Carl and Alice Jones, 1949. Pho­to­graph par­tial­ly eat­en by the fam­i­ly dog.

I recent­ly used a ser­vice from a web­site called Scan­Cafe, and have to say I was impressed by the qual­i­ty, speed and val­ueS­can­Cafe is an image scan­ning and dig­i­ti­za­tion ser­vice. You sub­mit an order, then ship them a box of your pho­tographs, neg­a­tives, and/or slides. Scan­Cafe then scans your images by hand and at a high-res­o­lu­tion. When they are done, you receive an e‑mail and can go online to review the scanned images and choose which keep. You pay only for the images you keep, then they send back all of your orig­i­nals as well as a DVD of the scans.

What I found impres­sive about the ser­vice was the care with which they deal with the pho­tographs. White glove treat­ment is stan­dard. Addi­tion­al­ly, you can send them images in carousels and albums, and they will remove your images from the carousels and albums, scan them at their stan­dard rates, and replace them, in order, before ship­ping the carousels or albums back to you.

Carl and Alice Jones, 1949. After Scan­Cafe

They guar­an­tee your orig­i­nals, and will pay $1,000 if your images or lost or destroyed while they have them. While our images are irre­place­able and invalu­able, it’s still good to know that Scan­Cafe will feel some finan­cial pain if they do lose your images.

Scan­Cafe’s process is per­haps a lit­tle unortho­dox. You send your pho­tographs to an office in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area. In turn, they for­ward them to their offices in Ban­ga­lore (Ben­galu­ru) India, where the actu­al scan­ning and restora­tion is done.

There are three key ben­e­fits I see in Scan­Cafe’s ser­vice:

  1. They only make you pay for the scans you keep. This came in handy for me, as there were some dupli­cates in the bunch­es of pho­tos I sent. I found the images among them scanned best, and did­n’t have to pay for the oth­ers.
  2. They pro­vide best-in-class restora­tion ser­vices at a rea­son­able price. When your images appear on the cus­tomer area of the Scan­Cafe web­site, you can see their selec­tion of images they think they can improve with their restora­tion ser­vice.
  3. Their com­mit­ment to qual­i­ty and cus­tomer ser­vice is high and demon­stra­ble. Take a look at the restora­tion they did of the snap­shot of my par­ents at their wed­ding. The orig­i­nal was almost too painful to look at, hav­ing been under­ex­posed, the par­tial­ly eat­en by a fam­i­ly pet, and final­ly, crimped and fold­ed. Scan­Cafe removed all of these issues and got me the image pret­ty much as I always should have had it. (My only issue with this par­tic­u­lar image is that I think that it’s now a lit­tle over­ex­posed.)
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