. Haven't they heard of post-it notes?

    T Workman, Los Angeles

  14. Jeannie C. says:

    Hi, Michael,
    I'm thinking of having all my parents' vacation slides scanned. I wonder: does SC.com scan them in order, or do they scan them randomly? I prefer to keep the various vacations distinct from one another. Should I send them separately to guarantee that (which would be very expensive)? Thanks for such a great discussion. It's been enormously helpful!

  15. Jeannie C. says:

    By default, does SC.com return your image files on disks in a proprietary file format that precludes post-scan retouching? Or are you unable to retouch your scans that they color corrected because their images became too muddy? Must you order raw TIFFs in order to make corrections yourself later on? I would like to be able to get creative with some of the photos I want scanned, so I need complete access to the digital image files. What format should I order to ensure that I will have that ability once the scans are returned? Thanks for your advice.

    • michaelmiles says:

      The images as a default will come back in .jpg format, 600dpi in a DVD disc. You can make edits yourself whether they are jpg or tiff format. What tiff format does is give you a non-compressed image, meaning no loss of data. Jpeg is a compression format, meaning you may get some artifacts due to compression. This link is a great resource to fully explain this: http://www.digitalmemoriesonline.net/scan/output/

      Please note that if you want to do the editing, you need to tell ScanCafe up front to NOT do any color correction or scratch removal. They do this automatically unless told otherwise. There is a very pricy version of their service that gives you both the TIFF format and a process JPG format called ProLibrary: http://www.scancafe.com/services/pro-options

      My advice on my limited knowledge of how attached you are to these photos and what you want to do creatively would be to look at doing the normal service, but add the .09/cents a scan for 'Pro Resolution'. I wished I used pro resolution on my batch since I wanted to do a lot of cropping on the photos, and at the 600dpi (for normal), I was limited in what I could do.

      I really don't advise doing TIFF format if you are going to scan hundreds of photos, that really adds up if you aren't going to touch/print/edit 80%. What I did is take the photos I really wanted to do the cropping/editing/etc and re-scanned them myself. Saved a lot of money that way ;)

      I hope that is a good direction for you, let me know how it goes or if I need to be more clear to help you decide, thanks!

  16. Ali S says:

    fwiw, I posted some samples of the scancafe pix exhibiting the noise issue; again, these were scanned from 35mm negatives, pro-shot…even when not zoomed in 100%, the noise in the picture is very evident; zoomed @ 100% it's overwhelming. Any explanation of why negative-scanned images are displaying this much noise would be welcome, because I really don't get it :(

    Flower in hair http://www.flickr.com/photos/netarc/5799101940/sihttp://www.flickr.com/photos/netarc/5798554071/si

    Dark suit (gray suit becomes a mishmosh of multi-colored noise) http://www.flickr.com/photos/netarc/5798511575/si

    B&W (black shirt & bokeh background are full of noise) http://www.flickr.com/photos/netarc/5798511071/si

    B&W and Color comparison http://www.flickr.com/photos/netarc/5798510659/sihttp://www.flickr.com/photos/netarc/5799058496/si

    • michaelmiles says:

      Thanks for the comment, There is a couple of missing pieces of information to the puzzle… What speed film was used? And what camera? The act of scanning doesn\’t add noise to an image and from what I can see the amount of noise is typical for a 400 to 800 speed film. What I do find interesting is the image size is only 685×1024…That isn\’t a very high dpi for scanning slides.

      I want to understand this a bit more and also going to pull up some slides I scanned to compare for you, be back soon (or later ;) it is Sunday)

  17. Martin says:

    All these traditional scan services like Scancafe use Nikon CoolScan scanners. Its automatic dust and scratch removal software makes blurry scans, especially for Ektachrome or BW slides and negatives. Their dust removal software interpolates the pixels around the dust and scratches. Due to the Nikon Coolscan inferior light source many times the colors are off, too.

    I read about a company called TrueScan.us [url ]http://truescan.us[/url] that uses a new technology scanning only the actual slide or negative surface but not the dust on top or the scratches within the slides. I had them make some free test scans first. Then I sent them all my 600 slides. They look excellent (4000 dpi at no extra cost); very crisp even when I zoom in.

