Editor's take: I've inherited several albums and boxes of loose family photos over the years. They're nestled out of harm's way in my safe alongside other important documents and keepsakes but at some point, I want to digitize them for the sake of preservation and easier referencing. PCMag recently took a look at a scanner that could meet my needs, but I'm not sure I want to shell out for the cost of admission.
The Epson FastFoto 680W is roughly the size of a toaster and weighs about as much as a gallon of milk. It is optimized for scanning 4 x 6" or 5 x 7" prints but can scan most anything up to 8.5 x 11". The scanner connects to your PC via USB cable or wirelessly and can accommodate batches of up to 36 photos at a time.
At its default 300 dpi setting, the Epson can scan around one photo per second. Bump up to 600 dpi and you are looking at about three seconds per print. At 1200 dpi, you'll be waiting around 10 seconds per scan. I suspect most will roll with the default setting but others like me would opt for the highest possible quality for preservation purposes.
The biggest hurdle here is the price. $599 is a lot to spend on a piece of hardware that will likely sit dormant after you have scanned in your current collection, but perhaps you could recoup some of the expense by offering to digitize photos for friends and family for a small fee. For reference, a popular preservation service charges $0.25 per scan at 300 dpi. Optionally, you could set up a group buy where a handful of friends or family members pitch in to split the cost of the machine in exchange for using it.
Memories are priceless and if something happens to your prints before you get a chance to back them up digitally, you will be kicking yourself for letting the opportunity slip away.
Image credit: Suzy Hazelwood