Did I dream this photo scanner?

Like many of you out there, no doubt, I have a pretty substantial box of paper-based photos that I really never get to see for a range of reasons, but mainly because they’re made of paper and paper’s not enormously useful. As it is a large box, flatbed scanning would just take too long and be frankly much too dull to make sure that I did the whole process. But in my mind there is an image of a smallish scanner that you could feed photographs into and they would be scanned and then come out the other side. More like an automated production line. In my head they’re about two-thirds the size of a shoebox. I can’t see any of the damn things online anywhere though so I’m wondering if they’ve just stopped making them or if I have hallucinated the whole thing. Alternatively does anyone know of somewhere I could take a box of photos into and have them scanned for a not extravagantly ludicrous price? Somewhere in Central London – ideally Soho – would be preferred! Thanks web of experts!

30 replies on “Did I dream this photo scanner?”

Well, a quick search found that Kodak used to have a “Snapshot Photo Scanner” but it seems to have been discontinued years ago.
There’s a very short discussion on MetaFilter which mentions a couple of products, but I’ve no idea if they’re available here.
Andrew: the Jessops service is more likely to be parallel development to CD when they print films, not scans of photos. Still, it might be worth popping in to them or Jacobs to ask what they recommend.

Try Googling for sheetfed scanners, I think that’s the kind of thing you’re after.
They’re more business-orientated than flatbed scanners, I think, therefore less likely to be good for design purposes. We use them a lot in healthcare for scanning in patient notes, etc.
Hope that helps.

The Hospital on Endell Street had something going on with Kodak a few months back where you could dump them a box of pics and theyd scan the lot at a really fast rate, (and for free too), however I think this might be the sort of thing you’re looking for, although it doesn’t mention anywhere that it scans photos, but it’s fast and better than a flat bed.
Hope that helps.

I think I saw software once that lets you drop a bunch of photos on to a flatbed scanner at once and auto-detects their edges, outputting them all as separate jpegs. It could handle photos at angles as well, so you really did just have to slap a bunch on there at once and run the scan. I can’t tell you where I saw it or what it was called though.

You may be thinking of the Kodak DS Digital Science Snapshot Photo Scanner 1 — an old, parallel-port, half-a-shoebox-sized black ‘n’ white goodie of which I possess the last instance on Earth. For a modern color device, try .

There’s prior art in the form of business card scanners and regular old copiers. But no, I haven’t seen something to do batch-scanning of 6×4 or 7×5 prints. Apparently HP does something like that for 6x4s with its big AIOs, but not very well.
(obphotosnob: scanning prints means that you’re a hostage to a lower-quality reproduction, potentially-crappy printing, and any deterioration of the paper. You should really scan negatives, and that’s something which can be done in batches pretty easily, and I’m pretty sure that there are high end neg scanners that can handle automation. The Epson Perfection 4490 and CanoScan 9950F are meant to rank up there with dedicated neg scanners for some tasks, and they can auto-scan and correct a whole roll’s worth of negs in a few minutes.)

HP used to make a combo photo/negative scanner that sucked the photos in and spit them out (same end, not like a conveyor belt you describe) and was about the size you describe. They don’t make it anymore 🙁

Fuji make the Scansnap for both Mac and Windows. It’s small.
Pop in to Square Group if you’d like to take a look. It’s promoted mainly as an OCR scanner, but it’s an excellent photo scanner.
They have an ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) for it but it doesn’t work on Mac — Windows only.

I’ve got a Fuji Scansnap on my desk: as Greg W said it’s primed for creating PDFs and OCR but very easy to switch to jpegs etc. Just takes a couple of seconds to get each photo through from start to finish. (though it has struggled with thick materials a few times)

Simon Willison’s comment above mentions a software solution that can actually be accomplished with Photoshop. There is a function called “Crop and Straighten Photos” under File > Automate. It has worked great for me after scanning 6 or 8 photos at once on the flatbed.

I bought a HP Scanjet 5500C with auto photo feeder some while ago. A pile of s!*t they sent me a new feeder but to no avail. Totally unreliable on feeding.

This is sort of irrelevant and probably not helpful at all…but I have an even *larger* bunch of digital photos on my computer that I never look at. The paper photos that I like I can easily put into frames and put around the house and look at them all day long.

Tom – I saw an ad for something like this in the Virgin Train magazine yesterday but can’t remember the name of the company… (I know this is not the most helpful, but someone out-there might be able to get their hands on the ad and pass it on)
The device scans everything onto an in-built hd, removable drive or cd. Its about three shoeboxes high and two wide (I’m sure there is a more technical method for measuring, but metric be damned!)

Tom, last night I scanned a bunch of photos from Kay and I’s World tour:
They were scanned on a HP 4890 (150 quid) flatbed at 375 dpi (because they’re 6x4s, and I’m reprinting them for my mum at 7×5). If they’re snaps and you just want to flickr them, use VueScan (best mac scanner software) at 300 dpi max. doing 100 took me just under an hour. Yes, it’s pretty tedious, but it’s worth it, and OK if you’ve Radio 4 in the background.
The 4890 plugged into my ibook scans these faster than I can fill it, so there’s none of that tedious waiting for the scan to happen.
Matt: Joe’s Basement went bust before Busaba even existed.
scans from negs or prints at Metro are ballbustingly expensive.

I work for Boots, for the price and hassle it would take you get this ‘hallucinatery’ scanner you could take it into a Boots shop and have a print-from-print service done on each image.
You could take it to pretty much any store, cause they all can provide photo services.

I agree with Geoff on the 5500C. Looked for an auto-feed scanner for ages, picked that, scanned a couple hundred photos, never used it for that purpose since. Pile of sh*te indeed.

Has no one come up with a good solution for this?
I’ve seen a few scanners with auto photo-feeders, but not reviews or comments on how well they work?
I have to believe in this day and age there are a lot of people out there with old shoeboxes trying auto scan images in bulk into their computers.
Please let me know if anyone’s having any success.

I have a similar issue with old photos. If I have the negatives still CVS will scan up to 120 frames onto one CD for $2.99. I’ve also heard good reviews regarding the Fujitsu S500. A little pricey when first released but until Aug 2007 there’s a $50 mail in rebate that brings the price down to about $360 on some online sites.

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