Tips from the Windows Pros: Archiving Your Company's History
If you've been chosen to create an archive of your company's history (or your family's, for that matter), you might need to add a few hardware and software tools to your system to do the job right.
Color photos in particular are frequently affected by fading and color shift as well as the usual photographic problems of poor cropping and exposure. You don't need to buy Adobe Photoshop to fix these kinds of problems. However, if you're not satisfied with the photo editor bundled with your scanner and you're on a budget, try Jasc's Paint Shop Pro (www.jasc.com). Paint Shop Pro (around $100$110) is a very powerful choice that will leave you some money for the rest of your gear.
As you saw earlier in this chapter, a CD-RW drive is a terrific way to store digital photos. Be sure the drive you buy has at least a 12x speed rating for writing CD-R media (a better choice for long-term storage than erasable CD-RW media) and has a buffer-underrun prevention feature such as BURNProof. Go for an internal IDE/ATAPI drive to get the most bang for the buck; USB 1.1-compatible drives are easy to move around, but are too slow for big archiving jobs. Better to go for USB 2.0-based external drives if you want to go that route. You'll find plenty of choices. If you're planning to incorporate digital video into the mix, you might also want to consider an IEEE-1394compatible CD-RW drive. It connects through the same port used by DV_camcorders, and you can move it around to any machine with an IEEE-1394 card or port. Because IEEE-1394 has a high bandwidth (up to 400Mbps or 50MBps), it's a much better choice than USB 1.1 for fast data transfer. USB 2.0 is a tad bit faster than FireWire.
Until the 1970s, the most popular way to take color photos was 35mm slide film, and most flatbed scanners either can't scan slides or use clumsy adapters that don't provide high enough scanning resolution to pull fine detail from slides. If the boss hands you some Carousel trays of slides for the archive, you need a real slide scanner to do the job right.
A high-quality slide scanner should scan with a resolution of at least 2,700 dpi to allow you to get great prints from the tiny 35mm slide. And, if black and white or color prints have gotten lost but you have the negatives, slide scanners can scan them as well. You can spend as little as $500 to as much as $1,000 or more for a slide scanner, but be sure the one you buy has a feature called Digital ICE (developed by Applied Science Fiction, Inc, now owned by Kodak). Digital ICE removes dust and scratches from scans of less-than-perfect slides and negatives. Because most slides and negatives get dirty and scratched over time, Digital ICE is the way to go for scanners. It really works, and saves hours of retouching time (time you can't afford to spend anyway) afterward. Some of the better slide/negative scanners with Digital ICE on-board include
Before you buy any scanner, take a good look at the archival materials you're being asked to preserve. Use a flatbed scanner for black-and-white or color prints, and don't overlook the historical value of stock certificates, matchbook covers, postcards, personalized pens, and so on. You can scan anything that fits on the scanner, even if it's not completely flat.
If your company history goes back far enough that some photos are actually large negatives (bigger than 35mm) or lantern slides, you need to buy a flatbed scanner with a special transparency adapter lid (which also can be added to some mid-range or high-end scanners) or internal compartment. Some mid-line scanners can handle transparencies and negatives up to 4x5 inches, but if you have larger-format materials, you need a scanner that can scan up to 8x10 negatives. Some of the better choices with built-in transparency handling up to 8x10 size include Epson's E1680 Professional (www.epson.comaround $799) and Microtek's ScanMaker 8700 (www.microtekusa.comaround $790). These scanners can also handle normal prints, so you get two for the price of one.
Finally, you need a way to view and organize your pictures after you've scanned them. Although the My Pictures folder has some built-in tricks (as described earlier in this chapter), third-party software will help you view and locate pictures stored in any folder and on any type of media. Here are a few programs that you should consider:
You can find other choices at