Q: Some time ago you wrote about a scanner that can scan several photographs at the same time. I need a scanner to archive many years' worth of photos.
What model was it, and is it still available? How much does it cost, and is it easy to use?
A: The scanner is the Epson Perfection V550. It is still available for around $200.
It is very easy to use. To scan multiple photographs, you arrange them on the scanner glass and click "Preview." The preview pane will then show the photographs individually. You review and rotate each photograph independently so the orientation is correct, then click "Scan." The scanned photographs appear on your computer in the folder of your choice.
From start to finish the process takes about two minutes, and depending on the size of the photographs, you can scan four to seven at a time. You can mix sizes to make the most use of the available area; for example, you could arrange several wallet-sized photographs among 4- by 6-inch ones. You just have to leave enough space between them so the scanner does not mistake them for a single image.
The V550 also can scan color and black-and-white negatives to create positive photo scans, just as if you scanned a print. The quality in both print and negative scanning modes is exceptional, and once you get into a rhythm, you can scan a lot of prints quickly.
But as great as the V550 is, I recently tested the Epson FastFoto FF-640, and it is amazing. If you are scanning only prints, the FF-640 will make quick, effortless work of them.
Just load the prints into its automatic feeder and start the process. The FF-640 scans the pictures at the rate of one per second, and it can hold 15 prints at a time. Assuming it takes another 15 seconds to load the feeder again, you are scanning 30 prints per minute, making it the clear option when you have large quantities of prints to scan. The speed is impressive enough, but it also creates both a basic scan and a color-corrected scan of each image, as well as a scan of the back of the photograph if there is anything written there. You can save the pictures in folders and automatically upload them to online storage through your computer.
That being said, I do see some downsides. The most obvious is the price, $649. It can't scan negatives like the V550, and in my family archiving projects, I have found negative scanning to be critical. One of my favorite photographs of my grandparents (which is now the wallpaper on my phone's lock screen) was recovered from a large black-and-white negative that was 72 years old.
Even the machine's speed is something of a mixed blessing. If you start out with box after box of photographs, scanning them quickly is a tremendous benefit. But once all the pictures have been processed, you own a device that cost three times as much as the V550 but is not as versatile. Before deciding which one to buy, you might want to consider its long-term applications.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.