How to Bring Old Memories Back to Life

Dear Savvy Senior,

What tips can you recommend for putting old photographs on to a DVD? My wife and I have acquired hundreds of family photos over the years, and would like to put them in a format that makes them easier to share with our kids, grandkids and other family members. We also have several dozen rolls of old home movies from the 1960’s on 8mm film, and stacks of old vinyl albums we’d like to convert too. What can you tell us? —Modernizing Mel

Dear Mel,

Converting old photographs, home movies and even vinyl records into DVD or CD format is known as digitizing, and it’s a smart move that will help protect and preserve your family memories as well as make them a lot easier to share. Here are some good resources and tips to help you get started.

If you have hundreds of snap shots your easiest option is to send them to a bulk scanning service. (949-474-7654) is one of the quickest and least expensive costing $50 (including shipping) for 1,000 photos, or 5 cents each. You’ll get JPEG files on a DVD in a few days, along with your original pictures.

If, however, you have some old photos you’d like to upgrade, try (866-745-0392) which offers a higher 600 dpi (dots per inch) resolution scan and will make color corrections for 27 cents per picture. These services can also convert old slides and film negatives too. Or, you can also do-it-yourself if you have a home computer and a scanner.

Home Movies
The best way to convert your old home movies from film to DVD is to outsource it. Companies like (800-865-7172) and (830-966-4664) digitize 8mm, 16mm, and super 8 film for around $20 for a 50-foot reel of 8mm film, which is about 4 and a half minutes of running time. Or, if you have bunches of old film try (866-386-6843), which converts a box full for $199.

If you’d like to do the conversion yourself, one option is to project your old movies on a screen or white wall and use a digital camcorder on a tripod to record the images as they play. The results won’t be as good as the outsourced options but it will digitize your film.

If you have old video tapes you’d like to digitize, you can use a video-conversion service like which will transfer a two-hour VHS to DVD for $15. Or, you can do it yourself if you have a DVD recorder and a VCR. If you don’t have a recorder, consider Sony’s compact DVDirect VRD-MC5 for around $200. This nifty device lets you plug in your VCR, pop in a DVD, and record. It also lets you transfer high-definition home videos directly from a camcorder to a DVD, as well as record digital photos to a DVD as a slideshow or just for photo storage.

Old Records
A great way to convert your old vinyl albums is with the Ion iTTUSB (; $120), a specialized turntable that plugs directly into your PC or Mac via a USB port. To convert cassette tapes you’ll need the Ion TAPE 2 PC ($150). These devices let you easily transfer music from records or cassettes to your computer. Once it’s on your computer, you can listen to your music, record it to CD, or transfer it to an iPod or MP3 player and take it with you.