Rich Stroffolino

VueScan and Paying For Software

The recent trend to make all software a subscription is irksome. I am sympathetic to the fact that this does make software more immediate accessible. I well remember my college days where Adobe’s Creative Suite was priced well out of reach. At that time, I would have welcomed a Creative Cloud subscription option. But the industry seems increasingly bent on making these the mandatory model.

One piece of software I use all the time seems to split the difference nicely. I use VueScan from Hamrick Software for scanning film. For a scanner, I use a Pacific Image PrimeFilm XA, and while it comes with a license for a free Silverfast scanning suite, my shift to Apple Silicon meant I needed to pay for a newer version. VueScan essentially provides third-party scanning suite and drivers for a while variety of scanners, many of them out of support. So if nothing else, I like supporting a company helping to keep these old machines out of a landfill.

In terms of obtaining the software, VueScan has a sweet spot. You can either buy the software outright, with a guarantee of a year of software updates and perpetual usage. Or you can pay an ongoing subscription. There’s also a free trial that watermarks all your scans. For an old scanner like this, I like that I can support this company, but I’m not on the hook for bug fixes for something that I likely don’t need. But in the event I run into compatibility issues with a new machine down the line, likely I can pay for a newer version of VueScan that will work.

VueScan isn’t perfect. I wish they didn’t put film scanner functionality behind their most expensive licensing tiers (the lower tiers are more designed for old flatbeds). Its UI is Audacity-esque. But given the fairly niche market for this, I don’t blame them. I’m at the age where I appreciate the economies of software development. The ecosystem works only if devs are fairly paid for their work. But that also doesn’t mean I want to have to constantly pay to keep any software functionality. VueScan seems like a good model to give users meaningful choices.