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Of scans, and scanning


When, five years ago now, we started the family history project I spent a lot of time evaluating scanners. During the project, we were scanning pictures and slides. We started with the slides my father left, then, on a visit my mother rolled a suitcase full of pictures to the house. Finally, we went into our attack and pulled the tub of pictures we had stored there. Fifty-four thousand items scanned. We, and by we I mean my daughter, actually went to a professional photographer an asked them (two different photographers) what scanner they used. That said, we spent a lot of time considering scanners. We tried three different scanners overall and honestly found one thing.

Scanners are all about connection and software.  Epson has the easiest software to use. So Epson scanner it became. The very first scanner we owned was a SCSI connected Canon scanner on a Macintosh (more than 25 years ago). Since then there has been a significant improvement in scanners since the first one we owned. We went through several years where the only scanners we had were multi-purpose printer/scanner combinations. I’ve gotten several of the handheld or wand scanners over the years. I was working with a customer that gave me one of the Planon scanners, I liked it, but wand scanners require you to move them, which makes scanning much other than documents difficult.

Like pen and paper, scanning is something I do, nowhere near as often as I once did, but I still scan. We kept the scanner (Epson Perfection series) that we used for the family history project. I still have a bag of around 200 pictures that needs to be scanned (the collected pictures of my mother-in-law) that didn’t get scanned (they have stored in albums int eh attic and forgotten). I’ve also considered and gotten from various vendors some of the handheld scanners on the market. I didn’t review them, because honestly I got them for free and my rule is if I get them for free I don’t do a review (there is a natural bias in favor of something for free versus having to pay for something)! I will say this, free or paid for; scanning is all about the software.

  • Do you still have a scanner at home?

    • Yes
    • No

What do you think?

18 points

Written by DocAndersen

I am a long time blogger and technology poster.I focus on what is possible, but I also try to see what is coming. In recent years I have been focused on sharing the memories of my family, as part of my Family History Project.


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  1. When I was a technician and then a senior technician, the product I supported was a scanner, or scanners, really. They were produced by Visioneer and came with their own software, which was a full photo editor called PaperPort. At the time, in my opinion, it was far and away the best scanner on the market. Unfortunately, they started selling out key parts of the scanners and the software.

    I still have one of their flatbeds; the best they had at the time and the most expensive. I got it when I was a Sr. Tech. They had a bug and couldn’t figure it out. I told the VP that if he gave me a day, I’d figure out what was causing it and how to fix it. He told me that if I could do that, he would hand deliver Visioneer’s best scanner. It took me about 4 hours to figure out the bug (some install CD’s weren’t registering the files and since the computer registry then had no idea where the files were located on the hard drive, the scanners wouldn’t function.) It took me about 15 minutes to write a simple batch file that would register the files. The VP actually did hand deliver the scanner.

    The engineers were making it more complicated than it needed to be, to track it down. The problem was simple…one of the computer configuration…and the fix was even simpler. It was a little clunky because the batch file had to be manually double-clicked, but it worked. In the next burn of the software, they designed the fix right into the installer.

      • At the time HP really, REALLY wanted to bundle PaperPort with their scanners. That software won awards for photo editing. When Visioneer did start selling off key components, most of the best engineers they had quit. That was ultimately the demise of Visioneer. I became a technical engineer for another company (Gator) and left Visioneer about 6 months before they went under.

        • PaperPort still lives, I believe Nuance owns it now. The reality of scanners is an interesting situation.

          I have lived in an out of companies going under. It is a painful and frustrating thing to see everything you worked on, sold for pennies on the dollar!

  2. I have an Epsom multipurpose printer, it prints from the computer and mainly use it for hand written mail as my hand writing is terrible. Messy but readable. I can scan. To photo graph old pictures now, I just use my cell phone

  3. I too have a printer/scanner combination. It works for me. I have so many photo albums saved up that I enjoy choosing photos and scanning them on the PC because I love to see them on the screen instead of constantly browsing through the albums.

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