  18. Ali S says:

    Hi, sorry for the incomplete info earlier, I didn’t realize the flickr pix wouldn’t allow for viewing the pix @ 100%. I republished the scanned images to my smugmug gallery, link below; hover over an image, then select ORIGINAL to see the full rez version.


    I’m not sure what speed film or type of camera was used, unfortunately.

  19. Stephen says:

    Scancafe draws the line at ANY nudity. Just wont scan it. That cute old baby photo that shows your naked butt – nope, wont scan it. They just informed me of this after I send and paid for the first round of ~800 negatives. The real pain will be finding the photos they didn’t scan to send along w/ the next batch to a different service. I’ll definitely read the terms of service better. I too was mildly upset about the hidden shipping charges. And this is the first I’ve heard of them sending them to india. THAT disturbs me the most (and explains the slow service and quite possibly the nudity issue.) I would have NEVER used them if that was known ahead of time.

  20. Mark Nyman says:

    ScanCafe did an amazingly bad scan job.
    Out of focus, poor exposure, stretched in one axis.
    But worst of all, my slides came back scrambled out of order,
    which has taken many hours to repair

  21. Mae says:

    I’ve made several photo books on Shutterfly and when I received an email about Scan Cafe, I was ecstatic to learn that I could redo my wedding album (1967). After researching their website, I decided to send about 140 images on 6/10/2011. The estimated cost was $40.89 with a partial payment of $28.30. On June 15, I received notice that my images had been received. My images were online about 2 months later (Aug. 10) and my order was completed and paid on Aug. 11. The total cost of my project was $84.39 for 120 scans, which included one restoration, or basically about $.70 per scan. The, restoration at $9.99 was wonderful; the others were poorly done and some even had green stains and streaks. I received my DVD on Aug. 25. When I did complain in 3 emails, I was basically told that “our shipping charges can be puzzling sometimes” for a 1 lb. parcel, containing 33 slides, 100 negatives and 5 photos. In another email, I was advised that California to Hawaii is very costly. (Zappos ships free, so does Amazon over $25. Never had this problem before.) My biggest regret is that I failed to check this blog earlier to learn about ScaM Cafe.

  22. SteveG says:

    I saw the comment Martin posted about truescan.us. Has anyone tried them and had any luck with better quality? I only found 2 or so reviews searching online (both positive but the skeptic in me always wonders if it could be the owner or employee posting) – their price seems comparable and their service is in the US.

  23. steve says:

    Why is INDIA such a problem for you? What if your photos were sent to MARYLAND??? I mean they get sent somewhere for scanning. What do you care where it is? Do you thinning they’re just storing your pics in a tent in the slums of Calcutta? I think transporting things from point A to point B is mature technology that was perfected decades ago. Otherwise I think this is a good review. Thank you.

    • Michael Miles says:

      Great question. I may not have been clear enough on the why, sorry. I have a fear that the amount of transportation necessary to travel the roughly 7,800 miles to India is much more risky (e.g. losing priceless family heir looms) than sending intercontinental or even driving to a local provider.

      This discussion happens quite a lot amongst my closest circle of friends and family and many have found scanning services close to home where they physically drop them off/pick them up. The only risk there would be auto-accident (with fire), fire at place of business and theft/mishandling.

      It really boils down to mitigating risk. Every person has more or less tolerance for risk in regards to their possessions. My risk tolerance is low for many of the photos in my possession (given to me by relatives to scan/archive). Some are the only images in existence of long lost relatives. They are stored in a fireproof safe (mentioned to help illustrate the amount of effort given to keep these photos ‘safe’).

      So, in making an informed decision, a person needs to think about how much risk they want to take on.

      In sending photos to scan, just how many times is there a chance that their package will be:

      1) Lost in the ‘mail’ (changes from truck, to sorting facility, to plane and then in reverse)
      2) Lost due to crash or fire during transport (truck, plane, train or boat)
      3) Lost due to fire at place of business (was the facility in India built under the same fire codes like in USA businesses? Think sprinklers)
      4) Unforeseen circumstance (Theft, employee discontent/mishandling, etc)

      So for some, promises and track records are hard to quantitate in such calculations.

      The other issue that I had was simply the amount of time that the originals were out of hand. Took roughly 4 months. This could be a huge issue if you were planning on scanning photos for a special event and needed the originals back for that event. (Think wedding or funeral).

