What’s right and what may be wrong with high-speed photo scanning

Is a high-speed scanner right for your photos?

If you have a large collection of photos that you’d like to digitize either to better enjoy them (i.e., by creating photo books) or back them up, high-speed scanning is probably your most affordable option since it requires the least amount of human intervention with the right photos.

Right photos?

There are right photos and wrong photos when it comes to high-speed scanning.

A high-speed scanner draws photos into it with rollers to scan one at a time in quick succession. It’s called bulk scanning, and this is handy when the photos are the same size and thickness.

When the photos are oddly sized, unevenly cropped or of varying thicknesses, bulk scanning gets tricky. Your photos may have to be hand-fed into the scanner and even then they may damaged by the rollers. This could mean disaster if your photos are delicate and precious. In this situation, flat-bed scanners may be a better choice.

If you’re shopping around for a scanner or a scanning service to digitize your photos and your photos are more weird than uniform, ask about how the scanner or service handles them.

I have found the Flip-Pal mobile scanner to be a useful and affordable option. It is a small flat-bed to scan images — one at a time — at 300 dots per inch or 600 dpi in sizes up to 5-by-7 inches. Oddly cropped? Thin? Thick? Two-by-2 right after 5-by-7? No problem. If your photo is bigger than 5-by-7, you can use the included software to knit together scans of parts of the large photo. Handy and safe for your photos.