I tested it by scanning over 500 photos and my verdict is that the Epson FastFoto FF-680W will save you hours, or even several days in time by digitising your family collection of old printed photos from boxes/albums photos into JPG or TIFF with ease.
First I downloaded the FF-680W drivers and scanner software from the Epson Australia website.
As you can see the scanner looks quite different packed (below) to how it looks in action (above). So the next step is to unfold the lid and pull out the tray.
The default connection method is via WiFi, USB cable to your computer is also an option (cable supplied).
WiFi can be setup via WPS to connect to your modem/router. I have WPS disabled to improve security. So I connected via USB and the Epson software copied my WiFi settings from my laptop to the scanner which is quite clever.
I tried using the scanner via WiFi and USB cable. Cable was a bit more reliable and faster.
Software Setup Tips & Tricks for the Best Scans
The “Settings” button in the top right corner is very important. Visit it before scanning.
You can either use the same folder for all scans or choose the folder in which your scanned photos will be stored and the naming convention on a batch by batch basis. Default is FastFoto_0001_a etc.
If possible it makes sense to scan your photos from oldest to newest to make sure the file names can be sorted chronologically.
Choose DPI : 300dpi scans is what the marketed one photo/second scan speed is based on, 600dpi is what I recommend which takes about 3 seconds per photo, 1200 is interpolated (not real resolution don’t bother using this).
You can choose file format JPEG (compressed) or TIFF (uncompressed) as well as whether the back of photos with writing on them are auto scanned. I chose TIFF.
I ticked Autorotation, curled photo correction and reduce lines and streaks.
Enhancements can be made directly to the scanned photo or to a second copy of the photo. I decided to keep just the software enhanced files and not the unenhanced faded originals.
Lastly you can choose to auto upload scanned photos to either or both Dropbox / Google Drive.
I found that feeding in photos of different sizes caused jams. It’s better to scan half a dozen photos at a time of the same size.
Auto back of photo scan picked up the advertising logos of the photograph paper eg Kodak but it was also very useful at picking up writing on the back of photos.
There were very few jams once I decided upon scanning 6 photos at a time. Jams are more likely when photos in the input are heavily curled or a mixture of sizes and orientation eg portrait and landscapes, square and rectangles.
Should You Buy The Epson FastFoto FF-680W?
I have to agree with John Davidson at the AFR, the FF-680W is 2018’s best gadget because it is a such a huge improvement on scanning photo prints one by one on a flatbed scanner.
With an RRP of $799 and a retail price of about $700 the only catch is price as this is not a cheap device.
The question becomes how valuable is it to you your family and future generations to be able to see digital versions of all the printed photo memories you have stashed away in a cupboard somewhere?
What you could do to offset the cost of buying this photo scanner is instead of buying your family birthday presents this year, offer to scan their baby/childhood photos for them and give them the photos on a USB stick.
This would be a far more valuable gift than a physical present or gift voucher.