      And to answer your question if I actually thought the photos were being scanned in a tent, the answer is no. I never thought that.

      Overall, I still believe that ScanCafe provides a great service at a great price and is perfect for many many people. They are doing a great job and making many people happy.

      My goal is to help people understand a bit more or get them thinking a bit more to help themselves make the right decision.

      Thanks for the kudos on the review, I do hope this clarifies! Cheers!

  24. plum says:

    i just wanted to drop a thank you note for this very indepth review on sc. i’ve been ‘meaning to’ send of film for a while now and finally got to the point to do it and wanted to read a few more reviews. you are right: most reviews fall into either glowing accolades, or broken complaints that don’t seem to understand the process. your’s is the best and i appreciate it.

    considering that this review is dated nearly two years ago, what are your thoughts now on sc? would you still use them? have you used them since?

    regardless, i’m still going to give them a try, but i know now to ask for no colour correction. i feel better about my choice now and thank you again for all your information. best!

    • Michael Miles says:

      Thank you very much for the kudos, made my day!

      I would use them again. I have a large collection of family vacation photos numbering in the thousands and that is exactly what Scan Cafe is great at, processing thousands at a great price.

      I wish you the best of luck! Would like to hear your experience when you are all done! Thanks!

  25. Carolyn says:

    Is there a new model of the Cannon scanner you suggested in your original review? I’ve been thinking about sending the best of the photos I’ve taken since I was a kid to Scancafe. Mostly family snap shots and a few special event photos. At the same time, I’ve just begun to take a full fledged digital photography class in the Fine Arts department at a local, 4 year university. I was pretty horrified by photoshop editing decisions you showed in the examples you posted. As a result, I’m thinking I’ll plug away at scanning a few photos at a time on the scanner. I could at least practice using Photoshop a lot and get better at it.

    Your review is a really nice one. I also had no idea there were so many scanning services ‘out there.’

    • Michael Miles says:


      I don’t have an opinion on scanners as I haven’t been in the market for a couple of years. The last one I bought is still going strong! When I did buy, I went with an LED light version that is super quick to startup and operate (in general).

      I wish I could be of more help, but the technology changes so fast. What I can offer is some insight into past mistakes:

      1) Do NOT buy an all inclusive scanner, printer and fax machine. One thing breaks and then the whole unit is a paper weight. If you want a high quality scanner, you will not find it as part of a compilation of other products.

      2) Software is really key in a decision. In your research, see if you can find out how good the included scanning software is. The best software will auto-recognize that you have multiple photos and crop each one and save into separate files. Otherwise, you need to do that manually and that really takes a loooooong time.

      3) LED Lighting is great, fast start….fast operation. I would think that is the only option now a days, but just in case be sure to go with LED lights.

      Hope I have been of help! -mike


    We have about 10 carousels of 35mm slide film to transfer to digital media–as well as some old (40yrs+) 35mm negatives and photos to preserve before they deteriorate any further…
    I have the time to handle the process but am fairly clueless about using photo software to achieve a quality process/end result…
    just from a get-it-all-done-at-once mentality it would be very simple to have most of them done by commercial process…but your negatives about the results seem born out by other people on other sites…

    We don’t have Mac computers but PCs but I do have IPad 2–
    what would you suggest is the best software pkg to be used for slide/negative/photo digitization and any printing or end result–like electronic scrapbook?

    We used to have a Canon scanner but never got around to using it and gave it away to GoodWill–probably a bad decision looking back.

    Is the only feature to look for in a scanner really just LED lights? What about the optic quality or other features?
    Or a website to review scanners…
    Appreciate your review–
    I wish you had used a company in the US though because I really don’t want to send the history of my family overseas…

    thanks for your time/help–
    Vicki C

    • Michael Miles says:

      In regards to the LED lights, I consider that a ‘must have’ no matter what brand/model you go with. From then on is all about quality and features. I have the CanoScan 8800F which is LED and when I bought it was highly regarded for quality. I do NOT like the software what so ever.

