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Epson FastFoto FF-640

After vital with digital cameras and scanners for decades, we can’t assistance nonetheless wonder: Just how many shoeboxes of snapshots are left in a world?

There contingency be many. Why else would Epson’s marketplace investigate prove that a comparatively costly high-speed imitation scanner would be a viable product roughly 17 years into a 21st century? 

Enter Epson’s $649.99-MSRP FastFoto FF-640 High-speed Photo Scanning System, a sheet-fed scanner with a strong involuntary request tributary (ADF) front and center, protracted by image-editing and -cataloging software. It looks like any series of other piece scanners, generally Epson’s own, meant for scanning content documents. And that’s a departure, given many imitation scanners are flatbeds, not snapshot-feeders.

Some higher-end imitation scanners come with a detachable involuntary request tributary (ADF) for relocating images past a platen, nonetheless even so, in that pattern images lay prosaic while a scanning resource moves underneath them. Sheet-fed scanners like a FastFoto FF-640, on a other hand, pass a originals over a scanning sensor (as good as underneath one, with single-pass scanners like this one), scanning as a picture moves by. And that hasn’t always been counsel a best approach to indicate photos, for a series of reasons, nonetheless essentially given an ADF can repairs your strange prints.

Epson FastFoto FF-640

That said, as we’ll get into later, a indicate peculiarity here is improved than acceptable, solely when scanning papers for visual impression approval (OCR). While it can indicate images and papers during churned sizes, it’s best matched for scanning piles of snapshots of a 4×6- and 5×7-inch variety. However, as we’ll get into in detail, a first-version scanning and cataloging module is a bit light on facilities and not really forgiving.

That’s not to contend that a FastFoto FF-640 isn’t good during what it’s designed to do. It’s rarely useful and good matched to accurately what it’s designed for: scanning immeasurable stacks of snapshots. But we, like a few other reviewers (including Tony Hoffman during a sister site PCMag.com) found ourselves wishing for several other facilities and larger flexibility, as good as a reduce price.

And that’s a rub. At this scanner’s $649.99 list price, you’d need to have a lot of photos (in a several thousands, minimum) to indicate to make this squeeze inestimable economically. (Depending on how many we have, there competence be rebate costly ways to get your photos scanned in bulk, that we’ll fact during a finish of this review.) The ideal situation, we think, would be flitting a FastFoto FF-640 around between friends and family members who have lots of photos to digitize, or maybe gripping it on palm as a request scanner after we get all of your photos in a digital realm.

Epson needs to do some work on a non-photo request side of this scanner, though. Overall, a FastFoto FF-640 is a able scanner good during what it’s designed for, nonetheless it does humour from some first-version blues. And we’d like it a lot improved if it cost a few hundred dollars less. (At this essay in mid-December 2016, we hadn’t seen it ignored off a MSRP yet.)



Design Software

If you’re closely informed with a contours of complicated request scanners (and we’re not certain since we would be, nonetheless hey), we competence notice that a FastFoto FF-640 is a passed ringer for Epson’s possess WorkForce DS-510. As we can see, aside from a few teenager differences, a FastFoto indication (left) and a WorkForce indication (right) are really many brothers from a same mother. Twins, really…

Epson FastFoto Versus DS-510

At 11.8 inches opposite by 8.7 inches from front to behind by 8.1 inches high, and weighing 8.8 pounds, a FastFoto FF-640 is comparatively tiny and light, and given it connects to your PC or Mac around a USB wire (no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth support here), a many judicious plcae is plunked down beside your computer. Photos, documents, and panoramas adult to 8.5×120 inches (8.5×14 on a Mac) get placed in a letter-size ADF. The ADF is good for holding about 80 sheets of paper during a time, or about 30 photos.

You start scans by dire a singular button, nonetheless how those scans are rubbed depends on how we configure a bundled module on your PC before to scanning. For a many part, a scanner usually scans; a enclosed module does many of a work.

Epson FastFoto (Control Panel)

Like many good request scanners nowadays, this one has a single-pass sensor resource for scanning both sides of your request simultaneously, or for scanning handwritten records on a backside of your imitation print. This latter underline is generally permitted if you’re scanning piles of photos in that we are not informed with a subjects, or we have lost a who, what, where, and when of a shots. Sometimes, say, a printed date from a imitation processor on a behind of a snapshot, or a scribble, is a profitable idea value saving with a digitized photo.

Scanning comparison photos (especially frail ones on unbending paper) with a sheet-fed scanner like this has generally been a bit risky, diligent with a probability of enormous or jamming imitation collection that’s infrequently not stretchable adequate to feed safely. According to Epson, a FastFoto FF-640 deploys specifically designed rollers that won’t repairs your hard-copy images. Epson also bundles a special transparent “handling sleeve” for safeguarding utterly frail prints and tiny photos. And a indicate trail is mostly true through. During a tests, we scanned hundreds of photos, aged and new, yet any manifest outcome on them.

