How to Bulk Scan Old Family Photos, Negatives, and Slides to Digital Format

by AbbyFitz

It's easy to convert your boxes of slides, 35mm film, and photos to digital images. Learn how you can quickly scan them yourself or whether a scanning service is right for you.

A few years ago, I had a house fire and lost nearly everything. Luckily, though, only a fraction of my old family photographs were destroyed.

The fire really woke me up to just how fragile my old photographs are. In a blink of an eye, 80 years of family history could have been literally up in smoke.

Since then, I have been on a quest to find out how I could scan two boxes of old photos, slides, and 35mm film.

I found several online companies that would bulk scan my photos, but most of them were out of my price range and required me to send my pictures through the mail.

I didn't feel comfortable trusting my only pictures of Aunt Shirley circa 1968 to the mailman.

Luckily, I discovered I could do it myself at home for half the cost.

The PICS2SD is a slide and film scanner that is fast, easy to use, and doesn't need to be attached to my computer to scan.

Did I mention fast?

In this article, I compare several bulk scanning companies and their pros and cons against the PICS2SD scanner.

Discover which method best suits your needs to preserve your irreplaceable old family photos.

How Do I Scan Negatives, Slides, and Pictures?

The Easy DIY way to Digitize your Family Photos

I bought the PICS2SD scanner because I had two boxes of old photos and slides that I wanted preserved.

After my house fire, I wanted to be sure that my photos were protected from the elements, accidents, and time.

I looked into several scanning companies, but I wasn't comfortable sending irreplaceable family photos through the mail to complete strangers.

Scanning my photographs at the local photo lab would be time consuming but doable. But what about my slides and negatives?

Ion PICS2SD Photo, Slide, and Film Scanner

Two Boys Circa 1976I came upon this scanner by accident. I actually thought it would not scan well at first. But then I figured what the heck.  If it didn't work, I could always return it and get my money back.  I'm glad this scanner has proved me wrong.

The best thing I like about this scanner is that it requires no software installation to my computer. In fact, it doesn't even need to be connected to my computer to scan.

I literally took it out of the box and was able to immediately scan straight to an SD card that was included.

Scanning with the PICS2SD is quick and easy. I just load the photo, slide, or negative into a tray, insert the tray into the scanner, press scan, and I'm done.

I am literally finished in seconds. It actually takes longer to load the pictures or slides into the scanner than it takes the machine to process them.

Moving my pictures to my computer is simple. I simply upload them from the SD card to my computer, edit them in my photo software, and save the images onto my flash drive. 

1950's woman in bathing suit

Using PICS2SD is quick and easy. Best of all, I have saved a few hundred dollars scanning them myself.

After scanning a few hundred photos, I have only two complaints about the PICS2SD. I have noticed on a few photos that the area past the edges of the photos or tray get scanned.

I fix it by cropping it out in my photo software, which is where I'd be editing them anyway. Since I've only noticed this problem on a few photographs, the problem may just be user error.

Also, it can only scan photographs up to 5x7 in size. Most of my pictures are smaller than that, but I do have a few larger family portraits that I am unable to scan.

Example: Converting Slides to Digital Format

My Sister's Graduation Slides from 1978
1970's Graduation Photo
1970's Graduation Photo
Family Collection
Grad Pic from 1978
Grad Pic from 1978
Family Collection

Video: Step by Step Instructions

How to Use the Ion PICS2SD Scanner

Comparison of Online Photo Scanning Companies

Where to Scan Pictures, Slides, and Negatives

There are several internet companies that will scan your old family photographs, slides, and negatives.

From my research, I believe these companies are very reputable. The question becomes whether you want to send your photos through the mail to a company or scan them yourself.

Bulk scanning services can be pretty expensive, too. So if you're on a budget, scanning them yourself would be more cost effective.

To allow you to make an informed decision, I have listed the prices, packages, and the pros and cons of a few online scanning companies I researched before I ultimately bought the PICS2SD scanner.