      I had a cheaper HP scanner (all-in-one type) that had awesome software. Easy to use. Scanner was sub-par though…I would never do an all-in-one ever again. You get 3 crappy pieces of hardware bundled into one paperweight. :)

      Ok, so the iPad 2 is great for viewing, but won’t do anything for you in regards to scanning. You could (maybe?) get scanned photos onto the iPad 2 on windows, but I am a Mac guy and have no idea how that works. Sorry!

      On a Mac, I could scan to a folder, import into iPhoto or Aperture and then sync back to the iPad 2. Couple extra steps, but….BUT! The new iPad with the new iPhoto on iPad could be a good route to take for editing. This needs to be tested of course, but is an option non the less.

      So, now, without having you go down un-beaten paths with photo editing on an iPad. I would suggest that you look at Photoshop Elements as your editing software. Very affordable and automates a LOT of basic edits you would do. It really makes scratch/dust removal easy to do.

      When you scan, you scan to a folder on your hard drive on your PC. Photoshop Elements has some built in photo management that allow you to simply find and open the files saved on your PC. Off and running!

      What scanner to get, well a great starting point is to understand what you are about to do. I think this site is great: http://www.scantips.com/

      Ok, so that is a LOT of information, so maybe you aren’t a research nerd like me. This next link is one I used when researching the one I bought. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since then. But, in researching, this helps give you a basis of what was good, great and best 2 years ago. So I would look at the models that have been released this past year in the respective lines: http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN1.HTM

      So as an example, the CanoScan 8800F was a top model for ‘entry level’ (inexpensive) scanning, the one I bought and am happy with (do NOT like the software….). The newest version is the 9000F and has great reviews on the canon site: http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/scanners/film_negative_scanners

      I hope I get you in the right direction, I’d be happy to answer specific questions on what I think of a particular model vs model once you get that far.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Michael Miles says:

      This is a good review site from last February: http://www.consumersearch.com/scanner-reviews

      There seems to be a slow down in the frequency of updates to scanners. This is most likely due to reaching a certain level equilibrium between price and performance. The company’s need to get their money’s worth out of research and development and when you are selling something at 200 bucks that performs at the level of 10,000 dollar scanners from 10 years ago….there just isn’t a need to keep improving. There may not be much to improve on really (per price point of course).


    I appreciate such thoughful replies to both parts of my question. I will check out your links. I think I can upgrade the Iphoto software for my IPad 2 from what I have read online recently although I haven’t really used my IPad for photo viewing/retouch up to now.
    We are expecting our first grandchild this summer so I imagine we will be taking more photos than normal. And that change is what prompted me to start to archive our older photos…
    Being able to cull photos that are relatively unimportant when reviewing years of saved photos is the difficult part…I guess you are always afraid that they will be missed/needed at some point in the future…although if they haven’t even been viewed in 30 yrs, that fear is probably 98.4% unjustified.


    Forgot to ask this–
    you said that you really don’t like the software that comes with the Canon scanner you use…I was reading the IR reviews and the guy was pretty positive about the Canon software program, but I don’t know enough about any of them to judge weakness/strength.

    But don’t you still have to use THAT software to scan the image into digital form initially?

    Do you use your preferred software program AFTER you have scanned/captured the image to rework it before printing or resaving it to permanent file? Or are you able to view the scanned image with your preferred program and make all changes through it vs the Canon one?

    And what do you not like about the Canon software? We are not professionals and likely would never blow any photo up beyond an 8×10 print–would we notice the difference between Canon’s scanner and a program like Photoshop Elements?
    I really do appreciate your help with what are probably baby-step type questions…

    • Michael Miles says:

      Ok, I had to go back and do some more scanning so I can remember what frustrated me so much.

      What I use to scan with was HP. Their software was great because it would do a pre-scan. Now, I would put up to 4 or 5 photos on the platen, then pre-scan. The HP software would auto-detect the images with a bounding box. I would then be able to tweak the bounding box as I see fit, then click Scan.

      Then the real magic started. It would do a full scan of each of those images that had the bounding box, so 4 images on the platen gave you 4 individual image files.

      Saved a TON of time.

      The Epson software has a very basic ‘Auto-Detect’ feature. It will auto-detect but never let you tweak the results. So in the end, you end up just scanning the 4 images all together and then crop/edit in photoshop. Frustrating.

      In the end, I have been just scanning one image at a time.

