ScanCafe: Scan Your Photos Negatives and Slides Cheaply

I read about this last week in the newsletter, but it was such a compelling recommendation that I waited around for it appear on the excellent the Cool Tools blog. It’s a ringing endorsement from Kevin Kelly for a service that I could totally use–cheap and professional photo scanning. The company’s called ScanCafe, and here’s what Kevin thought:

The quality of scan is great for everything except huge billboard enlargements. The photos are scanned at 3000 dpi which gives a file about the quality of a 7 megapixel digital shot. You can scoop the final jpeg images into iPhoto or Flickr or Blurb books. They are rotated into correct up-down/sideways orientation by hand. They are clean and crisp. I have a Nikon scanner and these $0.19 scans are superior in quality.

When my Mom passed away, she left a couple of bulging boxes of photos and slides behind. At first I couldn’t stomach looking through them. Once I got over that, the task just seemed totally daunting. Considering that I can get 1000 photos for scanned for less than $300, this seems like the obvious solution. How long would it take me to manually scan and save 1000 photos?

Here’s a feature request for ScanCafe, and a great differentiator: build or buy some photo recognition software to add value in the scanning process. I send along a ‘primer’ of people photos, indicating who’s who in a few photos. They take my primer and use it to add metadata to the digital files they create, ensuring that every photo of my Aunt Lynn ‘knows’ who’s in the shot. This saves me the painstaking process of manually renaming or tagging each photo when they come back from the magic scanning factory in Bangalore.


  1. Great! I had been looking for this. I have 600 slides or so to do. Except…it requires a zip code, and I can’t get through the process. Will investigate more later.

  2. I have a bunch of negatives and slides I’ve been meaning to scan, but never get around to it.

    This may be my workaround (rather than waiting for the day I have 30 hours available).

  3. OK, currently no support for Canada, but they are going to be in a Canadian magazine in December, so they are aiming to have this supported with UPS in about 3 weeks or so.

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