The Scan Your Entire Life Holiday Gift Guide – 2017

by | Last updated Jan 29, 2018 | Scanning Photos, Miscellaneous | 32 comments

Christmas presents wrapped

Welcome to my first annual Holiday Gift Guide!

Whether you need something “techie” for your Dad, meaningful for your Mom, big for yourself, fun for your close friend, or a gift card idea for someone you just know is going to send you a gift card, Scan Your Entire Life is here to help.

My Holiday Gift Guide is full of ideas handpicked by yours truly, all for those who have a love or an appreciation of scanning analog photos and the close topics to it — such as digital photography and genealogy.

I've wanted to put one of these guides together for many years now, but never was able to put it together in time. This year, you can see I planned ahead — I hope you enjoy it!

$100 Amazon Gift Card

Up to $100 Amazon Gift Card Sweepstakes!

This is my first giveaway I've ever done, so what better time than during the Holidays!

All you have to do is go through all of the gift ideas in my list, and tell me in the comments below, in at least a few sentences or more, which single gift item you would most like to give someone you care about, or buy for yourself. Explain in detail why you would like to give or buy yourself this item the most.

I'll randomly draw a single winner from all of the applicable comments, and award them a $50 Amazon gift card.

If 100 or more people leave an applicable comment, I'll raise the value and award the single winner a $100 Amazon gift card instead!

Make your comments personal, honest, heartfelt, fun, creative or all of the these! And if you're hoping to win the $100 card, then I'd recommend you share this post with your friends! 

Good luck, and I can't wait to read your comment!

* Complete sweepstake's rules at bottom of this post 

Update 01/06/2018:

Congratulations to Tammy C. for being the lucky winner in the random drawing of eligible comments! After contacting her, she accepted and received the $50 Amazon Gift card via email. Unfortunately, there weren't enough contestants to raise the award to $100.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to enter. I'm hoping to make next year's sweepstakes even better!

Before you begin to dig into my list, here's an important disclosure: Some of these links below are affiliate links, and will earn me a small commission if you click through one them right before you make a purchase. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. If you use these links, thank you so much for helping to support this website!

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Prynt Pocket - iPhone Photo Printer

Prynt Pocket, Instant Photo Printer for iPhone

Comes in 4 different colors (including purple)

I've haven't used one of these Prynt Pockets yet, but I've seen them around the internet this year and have admired them.

There are so many social events and meet-ups where I can see how fun and useful this would be to use.

You would get the quality of photo taken by your “always with you” iPhone camera, but the ability to print out your favorite snapshots and share them with your friends right there on the spot.

  • No ink necessary- photos are printed directly onto ZINK (zero ink) Sticker Paper
  • Peel off the adhesive backing to turn any photo into a sticker!

I know many of us think we live in an all-digital world, but there are times when putting up a special snapshot on your mirror, or on the refrigerator door, can't be beat.

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Image3D RetroViewer - Build Your Own Reel!

Image3D RetroViewer - color variations

Their RetroViewers come in 4 different colors

“Bring a smile to everyone that picks it up”

How cool is this!? I'm sure most of us remember how insanely popular the View-Master was. Now with the RetroViewer, you can get the same experience today, AND have your own reel made from your own photo collection.

Your 2D images won't come out in 3D, but you can add text to your photo that will appear in 3D inside the RetroViewer.

This could make a fun way to share some of your most favorite photos from your life with younger members of your family — or just yourself if you remember how fun the View-Master was!

Check Sale Price:

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Epson Perfection V600 Photo

For the longest time, the Epson Perfection V600 Photo has been the workhorse scanner for most people wanting to archive high quality scans from their analog photo collections, at a reasonable price.

Epson V600 Transparency Lid OpenSure, we'd all like to be able to afford the Epson V850 Pro, or even the Epson V800 Photo, but we can't. Instead, with the V600, we get the sweet spot between quality and price.

