Are All Slide Scanning Vendors the Same? A Side by Side Comparison

0
104
Slide-scanning-service

If you have boxes of photos or slides hiding away in closets, attics, and on shelves, now is the perfect time to find a reputable and reliable scanning service to get those thousands of wayward photos compiled and categorized into high-quality digital memories that will last a lifetime, if not more.

Images are like memories; each one holds a special place in the heart of the viewer. When those images become old and faded or incur damage from water, smoke, or time, the memories can begin to disappear in the mind’s eye. This is the pivotal time when it is imperative to find a scanning service that can restore the relics to their proper glory, enhancing memory and reviving history.

Is Now the Time for a D.I.Y. Project?

Once you’ve made the choice to renew your photos, there are many things to consider. You could do it yourself, finding the necessary software and programs on the internet. That’s the easy part. The more time-consuming part is the actual processing. You will find that, once you begin, the process of scanning, restoring, imaging, and transferring is a lengthy one, requiring hours of sitting in front of the computer and scanner.

Rather than trying to do it on your own, perhaps you could consider relying on the expertise of a professional image scanning service to restore and digitize your prizes, prints, and slides? Why spend hours sifting through years and years of images when you can find a service that can deliver a high-quality product in a fraction of the time it would take you to do the same thing.

There are so many scanning services and retailers in business today, it can be very difficult to choose the one that can consistently deliver professional quality, crisp digital files. Even when you do find a seemingly promising vendor, it’s hard to know just how reputable or reliable the vendor actually is.

The Creation of a Dream Team

In order to make things easier for you, we created a research and investigative team to sort through many photo scanning businesses and compare each one’s strengths and weaknesses. Our team consisted of two people from each side of the spectrum; Marcia, a woman in her late sixties who has a huge collection of slides, and Kerrick, a thirty-something-year-old who is interested in learning how to convert historic photographic slides into shareable digital files.

 The Heart of the Matter; A Comparison Primer

This comparison involved sending 50 standard 35mm slides of various quality and condition to each of the prolific image digitizing vendors in the market today. Our goal was transparency; we wanted to see if there were any hidden fees for the services provided, versus what was initially quoted. We also wanted to find out if there were any other factors that could be seen as potential pitfalls which could hinder efficiency, quality, and price.

In addition, the team was also interested in the actual process of sending the slides to the vendors. How easy was the interface? Was it simple, or were there many steps involved that could lead to confusion, especially if the client isn’t all that tech savvy?

Slide-scanning

Vendors Selected

For the purpose of a broad and wide-ranging study, we chose a number of vendors who operate a large-scale digital imaging business. The vendors selected were as follows;

  • Costco
  • DigMyPics
  • DpsDave
  • FotoBridge
  • iMemories
  • LarsenDigital
  • ScanToDigital
  • ScanCafe
  • VistaPix Media

We then set the parameters, including;

  • Initial offers versus actual cost of services rendered
  • Level of customer service offered
  • Standards of quality
  • Surprises

There were, of course, many other factors to consider. But initially, we wanted to maintain a broad overview approach, so that we could establish a baseline of information. In short, we wanted to keep it simple. Each member of every team should share a vision and a common goal for the images being processed. There should be a deep appreciation for the process of collecting, restoring, and preserving memories, which means treating each image with respect, at every step of the way. We wanted to see if that level of professionalism and courtesy was present in all of the vendors we researched.

After sending out our sample of 50 slides to each vendor to be processed and digitized, choosing our criteria, waiting and asking questions when necessary, and then finally receiving the finished products, we created a table summarizing our experiences.

Vendor Price Quality Service Surprises
Costco Picture1 Picture-2-sad
No fade fix
Picture5 They send them out!  It took 56 days to process order
DigMyPics Picture-2-sad Picture3
Grainy and fuzzy
Picture6 They got the return address wrong, so it took 51 days to process order
DpsDave Picture-1 Picture-1 Picture-1 High quality at low price
FotoBridge Picture3 Picture4
Splotchy
Picture4 They process large batches and charge high price to process a few
iMemories Picture3 Picture-2-sad
Low resolution, splotchy
Picture-1 Not the best quality at high price
LarsenDigital Picture4 Picture-1 Picture-1 High quality at moderate price
ScanCafe Picture4 Picture-2-sad
Low resolution; blue fixes bad
Picture5 They send orders to India! They also charged more per slide than promised.
ScanToDigital  

No info

 

No info

After 4 months, because address was not verified, there are no digital files to view and the slides are in a US Postal facility somewhere
VistaPix Media Picture-1 Picture3
Colors off and no fade correction
Picture-1 They process large batches but didn’t charge for 50 slides

 

The Four Questions:
Now that we completed an initial overview, we wanted to get more detailed. The team created a series of four questions to help further discriminate between vendors:

1. Will my original slides be treated with respect and returned to me in good condition in a reasonable amount of time?
2. Will the quality of the digital image be high enough to make the whole undertaking worthwhile?
3. Will the cost be realistic and feasible?
4. What is the level of customer service, if I need help at any point in the process?

