The Kodak Picture Saver Scanning System

I’ve been caught in a physical photo archival project for the better part of 5 years.  Yesterday my friend Matt shared a post on the Monroe County Library System‘s website that stated they are currently running a test of the Kodak Picture Saver Scanning System for patrons for free.  I decided I’d take the opportunity to test it out and scan a bunch of my photos in the process.

I used the Kodak Picture Saver Scanning System for the first time today and thought I’d share some of my thoughts before I forgot.

Pros:

  • Speed.  I processed roughly 300 photos (including proper rotation) in under 30 minutes.
  • Simplicity.  Drop the photos in and press ‘scan’ and let ‘er rip.
  • Stores to Flash media.  No need to wait for CD authoring.  flash media storage is a breeze.
  • Free.  Need I say more?
  • Albums.  It can create albums (or folders) on your flash media based on how you group the photos
  • Constant scanning.  Even though it can only handle 25 at a time, this limitation is just in the ‘tray’.  You can keep dropping photos into the tray and because it scans the back photos first, things stay in order and it can just keep chugging along.
  • Good-Enough photo quality.  It’s not fantastic but it’s good enough.  If you want spectacular scans you really need to go back to negatives and scan those, which requires a great deal more time and work.

Cons:

  • Works best when photos are in a big row/group.  This requires a ton of up front time before you use the device.  As a result total time savings is tough to calculate.
  • The tray where the photos drop into is not low enough.  The tray slopes down and away from the scanner and as a result sometimes the photos get stuck and you need to move them out of the way or the next photo will go underneath the current photo causing archival ordering problems.  This could easily be avoided simply by increasing the vertical distance from the scanner to the tray
  • The pricing.  Right now it’s free, but it’s very apparent from the Interface that Kodak intends to charge a hefty premium for the service.  At ‘checkout’ you get a breakdown of how many photos you scanned (at what price each) how many photos you applied some special photo editing to, how many you sharpened etc.  Each line has a price associated with it which right now reads $0.00 but this is obviously going to change.
  • Photos are stored to the device first.  This makes sense because of the apparent pricing model but means if a problem arises before you’ve ‘checked out’ it’s possible you could lose all the work you’ve done.
  • Price.  Dear lord the unit is expensive.  This makes sense I guess considering they’re targeting small businesses to put these in rather than consumers.  But For projects like mine, something like this as a consumer device would be excellent.
  • Very old Photos.  Some styles of old photo prints require one by one photo feeding because of the style and texture of the border.
  • Wallet sized prints.  Although the scanner can handle them, the wallet sized photos need to be placed off center to get gripped by the auto-feed rollers.  Also, the resolution when scanning a wallet size photo is too small to be of much use.

The women I talked to at the library seemed to think the User Interface needed some work because many people had been confused by the terms “Next” on basically every screen.  Her exact comment was “next what?”  This seemed sort of silly to me but could also be fixed very easily simply by using terms like “I’m done scanning” or “save photos” instead.  Since there’s been so many complaints this is probably something they should address even if they (like I) think it’s silly.

In Summary:

It might look like there are more cons than pros, but really, it’s an excellent system and the cons I’ve listed are all very nitpicky.  The biggest downfall of the system as I see it is price, and if you act now you’ll get what you need for free.  Don’t think for a second my love for the system has anything to do with my local proximity to the business.  If you remember… the only previous time I’ve written about a Kodak product, I wasn’t too gentle.  Maybe they’ve found a new niche they’re good at?  I don’t know, but I’ll tell you what…

I’ll be making another appointment tomorrow and I will be be going back as often as I can until I finish scanning my photos.

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