Best Ways to Scan Photos: Big Box Stores vs. FotoBridge

Posted by ed oboyle on Wed, Nov 20, 2013 @ 08:07 AM

photo scanning serviceIf you want to digitize photos, you have two options: do it yourself or outsource photo scanning services. If you want to do it yourself, your best bet is to buy a scanner, including special scanner equipment if you need to scan slides or negatives. This can get expensive, especially if you have a lot of photos, slides, or negatives. The best way to scan photos yourself usually requires a high-quality scanner, costing up to $3,000 or more.  

What are the best ways to scan photos, other than at home?

If you don’t want to spend that kind of money to scan photos, or desire professional guidance, or simply don’t want to do it on your own, you’ll have to use a professional photo scanning service. Or, you can take photos to a big-box retailer, like Wal-Mart or Target, that offers photo scanning services.

Both methods of photo scanning offer different benefits, and the best choice depends on your specific needs, goals, quality expectations, technical knowledge, how many photos you need scanned, and how much money and time you are willing to spend. 

What are the advantages of using big-box retailers for photo scanning?


If you don’t have a lot of photos to scan, this is likely more economical, both monetarily and time wise. With few photos to scan, like if you’re creating specific projects like online or CD/DVD slideshows or albums, this may be one of the best ways to scan photos since costs can be as low as .40 to .70 cents for each scan depending on dpi (dots per inch).

Fast Service

Depending on your photo scanning goals and how many photos you have, you could be in and out quickly. 

Many box stores offer do-it-yourself photo scanners. If you only have a handful of photos to convert to digital, then it shouldn't take you long to use the scanner. 

Unfortunately, publicly-shared technology has a tendency to break, so check with the store that the device is working before you drive all the way there.

photo scanning serviceFun for DIY-ers

If you’re technically skilled and/or like to try things yourself, you’ll enjoy the self-service aspect many big-box retailers offer. Plus you get some control over playing around with the scanner settings until your images turn out the way you would like them to.

If you are not technically inclined, then using the scanner yourself may cause more stress than relief. If this is the case, you may want to consider hiring a photo scanning service.

Live Customer Service

If you need help while scanning photos, there is usually a photo specialist or general employee who can assist you within minutes.

What are the advantages of using a professional photo scanning service?

Professional Service

One of the greatest benefits of hiring a photo scanning service like FotoBridge is the staff is comprised of dedicated, highly skilled professionals with access to the best scanning technology available.

Photo scanning professionals are experts at scanning your photos, slides or negatives to create high-quality digital copies. They have a thorough understanding of scanning technology and will make appropriate tweaks to enhance the quality of your digitized photos.

Educated Customer Service

Dedicated professionals can easily answer questions, address concerns, and offer focused customer service. They are experts at photo scanning and will be able to answer any questions you have better than a big-box store employee.


Whether you have 200 photos or 10,000, your work is done after gathering and mailing pictures, slides or negatives. Additionally, once scanned, images are automatically available online.

You may not receive the instant gratification of scanning photos yourself, but sending photos to a scanning service will ensure a high quality. Again, all you would need to do is gather your photos, pack them carefully and then ship them to the photo scanning service. Once there, the scanning team would scan your photos for you and send your prints back to you.  

Extra Features

Many extras are automatically included with scanning packages or available as add-ons. For example, FotoBridge packages automatically include DVDs, web-ready duplicate images, and intelligent digital finishing (IDF).

With most photo scanning services, you will have the option to add in even more options to your scanning package, like extra DVDs, various dpi settings, print books, DVD slide show movies, and more.

Discounted Prices for Bulk Scanning

Most big box stores don’t offer quantity discounts, but professional scanning services often do. For example, FotoBridge's 250 photo scanning package cost about .22 cents per photo, and our package for up to 10,000 photos averages .13 cents per photo. 

If you have a high number of photos to scan, it may be more cost and time efficient for you to utilize a photo scanning service.

High Quality Scanned Photos

If you’re a professional photographer or want to scan photos for better resolution and quality, a photo scanning service will offer a myriad of options for enhancing quality or even preserving quality of print photos, slides and negatives. Photo scanning professionals know the best scanning settings for creating beautiful digitized photos.

Photo Credit: Flickr, WikiMedia

Thinking about using a professional photo scanning service?


Topics: photo scanning service

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