ScanCafe will scan your photos, slides, and negatives for as low as .22 cents a piece. To get the lowest price, a minimum order of $124.99 must be placed, otherwise the price per piece is .29 cents.

Their bulk pricing is the best I have found. If you have a lot of photos and you would rather have someone else do the scanning, this is a good choice.

FotoBridge is actually the scanning company I had decided to use before I found the PICS2SD slide and film scanner.

FotoBridge offers bulk scanning packages that range from 250 prints for $49.95, to 10,000 prints for $1,095.95. 

They do offer free return shipping, which is great. However, they are picky in how you package your photos to ship to them.

They require you to bundle every 100 photos together, which could get time consuming if you have a lot of items to be scanned.

They also offer bulk pricing for negatives and slides, but the cost is just slightly higher than the photo print packages.

GoPhoto doesn't offer a bulk scanning package. Their pricing is .44 cents a piece, whether it's negatives, slides, or photos. It's a good choice if you only have a few items.

GoPhoto will upload your photos so you can review them online. There you can mark which ones you want to keep. 

The downside to GoPhoto is the shipping cost. They charge a flat $20 shipping fee, regardless of the number of photos you have scanned. This company might not be for you if your order is less than the $20 shipping fee.

Like GoPhoto, DigMyPics doesn't have a bulk scan package. Charges for scanning photos and 35mm slides are .39 cents a piece, and negatives are .55 cents a piece to scan.

DigMyPics will brighten the colors of your faded photos at no extra charge. They also allow you to delete the scans you don't want, so you won't be paying for any photo scan you're not happy with.

 All of the companies I have listed require you to ship your photos via UPS. While they are tracked, your photos are not insured against loss. 

Protect Your Family Photographs

Natural Disasters and Time are the Enemy

Converting family photos, slides, and negatives to a digital format is essential to insure against damage, whether it's due to an accident or just the passage of time. 

A scanning service is a good choice for some. I would recommend using an online company if you just absolutely do not want to do it yourself.

The benefit of the PICS2SD scanner is that your photos are in your possession at all times and the price is fixed. There is no danger of your pictures being lost or damaged in the shipping process, and there is not a cost per scanned item.

Whatever method you choose, it is important to digitize your beloved family photographs before something tragic happens so future generations may enjoy them. 

Updated: on 01/18/2014, AbbyFitz
 
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AbbyFitz on 02/14/2014

Really? I did not know. Thanks for stopping by :)

slide scanning on 02/14/2014

For the past few years, DPS Dave has emerged as a flag bearer in the domain of digital slide scanning services and revolutionized the arena with its brand new patent worthy technology that has brought a whole new range of opportunities for its customers. A sneak peek into their world reveals a bunch of seasoned professionals assisted by modern digital technology tirelessly working hard to give people their much needed happiness when it comes to slide scanning, retouching and restoring their old, faded photos by means of turning them into digital form.

AbbyFitz on 12/08/2013

Thank you! It's a really neat gadget. I use it all the time

ologsinquito on 12/08/2013

I'm pinning this to my Things You Really Need to Know board.

AbbyFitz on 06/02/2013

I've never owned a scanner, only used friends'. They aggravate me. I could write a novel waiting for them to scan. Lol. This is much faster.

Maritravel on 06/02/2013

Great news, sounds just the thing I;m looking for. I've got an Epson scanner, quite old but still working, but Oh, it is sooooooooo slow. I plan to spend an hour a week on it but give up in frustration as I can't do anything else while the scanner is working.

AbbyFitz on 05/27/2013

Thank you Katie!

katiem2 on 05/27/2013

Found this so useful came back to tweet as I'm sure many others face the same daunting task I do, this was helpful and gave me peace of mind, knowing you have so many priceless photos and images just lying around nags the mind knowing we should do better with them.

AbbyFitz on 05/25/2013

Thank you. It's something that everyone needs to do. They're irreplaceable

MikeRobbers on 05/25/2013

Nice article and recommendations. Old family photos have a sentimental value for most people and this is a great and efficient way to digitize and preserve them for ever.




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