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marktrade

Thinking of getting a ScanSnap iX500

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marktrade    614

I realize it's probably not the best device for professional archival image quality and color accuracy, but I've been watching videos of this thing in action and it just burns through magazine pages. I saw a guy use it to archive a searchable database of 96 volumes of an old camera enthusiast magazine. Yeah the results might be a bit cheap compared to a more careful flatbed color accurate process, but with everything that's been going in games journalism, I just feel like we all should be able to search and research our past, you know?

Maybe the technology will improve and the pages can be scanned again at higher quality, but the sheer amount of work that's left out there still to do, an ADF like the iX500 could give us something in the meantime. I've been researching other ADF scanners and it seems like most of them don't even support magazine pages, even the ones that costs tens of thousands of dollars. This one costs a few hundred.

I don't know, maybe I'm out of my mind? I'm somewhat new to this. I owned a couple flatbed scanners way back, about 10-12 years ago. I remember doing a lot of work with those, scanning my drawings, some comics, and few pages from magazines. The work was arduous. About 8 years ago I had to move. I had a big library of Next Generation magazines. They were big and heavy and I just could not take them with me. I wanted to scan them but it would have taken a ridiculous amount of time, and I didn't have the hard drive space anyway, and OCR wasn't too good back then. I feel like using the iX500 to get a complete library of Next Generation would be pretty cool, along with some other mags.

So what you think, Retromags? Am I loony or is it the world (maybe just this industry)?

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KiwiArcader    471

The iX500 is fine is you can put with 2 caveats, one big and one really big.

  1. You need to debind your mags to put through them. I have no issues with that but it wouldn't be any use to someone who wants to keep their magazines given the need to cut them up to put through the document feeder. E.g, it isn't any use for scanning the guy's Japanese Dreamcast issues as he want them back again.
  2. It is an A4 format scanner. If you have larger magazines like those produced by UK companies like Future PLC (Amiga Format, Nintendo 64">N64 Magazine, Edge etc) you are not going to be able to scan them unless you cut the page to hell and back. Even A4 size magazines that are stapled will require the outer pages being cut down to fit through the feeder.

Other than that it works well. One of my website members uses it for smaller mags almost religiously. I couldn't live with the A4 format limitation given the content in my collection so opted for an A3 scanner, its big brother, the Fujitsu fi-5650c. Much more usable for my UK mags.

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marktrade    614

It says in the spec that A3 is possible with a bundled carrier sheet, but I have not seen it in action.

You run OldGameMags? Nice to meet you.

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KiwiArcader    471

Carrier sheets are short-lived, only good for a few hundred scans, and require folding the original page so I don't think they are realistic for long term scanning of oversized mags.

Yep, OldGameMags is my little scanning baby. With 1700+ magazines scanned it gives Retromags a run for its money but they are different in that Retromags has a lot of USA and little UK content while OGM has heaps of UK/Australian but not much USA content so I tend to they complement each other :-)

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marktrade    614

Oh, and regarding the Japanese Dreamcast collection, I'd mail the pages back to him! I know that sounds cheeky but the pages would still be valuable to the extent that they could be scanned again later with better tech, or hung on walls or framed.

The fastest workflow that preserves the binding is overhead scanning, right? What do you think about those? Magazines don't exactly lay flat, though, and despite software corrections I haven't seen any examples that look very straight. Still researching.

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KiwiArcader    471

Those overhead scanners don't give the best quality as they use software to interpret the curvature of the open page. If you cannot afford an A3 document scanner then go for an A3 flatbed scanner. It will allow you to scan magazines without the need to de-staple/ debind them but it will be slower going. I'd guess the guy with the Dreamcast mags would prefer to get the magazines back intact.

If you do want to go for an A3 document scanner you could try eBay. I procured a Fujitsu fi-4530c (WIndows XP only) scanner which worked well for a good price then upgraded to the fi-5650c. It is hit and miss that way but I can only say I haven't had an issue buying off there. Mileage will vary ....

