reviewing the scancafe scans. still. review. ing.


Okay, so I’m wading through all the scans. I’ve been through about 4500 and have about 1200 left. It least, I think I’ve done about 4500 as the images are no longer in order. They were pretty good up through the slides, but the negatives went all willy nilly. They seem to have been scanned in order, and are numbered as such, but the folders aren’t in any order at all, so I’ll look at images from Mexico, then see images of New York, and then it’s back to Mexico, which is annoying as I can’t keep fresh which images I had chosen if exposures are similar. I certainly don’t need them all. It also means I can’t keep track of the percentage I’ve deleted or even how far along I am.

So I suppose it makes sense to keep them in this order rather that reorganize & rename the folders them on their system, and do it again on my own, as I don’t trust them to get it right when burned to DVDs. Worse than the order, though, is the quality of some of the scans. I just passed one with a thumbprint on it. Huh? They claim to spend 3-4 minutes cleaning and optimizing the images. Some, maybe, others, no way. There are some scans I know can be better because I’ve scanned them myself (but didn’t go through all the negs before I sent them to take them out). They claim that they do scratch removal (they didn’t), but to not clean off a thumbprint? Hmmm.

Some of the color corrections are shockingly over-saturated and look odd. The slides looked pretty good, but now I’m at the negs, and it seems like the technician got tired of the job or something, and started zipping through them with no attention at all. I’m hoping the files will be large enough that I can correct, or re-correct, them in photoshop. There is a testimonial on their site that claims the photog’s photos came back 100% useable, whereas a competitor’s came back with 50% needing correction in Photoshop. I’d say a large number of mine, if I want to use them, will require adjusting in Photoshop. Some of the photos I scanned on an office copy machine came back with better color than the previews on scancafe. I don’t know if it’s because of overcorrection or not, but, whoa, that’s odd.

That said, I wonder if the job were smaller, a better level of quality would be maintained. I am glad I sent them off because it’s great to have the digital access. I’m not sure where I’d get better quality short of paying a few dollars a scan. I also wonder if their people are properly trained in negative scans, which are more difficult than slides. At any rate, if anyone has experience in this,let me know.

This project has me totally consumed, as I have to choose and organize them in the next few days, in addition to finishing the Sri Lanka photos and preparing for Australia! (I’m behind on email replies, I’m sorry!)

[Photo: Grandma K at the grocery store. 1995.]

4 thoughts on “reviewing the scancafe scans. still. review. ing.

  1. This sounds like quite the ordeal, I am glad you posted this, as I am looking for a scanning service currently. As an amateur photographer (using the term loosely, for me it’s more of a passion than a talent for me) I have a mountain of very important prints and negatives that need to be digitized. After purchasing a scanner (cannon 8800f) it was soon clear that the time commitment and skill set required to make the process a DIY would be bit too hefty. So I was thinking about testing scan cafe, but I was wary about the processing time (wanted them before the holidays), and the fact that they don’t use professionals scared me a little, after reading this it scares me a lot. Apparently my apprehension is well founded . . . now I am thinking of using either digmypics or i memories, has anyone had any experiences with either of them?

    I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to have to spend the extra hours re-organizing- only to discover scratches and a thumbprint AND have to re-do much of the work yourself! I am so sorry you have to go through this, but thanks again for the heads up.

    1. hi John,

      Thanks so much for your thoughts. I’m going to address this in the next post, because I didn’t mean to trash scancafe entirely. I’d probably do it again, considering all the options. I don’t think that they scratched the negs–they are old and probably were scratched. But they didn’t fix them, as it says they do on the site. I don’t think they put the thumbprint there–could have been mine, as it wasn’t a prime image. But certainly that should have been wiped off. More in the next post.

      I haven’t used any other service, but let me know what works out for you!


  2. I worked for several years in a custom photo lab … back in the pre-digital days. We hand-cleaned every negative or slide. When you fingerprint film, the oils and other chemicals on your skin actually damage the film. If a fingerprint isn’t cleaned off soon, you may never be able to remove the mark. This may have been the problem you saw?

    1. When I complained, they rescanned it and it was removed. In fact, they did such a dreadful job, they rescanned the entire order (partly because they lost of the digital files in the process). It was beyond unpleasant.

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