Inexpensive Photo Scanning Information

By: Pete Fontaine

If you're not going to enlarge your digital scans then don't pay to have them scanned at a higher resolution than 300 dpi. Even if you will be enlarging them you are probably wasting your money. 600 and 1200 dpi scanning services do not mean better scans, but they do mean higher prices. For your typical photographs 300 dpi is the wisest choice.
A photo prints surface is not designed to hold the type of resolution that a photo negative is. If you plan on enlarging scanned images you are far better off scanning the negative if possible.
Wasting money is not the only reason to scan at 300 dpi. Photo scanning beyond 300 dpi produces huge files that slow down just about any use of your scans. Editing, viewing, and working with your files will be slower, and possibly much slower. And you will probably have to change the size of your scan smaller to use it for just about anything.
Top notch photographers don't need to be coached on scanning practices as they already understand the issues. But if you are trying to gather some information to use for your own scanning project or to purchase scanning services, I recommend the relatively extensive discussion of scanning practices by Wayne Fulton at
Make sure that your scanned photos are saved as a high quality jpeg. Photos saved in a jpeg format are compressed to lower the file size. High compression causes the jpeg to loose bits of information that are gone forever. High quality jpegs have very low compression and lose very little.
Dont rotate your original scans. When you send your photos in to be scanned, they are in a stack generally without consideration as to whether they are in portrait or landscape mode. Because rotating your jpeg scans recompresses them you can lose bits of information and suffer reduced image quality. Make sure you make copies of your original master scans to rotate.
Some photo scanning services offer automatic photo enhancement. What you need to know is enhancement, or any manipulation, can cause jpeg files to be re-compressed and cause some quality loss. Make sure your scanning service provides you with a complete set of master scans and then a copy of them for the enhancements. Don't ever use the originals to make changes. Always use a copy. You may find that you want to work on special photos yourself. When you do, always start with a fresh copy of the master scan.
There are all kinds of software both manual and automatic available to edit your photo scans. The manual editing software offers you complete control and unlimited do-overs. The automatic versions do a lot of good to most of your images and some good to the rest. Manual enhancement should probably only be used for those very special photographs otherwise you will be bored silly. Trying to choose an automatic enhancement software can be tricky because it takes some experimentation to discover which ones actually work. If your photo scanning service provides economical automatic enhancement that may be your best bet.

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If the historical record of your family's images have not been permanently preserved then you need to find out more about photo scanning services . Pete Fontaine provides more helpful information at his web page

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