Your favorite analogue photos can be shared by printing them out and passing them amongst your friends. Sometimes you even collect them in a photo album and pass that around. Slides can be projected onto a screen in a darkened room for a small group of people. You could even pass around a single slide at a time in a viewer and someone could hold them up to a light source to see the photo. A negative of your photo isn’t so easy to share. So passing them around to friends? Not so much. Your analogue images will need to be converted to digital (and one step away from analogue) to make it easy to share with others not in the room. The easy to use and budget priced Kodak P461 Photo Scanner is suppose to help with the process. Rather than rely on the film processing lab to scan my images I will try and do it myself.
The Kodak scanner was on sale from an e-commerce site for $50 US. The online reviews stated the scanner was simple. (Meaning not much in the way of user controls.) It is labelled a “personal scanner” which means about the size of a desktop three-hole paper punch. It includes a USB hook-up cable and some scanner software. Once you feed the photo (up to 4×12 inch), negative strip (35mm) or single slide the scanner takes over and does the rest. The Kodak software has almost no settings other than where to designate the output folder. The quality setting of the scanner is automatic. Film and slides are scanned at a fixed resolution of 1200×1200 dpi. Photos are scanned at 600×600 dpi resolution or you can elect to scan at lower quality 300×300 dpi. The scanning software can get finicky about the exposure the original was taken at and spit out some oddly hued results. Sometimes rescanning can improve the quality and sometimes not. If the software decides everything about the picture should be dark purple and high contrast it seems no amount of post-production tweaking of the curves will help the newly digitized image. That can sometimes suck. And that is suck in the royal term; meaning that it blows. A $50 flatbed scanner probably gives better quality scans and has more user controls but is more of a hassle scanning negatives and slides than one of these personal scanners. The flat bed scanner I use (Canon CanosScan N670U) will need a DIY work around to get decent image scans from negative strips. For now the Kodak P461 will be used because of ease-of-use. The quality of the scans is middling or in others words; meh. The hardware is made by Pandigital as a licensed Kodak product. The scanner has an SD card slot. You can scan without using a computer and just save your images to the card. AC power or batteries (4 AA/UM-4 batteries) has to be provided to the unit in order for it to work. The packaging includes some small plastic pieces used to feed the negative strips, the single slides, and clean and calibrate the unit. I still want to play around and find a work around to scan negatives larger than 35mm.
To summarize; the unit is easy to use, the quality of the scans is average, the scanning software is simple and not all that consistent from image to image and each pass through the scanner. The product is worth it for $50. It’s overpriced for the $80 Amazon is charging and way overpriced at the original retail of $150.
Note: No matter if you use a flat bed scanner, personal film scanner, use a film scanning mask like a Lomography DigitaLIZA and have to handle your negatives you may want to invest in a pair of white cotton gloves and a film blower and brush to minimize the amount of dust before you scan your images.
written by grifflander on 2012-05-05