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3 ways a US$70 scanner can change your life

Lesa Snider | April 8, 2015
Graphic geeks love to scan things. There's something satisfying about capturing an archival quality image of a printed photo, newspaper clipping, fabric or other cherished keepsake. These days it may seem quaint to use a desktop scanner to capture images, but there's many creative and archival tasks that only a desktop scanner can perform well.

Graphic geeks love to scan things. There's something satisfying about capturing an archival quality image of a printed photo, newspaper clipping, fabric or other cherished keepsake. These days it may seem quaint to use a desktop scanner to capture images, but there's many creative and archival tasks that only a desktop scanner can perform well.

And thanks to recent advances in optics and electronics, you don't need an expensive desktop-hogging monolith to get great results. Heck, today's $70 scanners — say, Epson's Perfection V19 and Canon's LiDE120 — aren't much bigger than your laptop and they do an incredible job. They get their power through the same USB cable they use to send data to your Mac (no power brick), which makes them ideal for pulling from a drawer or shelf when a scanning opportunity arises. In this column, you'll learn three great reasons to own a desktop scanner.

For family history

Owning a scanner is mission critical for family historians. While relatives may hesitate to let you walk (or fly) away with their prized photos and documents, they'll rarely object to you scanning them right then and there. Both scanners mentioned above are light enough to tuck into your bag when traveling.

Another important scanner feature for family detective work is an expandable or removable lid. That way you can scan book pages without tearing them out (and quite possibly, reducing your inheritance).

For social media

Scanning yearbook pages is just the ticket for Throwback Thursday — just be sure to enable the descreening feature in your scanner's software to avoid the moiré pattern that occurs when scanning a photo from a printed publication. You can even use Preview to highlight yourself in photos you scan.

While you're feeling nostalgic, try scanning old concert tickets, theater programs, or even cover art from a favorite CD or cassette to share with online friends — doing so can provoke powerful memories! When scanning old photos, give your scanner software's color restoration feature a spin; it can work miracles on faded photos and even improve ones that don't look faded (any photo more than a few years old has likely experienced some color shift). Even if you fancy yourself a Photoshop jockey, it's best to use the scanner's software to restore color, remove dust, and descreen images.

For graphic design or scrapbooking

Textures and backgrounds are fun and easy to create with a desktop scanner. Try scanning fabrics, wallpaper, flowers, or even leaves (though you might have to clean the scanner's glass afterwards). If you're a parent, you might document your child's life by scanning a baby blanket or article of clothing.

 

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