Epson FastFoto FF-640 review: The perfect accessory for restoring old photos

Epson has just made digitizing old photographs a lot easier with its new FF-640 scanner.

The ‘FF’ in FF-640 stands for Fast Foto, we’re guessing. The 640, not too sure. But it does just one job. And it’s very good at it. For those who are not initiated into the art of scanning old photos and turning them digital in order to increase their lifetime, this device accurately scans photos of various sizes and uploads them into the computer – plain and simple.

And no, it doesn’t scan photos one-by-one. It devours photos in stacks! Up to 30 photos can be stacked and scanned through the scanner from sizes ranging from 2×2 inches all the way up to 8.5×120 inches for Windows PC. For the Mac unfortunately, it won’t be able to support that panorama scale and will only scale up to 8.5×14.5 inches.

Remember how little notes and dates were written on the back of old photographs, which acted like ancient tag editors for the photo? Well, Epson understands that even those little notes written at the back of the photos are important and have installed a secondary scanner just to scan the back of the photograph as well. So that is a very thoughtful and useful feature.

It generally takes about 1.6 seconds to scan a photo at 300 dpi and about 4.2 seconds for one at 600 dpi. Setting up the scanner is fast and easy and comes with its own Fast Foto application that allows the user to make minor edits to the digital image such as crop, rotate, remove red-eye, auto-enhance and restore colours.

The scanner does its job quite well, digitizing the details of the photo accurately, but just dropping the colour down a little bit. The photos are saved at 15:1 compression which make the size quite small, but that can be altered.

The scanner also outputs two photos  – one with the original colour and one with a little enhancement, should the user want to choose between the two. But there needs to be improvement in terms of colour output and sorting, since stacks of photos that need to be sorted into different years, or events always overlap, leading to confusion. The scanner is smart, asking if the user would like to keep the white bordering around the image, but doesn’t make the effort of removing dust and scratches in the enhancement. There’s no way of face detection as well.

But for a quick and easy-to-use scanner to bring back old photos to life the Epson does a very decent job. But for $649.99, it comes as a pretty costly convenience.