A tale of scanners, pictures and software (oh my!) part 2: software.

Part 2 Some new software and using it all.

Scanner software

Logo for Silverfast company

Silverfast producer

Based on comments in the reviews for both scanners, it became clear to me that if I wanted the hardware to be really effective with the film and slides I would need something other than the software that shipped with them. I found a lot of information on two software packages, one of which (Silverfast) actually ships with the Epson 750. Independently, that software costs twice the price of the my Canon scanner and looked to be major overkill. However, the online consensus was clearly that the other one, VueScan, was what I wanted. Nearly as powerful and a lot easier to use, VueScan is the product of a one-man company and sold exclusively as a download online.

Vuescan logo


Although I liked the Canon software and used it exclusively for a few days, I did download and buy Vuescan Pro ($75). I got it mainly for the things it can do scanning film and slides. I got the Pro version mainly because it includes ‘lifetime’ updates.  Although I’ve not started that part of the project I started using Vuescan right away so I’d get comfortable with it. Despite the fact that I’ve used almost exclusively it for photos, I must say it’s worth getting even for that.  In lots of little ways, and a few big ones, it improves on the Canon software. Examples include:

  • better support for adding metadata to the scans
  • more flexible options for naming the scanned image files
  • and a few more options for color restoration and adjustment.

On the other hand, if you’re working with relatively good prints (90% of mine so far haven’t been), the Canon software’s automated mode is at least as good as Vuescan, maybe better. For me, the key reason I got VuesSan was its excellence with slides and negatives and its ability to run a calibration to create new color profiles (requires Pro version, more about that in the next post).  And the more I’ve used it, the better I like it.

Workflow issues and lessons

Initially I’d expected to spend most of my time waiting for the scanner, now I only wish that were true. Even individually tweaked scans on the old scanner were quick compared to the time it takes me to pull the pictures out of the albums and get them ready to scan. The good news is that the plastic-covered pages didn’t bind to or damage the prints. The bad news is that the plastic page covers and, sometimes, the prints are thoroughly stuck to the glossy cardboard pages–it’s time consuming getting them out without destroying them.

One step than VueScan helps with is getting relevant metadata into the image files. It lets you set a number of EXIF tag values (e.g., date-photo-taken) and a couple of the IPTC tags as well (e.g., caption and copyright notice). The Canon software is weak here and that means adding a step and time using another application to add that information to each scanned image.

My basic workflow has become

  • Get the album and pick the pictures to scan
  • Extract the picture(s) and make a quick wipe with a lint-free cloth
  • Preview scan in batches of 2-5, preferably so each batch has the same ‘photo- taken’ date
  • Enter metadata for the image or batch (description, date-taken, etc) and batch name for the scans
  • If needed (95% of the time), adjust image (color balance curves, gamma, etc)
  • Scan with auto save

At the end of the session, I put the images in my main image catalog and run a backup to two other hard drives on the home network.

The scope of the project is huge but I’m making progress. It’s also proved enjoyable and very interesting going through all these old pictures. Lot’s of little moments of insight for times and places I didn’t experience and little smiles remembering long ago events for those I did.

Next: the what and why of calibration.


About Dick Knisely

Science-guy, engineer, father, grandfather, husband -- yeah, I'm all of those things. I author this blog to share things I care about and you might care about, too. I hope you do and that you'll join in to share things you care about.
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7 Responses to A tale of scanners, pictures and software (oh my!) part 2: software.

  1. Pingback: A tale of scanners, pictures and software (oh my!) « Presentation Impact

  2. Dina says:

    I have a Epson V600 Photo scanner and I scan all my photos and film buy using Photoshop Elements then accessing the Epson Scanner software (Epson Perfection V600). I usually check Dust Removal and sometimes adjust color and lighting. I rarely use ICE because it’s so slow. I do the rest of the editing in Elements and save it there. Would Vuescan be any benefit for me?

    • Dick Knisely says:

      It might.

      Since I picked the other one, I’ve not used the Epson software but from the reviews it seems very comparable to the Canon software. If you mostly do prints then I doubt you’d get better results. Prints aren’t the reason I got it but I liked the Vuescan software even when doing those for a couple specific features. I don’t think they’d be enough reason by themselves for me to get Vuescan. But for film and slides I think the answer is more likely to be ‘yes’. Vuescan won’t change how long the ICE processing takes, that’s going to be slow no matter what, but the reviews indicated that it can get better results than either the Epson or the Canon software.

  3. Dina says:

    Thanks. One question, with the Epson Software, I can up several photos of different sizes on the scanner and it will single out each photo into the thumbnail preview, eliminating the need to select each photo separately. This is very handy. Does Vuescan have this ability? Perhaps I should try the trial and see how I like it.

    • Dick Knisely says:

      Again, for prints it’s more a question of taste–there are things I like about Vuescan doing prints but the Canon software got good results too. Don’t know how it would compare with the Epson software for that. For negatives and slides Vuescan is rated superior by all the reviewers I found. Personally, I’ve done too little of that to make a fair comparison but I certainly like what I’ve seen from Vuescan. And, yes, I think the best answer is to download it and try it out.

  4. Pingback: Book review: The VueScan Bible | What I think about that

  5. Pingback: A tale of scanners, pictures and software (oh my!) | What I think about that

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