I got a great question yesterday, one I wasn’t expecting. Why, the person asked me, did you switch from HP printers to Canon printers. Well the easy answer to that is capabilities. While the HP printers I had for many years were solid and good, they didn’t really function the way I needed them to function. We have two printers/scanner combinations in the house. One is a B&W laser with scanning and the other is a color laser/scanner. Why two? Because there is a person in our house that prints 1,000 sheets of paper or so per month. She has her own higher capacity printer.
The other reality is that of being able to print from any device anywhere in the house. Frankly the Canon’s do a great job of that. That meant the HP printers were no more! After years of only having HP printers it was an interesting transition. Easier, by the way than I would have expected. Color lasers are very nice when it comes to everyday printing, but they are more expensive. The toner for a color laser runs you 500 or so dollars per roughly 10,000 sheets give or take a few. It is not a bargain to enter lightly!
The other side of printing is scanning. I will say having completed the Family History project over a year ago, now, that having the right scanner makes all the difference. There are many scanners on the market that advertise a variety of features and capabilities. You need two things when you are scanning slides and pictures. Really good software, and a stable base for the scanner. The software part is critical. You don’t need fancy software that does OCR and other fancy text functions. You do need software that is aware of what you are doing though.
We went with the Epson Protection pro v750 scanner. It is a flatbed scanner that includes good software. It is USB connected and has a power brick so it doesn’t run off the USB power. That allows you the flexibility of running the scanner not relying on the USB power. The Epson software is easy to use, and frankly over some of the other scanners we tried early on in the process doesn’t have brain dead errors.
A brain-dead error is one that tells you nothing. You cannot scan. Why? I can’t see the scanner. I can’t see the image on the scanner and so on. Those types of errors are good in that it tells you what is going on but useless when it comes to troubleshooting. What are you troubleshooting. I can’t see the scanner 0 is it powered off, bad cable and so on. An intelligent message is the USB cable isn’t plugged in properly. Take it out and reseat both ends. Or, the scanner is powered on but in the sleep state. Power it off, power it back on and try again.
Finally, the last part of the scanner reality is ease of use. We have two other scanners in the house. The two canons are very good (multi-function laser printers) but the scanners aren’t as good in terms of what we were trying to do with the family history project. Our goal was to scan the 30,000 slides left behind by my father and my grandfather Andersen. The Epson was not like some of the slide projectors we tried (that would do 50 to 100 slides at a time). But it did a better job overall on the images and converting slides to digital images.
The last part of the process was sorting, some of the software was pretty easy. We scanned albums together, so all pictures in an album were kept together. Some of the slide trays had names so we scanned them into folders. Thailand 1972 was an easy tray to scan. Some of the trays didn’t have labels so it was a little harder to figure out what to do with those slides.
My grandfather Johnston’s videos were the last thing to be converted. He shot film on a Kodak 16mm projector. Converting those was done by a 3rd party because, well nobody on our team really knew how to safely play and convert those videos at a high enough fidelity. So, we sent them off to be processed!
Overall the tech used for the project was successful. The most important thing as you start your family history project is backup!!!!
The last piece of our technology puzzle was a connection to Carbonite for computer backup. Plus, I made 4 local copies of all the pictures. That backup has been a life saver twice now (two hard drives lost to power surges).
Images today courtesy of Henry O. Andersen.
Family historian and family techno geek!