I finally found the time to head down to 30 Minute Photos Etc., the Irvine photo store owned by Mitch Goldstone. I wish I had stopped by six months ago when Mitch first told me about his new super scanner.
Super, it truly is. It scans, on average, 120 photos per minute. That’s 1,000 photos scanned in approximately 8-minutes and 20 seconds.
I didn’t really believe it. Greg Magnus, the Register’s video guy who traveled with me to document this on VIDEO, didn’t believe it either. Until we saw it in action. Mitch prefers to keep the process a mystery and won’t show customers the machine. But he gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how everything works.
The service, which Mitch calls ShoeBox Reprints, starts with the Kodak i660 document scanner, a $60,000 machine meant for businesses to take photographic images of tax forms, checks and other non-digitized documents. It’s essentially a camera that takes a high-res photo of each document and files it away on a computer for safer keeping.
Mitch is pretty innovative. Jack Kasperski, who handles press for Kodak’s document imaging, told me that Mitch found a way to turn the i660 into a photo scanner fit to quickly scan consumers’ collections of old photos. The service has very few limits. It will scan nearly all sizes of photos, from 2.5-inch-by 3-inch to 11-by-14 inches. It will scan front and back (in case you want to preserve writing) and it does other sorts of documents as well, such as invitations and post cards.
Since Kodak doesn’t sell the machines directly to customers but through a third-party reseller, Jack said he’s unsure if there are any other i660s available to people like you and me. Mitch believes there’s one other store – in Rochester where Kodak is headquartered. As a result, Mitch gets a lot of orders from all over the nation. If you want to get thousands of old photos scanned in minutes, you’ve got to send your business to Irvine.
Now, to make the process go smoothly…
Mitch does require a few things: Photos should be sorted by size, with smallest first. They should all be right-side up. And they shouldn’t be stored in envelopes. Requirements are posted HERE.
Once the machine starts, it’s fascinating to watch. It’s like a term paper being fed into the copy machine. As each photo is scanned, its digital-thumbnail image pops up on a computer screen. Special software keeps the photos in order. In the future, the process could include automatic touch-ups but right now, Mitch burns everything to a disc and lets the customer pick and choose and fix photos on their own time.
So, to test this out, I found some old photo albums at my parent’s house, put them in a box and headed to 30 Minute Photos. Mitch explained each step along the way so it took more than five minutes for me. But I was in and out within the hour – photos scanned, interview done and blog pictures taken. I returned one more time with Greg the video guy to shoot the action.
Mitch said that he or an employee sits by the machine to make sure it doesn’t mess up, which it did a few times when it was trying to scan too many photos at one time. I got some wacky results. But as you can see, I didn’t follow Mitch’s directions:
Like this one, where a tiny mug shot snuck into this graduation photo. The mug is smaller than Mitch’s minimum of 2.5-inches by 3-inches. I also didn’t put all my photos in order, right side up. As a result, quite a few photos are upside down on the CD Mitch made me.
On this ripped photo, I’m surprised it didn’t get caught in the scanner. I’m happy that it turned out, even with the gash in the corner. Now, if I did have the missing piece, Mitch said he could mend the photo virtually and no one would be the wiser.
In the end, I got about 850 photos scanned (some of those include the both sides). I was pretty pleased with what my $50 got me because I cannot image taking the time to do it myself on my Canoscan at home. I only wish he could scan whole pages from an old photo album quickly to save me the trouble of taking photos out of an album. He can take a photo of the page, but not with the speedy scanner. That’s another service.
I’m pretty happy with the result. That’s why I’m writing about it. This is $50 well spent. Plus, local customers who buy a service get a free bottle of Voss water and a Ghirardelli chocolate bar (although I didn’t get this on my visit! Ah well. A reason to stop by again…)
::: 30 Minute Photos :::
Where: 92 Corporate Plaza in Irvine, (949) 474-7654