You can scan a large variety of items ranging from paper prints, to documents, 35mm slides, negatives and medium format film. You can even safely remove the lid and scan three dimensional objects if you want!

Like all Epson Perfection scanners, a copy of Epson Scan scanning software is included. This is one of the best scanning software out there, giving you professional results, and easier to learn than most others.

And you also have the ability to scan your film with DIGITAL ICE, which uses a hardware-based technique of infrared light to detect dust and scratches and then removes them from your digital scans. It's not 100% perfect, and doesn't work with every type of film stock ever made, but you will definitely be impressed at how much time this will save you from having to manually paint this dust out in an image editor later!

Because this is such a great all-around flatbed scanner, this is the scanner I've chosen to use to demonstrate “how to scan” in my upcoming “step-by-step” video training course I'll be putting out fairly soon! (Yes, you're reading it here first!)

If you're looking for the highest quality and speed in a flatbed, especially with your film, look to the Epson V800 or V850. But, if your content in the sweet spot between quality and speed, you can't go wrong with the Epson V600 Photo.

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Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 Instant Film Camera

Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 - Graphite

“Graphite” color option

Not everyone had the pleasure of living during the time when Polaroid instant cameras were so popular.

You took a photo, the fancy auto-developing print immediately spit out the front, and then you and your friends debated whether shaking it would make it develop faster.

Within a minute or two — shaking didn't make it go faster by the way — your glossy instant photo was viewable right in your own hands. It was pure magic!

Now Polaroid is back (from the dead) with a new model! This time in two different colors.

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Kinetronics Anti-Static Microfiber Cloth

It's called the Anti-Static Tiger Cloth made by a company I love called Kinetronics. They make a variety of inexpensive products used to clean and care for your analog photo collection.

I have a thinner cloth that came in their Scanner Cleaning Kit that I use exclusively for cleaning dust, dirt and oily fingerprint areas on my scanner bed.

And I also have their thicker version I only use to wipe clean paper prints before they go into a scanner.

They're not always orange; sometimes they come in a gray color — those they call “Panther” cloths.

These are definitely a couple items I couldn't live without when scanning.

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SmugMug Membership

“SmugMug is the safe, beautiful home for all your photos”

Smugmug text with green hand-drawn smiley face graphic
SmugMug is my absolute favorite photo sharing website.

Their plans give you unlimited storage for all your photos — “always and forever!

I also love their dedication to make all of their photo galleries elegant and completely ad free. They make even average looking photographs look beautiful and classic.

And most importantly, this is the website I use to display private photo collections and videos with my family — because it’s really easy for non-tech family members to navigate without lots of help or personalized instructions. You can also add photos directly from the most popular photo managers.

Their plans start at just $3.99 per month when you pay for the full year. There's also a free, 14-day trial. Access SmugMug on the go with their iOS and Android apps.

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Western Digital My Passport Portable External Hard Drive - 1TB-4TB

Western Digital My Passport Portable External Hard Drive - 1TB-4TBI've always been a huge fan of Western Digital hard drives.

They usually cost a little bit more than drives made by their closest competition, but they're worth it when you're risking your irreplaceable data to a drive's reliability and longevity!

So many of us are moving towards desktop and laptop computers with smaller amounts of internal solid state (SSD) storage, that we need vast amounts of external storage to store and organize our massive family photo and video collections on.

This is where a nice little external storage drive like the Western Digital My Passport comes in. They're small, fast, affordable, and now come in several colors to match your own style.

These smaller drives come in 4 different storage sizes — 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB.

If you're looking for larger amounts of storage, Western Digital also has their My Book Desktop line of drives which are slightly larger. But they come in 3TB, 4TB, 6TB and 8TB storage sizes.

Both of these models also make great backup drives! (For example when used with Apple macOS' Time Machine application).

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Popsockets - Expanding Stand and Grip for Smartphones

Popsockets - Expanding Stand and Grip for Smartphones

Have a custom design in mind? Create your own!

