A Of course, the companies manufacturing such gizmos like to play up the benefits of their products featuresand its true that a $500 scanner can do things a $100 scanner cant. But for genealogists, its kind of like choosing between a Ford or a Rolls Royce: Although the Rolls offers lots of bells and whistles, you’d probably opt for the cheaper Ford if all you really care about is getting from point A to point B.
We recommend family historians scan photographic prints at 300 to 600 dpi for archival purposes. (If you plan to enlarge any far beyond their original size, however, youll probably need to scan those at a higher resolution.) Today, flatbed scanners in the $80 to $100 range offer 1,200-dpi or higher optical resolutionmore than enough for the type of scanning youre doing.
If you have a lot of photos to scan, you might want to pay a little extra to get a model with a document feeder or other convenience features. Old photos, which often have cardboard backings, won’t work with feeders, though. So you’d have to skip the feeder anyway if you’re working with heritage photos.
(Note that slides and negatives require a scanner built for that purposerather than a regular flatbedto get the best results. Such models have high resolutions and correspondingly high price tags.)
Likewise, youll probably find that the photo-editing and -organizing software that came with your scanner or computer will work fine for your needs. Once youve had an opportunity to get familiar with the programs setup, you might decide you want to step up to another program that has additional features or an interface better-suited to your working style. Adobes $100 Photoshop Elements is one popular choicebut you certainly dont need to shell out $650 for the professional Photoshop program, which is loaded with fancy features youll probably never need.