ScanCafe is a photo scanning website that scans your old printed photographs into high-quality digital formats so you can treasure them forever. Here’s our ScanCafe review.
What is ScanCafe?
ScanCafe is an online service that takes your printed photos, scans them, touches up the lighting, and sends them back to you. ScanCafe claims to be “the highest rated scanning service in the world”.
In addition to printed photographs, ScanCafe can take 35mm color slides, 35mm color negatives, movie films (8mm, Super 8, Super 16, and other formats) or even VHS videos and transform them into digital format. We are seeing more and more services like iMemories pop up and become of immense value.
The goal of ScanCafe is to help protect your memories forever. When you store photographs and videos on physical media, you lose those memories when you lose the physical copy. When you store them in digital format, you can securely store them in the cloud and other safe locations where they can be accessed from anywhere you have internet.
Transforming a paper photo into digital format costs $0.33. You can also reduce that price to as little as $0.22 if you’re spending $145 or more.
One of the key differences between ScanCafe and its competitors is that all photos and videos are touched up by hand by real human employees. The company believes this leads to a vastly superior final product.
Services Offered by ScanCafe
ScanCafe can scan a wide variety of photo and video formats into digital copies. Here are the services currently offered by the company:
-35mm Color Negative: $0.33 (per image, not per strip)
-35mm Color Slide: $0.33
-Paper Photo: $0.33 (up to 8×10 / color / B&W)
-Movie Film (8mm, Super 8, 16mm, & Super 16): $0.25 per foot (SD and HD resolution)
-Video Tapes (VHS, VHS-C, SVHS, Hi8, Digital 8, MiniDV): $19.99 per tape (SD resolution)
These are the standard digital format transfer services offered by ScanCafe. The company also specializes in “special photo media”, including all of the following:
-35mm Negative/Slide, B&W: $0.79 (per image)
-110/126/127 Slides/Negatives, Color: $0.99
-APS: $0.59 (per image)
-Documents & Large Photos: $0.99 (up to 11” x 14”)
-Medium Format Negatives / Slides, Color: $1.39
-Medium Format Negatives, Black and White: $2.49
-Large Format 4×5, Color: $3.49
-Large Format 8×10, Color: $6.99
How Does ScanCafe Work?
ScanCafe emphasizes that its digital transformation process is done mostly by hand.
It starts with digitally scanning your photos to show detail and allow enlargements. Then, color is corrected where appropriate to make sure your images look brand new. All color correcting is done by hand.
ScanCafe also removes scratches by hand. So if your photographs have old tears, creases, scratches, or other physical flaws, ScanCafe will remove them by hand.
Then, ScanCafe will remove red eyes from your photographs by hand.
Ultimately, customer reviews online show that ScanCafe almost always improves images, brightening them, touching them up in minor ways, and fixing scratches that existed on the physical media. Although there are some complaints of “over brightening” and other issues, most customers seem to have good things to say about their ScanCafe experience.
You can also review your scans prior to completing your order: so if you don’t like how a particular image was touched up, then you can easily adjust that before you receive the final copy.
Want to see what ScanCafe photos will look like? The company has published some of its best touched-up photos online here. You can browse by decade or by different media.
Are Your Photos and Videos Safe with ScanCafe?
If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably wondering how the company protects your photos and videos. After all, when you’re looking at priceless memories on old photographs and videos, the last thing you want to do is send it through the mail and risk having it lost or damaged.
That’s why ScanCafe offers the only $1000 cash guarantee in the industry. Here’s how the mailing process works:
-ScanCafe requires that you ship your photos and videos in a box; you can also order a sturdy Value Kit from ScanCafe if you don’t trust your own boxes
-When you place your order, you’ll print three copies of a customized UPS shipping label barcode. One of those barcodes goes on the outside of your box. That barcode is scanned every time your box changes locations, which means you know where your box is at all times.
-Then, the order arrives at the ScanCafe receiving facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. The box is logged, wrapped in heavy duty plastic bins, then send to the scanning facility.
-This is where things get interesting: if you chose Express Scanning, then your photos and videos are scanned in Indianapolis and sent back to you within 8 to 10 business days. If you choose Standard Scanning, your order is placed in a large reinforced shipping container and delivered to a scanning facility in Bangalore, India. If that worries you, then ScanCafe likes to remind you that they have processed 95 million images out of Bangalore safely. Plus, all shipping containers are “ruggedized” with five layers of 4mm tear-resistant plastic.
-ScanCafe has implemented other safety measures. There’s video surveillance any time your box is opened, for example. Your package also continues to be scanned the whole time, so you can constantly tract where it is. All orders are also weighed down to the gram and then entered in a database where that weight can’t be modified – so if anything is added or removed to your package, the difference will instantly be noticed.
-The company maintains scanning facilities in Indianapolis, Bangalore, and Switzerland: “Our scanning facilities are the world’s largest. They are climate controlled, because high humidity environments can damage your originals surprisingly quickly. Access to the facility is closely controlled, and security guards patrol it, just as they would at a bank.”
-ScanCafe also has a one order, one workstation policy: if your order includes both slides and photos, then all that media is processed at one workstation – so your precious memories aren’t spread out over an entire workshop
Ultimately, we haven’t seen any complaints online about ScanCafe losing media. The company obviously takes security very seriously – which is something you can’t risk when you’re working with precious family memories, photographs, and videos.
And if you don’t like any of those security measures and don’t trust the company to handle your mail properly, then you can also deliver to a ScanCafe local drop-off center in the Bay Area. You can view that location here.
ScanCafe scanned its first photo back in 2006. The company was founded by a guy named Laurent Martin, who got the idea for the company after attending his grandfather’s funeral in Switzerland. His grandfather was the family archivist and had collected tens of thousands of photos of family memories over the years.
Laurent took up the task of scanning each photograph. He spent $800 on equipment and over the next several weeks, he scanned, adjusted resolutions, re-scanned, cropped, rotated, corrected colors, and did all of the other things needed to make the photographs look great.
Laurent was attending business school at the time with his co-founders, Sam Allen and Naren Dubey. They ended up choosing Bangalore for its cheap labor and high-tech environment, allowing the company to offer the same level of handmade quality while still maintaining an affordable price.
You can read the full ScanCafe story on their website..