People love to take photos, and digital cameras and smartphones just make it easier. But what happens to all those photos that are cluttering up drawers and shoeboxes, catalogued in now musty albums and the like? If nobody is looking at them, it’s like they don’t exist and who’s going to take the hours upon hours needed to scan them into their digital equivalent? Fortunately Epson has already considered that by creating the FastFoto FF-640 High Speed Photo Scanner.
The FF-640 is touted as the world fastest photo scanner — able to scan thousands of photos as fast as one per second. Of course this requires a specialized kind of delivery system, which we’ll get to shortly. But first let’s define that a photo scanner is able to take a color or black and white print in varied sizes (8×10”, 3×5”, etc. and these sizes include documents, should you want to) and create a digitally duplicate. Most scanner are flat and so take up a lot of space. The FF-640 looks more similar to an inkjet printer (or a fax machine, if you want to date yourself). You’re not opening a lid and placing the print face down on a surface: instead you’re putting the prints into an auto-feed tray at the top that can handle up to 30 prints of varying sizes at a time (although it’s sensible to try and scan similar sized photos together for the fastest and most consistent results). Rollers take the print on its way from on top and into and through the scanner and then out the bottom. The resulting scans can be up to 600 d.p.i. (dots per inch), which means they can be viewed or printed out with high quality results.
Besides being able to self-clean the rollers for regular maintainance, sensibly a carrier sheet is included for use in encasing/protecting materials that wouldn’t otherwise be able to be scanned. Delicate photos, for sure, but also credit cards/plastic cards, folded documents, envelopes and others. There’s a lever to adjust when this is being done.
Since the scanned photos are now digital, they can be altered (while still keeping the original scanned version intact) using software running on a PC or Mac – because the scanner is connected to the computer through a USB 2.0 cable. So instead of some wimpy memory card, a massive hard drive can be used to store the JPEG files (in the case of photos) or PDFs (in the case of printed matter). All this would seem to indicate that controls on the scanner are minimal — despite there being a scan button — and that’s true.
Images can be digitally restored, colors brought back to vibrancy, red-eye removed, among other enhancements (here’s a tip — dust off those old photos before scanning to eliminate dust specks being translated into bytes). Even the notes found on the back of a photo can be scanned at the same time as the photo itself (and so saved for posterity). Additionally, scanned photos can be tagged by subject/date and files/folders uniquely named for easy locating. Or turned into slideshows and shared with others (Facebook coming to mind here) or uploaded to Dropbox or Google drive.
The Epson FastFoto FF-640 High Speed Photo Scanner includes everything required to get started (plus carrier sheet and cleaning cloth) and retails for $649.99. That might seem high until you factor in the cost of having all your photos (and those of family members) scanned in through a professional service. Plus you aren’t going anywhere or sending those precious, one-of-a-kind photos through the mail or leaving it in the care of others. But mostly what happens is that memories of the recent/distant past can now be a part of your life again.