The popularity of these PopSockets seems to be exploding this year. You've probably been seeing them around everywhere, even if you weren't aware of what they are.

Think of them like a little “kick stand” for your phone. They start out collapsed fairly right against your phone, and then they pop out for multiple uses.

Pop them out as a stand so you can easily watch a movie on your smart phone resting on a flat surface.

Or Pop it out and wrap your fingers around it. This will give you a secure hold when you're moving around quickly with your expensive smart phone in your hand.

But, what makes them truly at the top of most people's stocking stuffer list this year, is the vast amount of colors and prints they come in. The selection is almost endless!

And if you still can't find the look that matches your one-of-a-kind personality, you can create your own from a custom design you have in mind. Better yet, use a photo from in your family's scanned photo collection! 

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AncestryDNA Test Kit

“6 million people have learned more about themselves. Are you next?”

With the results of an AncestryDNA Test Kit, you or a loved one can discover your ethnicity and connect with distant relatives, by being a part of the largest DNA network in the world. Your unique results will reveal traces of your family history — who your ancestors were and which of the 150 ethnic regions around the world they came from.

It's just three steps:

  1. Order a kit with easy-to-follow instructions
  2. Activate your kit and return your saliva sample in a prepaid package to our state-of-the-art lab
  3. In roughly 6-8 weeks your results will be ready online

What can be better than making your family members spit into a small tube for the Holidays!

And if you bought multiple kits — one for each member of the family — you could have a race to see who can fill their spit up to the line first!

In all seriousness, once you get involved scanning and organize your family's analog photo collection, it's a very natural feeling to want to know more about your family and where they came from. Getting you or a family member's DNA tested is a great way to start on this journey.

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Epson FastFoto FF-640 High-Speed Photo Scanning System

World's fastest photo scanner, scanning thousands of photos as fast as 1 photo per second.”

It's not meant to give you the highest quality scans possible, but it was created to produce digital scans of your paper prints at blistering speed! The FastFoto FF-640 can scan and save 60 photos per minute at 300 dpi, or 33 photos per minute at 600 dpi.

You can scan wallet-size, 4 x 6″, 5 x 7″, 8 x 10″, and panoramic photos. And FastFoto FF-640 High-speed Photo Scanning SystemIt also can scan both sides of your photos at the same time, capturing handwritten captions family members may have written on the back!

The FF-640 includes custom FastFoto software that “bring new life to old photos automatically with Smart Photo Fix (SPF) Technology, red-eye reduction and color enhancement features.”

It also includes a copy of Abbyy FineReader, so you can scan documents with character recognition so they will be searchable later on your computer.

However, with all of the positives with the scanner, this isn't a perfect solution for everyone. I've heard there are issues with it when scanning thicker Polaroid prints. And you won't be able to scan film with this scanner. For film, you will still need to purchase a flatbed or a dedicated film scanner.

Negative reviews from owners say there is a potential for jams when you have photos that are curled. So, the flatter your prints, the better luck you will have getting consistent scans. And because this is a feed scanner, you're likely to experience some light streaking marks across some of your scans. This just seems to be normal occurrence with auto-feed type of scanners. And parts like the small rollers inside that pull your items through will get dirty over time and will need cleaning as part of your routine maintenance.

Still, if speed is what's important to you, then it's certainly worth looking into this scanner, if hearing about the cons doesn't discourage you.

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Ancestry Membership

Ancestry Family Tree

An AncestryDNA Test Kit is definitely a fun start for someone to learn all about where they came from. But, if you want to take it to the next level, there's nothing like the ability to tap into the world's largest online family history resource.

Ancestry is an online membership, that gives you access to an almost endless amount of historical records to help you learn all about you and your entire family — going back many generations!

Additionally, the best part is you can build out your own family story with a graphical online family tree!

