the final scancafe review, part one

I’ve been thinking about the female form a lot in the last week or so (a switch from my usual state, dwelling on the male form, which I’ve realized occurs despite a hell of a lot of visual bombardment of the former, and possibly only because I do my best to limit that bombardment), but this is going to have to wait. It’s time I wrote up the scancafe experience in one long bit, so people don’t have to wade through a year’s worth of posts about it if they want to know my experience.

I wanted to like this company. I really did. In the end I have very mixed feelings. I suppose all I can say is that you usually get what you pay for. It’s like the lens issue. I’m in love with the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G but how can I justify dropping that much on a lens? The alternatives, however, just don’t cut it. And so it goes.

I decided to have all of my analog images scanned last August for a number of reasons, the biggest, perhaps, being that I’m nostalgic. But also because I love technology (a dangerous combination perhaps).  I want to be able to type “spectacles” into a catalog and see every photo I have of funky frames.  I want to call up my grandmother’s table (in lower left of photo, 1995) in her house, as well as mine (2009).

So, I did some research. Scancafe seemed like a better option than digmypics (who seem to have redone their site since my search) scanmyphotos. I realize my standards are high, as David Pogue raved about scanmyphotos in a NYT review, but I thought the sample images he used were of extremely low quality. But David Pogue is a tech guy, not a photographer. When these scanning services rave about the pro photogs who use them, be certain that these high profile clients are receiving high profile treatment, and I can only assume are using the “pro” services. All the scanning I’d done previously was by myself at ICP, by the now defunct Flatiron Color, or by highly recommended Hong Color, in NYC. Hong Color’s scanning is high-end. It starts at $40 a scan, more than 100x scancafe, so when digitizing 6,000 images, HC is cost prohibitive. Scancafe’s price with shipping would be about $1820.00. Because scancafe allows the client to choose only half the scans, I figured I could get that down to $1000.00.

I spent the last weekend of August packing up my images and numbering the sheets and bundles. They suggest on their website that you not concern yourself with such things, and just send them on. This not to convenience you, but so that they don’t have to worry about scanning images in order and keeping them in order. And if you have no idea where an image is, how you can really be sure if it was returned? Or if you sent it to begin with? I highly recommend organizing your photos and knowing what you have and where before you send them anywhere. I put mine on the UPS truck to California on August 31st. I found a promo code online, which saved me 20%. So, on August 31, I paid for half my estimated order (I’d underestimated the count a bit):

50% of scanning service charge $ 638.00
Shipping Label $ 33.40

Total charged $ 671.40

.

This was my original payment.

On September 9th, I received this email:

We’ve received the originals for your order 9AEALF… which was placed on 2009-08-31.

This meant the box had arrived in California, where they’d be put in a container bound for India.

On September 18th, I received this email:

We’ve received the originals for your order number 9AEALF… at our imaging center.
Your order has been scheduled for scanning. We estimate that your order will complete our scanning and quality control processes on Oct 26, 2009. You can expect to hear from us then.

This meant they’d arrived in Bangalore (India). I was excited.

On September 23rd, I received an email saying:

A technician has been assigned to your order and the process of manually scanning & repairing each of your images is underway. After all your images have been completed, they also will go through our stringent quality assurance checks.

On October 19th, this arrived:

The speed of the job, finished a week early, might have tipped me off to the quality. And now I had only 14 days to look over the scans, while working and teaching. Good enough though, as I was headed to Australia in November.

Okay. Attention span kaput. Will continue this tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “the final scancafe review, part one

  1. Thanks for referencing my columns! However, I have never reviewed digmypics.

    You might be thinking of ScanMyPhotos.com, which I DID review…

    –David Pogue

    • Oh heavens–thanks for that. No wonder the website looked different. And no wonder I couldn’t find the review, even in my own blog (I’d referenced it correctly before), as I was searching for Pogue and digmypics. It seems that the bad pun took over my brain.

      I’m a big fan of your iphone tune. I revisit now and again for a giggle. (If you haven’t seen it, watch! You’ll love.)

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