Finally, a 'world's fastest' scanner that actually is the ultimate solution to storing all your boxes of old photos

If you’re anything like people over the age of 20, you have a photo collection that looks something like this:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

Because it took so much effort to take them, you chose the moment carefully, so all of those photos are a good bit more special to you than the 6000 stored on your phone, or in a cloud somewhere.

They’re also a whole lot more fun to go through when you’re sitting on the lounge room floor with friends and a glass of red.

But they do have problems, namely:

  • They’re getting old, faded and curly
  • You can lose a whole packet from them sticking together if left too long
  • They might all burn in a house fire; and, most importantly
  • You spend hours finding and scanning the best version of your 80s self when a Facebook friend starts the thread

Mostly nobody likes to scan, because mostly everyone tries to do it using the flatbed on their trashy printer they got for free bundled with the last PC they bought.

Or worse, tries to do it with some kind of smartphone app that has fooled them into thinking it’s a completely different process to taking a picture with said smartphone.

All of which I have done, and hated, so when I was offered the use of the “world’s fastest” photo scanner, it seemed like a good time to dive in and see if this category has moved on at all.

Happily, it has, with the Epson FF-660W. “World’s fastest” is exactly how to get my attention:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

Before we start, so you know how easily pleased I can be, you should know I was chuffed that someone in Epson packaging thought to fold over the ends of all the blue tape to make it easier to remove:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

So we’re off to a great start. And it’s compact and nicely enough styled, sitting here on top of my trashy printer I got for free with my last PC:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

Startup is simple and I always tick yes to the cable option over wifi on anything, because cables never fails.

The setup download takes about five minutes and you get to opt for “auto enhance”. If this actually works well, I’m sold already:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

This is handy – scanning straight to dated folders rather than scanning the lot first then dragging them all over. You can turn it off though:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

And here we go with the only important question – does it work?

Yes, it works very well, and quickly. The capacity is 36 photos, so that’s just begging me to stuff it with 60.

So how long does it take to scan 60 photos? This long:

42 seconds. Try doing that with your iPhone scanner.

Or even try doing that at your local Officeworks, and getting charged for it. Randomly, I rang a photo lab nearby and asked what they’d charge if I brought all my negatives in (Google it, millennials) for them to scan and store for me. The best price I could get was 40 cents, per photo.

OK, the Epson FF-680W will set you back $699, which isn’t exactly an afterthought, even if it is to preserve all your memories from those pre-smartphone days.

But then, let’s go back to auto-enhance and “If this actually works well, I’m sold already”. Tick that box and the FastFoto stores two versions of your pics; the original, and what is assumes is how you’d rather recall it.

Let’s look at the results. Noisy, badly exposed original:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

FastFoto’s preferred version:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

Yes, you can do that with a basic photo editor. But I didn’t have to, because the FastFoto did it for me – to all of those 60 pics, as they whirred through.

That was at 300dpi, good enough for photo books and sharing online. You can ramp it up to 600 or 1200 dpi if you want to do some enlargements.

Let’s go again, because it’s great fun – original:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

V2.0 by Epson:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

To be honest, this is actually way better than I was expecting. I could scan photos all day with this.

And even if you don’t like Epson’s auto-enhancements, there’s a basic editor for you to do the retouching on the load screen. And share, or upload instantly:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

Tick another box and it will also scan the back side of the photos automatically if your dad was one of those nerds people who added notes to his pics:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/BI

There’a little bit of AI in there too. For no reason, hidden under “Advanced settings”, there’s an options to auto rotate your pics, take out lines and streaks and even a correction that reduces the edge brightness on photos that have curled with age.

Photography purists will have stopped reading several minutes ago, but the FastFoto is a great advertisement for not upgrading any of your desktop add-ons for years, just so you can be pleasantly surprised at how much better things have got when you finally do.

It’s an expensive excuse to drag out a box of photos, but so far, I’d say it’s worth every dollar – just for the delight at seeing your old pics remastered so quickly, and the excuse to get them out.

And I’ve still got a raid on the parents’ collection to go.

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