And, it's very possible, a lot of the work on your family tree might already have been done for you by someone others — your tree will be tapping into theirs!

You can give someone 6 or 12 months of access, in either their “U.S. Discovery” (Access to all U.S. records) or their “World Explorer” (Access U.S. and international records) membership.

Their gift membership will include:

  • Access to billions of historical records
  • Amazing tools for growing an interactive family tree
  • The chance to connect with fellow members
  • Mobile apps for searching and sharing on the go
  • Award-winning support from our help center

My wife has been a member of Ancestry for years now, and has become one of her favorite hobbies now to learn about her family, as well as my mine!

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ScanCafe Photo Scanning

Box filled with paper prints, surrounded by prints outside of it. 21 cent per scan badge.

Of the professional photo scanning services I’ve tested, ScanCafe hands down has the best quality.

Paper prints are painstakingly scanned by hand on Epson flatbeds. Film is scanned using industrial-grade Noritsu and Nikon dedicated film scanners.

Then, technicians correct your images manually, one at a time. There is no one-button automation here. This all explains why each scan looks like it was individual cared for.

And then when you consider how much lower their prices are than everyone else’s, this company is extremely hard to beat.

ScanCafe gift cards make great gifts for family members you know will never be willing to scan their own collections — or let you borrow them to scan for yourself! 

20% Off ScanCafe Discount Code: "CURTIS20"

I negotiated a special discount for Scan Your Entire Life readers. When you enter this promotional code while placing your order, you will save 20% off your entire order.

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Dell UltraSharp 31.5" Ultra HD 4K Monitor with PremierColor

Once you start working with a lot of digital photographs at one time, having a really large computer monitor becomes a well-deserved luxury item that really pays off!

The Dell 31.5″ UP3216Q is a monitor I dreamed about and finally purchased this past year — and boy am I happy I did! This thing is enormous when compared to the 24″ monitors I was using before. And it's running at 4k, giving you a resolution in Ultra HD at 3840 x 2160 pixels. That's four times the resolution of full HD (typical 1920×1080 resolution of most high quality 24″ monitors and smaller).

Equally great is this monitor comes color calibrated from the factory, giving you immediate access to accurate and consistent colors.

With PremierColor, your monitor provides superb color precision with four color spaces, including 99.5% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB, 100% REC709 and 87% DCI-P3 coverage – ideal to suit every color professional’s needs.”

If all of this sounds like a foreign language to you, what this means is that when you're working with your scanned or digital photos, doing color correction work, what your eyes are seeing on the monitor are almost guaranteed to be the correct colors.

And did I say this monitor was a monster? It's huge! I mean, when I'm looking at a wall of thumbnail images in my image managing software, I am able to see so many more than I did before. And images displayed at full screen size are so big it's almost breathtaking!

I'm definitely spoiled now. I'm never going back to a smaller monitor again.

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Western Digital My Book Duo Desktop Raid External Hard Drive (4 TB - 20 TB)

Western Digital My Book Duo Desktop Raid External Hard Drive - Back

The My Book Duo drive can serve as a quasi-docking station with 2x USB 3.0 Type-A hub ports for accessories, including additional storage, keyboard and mouse, card readers, USBs, or phone sync and charge

Sometimes a single portable or desktop external drive just isn't enough storage space.

That's when this Western Digital My Book Duo Desktop Raid hard drive mini-tower comes into play!

It comes in 6 different sizes: 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB and now 20TB!

And for those seeking speed, the massive capacity drive comes pre-formatted in RAID-0 out of the box. This is a fancy name for letting you know when you save data to the drive, it's evenly written across all of the drives inside. This means when the data is accessed, it will load much faster because each portion of the data is being loaded from a separate drive, all at the same time!

If safety from losing data is more important to you than speed, you can re-format the drive using RAID-1 for redundancy (data mirroring), or use it as two independent drives (JBOD) with the included WD Drive Utilities software.