Our research team knows how important all of these questions are to the consumer. They understand what it means to send away your memories that exist only on paper for the time being and to look forward to the finished product. These four questions give voice to what many customers asked when they call for an initial consultation, so we wanted to acknowledge that and take some time to root out the facts.
For a more detailed approach, the team created a separate table for each of the questions, as follows.

Question 1 – Will my original slides be treated with respect and returned to me in good condition in a reasonable amount of time?

Vendor Days to Receive Originals Back Shipping method Slides in Good Condition? Pay Up Front or On Receipt? Conclusion
Costco 56 Pick up Yes

 

Pay on receipt Not the best
DigMyPics 51 (incorrectly transcribed return address) Fedex Yes Half up front and half on receipt Marginally acceptable
DpsDave 9 UPS Secure Shipping Network Yes Can pay upfront or on receipt Packages are tracked so they are not lost
FotoBridge 30 USPS (padded envelope) Yes Pay up front A little bit risky – USPS loses packages
iMemories 22 Safely packaged Yes After processing but before they send back Acceptable
LarsenDigital 23 UPS Yes On receipt Acceptable
Scancafe 120 days and counting! (most of Scancafe’s slides are processed in India). Images were viewable online after 60 days. Pay part up front, the rest before they send back Unacceptable
ScanToDigital After 4 months, because address was not verified, there are no digital files to view and the slides are in a US Postal facility somewhere Pay up front Unacceptable
VistaPix Media 22 USPS (paper envelope) Yes Paid minimal shipping cost up front A little bit risky – USPS loses packages

Question 2 – Will the quality of the digital images be high enough to make the whole undertaking worthwhile?

Vendor Colors OK? Fade Corrected? Picture Orientation Correct? Picture sharp when you zoom in? Conclusion
Vendor Colors OK? Fade Corrected? Picture Orientation Correct? Picture sharp when you zoom in? Conclusion
Costco Poor colors Zero fade correction Yes Yes Not the best
Digmypics Mostly good Yes Yes Not always (max of 2500 DPI) Not the best
DpsDave Yes Yes Yes Yes Acceptable
FotoBridge Not the best Slides faded to red turned out well; slides faded to blue did not Yes Not so good Not the best
iMemories Mostly good Yes, but some didn’t turn out right Yes Some pixel-ization and odd colors Not the best
LarsenDigital Yes Yes Yes Yes Acceptable
ScanCafe Poor colors Moderate fade correction Yes Fuzzy and grainy Not the best
ScanToDigital After 4 months, because address was not verified, there are no digital files to view and the slides are in a US Postal facility somewhere
VistaPix Media Not so good Not so good Yes No Not the best

Question 3 – Will the cost be realistic and feasible?

Vendor Per-Slide Cost According to Website Minimum Order? Cost of Data Disk Shipping Cost Final Order Cost for Approx. 50 Slides Conclusion
Costco $.32 $19.99 No extra cost Must pick up $19.99 Low price but not best quality
DigMyPics $.39 25 slides ($9.48) No extra cost $20 return shipping $51.06 High price for small order
DpsDave $.17 to $.35 no $0.00 $12 on orders less than $100 $29.50 Low price and best quality
FotoBridge $1.50 each for less than 250 250 slides ($109.95) No extra cost Free with order $88.00 Low price on more than 250, but quality is not best
iMemories $.49 No $9.99 $9.99 $36.45 High price for small order
LarsenDigital $.38 to $.43 $20 $5.00 $18 return shipping $46.71 Moderate price for acceptable quality
ScanCafe $.21 (but the final charge was $.33 per slide) No $3.95 $20 $48.91

 

Price ended up being moderate rather than low
ScanToDigital $.27 No No extra cost $10.28 $25.13 Paid up front but do not have digital files, or original slides, back after 4 months
Vista Pix 500 slides for $125 (“as low as $.20 per slide) Vista Pix expects large orders No extra cost Free with order Paid $7 shipping, though small order was processed for free as a courtesy Low price on more than 500, but quality is not best

Question 4 – What is the level of customer service, if I need help at any point in the process?

Vendor How good is customer communication? Conclusion
Vendor How good is customer communication? Conclusion
Costco Good, but I could not track the status of my order once it was sent out. Would not use again
DigMyPics Good but since there was no address confirmation email, package was sent to wrong address Would not use again
DpsDave Excellent – emails were sent that my package arrived and to verify my address, and when I called to ask about using the data disk, the President answered the phone and helped me. Top choice because of low price, high quality and excellent customer service
FotoBridge Very good Communication was good, but picture quality wasn’t
iMemories Good Would not use again because of poor picture quality
LarsenDigital Very good, order was tracked properly Would consider using if prices were lower
ScanCafe Good Would not use again for 3 reasons: orders sent to India, price increased at delivery and picture quality wasn’t the best
ScanToDigital Poor. They cannot resolve where my package is. Would not use because I did not get digital files or my original slides back within 4 months
VistaPix Media Very good, and they allowed a test sample for free Communication was good, but picture quality wasn’t

Leave a Reply

  Subscribe  
Notify of