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  1. #1
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    Standalone Scanner or Scanner in my Printer?

    I'm thinking of starting a monster project of scanning all my 4" x 6" photo's into my PC that has Win10 on it.

    I have a printer about 4 years old, a HPDeskjet HP3050-j610 that can scan. I have an even older Epson Perfection 1200u scanner that I haven't used for at least 5 years. I found a site that says I could get a driver for it that works under Win10, so it sounds like that is an option. A third option is to buy a new all-in-one-printer.

    Q1. Do today's all-in-one printers have better, or more advanced scanning technology than what I already have?
    Q2. Is there scanning software that I can buy/get free, that will let me put 4 photos on the scanning glass and treat them as 4 separate scans all in 1 scan?
    Q3. I'll likely scan at 300dpi. Is there significant gain in quality if I scan at 600dpi?
    Q4. Any suggestions on what to buy if I go the new printer route?

    Thanks,
    Jack

  2. #2
    WS Lounge VIP access-mdb's Avatar
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    My own feeling is that all-in-ones will always be a compromise on scanning and printing compared to standalone units. I have an Epson Perfection 4490 Photo scanner which is at least 6 years old, maybe as much as eight (I got it second-hand) and it works perfectly under Win 10. The advantage for me is that it scans negatives and slides (both 35mm and 120 format). A scan of negs or slides will always be better than scanning photos with the advantage of Digital ICE dust reduction, which is excellent. I believe that this doesn't work scanning photos. It can scan two strips of 35mm negs (normally about 8 pics), or 4 transparencies.

    The downside is getting one, though I have seen them in a shop or two, so may be still available.

    600 dpi v 300 dpi. The former will give you larger files, both MBytes and pixels. I would suggest trying at different settings and see what you like.
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  3. #3
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    Jack,

    Ultimately it all depends on what quality you're aiming for, and the quality of your source images.

    Secondarily, it will depend on how many photos you have to digitize. The more you have to convert, the longer it will take, and if each high quality conversion takes a long time you might be more inclined to reduce your standards if the whole project will take an extremely long time.

    (Personally, I'm four months into a similar project and only about half way through, though in my case it's mainly digitizing 35 years of videotapes and less than two thousand photos.)

    I can't stress enough what access-mdb said, that scanning film negatives will always yield a noticeably higher quality than scanning photos printed from those negatives--especially if they were taken with a decent 35mm SLR. Contrast will be better, colors truer, and details sharper. Naturally, negatives are physically smaller so you'll scan them at a higher resolution, not at 300dpi.

    OTOH, if the photos were taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera, chances are they're not all that great anyway. A lot of those single-focus cameras always seemed to me to be a bit out of focus, so scanning a negative may not yield appreciably higher quality than scanning the printed photo.

    So the first question is whether you intend to scan photos or negatives. If you don't have the negatives you won't get high quality scans anyway, so I see no reason to scan at higher than 600dpi. 300dpi may be satisfactory, but I'd probably go with 600dpi just in case you want to do a bit of cropping or light editing later. Note you'll also get less quality if the photos have a matte finish or have that "orange-peel" anti-glare surface (which most will be familiar with from their annual school pictures).

    As for your current equipment, I wouldn't even bother with the 1200u. That's well over 15 years old, so it's focus may not be so good anymore, and if I'm reading correctly it's not even USB2. It seems to be USB1, so even if you could find a Win10 driver (which would surprise me), it would be slow as molasses (to put it in terms a Canadian can relate to).

    As for your HP3050, you'll have to test it yourself to see if you're satisfied with it. Scan a photo at 300dpi, then print it back on good quality photo paper. If you have to look closely to tell which is the original and which is the copy, then the HP3050 should be adequate for scanning photos. But if the difference is readily apparent without close inspection, then a new scanner or even new all-in-one is likely to be better.

    If you've got the negatives, though, I don't think there's any question--buy a new scanner that supports transparencies. Note that's unlikely to be an all-in-one. Most (if not all) all-in-ones do reflective scanning, meaning they bounce a light source off the photo and back to the scan sensor. In contrast, transparency scanning requires shining the light *through* the transparency, to be picked up by the sensor. Flatbed transparency scanners have an additional light source in the lid for that purpose, in addition to the usual light source in the base of the unit.

    Coincidentally, my workhorse slide and negative scanner is also the Epson Perfection 4490. The Epson scan software can scan four 35mm slides or 12 negatives at a time, and will automatically split them and save them as separate files. And I concur with access-mdb, Epson's Digital ICE dust removal software works wonders (though it does increase the scan time).

    Personally, I've never been very impressed with the photo quality of HP-branded scanners and printers. IMHE, dollar for dollar, Epson and Canon have always been better. I'd look for a Canon or Epson flatbed transparency scanner--Newegg has a few between $100-200.

    There are also dedicated film scanners, which IME work a bit faster. That may be attractive if your project is very large. I've tried a couple in the past and they worked well, but I ultimately didn't care for the relative lack of control over scan exposure settings so returned to my trusty 4490 for my ongoing project.

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to dg1261 For This Useful Post:

    access-mdb (2016-10-29),Lugh (2016-10-30)

  5. #4
    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nacmine View Post
    Q3. I'll likely scan at 300dpi. Is there significant gain in quality if I scan at 600dpi?
    Since this is a mega-project, my advice is to scan at the max res you can do. Or at least do that for any photos which are important long-term, eg family heirlooms--you want them to look good in the display techs of 20 and 100 years' time, which will assuredly have good use for high res.

    The DPI mainly affects how large you can present the result without it pixelating or blurring--how large the prints can be, how clear projections on a wall will be, etc. Don't go below 600, and go as high as is practical since this is a one-time project--do it right rather than do it quick
    Lugh.
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  6. #5
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    Thanks to dg1261, access-mdb and lugh for your hints and tips. I should have mentioned that I won't be scanning negs or slides, it will be all prints. And a LOT of them are from simple point & shoot cameras or one-time use cameras and early digital cameras so the starting quality is not that great.
    My conclusion so far is to not use my old Epson scanner but to start doing some serious experiments with my HP3050 using different scanning resolutions, printing on quality photo paper to determine the best settings possible for this project. I am reluctant to start tweaking each scan but I'm sure some cropping and touch ups are inevitable. Thanks again,
    Jack

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