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  1. #1
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    Best way to scan photos for posterity

    I decided to start scanning some old photos I have which are beginning to show signs of deterioration. What would be a proper file size and dpi settings to consider using? I really don't know very much about picture scanning so my question will probably lack clarity. Please feel free to offer suggestions or ask for more clarification - but please specify what sort of info is needed of course! <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> I am using an Epson scanner/printer/copy unit. It is directly connected to my Mac but I don't think what computer I am using will make a difference as far as what sort of guidelines I should be following for scanning.

    Thanks for any help offered! <img src=/S/yep.gif border=0 alt=yep width=15 height=15>


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  2. #2
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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    Wow, you know from other Lounge threads that I'm a "journeyman" when it comes to photog work, but if I may... This Canon 8400 is the second scanner for me and I bought it because it has 35-mm slide scanning built in. So my first sojurn in using it was to scan in a LARGE collection of slides from mine and Billie's life together. That was a couple of years ago now and I just looked at the properties of those slides and the files show at 1,200 dpi. I didn't remember that. However, when I do routine scans, including photos once in awhile, I think my scanner toolbox is set to its own selected defaults - see attached. I think I'd do a little trial and error with yours to see what happens. Obviously, the larger the dpi, the larger the computer file AND the computer RAM required to handle the scanning.

    PS In addition, photo files taken with my new camera at 2,816 x 2,112 pixels and copied from the camera card to the computer, show up as 180 dpi, so I don't know what's best. I'd sure give 300 dpi a try though.
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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    I would look to scan at the highest resolution, i.e. use the max dpi your scanner supports. I would also look to save the data in a lossless file format, e.g. .TIFF. That way you will capture and retain as as much detail as possible. It follows that the output file size will be big your HDD may fill up quite quickly but since you want to preserve the pics it would be more sensible to archive them by burning them to CD or DVD and that's not expensive. Once you have a 'master' high res. (Read-Only) file you can then mess around with it using any one of the usual suspects, PhotoShop, Picsa, IrfanView, [insert favourite app. here].

    I'm still stuck on film because I have a good SLR and I've always used slides (colour positive / transparencies) that I can project across my living room to a big screen. When I want a digital copy I use Nikon film scanner that scans at something like 4000dpi. The .TIFF file output I get from one slide is about 65Mb! I can then print this out in any number of ways. At its native dpi the print size is only 35x24mm (the size of a slide) but with all that goodness squeezed into such a small area means I can enlarge it to A4 and it still looks good or I can crop out a tiny area and enlarge it a long way before it pixelates.

    Does that help?

    Ken

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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    A few minutes later...

    I've found a scanned slide on my hard drive here at work and done some quick tinkering in Irfanview to try and illustrate the benefits of scanning at as high a dpi as possible.

    As I mentioned in my previous post my starting file is a 4000dpi scan of a 35mm slide, saved as a .TIF that's 65Mb in size. The native print size is the same size as the slide, 35x24mm. The attached is an area of <1mm x 1mm cropped out of this file. When saved as a .TIF it's ~224Kb & too big for The Lounge so the attached is a full quality .JPG at a mere 10Kb. The image is grainy but you can see quite clearly that is a necklace. The point being that you are seeing the limitations of the original film image, not the digital representation of it. I'm not sure how much more I'd have to zoom in before you'd get the the bottom of the digital data and see actual pixelation.

    And all in only 10Kb.

    Ken
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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    I was side tracked today by a sick hubby so I didn't get to "play on the computer" like I wanted.

    BigAl and Ken (stuck) - thanks for the information. I like the idea of scanning enough to fill a CD and then burning them for "keeping safe". It will free up the HD if I have file sizes of 60 MB+. I was guessing the more resolution I set the scanner for the better the result but when I gave that a go, it took forever to scan? I finally cancelled that effort and went to the 300 dpi that Al suggested. I guess what I'll need to do it try some and then compare the results. I'm not sure of the best way to do a comparison since everything looks okay "on screen"...so perhaps printing a couple of experiments might show which is better? Or maybe I should just realize that the higher the resolution, the better the picture and trust this reasoning since it makes sense?
    <img src=/S/whisper.gif border=0 alt=whisper width=29 height=17> I'm rambling so I'll quit.

    Thanks for the help! <img src=/S/yep.gif border=0 alt=yep width=15 height=15> I'll post back once I get a few more efforts attempted! <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>


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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    You are good to do most at 300 DPI, but if you have a small (School Picture) one, you can boost up the DPI and be able to print it out at a larger size.

    You need to check out how a image scanned at different DPI's and then print out the different scanned images at different scales. You then, may be able to see what is good for you and your equipment.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    Hoping not to offend you OR Ken, since I've readily admitted my lack of knowledge of this whole business of photography, computer graphics and so on. But paraphrasing the old saying about beauty being in the eye of ... I don't put photos on my computer with the express purpose of PRINTING but rather viewing, so I don't think at all about the possible outcome of printed copies. Here is what is probably the world's worst example of a photo to use for a demo, but it's one I dug out of a box of pix given to me by my mother years ago. This is a small PHOTO of evidently something she had in a frame and hung at home for years. How it came to be a photo, in this damaged condition, I don't know and my mom didn't tell me.

