Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Money & Business

USN Current Issue

Diversions

Posted 6/5/05
Page 3 of 3

Pictures: Sliding Into Digital

Her father's slide collection contains many great pictures, says Sara Parry, one of nine siblings featured in hundreds of photos that date to 1948. The problem was, nobody could see them anymore. "We had a projector for a long time," says Parry, of Occoquan, Va. "Then the bulb burned out, and we couldn't find a replacement."

So the slides sat in a closet, until Sara and her mom pulled them out to get them scanned. Now they're on a DVD that gets played at family gatherings. "It had been 20 years since we'd seen them," she says.

That's the strength of digital photography: convenience. Once images are computer files, they're easy to print, E-mail, or burn to a disk. It generally has been an expensive hassle to get those old snapshots and slides converted. But it's becoming cheaper and easier to do the switch--or have it done for you.

To copy photo prints, you want a flatbed scanner, which resembles a photocopier in operation and design, though much smaller. Today's devices, like the Epson Perfection 2580 Photo , are less bulky, as well as less balky, than their ancestors and often come with software that automatically and effectively cleans up dirty or faded photos. They can also make decent scans of slides and negatives, all for $100 or less.

If your pop's picture pile is mostly slides or negatives, consider the more-sophisticated film scanners--which look more boxlike than flatbed versions--and are now cheap enough for consumers, starting around $300. Film scanners such as Pacific Image's PrimeFilm 3650u create big, detailed files that can be enlarged or cropped.

Be ready to invest a lot of time if you want to do it yourself, though--at least several minutes per image, after a lot of trial and error figuring it out. There's also time lost reminiscing as you dig through old shots. Or you can turn to a service that scans the images for you. It isn't cheap--a typical price is about 50 cents a frame. Services with consumer-friendly prices are usually small, such as digmypics.com , a company in Mesa, Ariz., or digitalmemoriesonline.net , which is run by a pair of brothers in Orient, Ohio. One of the brothers, Robert Blau, answers the phone number provided on its website. That's crucial because few people would trust family treasures to somebody they haven't talked to.

Converting photos to digital is about more than just convenience, says Lucie Pastoriza of Lamy, N.M., who hired Blau to transfer thousands of snapshots taken by her late father. She and her siblings distributed the disks among their families. Bringing a departed dad's legacy into the hands of a new generation--what better way to celebrate Father's Day?

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