I posted the images first class to and didn’t hear anything further for a week. Then I received the sample images attached to a personalised e-mail explaining:

Due to scratches and the initial quality of your negatives you may find that the digital images sent to you as samples may not be to the standard you were expecting. The delay in sending you this email along with your samples has only been the result of trying different settings with our scanners in order to improve the quality of the image.

So, as I expected, there’s no scratch removal, automated or otherwise, on their service. That’s fair – they don’t claim they do it and at 27p per scan it’s not surprising. It seems as if they’ve tried quite hard to get a good quality scan but scratches and dirt are still very visible. A fair proportion of my negatives are probably in a similar condition and one of the reasons for paying someone else to scan in the slides is so that I don’t have to spend ages processing them myself.

The scans themselves are about 3700px by 2500px, resulting in JPEG files between 1.4MB and 1.7MB each. Their website has been updated: Previously it said that all scans were at 4800dpi, now it’s only that “where appropriate”. The 3200dpi scans from DB Images were about the same number of pixels and about 20MB in size. So the images from must have had a lot more compression applied.

Despite the higher compression, the detail in the scan is much better than at the equivalent resolution from DB Images, with considerably less graining. Overall the tone of the photos is closer to the original prints than the DB Images scans. There is a clear pink tint to the scan though, which is not present in the other scans and the images are marred by the scratches. I was able to remove the pink colour cast with the automatic level feature in The GIMP, but I’d rather not have to do that with all the photos. I suppose I could script it which would help. I’m also not sure why there was a colour cast on their scans in the first place. I didn’t get one when I scanned the negatives myself.

See all the sample scans here. I asked for the negatives to be returned, which they were within a few days. The ratio of the images was 1:1.45, which is fine. Overall the scans showed the highest detail of the three companies, despite the high compression of the JPEG images. This was probably due to the lack of post-processing, which seems to have removed the detail from the other companies’ efforts. Because of the colour cast, as well as the lack of dirt and scratch removal, I’m not sure this service is quite right for me. However, if you have nice clean negatives which you would like scanned at a high resolution and at a cheap price you might want to check out DB Images. As long as you are happy to make cosmetic adjustments to the images yourself.

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