Overall, a FastFoto FF-640 is easy to use, to a indicate of being a tiny meagre on flexibility, nonetheless again that’s essentially a error with a software. Let’s plead that next.



Software

To configure a FastFoto tester unit, we downloaded a Epson FastFoto app (for scanning photos), as good as Abbyy FineReader Sprint (an visual impression recognition, or OCR, module for content recognition) and Epson’s Document Capture Pro. While we can use a scanner itself and Epson’s module with your Mac, a OCR module is not Mac-compatible. If we need Apple-ready OCR capabilities, you’ll need to purchase a Mac chronicle of a program (Abbyy FineReader Pro for Mac was $69.99 during this writing) or download a freeware chronicle of a software.

The FastFoto application handles all facets of scanning, rotating, cropping, restoring, and enhancing a images, as good as batch-saving them in a FastFoto office inside your Pictures folder. (You can change that destination, of course.)

As we set adult your collection scans, we configure a module to batch-process a images to revive color, request red-eye reduction, or set adult fixing conventions. Sounds good in theory, right? We immediately satisfied that anything we wanted to do to one or dual of a images, we had to do to all of them in a batch.

Epson FastFoto (Software)

In other words, if we request a color-restoration slight to one image, any imitation in a smoke-stack (or batch) of photos will get (or during slightest be theme to) a same treatment, if not to a same degree. 

In a experience, images that weren’t faded or underexposed didn’t get altered a conspicuous amount, if during all. The saving beauty is that we can opt to save both versions of a images—the restored, and a unaltered. Our take? If you’ve got loads of photos (and since buy this scanner, otherwise?), you’ll advantage severely from manually separating them into stacks yourself that need a same forms of treatment, and usually afterwards requesting a collection effects.

Epson FastFoto (Software)

We also encountered some frustration—or during least, some required preplanning—with a file-naming and -saving conventions. For example, we can save images with filenames by year or decade, and by month or season, as good as a name. In other words, a files can be named year_month_name or decade_season_name. Alternately, we can brew a initial dual conventions, or leave off those parameters completely.

Be careful, though, given a module provides no approach to batch-change a filenames after scanning. So be certain we set it adult from a start in a approach that creates a many clarity for you. It’s a one-way street, unless we have a good aftermarket file-management application to purify adult any disaster later.

We found a gift in this scheme, too. While we can leave a initial dual fixing fields blank, once we click a drop-down menu and open it, we can no longer leave that margin blank—without starting over. Our point, until Epson releases an updated chronicle of a software, we contingency be really counsel in your record naming. Making a mistake can meant that we possibly have to live with it, or set adult and indicate a collection again to make a filename gathering heed to what we want.

We’ve had a lot of knowledge with Epson Document Capture and Abbyy FineReader Sprint over a years. (The latter is a pared-down chronicle of a commercial Abbyy FineReader OCR program. Both versions are utterly able text-recognition apps.) Document Capture helps we scan, organize, and save your request scans, and FineReader translates them into editable, searchable plain-text, Microsoft Word, or PDF files. Our knowledge here, and in general, is that FineReader is really accurate during converting any purify indicate of a request containing bland sans-serif (Arial, Helvetica) and serif (Times New Roman, Garamond) fonts.

The pivotal thing is “clean scan.” Unfortunately, for some reason, during a tests a FastFoto scanner rubbed photos many some-more deftly than it did documents. Some of a content scans were not of good adequate peculiarity to concede for rarely accurate OCR conversions. We had to do some modifying (sometimes poignant amounts of it) on a converted content to scold errors. If and when this happens to you, we advise scanning a request again, rather than permitting a OCR module to try to interpret a bad scan.

If what we need is a request scanner initial and foremost, we advise that we select one of those, rather than a FastFoto FF-640. In a tests, it worked many improved as a imitation scanner.



Photo Handling Performance

Epson claims that we can bucket a ADF adult with photos of opposite shapes and sizes in a same stack, and that a FastFoto FF-640 can pierce from, say, 5×7-inch photos to 8x10s yet blank a beat. We had to try that.

For a many part, a knowledge was smooth, solely that a tributary did jam once when it encountered 3 prints (of a same size, mind you) that were stranded together. Even so, it didn’t repairs any of a three, and we privileged a jam yet many trouble. For a many part, it usually kept scanning photos, no matter what we threw during it. A integrate of times we had to de-skew an picture some, nonetheless in a prolonged run we found it some-more arguable to run similar-size prints in a same stack. Having a scanner’s firm paper guides parsimonious adult opposite a smoke-stack of same-size photos kept skewing to a minimum.

