Quick! Get Those Photos Scanned!
Let’s face it… scanning is B-O-R-I-N-G! Especially when you have a huge stack of items to scan. And wouldn’t most us love to have our years of old snapshot photos preserved in a digital format rather than sitting around in rarely opened albums and shoe boxes? RansenScan software is an inexpensive (US$30) batch scanning utility for Windows that can greatly speed up this process.
RansenScan doesn’t replace your scanner’s default software, but can be used instead of it. RansenScan helps speed up the process of batch scanning multiple documents in several ways.
With RansenScan, you can put as many photos as you can fit on your flatbed scanner glass, scan them all in one go, and the software attempts to detect the individual photos and split them out into separate images. That is the primary way it speeds up batch scanning, but it has other useful features that can speed up the process of scanning even if your items are so large that they need to be scanned individually, as was the case for my project. For instance, you can set up your preferred file name prefix and format in advance, auto-rotate images after scanning, apply color adjustments, fine tune the cropping, and add frames and captions to the scanned images. You can even open a file of previously scanned images and it will detect the individual photos and split them up for you.
For the majority of my testing of RansenScan, I was using the software to scan my Dad’s paintings. Some of the pieces were small but most were large. After using RansenScan for a few batches of scans, I tried going back to my Canon scanner’s default scanning interface, but I quickly realized I could work faster in RansenScan. I also tested it with a bunch of snapshots and a multi-photo scan that had been emailed to me.
RansenScan vs. CanoScan
Even though my scanner also has a feature to auto-crop multiple photos, the cropping controls and auto-naming features of RansenScan were big time savers. My scanner does a pretty good job of auto-detecting multiple images on the scanner bed, but I have never been able to figure out how to adjust the crop borders prior to scanning. Which means every image has to be re-cropped post-scan. You also have to press the preview button, select images, then press the scan button again and type a file name for each sub-image you have on the scanner bed.
Once I got into a rhythm with RansenScan, though, I was able to scan my stack of Dad’s paintings very quickly.
My RansenScan Wish List
RansenScan doesn’t have the prettiest interface, but it’s probably no worse than your scanner’s default software. There are a several areas where I feel RansenScan could be improved further:
- For most of my test photos and art work, RansenScan failed at extracting all sub-images.
- Cropping adjustments were almost always required, and the cropping tool isn’t as efficient as it could be. For instance, the four corners of the crop box are reserved for rotation, so each of the four sides had to be moved to resize the crop borders. You could cut this down to two actions if it were possible to use the corners, and then have a keyboard modifier or other action for rotation. Or only reserve one corner for rotation and allow resizing on the other three. (Still, at least I could figure it out, which is more than I can say for my scanner’s default software!)
- The main window can be full-screen, but the tuning windows, where it would be useful to see more detail, are a fixed size. It’s frustrating to have a large monitor and not be able to take advantage of the space for fine-tuning.
- Crop fine-tuning and color correction are separated into two different windows. It would be more efficient to merge them into one unified fine tuning window, perhaps with tabs for each section. That said, I was able to do most of my cropping in the larger main window, so I rarely needed to go to the crop fine-tuning window.
- The automatic color correction was always too extreme for the items I was scanning. It would be preferable if you could save a custom preset for color correction and have it applied automatically for the batch. Instead, I had to manually apply the same brightness and contrast adjustment for my images.
That said, scanning with RansenScan is still much more efficient than scanning with my scanner’s default interface. I loved being able to set up the resolution, file name, and settings for each batch job I was working on, and then plow through the job with minimum tweaking or typing of filenames and other tedious tasks. I’ve used more expensive batch scanning solutions in the past. Hamrick VueScan was useful when I was scanning thousands of slides and negatives, but for the more common photo print scanning, RansenScan is simple and effective.
Even though RansenScan allows you to set a base file name, this can be overridden prior to saving for times when you want to name some images differently. In my project, I had some paintings which need to be scanned in two or more parts because they were too large for my scanner. I was able to save these parts with ‘a’ and ‘b’ appended to the base name so I’d know they went together when I brought them into Photoshop to stitch together later.
More RansenScan Features
Some additional features of RansenScan which I did not personally utilize include:
- Multi-photo printing with a flexible layout tool.
- Copy sub-images to paste into another program without saving first.
- Add a frame and caption to each sub-image with custom colors, fonts, size and position.
- Show pixel dimensions of extracted sub-images.
- Add a text watermark identifier to each image.
- Batch process a folder of previously scanned multi-photo pages.
RansenScan provides a lot of keyboard shortcuts for even more efficiency, and they are displayed in the main window at all times so you can refer to them easily. The Ransen Software web site also has a lot of detailed information and tips, but after going though the quick tips on startup, you probably won’t need much more help to get started.
RansenScan runs on all versions of Windows going back to XP, and it does not care what kind of scanner you have. If you are concerned about compatibility, there is a no-risk free demo version you can try prior to purchase, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Now you have no excuse to get those old photo prints out of their shoeboxes! Just spend an hour or two each week and you’ll get it done in no time flat with the help of RansenScan.
(Version reviewed: RansenScan 4.02)
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