Even though I currently use a 20TB CalDigit T4 RAID Array thunderbolt drive for all of my photo collections and video editing needs (because of the speed the thunderbolt connection gives me), I'm planning on buying one of these 20TB My Book Duos to keep a constant backup of my CalDigit tower.

My photo and video collections are 20TB's of data I can't afford to ever lose, and the My Book Duo's affords me a lot of storage space in a single enclosure for a very reasonable price!

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BackBlaze - Unlimited Online Backup

“Never Lose a File Again with the World's Easiest Cloud Backup”

Rows of tall server and storage racks

“350 million GB stored & over 20 billion files recovered (and counting)”

There's a very popular “Rule of 3” that is often used when discussing how many backups you need.

This rule states you need 3 total copies. Two of them you store locally (in your home), and need to be on two separate types of devices. And the third copy, a very important one, needs to be stored offsite (outside of your home).

Why an off-site copy? Ask anyone that has ever lost everything in their home to theft, flood or fire.

BackBlaze is my personal choice of online backup service; the easiest solution to having an off-site copy.

I've been using them around the clock since June of 2014. You can upload an unlimited amount of data — we're talking multiple TB's (terabytes) if you have it with your massive photo and video collections!

Here's how easy it is:

  1. Install their software on your Mac or Windows computer
  2. Choose which drives (internal and external) you'd like to backup (You can even choose which folders to include or exclude if you are very particular)
  3. Turn it on and forget about it —Your data starts backing up and automatically backs up from here on out!

Anytime you make a change to any of your local files, you will know a backup version of this file will soon be on its way to the cloud.

And sure, if you have TB's of data, your initial backup could take weeks or even months. But, even if it takes this long, it's still a better solution than your offsite backup solution you have now — which is probably nothing.

Worried all that uploading will slow down your internet surfing? You can set it to auto-throttle or a manually selected throttle speed to meet your needs.

Worried about your stuff being on someone else's servers? Anyone should be. Here's what they say about their security:

“Backblaze takes security seriously. All data is stored in our secure data centers with 24-hour staff, biometric security and redundant power. Learn how Backblaze uses encryption to protect your data. New: Backblaze has enabled two-factor authentication. Now a 6-digit code can be sent to your phone during sign-in for an extra layer of security.”

Get peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely in the cloud. Back up your Mac or PC just $5/month.

BackBlaze Gift Annual subscription

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Epson Perfection V800 Photo & V850 Pro Flatbed Scanners

If you're looking for the highest quality flatbed scanner to scan your paper print collection, and especially your film collection (slides, negatives and medium format), then look no further than the Epson Perfection V8xx series of scanners.

What's great about the V8xx series (and the 7xx series that came before it), is they include a dual lens system.

3 of the 4 different types of film holders that come with both models

There's a high-resolution lens capable of 4800 x 9600 dpi, used when scanning your paper prints. Plus, there's also a super resolution lens capable of 6400 x 9600 dpi automatically used when scanning your film.

Additionally, both of these scanners really shine when scanning film because of its ability to hit a 4.0 Dmax in tonal range. What this means is when you scan images that have dark areas and fine details in the shadow areas, both of these scanners will do a really good job of seeing those details and saving them in your digitally saved versions.

Cheaper pro-sumer level scanners have a lower Dmax number, and are much less capable at extracting fine details in dark shadowy areas of your photographs.

And your eyes aren't fooling you. the photo above of both models is accurate. They are the same enclosure, with slightly different hardware inside, and different extras that come with each.

I have an article that will explain in detail the difference between the Epson V800 Photo and V850 Pro, but basically the 850 Pro will give you higher Image Quality (slightly), Faster Scanning Times (A little bit), Additional Film Holders, Different Version of Silverfast Scanning Software and Included Scanner Calibration Software.

If you're scanning a lot of film, or your photo collection is made up with a combination of a lot of film and paper prints, and you are seeking the highest quality the convenience of a flatbed can give you, then you can't go wrong with either of these two scanners.