    When I scan the small photo using my Canon, I did it first at 1,200 DPI and saved the file as a TIF. I then scanned it again at 300 DPI and saved that file as a 100% quality JPG. The TIF was 69,650 K/bytes and 4,050 x 5,870 in resolution. The JPG was 547 K/bytes and 1,012 x 1,467. I then resized both so I could make an example file to show you. At their LARGEST size, my old eyes can't see the difference and again I admit that this is a damaged photo so probably a poor example. But if I do this same test with any photograph, I can't see the difference.

    PS It's a picture of me (the oldest) with my sister and brother, probably taken around 1949 or 1950 but I don't know for sure.
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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    I don't think you can see any difference if the pixel density is compressed, either to fit a standard screen or to a small version of the image, because the software will average away the additional information. You probably need to print at larger than 8x10 to see the advantages in having the extra resolution in this case. For most people, the extra megabytes to store pixels that might improve a print larger than 8x10 are not justified. (On the other hand, if you wanted to crop out a small portion of the image and be able to see more detail, then the extra pixels may be essential.)

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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    I'm not very good with metric conversions, but ... it appears that a 4000dpi scan of a 35mm slide positive or film negative would be in the range of 920-940dpi on a 4x6 full frame print. It would be interesting to compare the results of those two scans. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    Hi Al, since Hubby is watching golf, I can experiment a little bit. My goal is not only to save these older pics in a format that I can work with later on but to also be able to show them on a large screen for a slide show. So the resulting pic from a 3x4 inch photo has to be free from a "grainy" look - if you know what I mean. Since I don't have a large screen to practice on to see results of a slide view show, I thought perhaps a photo saved with as much resolution as possible could be expanded to the larger size without any degradation to it for viewing? I am really out of my element. The only time I use a scanner for anything is for those few items I want to keep digitally. I've never totally understood what all the various settings are for. Now since I am going to the trouble to scan these photos, I figure I may as well capture them in a file size, resolution, etc. that will make working with them in the future easy and give me the results I want, whatever it may be. I definitely agree that your two examples - as a comparison for settings - don't show any difference! If I could get by saving these in a small file size/resolution, the project would go a lot faster! My projects always take me a while to get going because I "anguish" about them so much! I want them perfect every time! <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15>

    I'll give this little photo I have a try and see what happens!
    And Dave! I think what you are saying pretty much agrees with Al. Now it is down to my scanner and my ability to come to some understanding of its settings and the results I want or need.

    Ken, Al and Dave - thank you very much for providing me information I can work from! <img src=/S/yep.gif border=0 alt=yep width=15 height=15> The struggle begins............... <img src=/S/sigh.gif border=0 alt=sigh width=15 height=15>


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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    Okay here's what I've done so far. I've scanned the same 3 1/2 x 5" pic four different times with the following results:
    #1- scanned in as 600 dpi - saved as a JPG - resulting file size 3.7 MB - 3000 x 2135
    #2- scanned in as 1200 dpi - saved as JPG - resulting file size 13.4 MB - 6000 x 4271
    #3- scanned in as 600 dpi - saved as Multi TIFF - resulting file size 18.2 MB - 3023 x 2100
    #4- scanned in as 1200 dpi - saved as Multi TIFF - resulting file size 72.7 MB - 6047 x 4200

    Al's right, they all look the same on my computer screen but there certainly has to be something which will be different. Which is the most useful for saving and which will be the most useful for using as a part of a slide show presentation on a large screen? And to really show my ignorance - what does the 6047 x 4200 stand for?

    I will also include a snapshot of the scanner's dialog box to see if there is anything I should be doing differently besides changing the dpi settings?

    Thanks!


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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    Most inexpensive home and business LCD projectors top out at 1024x768 (XGA resolution) or 1280x720 (low-HD) so 300dpi should be sufficient for your 3x4 image on one of those. Higher end full-HD projectors go up to 1920x1080, so if you are thinking of using one of those, you might benefit from a higher resolution scan.

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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    Hi Jefferson - scanning the pic at 300 dpi saving as a JPG is a 1.1 MB file with 1494 x1050 resolution size. If I wanted to crop the pic, will it still work for my slide show okay?
    Thanks!


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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    That sounds pretty large, if you are using slide show software, it might add a "frame" to fill in any shortage of image, or it might stretch to fit the screen.

    By the way, I tested with two photos and our color copier/scanner at the office. In the first case, the photo had been printed on a color inkjet printer on what seems to be heavy clay-coated paper. The larger resolution introduced more "noise" into the image, so I don't think the extra detail would be very useful, or it would require some serious doctoring.
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    Re: Best way to scan photos for posterity

    The second test was with a photo I took in Merida, Mexico in 1997. It was printed on good photographic paper, but the film was 400-speed, which has a larger grain. And the dancers were in motion. The higher resolution doesn't seem to me to be producing more usable detail, but perhaps it is a bit "smoother"?
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