An affordable way to save your photos
Even though nearly everyone has a camera available to them via their smartphones, that wasn’t always the case. I remember a time when photos were captured on film and had to be developed at the store. It wasn’t always cost-effective and it took a lot of time so I’m glad that the world has moved into a more digital realm, but what do I do to preserve all of those important memories that were once captured on photographic paper? Until now, there haven’t been a large number of options for consumers at home. Thankfully, Veho, an electronics company based out of the UK does now offer a slide and negative scanner called Smartfix.
The Smartfix device is a scanner that allows you to convert all your old 135 slides and 135/110/126 negatives into digital images. It’s a standalone scanner with a 2.4″ LCD screen for previewing images. You can transfer your film negatives and slides directly to an SD card from the scanner. The scanner is PC and Mac compatible (viewing only) and supports up to 32GB SDHC/SD cards (not included). The Smartfix is aptly named as it has built-in auto-exposure, color balance, and other image enhancements to make sure images are clear and crisp.The Smartfix is designed to be compact. It measures 5.6 inches x 4.5 inches x 4.7 inches and only weighs 12.8 ounces. The scanner is compatible with both NTSC and PAL video formats.
I have included the specs as listed on the website below.
- Lens Specification: F=4.8, f=12.95mm
- Color Balance: Automatic
- Exposure Control: Automatic & Manual adjustment
- Support Film Size: 135 Negative & Slide (3:2)
- Auto Cropping: 110 Negative (4:3) (optional), 126 Negative (1:1) (optional)
- Auto Converting: Color Negative Film (135, 110, & 126), Black & White Negative Film
- Fixed Focus
- EV (brightness) Adjustment: Yes, +/- 2.0 EV
- Light Source: 3 white LED
- Power: Lithium Ion 3.7V/1050mAh Battery
Veho has classic packaging. Their branding includes black and white colors so their boxes are typically black and white with shades of gray. The front of the Smartfix box has an image of the device along with “Veho” and “Slide & Negative Scanner – SMARTFIX” stamped on it. The name of the product is also printed on the top of the box and the specs along with images of the slide accessories are printed on the sides. The back of the box shows a nice photo of the device in use and the basic details of the scanner. Veho did a really nice job of describing the product on the box. I actually think that it’s summarized better than on their website.
When you open the box you will find the scanner nestled in between cardboard crates and the quick start guide, cleaning brush, USB-A to Mini-B USB cable, 3.5mm jack to yellow RCA cable, one (1) 135 slider tray and several negative tray options. The scanner itself has a very nice Tacton rubber touch finish to it. The operational buttons are on the top and the ports are on the back. Even though the device is somewhat compact, I could see it benefitting from a carrying case since there are so many parts to it.
The first thing you are instructed to do is to make sure the scanner is charged. The Smartfix comes with a rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery which sits inside the battery door found on the bottom of the device. When you plug the scanner into a USB port, it will charge the battery. There is no wall adapter included, but it’s compatible with standard USB wall chargers. If the LED is red, then it is charging and the light will automatically turn off when it’s fully charged. You can operate the scanner while it’s charging if you wish (the LED will turn blue).
When you turn on the Smartfix, you will be instructed to insert an SD card if you haven’t already. For testing purposes, I used an 8GB SanDisk SD card. The process is pretty straightforward. You place your selected negatives into the appropriate tray — in my case the 110 negative tray — and select the type of negative you are sending through by pressing the “Type” button on the top of the scanner. A small icon in the bottom lefthand corner of the LCD will change between a slide, 35mm negative, B/W, 110, or 126. Once you have the appropriate size selected, you can slide your negative tray through the scanner. You will have to manually push the tray through the scanning slot. On one side of the tray, there are notches that lock into place on once they are in the scanner. As you push the tray through the scanner you will feel the click of the notches. You will still need to center your image on the LCD before scanning the negative but the notches help prevent you from skipping over an image too quickly.
During the course of my testing, I discovered that you cannot save images directly to your computer from the scanner. It’s sort of a bypass option. Here are the different ways you can use the scanner.
- Save to SD Card: When you scan a negative or slide, you can save that new image directly to the inserted SD card. The image will be saved as a JPEG.
- View Images on PC: You can view images saved to your SD card when a PC is connected to the scanner via the USB cable. The option for PC > SD Link will appear on the screen before you go to scan. If you select ‘Yes,’ the SD card will appear on your desktop and you can look through the saved images. If you choose this option, you cannot scan other images while you are in this mode.
- View Images on TV: Veho includes an RCA cable with the scanner so that you can connect it to your television if you wish. Similar to viewing images on a PC, this option will only give you the ability to see what has already been saved. You will use the slideshow option on the scanner and sift through the images on the SD card.
The process is pretty easy to get through and as much as I appreciate all the automated tasks that the Smartfix provides, one thing I would have liked to have control over was the quality at which the scanner captures the scanned image. The pictures that I saved were saved as JPG files at 180DPI. I’m not sure if the scanner was programmed this way to keep file sizes low, or if it has to do with the type of media you are scanning, but I thought the quality of the image could be a bit better.
The LCD display was actually quite impressive. It shows the scanned negative clearly and gives you a decent idea of what to expect from the saved image. I thought the controls were easy to follow and didn’t have any issues with the buttons capturing my input presses.
When you have 30-year-old film negatives lying around, you want a way to preserve them digitally. There are some options out there for being able to send them out to be processed, but that can be a nerve-racking experience. When you have irreplaceable memories locked in those pieces of film, you want them to stay safe. Veho has provided a good way of ensuring that you can not only preserve your memories but also keep them close to home.
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