Help With Photo Scanning Workflow

Hey cool MPU kids;

My mom just dumped about 10,000 photos on me from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. They are not great photos – but worth keeping.

I want to scan them, index them with machine learning and then share them with family.

For scanning I plan to use the iX500 because that’s what I have and there is no justification to pay to have these scanned – there are too many and the quality (instamatic) is too low.

I am thinking 600DPI but that seems like it might be too high.

For scanning, I don’t have good information about when and where the pictures were taken, so file naming is also a question. How should I name/organize these, and should I mess with meta data at all? In some cases it is hard to identify the year and impossible to know the location.

For storage, I plan to keep them on my Synology and backed up to the cloud (will use cloud for sharing).

Question is what to use analyze and share them.

I’m thinking my choices are google photos and icloud photos. What’s the better choice here? Everyone I care about has an iPhone – so I could go either way.

My impression is that Google Photos is better for “uncovering” and searching needles in my photo haystack, but I was not sure about sharing.


The iX500 is not really designed for quality scanning of photos. For lots of photos that you want to keep and remember in high quality, adjusted for color balance/correction, I’d strongly recommend choosing either a photo scanner (which you don’t own), or scanning with digital camera, or using a scanning service.

I know two people who sent Scancafe (AKA GoPhoto, or ScanDigital) thousands of pics and negatives total, and were happy with the results. Scancafe scans photos at 600dpi, as well as negatives and slides at 3000dpi, and the unit price is 21¢-31¢ in their ‘value kit’. These types of services usually give you a link to low-res previews so you can approve (or reject images and ask for re-scan) before being sent a DVD of images.

Two years ago Wirecutter reviewed several scanning services (but not Scancafe) and wrote about the pluses and minuses and their recommended service:

iMore posted an overview this year:

If I had the time (I don’t) and wanted high quality scans at home the best option is ‘scanning’ with a digital camera. (And I’d still need to do batches of post-production adjustments to the images anyway.) Here’s a good overview video on the process involved:

And a good article from B&H Photo on the subject:


@bowline what an awesome post!
Agree re the ix500

You will only do this once so you want to get it right. I’m assuming they are prints not negs.
I recommend the epson photo scanners. I have the Epson V800 photo, its high end but comes with slide and neg carriers and great software.

PS 10,000 pics is a lot of time investment…

OK – I do respect the “use a better scanner” input. Let’s table that (but I do appreciate the input).

What is the right thing to do with 10000 pictures to share them with family and take advantage of machine learning (facial rec, etc)

Send it to a scanning service, split the $2000 charge amongst relatives, use Photos or Google Photos for the machine learning.

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Well here is my story for what is is worth. About 8 to 10 years ago I received around 1,000 35mm slides from my wife’s parents and since I am the family IT expert I had to find away to digitize them. I purchased a high end (at the time) Epson flatbed scanner with the 35mm option and got to work. Being retired I spent most of two work weeks cleaning the slides and scanning them 4 at a time. I think I ended up with around 980 good slides. After scanning I copied the jpegs to CD’s and gave them to whoever wanted them. I left it up to them to sort them whatever way they wanted. Of course we gathered to look at the pictures on the big screen to discuss who and what was in each photo. I just received about 2,000 to 3,000 35mm slides from my parents to scan. They WILL be going to a local shop for scanning. I tried to hook up that Epson scanner and surprise Epson doesn’t have drivers for the newer level of macOS. I tried to use VueScan software and that failed also. I was able to do simple one side scans but I can’t get the software to light up the cover light for 35mm scans. So the moral to this story is don’t buy expensive scanners for a one time project, the drivers won’t be there next time you need it. You can rent a scanner and have a scan party, But 10,000 photos will make a long party. Also figure out what YOUR time per hour is worth. This would be what you make per hour in your days job. Just because it is for a friend or family member doesn’t make your time free. So if I had 10.000 photos I would get with family members try and fine the “Best Ones” get them scanned and give CD’s to family members.

@Barry, what did you mean when you said VueScan failed?

I was able to scan normal one sided documents or say a photograph but I was unable to scan 35mm slides because the software drivers would not activate the light that is built into the scanner cover that lights up the 35mm slide to be scanned.

I’m doing a similar scanning project but in my case I have a combination of both color and black and white negatives in varying sizes, color slides in several formats, prints in a variety of sizes and types and large format scrapbook pages. I looked at sending the items out but I was not comfortable sending my stuff offshore and only DigMyPics stays in the US for scanning. My volume is huge, roughly 21K slides, several thousands negatives and an unknown number of prints.

The iX500 is not a good choice for scanning. You can either buy a good photo scanner or you can rent a good one or you can use a digital camera to take higher resolution pictures or you can send stuff out.

For software for sharing I would look at Amazon Photos, Google and perhaps Adobe for what works for you. Check out the licensing and privacy settings. Both Amazon and Google have face recognition SW but since I don’t use it I have no idea which works better.

For a rental of better photo scanner check out scanner rental

For a great indepth book on using a digital camera to scan look at

Fo a good flatbed scanner to buy look at either the Epson V600 scanner for a reasonable cost scanner with a true measured scan resolution of 2400 dpi (tested usingthe USAF resolution target) or the V800 for a higher end one with slightly better resolution but still not nearly the advertised optical resolution.

Scanning prints is minimum 600 and up to 2400 depending on the quality of the print. 1200 dpi is a good choice.

Goal of any such project is to get them scanned and not have to worry about future proofing your files. IOW collect allt eh data that there is in the media so you scan once.

Especially since the labor to scan is going to be huge.

For me I can scan 3 5x7 glass plates an hour (I have 1500 to do)
I can scan 6 2.25 x 2.25 negatives or slides in 15 minutes
I can scan 8 35mm slides in 15 minutes
Prints depend on how many I can fit on the scanner but it takes about 16-18 minutes to scan a full scanner of them separated into indovidual files.

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