      But yes, you are correct. You could scan directly to Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) and bypass the scanner software all together. That is the TWAIN functionality you’ll find in many software packages. I happen to use Photoshop, so can’t speak to other programs though. TWAIN is an industry standard language for scanners and software to speak to each other.

      Sorry for late reply, I wanted to make sure I got the facts straight again in my head ;)

  29. Karen Byron says:

    Dear Michael,
    I am 58 and have been taking digital photos and backing them up on my hard drive since 2006.
    My home flooded in 2009. I easily have negatives for 25,000 pictures in 110 film and 35 mm film that I would like digitized. Our insurance paid to scan in some of the redeemable photos and they look awful–like they had been through a flood! I am elated to have found most of my negatives and they are in good order. I don’t want to pay for this process only to be disappointed with the quality. Digitizing these negatives will come out of our pocket. I am still overwhelmed with other things I need to do to put our life back together. Any suggestion for the best way to save time and money, since there is so much to be done, in order to get our negatives digitized? Karen Byron

    • Michael Miles says:


      I wish I had knowledge in this area for you and it is an area hard to prescribe a solution when not seeing the actual injury (speaking in terms of a doctor ;).

      I do know of this site: http://www.hollywoodfotofix.com/handbook/waterdamage.php

      It is a very good cursory overview of how to deal with water damage. My gut feeling on the negatives is just how much ‘gunk’ is on them. What you don’t want to do is SCRATCH them! So be careful here in your cleaning.

      The biggest time spent for you will be the cleaning of negatives, once that is done, then any decent flat bed scanner with negative capabilities will do a good job (like the CanoScan series like 9000F). BUT, you have 110 film, so you may need to go with just something like a Veho: http://t.mlz.bz/I9qPcx

      There may be some decisions in there based on how many negatives you have (salvageable) for each film type and then what scanner to go with. If you only have a few 110 that are scannable, then it would be worth sending those off to someone to scan and then spend your money on a flat bed like Canoscan 9000F…

      Hope this gets you thinking in the right direction, wish I had first hand experience in salvaging negs but I don’t and do not want to send you in the wrong direction!

  30. Christiane says:

    I sent my photos in on Dec 29, 2011. It is now 6/12/2012 and my discs haven’t even been shipped. After much complaining, I received 20% off my order (I didn’t use a coupon when ordering). I’ve since received 25 and 30% off offers (as has everyone else on their mailing list). Don’t care what kind of job they do, they take too long and don’t care.

  31. missy says:

    Based on your informative website, I’ve decided to send least important photos to scan cafe, mostly because I received the service as a gift and don’t want it to go to waste. I’m just trying to understand the basic steps and I haven’t seen the answers anywhere. Step-by-step, I need to know how to package the photos and what happens once they are received by scan cafe. What I think I understand is this: batch the photos in like-categories, put the batched photos in resealable baggies, put everything in a box, send the boxed baggies of photos for scanning, wait for a long time, the images will appear in an email(don’t know this at all?) at which point, I give the categories names, identify the photos I want, scan cafe does some retouching, I pay to have my photos and the CD shipped back to me?? Is that right?

    • Michael Miles says:

      You got it. Once the images are scanned, they are made available via the web site (with your own login/password). They send you and Email at every step of the process to let you know where your order is in the pipeline. So at one point, you get an email with notification that you can review the photos to add additional processing, or remove from your order (those that don’t turn out).

      And yes, the final one. You pay again to have the photos sent back to you….

      “When you place your order, we charge you for the shipping cost of sending us your originals plus a 50% upfront payment for your estimated order size. We will then bill you for the remainder of the processing cost and the return shipping after you have completed the online review of your scans. You will have the freedom of reviewing the scans online and discarding the scans you don’t want.”

      A lot of the details are found in their FAQ, just not laid out in a 1, 2, 3 format like you (and many) would prefer…


  32. Tim says:

    Thanks Michael for the great review of ScanCafe.com

    My recent experience with them helped me to decide not to use them for some things I wanted to get done. This post may help someone and may also alert those that are in charge of that company.

    I do the majority of my communicating with a company through email. Email communicating tells me a lot about the company since it is probably regarded as the lowest form of communication with that company, calling being one of the highest except for actually showing up at the company in person.

