Time to drag all those boxes of photos sitting in your cupboard into the 21st Century.
There was a time when I lamented the death of the physical photo. I intended, naively, to take the few hundred digital photos that I had taken down to Officeworks and get them all printed.
Well, those few hundred digital photos are now several thousand. It’s fair to say, no photo I’ve taken since 2003 is ever going to end up in a physical photo album. All our photos now tend to be stored on our hard drives, in our phones and in online storage.
But what about out old photos?
If you fear sticking you beloved memories into scanner, you can stop worrying. Epson’s FastFoto FF-680W will lovingly scan your old photos, by the box-load, in just a few minutes.
The setup is easy. You plug it in, insert the CD (or download the install software), follow the prompts, press the WPS button on your router and you are all set for wirelessly scanning your memories. You can also directly connect to your PC via USB.
The scanner itself is pretty small, easily small enough to fit in a bag to take around you relative’s house to plunder the family photos. This small size means that there’s no display. Just a load of buttons that, to be honest, are not very intuitive in their function.
The scanner unfolds to revel a feeder that’ll take up to A4, and a tray to catch your scanned photos.
Scanning is easy. You simply load your photos in the tray and press the scan button. On your PC, the driver software asks is you want to label the photos with the date and a prefix. The scanner quickly draws in each photo and places it in the tray.
Unlike most scanners, the FastFoto doesn’t make unnerving crunchy noises as if it is moments away from screwing up your original documents. The scanner is virtually silent, cleanly picking up your photos, even if they are dogeared, creased or have dried up mounts on the back. If you are nervous about a particularly important, damaged document or photo, the package comes with some protected sleeves for a bit of insurance.
As part of the scanning process you can elect to have the software clean up the images for you. As well as a cleaned-up image, you can also have the machine save an untouched image for each photo. I found the process a little harsh for some of my black and white photos, losing some of the detail in the dark areas, but perfect for cleaning up washed out colour photos from the early 70s.
The scanning software really breathed some life into my old childhood photos, making them pop like they never did before. The scanner also picks up anything on the back of the photos, scanning an extra image (appended with “_b”, the primary photo being “_a”). The scanning software isn’t magic, in that it won’t add detail were there wasn’t any, but it’s not far off it.
You can switch from 300dpi, which takes about a second to scan each photo, to 600dpi for archival quality scans (at about 3 seconds per photo) or to an interpolated 1200dpi resolution, which takes 10 seconds per photo, for enlargements and cropping. You can also choose to save as either jpg or tiff files.
The Epson FastPhoto FF-680W is an essential purchase for anyone with boxes of photos sitting around in cupboard. It’s easy to set up and easy to use. Scanning is ridiculously fast and it’s careful with your precious photos. A recommended product, for sure.