Check Sale Price: V800 Photo

Check Sale Price: V850 Pro

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Polaroid POP 3x4" Instant Print Digital Camera with ZINK Zero Ink Printing Technology

Polaroid POP Instant Print Digital Camera - Colors

Pick from 6 fun colors

Maybe you like the idea of the Polaroid Originals OneStep 2, but you'd still prefer to have a digital version of the photos you take as well. The Polaroid POP is the answer.

Small enough to “POP” it into your bag, but feature-packed enough to shoot stills with image stabilization and a built-in flash, 1080p video, and a 3.97″ LCD viewfinder/touchscreen on the back.

And then of course, there is the ever so unique ability make 3″x4″ instant prints wherever you are, without a computer.

There's also a self-timer that allows you enough time to join in a group shot or “strike a pose” for the perfect selfie.

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Fracture - Your Images Printed Directly On Glass

“Fracture will change the way you think about photo printing”

Fracture - Photos Printed Directly on GlassI haven't turned one of my cherished family photos into a Fracture photo printed on glass — but I want to!

So, I added this to my Gift Guide list here because they just look really cool! I'd love to see one up close in our house.

Fractures are different from traditional pictures and frames. Instead of printing on paper, we print directly on glass. Instead of separating the picture, frame, and mount, a Fracture combines all three into a beautiful, lasting, final product.”

I've admired their marketing that I've seen around the internet all this year, and I even signed up for their mailing list. I'm going to order one soon, when I'm not so busy making long and challenging posts like this one on my website!

Their sizes range from small squares at 5″ x 5″, all the way up to extra large rectangles at 28.8″ x 21.6″. Prices start at just $15.

Think a family member would like one of their photos elegantly printed on glass? …. They offer gift cards!

Check Sale Price:

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Sweepstakes Rules

  • No purchase is necessary to enter.
  • Must be at least 18 years old to enter.
  • Five entries per person only. Each entry must be about a different gift guide item.
  • A valid entry is a single comment describing a single item of interest from the above gift guide list.
  • Winner will be notified shortly after Jan 1st, 2018 via email. So be sure whichever email address you use when making your comment is one you check and doesn't move a high level to a spam filter.
  • The winner who accepts the winning gift card will be added to an updated version of this post.
  • If winner doesn't respond via email within a reasonable length of time (1 week), a new winner will be notified.
  • Void where prohibited by law.

Are You Ready to Get Serious With Your Photo Collection?

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Are You Ready to Get Serious With Your Photo Collection?

Join 10,280+ people enjoying the exclusive newsletter, tutorials, occasional blog updates, and tips and tricks you won't find anywhere else on this website sent right to your inbox.

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What Everybody Ought to Know When Naming Your Scanned Photos – Part 1
What Everybody Ought to Know When Naming Your Scanned Photos – Part 1

As my own scanned photo collection grows, it has really become obvious to me how thankful I am for the added attention I have been putting into the filenames I give to all of my scanned images.

When you’re scanning, it’s really easy to get into a “robotic” mindset where you are just trying to scan as many photos as possible in a sitting. So when you get to that blank field each time that asks you to type in a name for the file, it’s tempting to just quickly bang out a few descriptive words with little thought to how useful they will be to anyone later.

The DPI You Should Be Scanning Your Paper Photographs
The DPI You Should Be Scanning Your Paper Photographs

One of the most important decisions you face when scanning anything with your scanner is choosing what dpi (“dots per inch”) to scan with. And specifically for this post, what is the best dpi to use when scanning and archiving your 8×10″ and smaller paper photographic prints – which for most people, make up the majority of our pre-digital collection.

Making this decision was very challenging for me and certainly a huge part of my 8 year delay. The reason for this is that dpi is the critical variable in a fairly simple mathematical equation that will determine several important outcomes for your digital images.

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