    The following emails are my recent communication with ScanCafe.com and it started out with some questions and they weren’t very quick to respond. I would suggest to them to create a auto responder because that way you know they received the email. The email starts with the last one I sent them and I still have not heard back from them. I edited out my last name and email address for confidentiality reasons.

    To Whom It May Concern At ScanCafe:

    I am contacting you for the last time.  I do not know who the CEO is at ScanCafe but that individual needs to know that the customer service for email help is sorely lacking! I was counting on having some 8mm film, VHS tapes, and pictures done by ScanCafe but I have decided to take my business elsewhere.  What I was going to have done would cost over $1,000 easily because of so much that needs to be done.

    The lack of email support tells me that the support is probably in India. I would not want to run a company that has to depend on customer service being provided by a foreign country. I have nothing against the people of India but let them do customer service for the people of India, and let Americans do the customer service for US Citizens!

    The following is the conversation that I had with someone named Alan but after August 15, I have had no response. So, obviously I’m not a worthy customer and since I’m not I will take my business elsewhere, as stated earlier. With this kind of support, you are headed for failure and eventually “Gone Out Of Business” signs will hang at your front doors and the website will be a domain that’s no longer available!



    (The email above was sent August 24, 2012, AM, CDT)

    Hi Alan,

    I was just following up to find out if you had received my last email.  

    Thank you for any help you can provide. 



    Begin forwarded message:

    From: < 
    Date: August 15, 2012 8:41:46 AM CDT
    To: "admin@scancafe.com"
    Subject: Re: [#NSE-230387]: Fwd: 8mm film


    Thank you very much for the information. Your response has generated some additional questions, which is not a bad thing!

    What kind of hard drive is this?  USB?  External?  Portable?  How much disk space?  Is it an actual hard drive or a flash drive?  If I understand you correctly, the $99.95 would include putting the films I have on the hard drive in the .avi format?  I currently have twenty-one 8mm – 3 inch reels, and one 8mm – 5 inch reel.  Could all these films could be put on the hard drive?  That’s about 1,250 feet of film, if my calculations are correct, ( 3 inch reel is about 50 feet of film and 5 inch reel is about 200 feet of film – 21x 50=1050, 1×200=200, total=1,250 ) and you charge .20 cents per foot, which would be 1,250 feet x .20 cents per foot and that equals $250. 

    So, the cost of the hard drive plus scanning the movies would equal about $350 and what would the additional cost be to put these on Blu-Ray?  I’m just trying to get an approximate cost before I decide to to do this. 

    Is there any enhancement or restoration done to these films?  For instance, I have a couple of films which were done outdoors in bright light and the film is too light. Is anything done to the film to make it more normal?  And the same for some films that we’re done indoors and were dark without enough lighting. Can anything be done with these to make them more normal?

    Also, and sorry for all the questions, what is the cost difference between express service and standard service?  I don’t feel comfortable having my films sent to India, it’s difficult enough for me to even want to send them to San Francisco. These films have been in my family since 1960 and have survived several moves, and even a house fire. For me to let these go from my care is very difficult but preservation for my family is top priority. 

    And, can a shipment of films, VHS, pictures all be sent in one box?

    Thank you so very much for your help with answering my questions!



    On Aug 13, 2012, at 1:56 AM, “Scancafe Customer Support” wrote:

    Dear Tim,

    Thank you for your understanding. Yes, we can provide .avi files recorded in a hard drive at a price of $99.95 The Blu-Ray and the hard drive that we provide is not copy protected, you can coy them onto your computer. We can create chapters on the Blu-Ray disc as per the labels on the reels. Thus, I request you to label each reels while shipping the media and will create chapters for the reels.

    Best Regards, 

    Scancafe Support Team

    Ticket Details

    Ticket ID: NSE-230387
    Department: Customer Support
    Priority: High
    Status: Open


  33. AJ says:

    You should really try GoPreserve! They do all the work in house from Brooklyn and even have shipping packages for free. You can have your pictures or videos scanned in the U.S. within a week. I used them to help me clean up local nonprofit film archives and now use them for personal projects as well.