Epson FastFoto (Angle View)

Our knowledge with request scanning was similar, solely that no matter what we threw during a ADF, including papers of several length and sizes, a resource didn’t jam. Here, too, we got endurable formula when scanning different-size papers in a same stack; we got many improved results, though, when we didn’t brew them. Few (if any) sheet-fed scanners can indicate a smoke-stack of business cards and legal-size (8.5×14-inch) pages in a same raise yet something changeable left or right now and then.

Epson FastFoto (Doc Scan)

For scanning 4×6-inch photos during 300dpi, Epson rates a FastFoto FF-640 during 60 pages per notation (ppm) for biased (“simplex”) scanning and 120 images per notation (ipm) for two-sided (“duplex”). For scanning customary letter-size (8.5×11-inch) documents, a rated speed is 45 pages per notation (ppm) and 90 images per notation (ipm). In other words, that’s about one imitation per second, that is really tighten to a 57ppm we averaged during a tests with snapshots. When scanning business documents, a scanner topsy-turvy during an normal of 41ppm or 82ipm. 

Epson FastFoto (Software 3)

Note that matters delayed down a good bit (by a cause of about three) if we put a scanner during a 600dpi setting.



Scan Quality

Essentially, there are dual ways to decider how good a FastFoto FF-640 scans photos—from a unaltered scans, and from a scans on that a Epson FastFoto app relates a replacement and encouragement routines.

When it comes to minute scans with good tone accuracy, we found that a scanner did a good job, nonetheless afterwards it should for $650. Most often, we saw tiny to no tone shifts in a raw, unenhanced scans. What we started with is what we saw onscreen, for improved or worse.

When we used a encouragement routines, on a other hand, a formula were mixed. When operative with faded or underexposed images, a processed images generally looked improved than a originals, with brighter, some-more colourful colors. Unfortunately, in a few sparse cases, a module altered images that didn’t need restoration. The treatments, in some cases, done things demeanour worse, including vanishing out a blues in skies and H2O to a indicate of looking cleared out. In a integrate of images, yellows altered to a light orange, as good as a few other not-as-noticeable tone shifts.

The bottom line: If we use a encouragement routines, to keep from carrying to indicate some of your images again, we advise that we concede a module to save copies of both a altered and unaltered scans. You can always undo a rebate fascinating one in any pair.



Conclusion

As we pronounced during a commencement of this review, we were astounded that after all this time adequate shoeboxes full of aged photos are still out there to aver a product like this. Epson assures us that a marketplace investigate suggests otherwise. The association set out to emanate an basic photo-scanning complement that requires tiny to no bid to use. For a many part, a Japanese wiring hulk has succeeded. However, as many of a colleagues have forked out, morality and a miss of coherence are not a same things.

Epson FastFoto (Closed Up)

That said, if we have a ton of prints that need digitizing, this is many expected a fastest consumer resolution out there that we can put on your table for an permitted price. We’d like to see some measures for subsidy out of and reversing mistakes, as good as fewer one-size-fits-all aspects to a encouragement routines. And over that, we’d like to see a FastFoto for a few hundred dollars less.

Even so, to date, this is a many cost-efficient routine we know of—other than contracting an online scanning service—for branch intensely vast piles of prints into high-quality, well-organized digital files during home. So those services bear some hearing when deliberation a value tender of this scanner.

One of a heading such scanning services, ScanMyPhotos.com, charged $146 during this writing for scanning a box of 1,800 snaps, and a pictures, of course, need to leave your custody. (Not so with a FastFoto.) Another, ScanCafe.com, charged a smallest of 21 cents per imitation scan, or about double a rate of ScanMyPhotos.com. A third, DigMyPics.com, was 39 or 49 cents per imitation scanned.

Now, for tiny batches of pictures, these services can supplement adult to a lot rebate than $650. On a other hand, a some-more photos we have to scan, a larger value you’ll comprehend from Epson’s FastFoto FF-640 High-speed Photo Scanning System. If you’ll spend anywhere tighten to $500 or $600 scanning your initial cache of pics with a service-for-hire, a FastFoto creates a lot of sense; during a finish of a process, during slightest we still have a scanner to use or resell. With a service, all you’ll have are your digital files, and to indicate more, you’ll have to keep paying.

If we can share a cost of a FastFoto among friends, family, and colleagues—and maybe get them to chip in for a lofty cost?—it can be a really estimable investment. But know that you’ll need to indicate snaps in a several thousands during a minimum, not usually a hundreds, to make it value a dough.

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