Reported by Jessica Ripley
If you’re a scrapbooker like me, chances are you have more photos on hand than the average person. We travel everywhere with our camera, and ignore the odd looks from passersby when we start snapping pictures in the grocery store, at the gas pump, etc. We know these everyday moments must be documented! Of course, thanks to digital cameras, we can take hundreds of photos anywhere, easily save and organize them on our computer, and then print them out when we’re ready to scrapbook.
But what about all those traditional film photos?
- They need to be scanned into a computer for preservation since they will eventually fade.
- Since you should never scrap an original photo, scrapbooking those on film takes extra time to scan and print copies first. My time is precious!
While photos on film that I, myself, have taken only range back to high school or so, I have rescued countless numbers of them from family magnetic albums. Also, when I got married, I asked for a few photos of my new husband’s family past and present. I was promptly presented by my sweet mother-in-law with thousands (yes, thousands) of photos in a huge Tupperware container with a sense of “here, you’ll give them a good home.”
“Yikes,” I thought, “this will be a lot of scanning.”
So, that was 8 years ago and I have barely started. Scanning photos in a traditional bed scanner just takes so much time! Open lid, carefully place as many photos will fit (3 or 4 tops), close lid, scan (wait!), repeat.
And then, I happened to run across the Pandigital One Touch Photo Scanner, and hoped I had found a solution. Santa was promptly informed that it was on the ‘must’ list, and he came through. And honestly, so does this product.
My first impression when opening up the box was that it looked like I had everything I needed to get started:
In the box comes:
- The scanner itself (which is about 5 3/4″ x 3″ and very light)
- An AC power adapter
- A 512 MB SD memory card
- Calibration card
- Cleaners for the roller and image sensor
- USB cable
- Plastic sheath
- Instruction booklet
The scanner itself is pretty basic and easy to understand what’s what. Other than the slot for the photo to pass through, there is the power button and status light (which blinks in different ways to inform you if it’s ready, the memory card is full, cleaning mode, etc):
There is also an adjustable guide for photos smaller than 4″ x 6″. I never used the guide and had fine results. But it is there for the perfectionist in you.
On the backside is the USB cable input (if you wish to connect directly to a computer, but entirely not necessary), the power cord, and the memory card slot:
The memory card which comes with the unit is an SD 512 MB. It is also compatible with many others, including MS (Memory Stick). Each photo is scanned in at 300 PPI (pixels per inch) with resolution around 1200 x 1800 (and smaller) depending on the size of the photo. With these things in mind, the card that comes with the unit will hold hundreds of photos before it is full. I found I liked to stop every 100 or so though to load them into my computer for organizing so it didn’t get too overwhelming (to organize photos once they are in my computer, I highly recommend ACDSee, which you can read a review on here).
The memory card storage feature, combined with the portability of the unit, is what I find most exciting. Since it doesn’t need a computer to work (you scan directly onto the memory card), I can carry this little unit with me to my in-laws that live hundreds of miles away, and simply scan while I’m there! No more huge Tupperware containers taking up my space.
The process of actually scanning the photos in is very quick and easy. In the box comes a plastic sheath which the instructions state should be used in order to get the best results.
For my first photo, I took this step.
The plastic sheath will hold a 4″ x 6″ photo and smaller, though the scanner will also take a photo up to 4.1″ X 12″ long. The black area around the photo will not be shown once the photo is scanned in, making it possible to scan smaller images than 4″ x 6″ (such as the one above) without the need for additional cropping. There is a drawback to this, just in the fact that if you have a photo with dark edges, the scanner will think those areas are to be cut off. I didn’t run across this problem, but it’s clearly stated in the instructions as a warning.
Just for comparison sake, I also tried to scan the same photo without the plastic sleeve to see if it would make a difference:
It really didn’t. In the comparison below, the top photo was scanned with the plastic sheath, and the bottom without. I can’t tell a difference:
Since the scanning process is so quick (about 6-7 seconds per photo), not having to load each one into the sheath before sending it through makes it that much quicker. What I found the sheath best for was if a photo had curled edges, old sticky tape on it, or was too small to stay straight as it went through the roller. Placing photos like these in the sheath first solved any problems those issues might cause.
I also used it for photos that were a little thicker than usual, such as old Polaroids. It took the scanner a second to get a good grip on the thicker photo, but it did feed through fine. According to the guide, it will take photos up to 1.0mm thick.
(P.S. yes that is me on the right. I figure if I’m going to write an article with old photos I have no right to embarrass anyone but myself when showing them… but don’t ask about the socks with the dress because I just don’t know either).
You can see in the photo above the little bit of black mat on the lower left that wasn’t automatically cropped by the scanner. This is easily cropped off, and didn’t happen very often. I haven’t adjusted anything on the photos other than size to post them on the web, so what you see is a good representation of the quality too.
The unit also comes with pieces to clean both the roller and the image sensor. This was super easy and took only seconds.
I just can’t tell you how much I love this product. Anything that makes my life easier and my crafty time more fun is a winner to me! At a MSRP around $100.00, it may seem pricey, but to me it is such a time saver I consider it a great deal. And the fact that I am finally taking steps to really preserve precious memories makes it all the more sweet.
To sum up:
- It’s portable and doesn’t need a computer! Scan here, there, everywhere there are photos you wish to keep. As long as you can plug it in to power, you’re good to go.
- It comes with everything you need to get started (and keep going). The memory card holds hundreds of photos before it is full (and then just empty into your computer and start again).
- The items that come with it make it work that much better. From the plastic sheath for scanning curled or small photos, to the easy cleaning tools.
- It makes me feel great knowing I am preserving memories that might have otherwise been damaged or faded away.
- You do need to plug it in to a power source making it slightly limited in where you can scan. If it only had battery power, it would be amazing. (Scan at the beach? Why not?)
- It won’t scan very dark photos very well due to the automatic cropping of dark edges.
- Once you scan all your film photos in, you may not find it very useful. Also if you don’t have many film photos it may not be a good investment for the price.
- It does only take photos up to 4.1″ wide, for 5″ x 7″ and larger, you will still need to use a traditional bed scanner.
So, do you think this would be a handy thing to have? Why or why not? If you have one and would like to share some tips we’d love to hear from you!
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