  34. Another Potential Customer says:

    My aging mother got a crazy hair a few winters ago and glued all family photos in random albums – glue, as in ELMERS!! Sniff. Worse yet, there was no order to this AND she made each page a collage so that photos over lapped each other. I see ScanCafe will offer to scan the pages if photos can’t be removed. I’m wondering if anyone has experience with sending albums and what may be the hidden cost to this service?

  35. Melody says:

    Hi…Just read through most of these comments and was wondering if you have tried any US based scanning companies? I had some photos scanned at SC and while not totally thrilled with their service–was pleased with what I received. However–I am now in the process of needing to get about 1500 slides scanned–from 1950-1970′s. I have checked out Larsen digital scanning, Digi my pics, and ScanCafe (which now does scanning in the US for a fee). Just wondering if you had tried any of these other places–Larsen or Digi? I have figured the costs which wind up being approximately the same amount. But am curious if you have an opinion on the others.

    Thanks so much for your assistance

  36. A dissatisfied customer says:

    DON’T USE THIS COMPANY, SCANCAFE will rip you off.

    I had three slides, that’s right three, that I wanted scanned. they told me it would be some minimum fee to do each slide, like 15 cents each, I don’t remember exactly how much.

    anyhow, they insisted that I send them the three slides in a pre-paid UPS envelope. Which I did,

    when the slides were ready, they told me that it they would have to ship them back to me with ups in a box. Three slides and a CD with the images, I called to complain, the customer service in INDIA, was worthless, nobody ever called me back.

    They held my slides hostage and I couldn’t get them back unless I paid the return shipping.

    I ended up paying about $21 for three slides.

  37. Kaylee says:

    Hi, I am trying to find a place as a gift for my fiance, he is pretty particular and usually uses all pro equipment etc. I don’t know much about what he used to produce all of his slides, but his SLR’s run over 3,000.00 so quality is very important along with the fact that he might print some of them in a large size.

    I don’t think he will send his slides to India, so I know he would probably use the express US service, not sure how much this new service is.

    But I too would like to know about other high quality companies in the US.


  38. Ellen Finch says:

    I sent several hundred slides to ScanCafe last year after very carefully reading everything on their web site and sending an email to clarify some things. I knew that they were going to Bangalore; I knew how much postage would be in both directions; I knew it would take 3 months or so. There were no surprises. I was happy with the quality, but these were old photos taken with a cheap camera when I was younger and didn’t know much, so hard to say whether the original slides or the scanning was responsible for a bit of graininess in quite a few of the slides. I also waited until I got a 50% discount coupon. So, I’m happy with the service and have recommended it to others.

  39. writing1 says:

    Avoid ScanCafe. Many of my 35 mm half-frame slides came back impossibly dark. In the originals, I saw the features of people. ScanCafe turned people into black shadows. Also, virtually all the digital copies are grainy. For $5 and up, ScanCafe will restore the quality. No thanks. I’ve paid my money get my slides back, but I feel burned. Someone suggested sending some test originals to various services. Good idea.

    • writing1 says:

      One happy ending: ScanCafe has redone my slides at no charge. I complained by phone to ScanCafe about the dark and grainy digital versions of my 500 slides, saying I’d pay to get the slides back but would post complaints, as I did on February 7, 2013 (above). Soon after Customer Service hung up on me, an email arrived saying SanCafe would redo the slides. Now I have my slides back plus EXCELLENT digital images of them. Images are clear and crisp, almost always better than the originals. I’m reporting this to be fair to ScanCafe. You can’t count on my good luck.

  40. Mrs P says:

    Michael, great article (and comments)which has given me more to think with. You mentioned cleaning negatives when responding to the lady with the flood. I would like to know what you recommend for cleaning visible dust from negatives (developed in Paris, 1945?

  41. MaryKay says:

    I am stupid. I sent ScanCafe 1000 mostly old paper photos to scan, impressed by their website claims. The results look no better than the raw scans that come off my Epson Perfection 2450 (10 years old) direct into Aperture 3. And they weren’t scanned at 600dpi which I paid for. Dust and Scratches on them as if no special software was used. If they spent 1 minute per photo, that was a lot. I have as much post processing to do as if I’d scanned them myself. Very disappointed.

  42. skip says:

    Any recommendations for service that takes old albumns and provides newly printed, bound album to replace?

  43. Greg says:

    Thanks for the review.

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