The Fujitsu scanner are out and out the best for color fidelity IMHO. They are the only scanners I have used that scan neon/fluorescent colors anything close to what they are on the printed page.

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marktrade    614

Wow, I just looked up the fi-5650c and there's one going for $395 refurbished on Amazon, cheaper than a new iX500. Another one used "like new" for $899 that its seller says has scanned less than 200 pages and is in perfect condition. That doesn't sound too bad!

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marktrade    614

If I get a flatbed it would definitely be an A3, but I very much want to address volume.

What is the new equivalent of the fi-5650c? Is it the fi-7160? I'm very dizzy from the options on document scanners.

What new scanner would you have your eye on, if you were buying one today?

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KiwiArcader    471

The fi-6670 is the new version of the fi-5650c. It's so similar I am using a fi-6670 input and output tray on my scanner. You can check it out at Fujitsu's website. Just search for the model. I have to warn you those ones are EXPENSIVE!!!!!!

As this is just a hobby I am no way going to buy one of those brand new. Geez .... sticker shock ......

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marktrade    614

Yeah! It seems the market for these are businesses that need to scan thousands of pages a day, whereas I would be happy for a machine that scans thousands of pages every couple months. So I am definitely looking at the used/refurbished prices, which vary considerably, probably because the typical market for these machines are willing to pay more for something that will last and not willing to risk paying less for something that works but may only work for another few months and fails at a critical juncture. If a machine only works for a few months, but it gets a few hundred volumes scanned, that'd be a win in my book.

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marktrade    614

Okay, I just ordered a used fi-6670 off Amazon with a 60-day warranty. That should be plenty of time to get at least a hundred volumes in and test the integrity of the machine. I ordered a stack paper cutter off eBay as well.

In about two or three weeks you guys can expect some issues of Next Generation, NextGen, PLAY, and even some Mac Addict if you're open to that. It's not a game-specific mag but it did do some games.

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KiwiArcader    471

Let me know how you get on. I use a knife and cut in about 2mm from the spine on glued magazines to avoid the bulk of the glue and straight down the middle on stapled magazines.

A couple of pointers re document scanners:

  1. The glass gets hot. That means if you have glue on pages, depending on how tacky it is, you will get glue sticking to the glass which causes stripes in the output. Older glue that is hard doesn't usually cause problems. Get yourself some Isopropyl alcohol and a lint free cloth and clean the glass often.
  2. Stapled mags (I don't know if you have any of those) have wider pages on the outer pages than the middle pages due to the fact that they need more paper to bend around. If you create a template for the outer pages you will find the scans of the inner pages have a big chunk of the scan plate visible. Either create two templates to cover the outer pages and another for the inner or just use an editing program to trim the excess off the scans yourself. Hard to explain but you'll see what I mean if you scan one :-)
  3. For bulk scanning use ISIS drivers with compatible software (ahh, those pesky nutters in the Middle East have given it a bad name) as these are dedicated to bulk scanning while TWAIN really isn't at all. I use Quickscan Pro but ScandALL Pro is also good (The non-Pro version doesn't work with ISIS drivers)

If you create your templates just right you will find you actually have to do next to no post-scanning editing at all.

Let me know if you have any issues and I'll do what I can to assist. Looking forward to seeing your scans.

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marktrade    614

Is isopropyl alcohol recommended by Fujitsu? I will have to look at their cleaning suggestions thoroughly. If I recall correctly there is daily cleaning regimen that involves cleaning the rollers as well.

Do you scan pages in portrait or landscape? I'd expect that in portrait the glue would only accumulate on one side, but faster, and in landscape the glue would spread out across the entire width of the glass, but accumulate slower.

I have very few stapled mags, but doesn't the software autosize each page? If not, then creating two templates sounds like a good idea.

