Perhaps like many photographers, I have a good many snapshots and Polaroids from my old film days, plus albums filled with family photos made by my parents and grandparents that stretch back to the 1920’s. So many, in fact, that while I have attempted to scan them on a flatbed to share with family members in the past, it was such tedious work that I never got the job completed.
Enter the FF-680W ($599), claimed by Epson to be the “world’s fastest personal photo scanner.”
Why is the FF-680W so fast, you might ask? It works with print “stacks” (36 at a time, 4 x 6-inch landscape, about 1 second each scan in 300 dpi JPEG) rather than individual or ganged images on a flatbed, a type of batch scanning that works in surprisingly rapid and smooth fashion. Images can be scanned in 24-bit up to 600 or 1,200dpi (the latter being interpolated,) in TIFF, or 300 dpi for sharing in JPEG.
While impressive, there’s another bonus for working pros—the ability to scan up to 100 sheets of paper (45 pages per minute, letter-sized) that I immediately put to work on a huge stack of model and minor releases from past shoots (never throw them away!) and old business receipts and tax forms that fill my filing cabinet. The scans can be automatically placed into named file folders, so you can scan and organize documents in one shot.
What We Liked
Size: It’s not a desktop hog, coming in at about 11.7 x 6.7 x 6.9 inches.
Connectivity: The FF-680W connects via USB (SuperSpeed USB 3.0) and wirelessly via a network. An easy “auto-load” and backup system can send images as you scan them to Dropbox and Google Drive.
Print Size and Material: The unit can scan Polaroids, panoramic format (one scan, up to 36 inches long), prints up to 8 x 10 inches. For fragile images (including tear sheets and creased or bent snaps) a carrier sheet is included, and while still fast, it makes for a one-up scan. Document capability goes up to Legal size, with folded A3s fitting into the carrier sheet and scanned front and back in one pass.
Text Formats: The ability to scan docs as editable PDFs, MS Word (using incorporated OCR) and even Excel files formats.
Speed: All I can say is that it makes short work of what had been a tedious task in the past.
What We Didn’t Like
There’s a degree of auto correction on off-color prints, but it is less effective on over- and under-exposed images, a typical analog-to-digital conundrum that can be handled in post. Scanning at higher res does slow things down a bit, but it still beats flatbed work. It would also be nice if you could send scans directly to a smartphone, although images can be sent to a synced iOS device by saving the images to the Photos app on your Mac, with a Windows workaround available as well.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re the family archivist or are just looking to chop down that pile of old prints and documents, the FF-680W makes the processing of digitizing and organizing it all very easy.