In fact I have half the mind to scan both in portrait and in landscape, which later archivists might use to blend and remove errors or distortions that I don't notice until it's too late. The scanner's made for heavy duty and can scan a whole issue in minutes, so why not?

ISIS still makes me think of an ancient Egyptian goddess. I'm always confused when someone mentions it. I guess I don't follow the news very much.

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KiwiArcader    471

Fujitsu's F1 scanner cleaner is just Isopropyl alcohol :-)

Generally I scan in Landscape mode as I find it's easier creating templates in that mode, but that's just me. Each to their own ......

The software can determine page size etc but I scan with the backlight disabled to minimize bleed-thru which is very noticeable when scanning with a white background and when dark pages are scanned the software really doesn't do a good job of detecting the edges of the page. Templates solve that problem and once you have one setup for a magazine it's a breeze running subsequent issues through anyway.

The scanner is the bomb for sure but if you get a page jam it really deals to the offending page. LOL

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marktrade    614

So is anything lost when turning off the backlight? Does that mean you don't do any duplex scans, you're just scanning one side at a time?

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KiwiArcader    471

Yep. The upper scanning glass has got dust behind it causing lines and the servicing company hasn't answered my emails on the cost to have the unit scanning elements cleaned/replaced which is just marvelous when you live in a country with only one service agent for the thing.

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marktrade    614

Well I suppose that would be disappointing but since you say you wouldn't want to use it anyway, I guess nothing is lost?

I live a bit far from civilization as well and wonder how I would get it serviced, but the seller on Amazon assures me it has been fully serviced already, so I hope it's good for a few hundred volumes until something goes wrong that I can't fix on my own, and even then I hope it's within the 60 day warranty they offered me.

Really looking forward to it!

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KiwiArcader    471

Goodness yes, if I could do duplex scanning I would happily pay for the cleaning in an instant but getting them to reply is the issue right now. I have 1200+ mags to scan and having duplex would save a whole load of time and effort so email number three is on the way. Hopefully someone there wants to earn a few bucks right?

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marktrade    614

I think I'm confused on the workings on the machine. You mentioned turning off the "backlight" helps but if scanning both sides at once would help then don't you need light on both sides, front and back?

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KiwiArcader    471

That's correct. it turns off the backlight but the scanning elements still work fine. The backlight is the doc scanners equivalent of the white backing screen that you see on flatbed scanners. Because they are duplex you cannot have that physical screen so they use light to provide the feature. And with lights you can turn them on/off in the software. Pretty cool......

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marktrade    614

I guess I will find out more when my scanner arrives and I begin testing the settings.

So, 1200+ issues? Holy moly. Do you have a list of those somewhere? Are they mostly non-US? Maybe we can coordinate so that we don't end up scanning too much of the same stuff.

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KiwiArcader    471

They are mainly UK and Australian magazines. I have already scanned over 700 magazines :)

I have a few issues of EGM, a smattering of GamePro and a few Incite Video Gaming, Computer Games Strategy Plus and Computer Gaming World mags and that's about it for USA content. So anything you throw out in the USA category is likely not going to be anything that I probably have.

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marktrade    614

That's great! It's good to know we're covering optimal ground.

I just noticed that other scanners have their own "work in progress" threads over in Magazine Talk.

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KiwiArcader    471

Yep. You can create your own WIP page here.

I don't scan magazines for this site any more as I have my own site and I don't host content from other sites so that we all have a different slant so to speak to encourage people to visit the different sites out there providing retro magazine content. If you want to have your scans hosted there as well as here let me know as I will happily make them available with your blessing etc but if you want them here only that's perfectly fine too.

When you get your scanner let me know if you want any assistance/ pointers etc as I am happy to help where I can to get a person up and running scanning magazines for the cause of preservation. I can provide QuickScan Pro templates for my scanner too as more than likely they will work on your model as well if you have the same software. If you receive ScandAll Pro I cannot help as I do not have that software......

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