Appropriate resolution for scanning pictures?

in General Discussion edited January 2014
I want to archive a bunch of old pictures by scanning them and saving them to a DVD. My goal is mainly preservation, but I'd like to retain enough quality to have good prints made in the future.

What resolution is recommended for this sort of project? Should I save the pictures in .tif format? I'd appreciate any suggestions.



  • Reply 1 of 6
    screedscreed Posts: 1,077member
    I've been looking into doing something similar. Jpeg and Gif are "lossy" formats, so yes, Tiffs are it archiving 'as was." As you may know, Tiffs can get huge as resolution increases, but with DVDs that's not that much of a problem.

    As a side note, I was looking into what resolution is needed for a particular sized photo print. I need to look that up again.

  • Reply 2 of 6
    What are you scanning exactly -- prints (what size) or slides/negatives? Ideally, you would scan the slides/negatives at least 1400 dpi, preferably 2800 dpi, and as high as 4000 dpi±. That last option is probably overkill for 35mm film. I believe the grain of even 100 ISO film is more coarse than that, so you're just adding to the file size and not picking up any image quality.

    As far as file format, TIFF or Targa (.tga) are probably your best options. You could also use .png or JPEG2000 which both use lossless compression. You can compress the TIFFs too, plus if you really want to save space, you can use Photoshop to strip the TIFF of any non-image data (i.e., all the tags, the color profile and whatnot).
  • Reply 3 of 6
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Also, there's a difference between hardware optical resolution and software resolution. A scanner will have a maximum capability, mine is 600 x 1200, but software can scale up to 9600 x 9600. Optical resolution is the true resolution of the scanner.

    I've always avoided using the software scaling because it can introduce artifacts, but others might be able to tell you if it's worthwhile.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    I'm just scanning prints, mostly of the 4" x 6" variety, some others are 3" x 5" with the occasional 8" x 10" thrown in for good measure. The ISO rating varies - many of the pictures were taken before I was even born, so I don't know if they were 110 or 35 MM or what.

    I'm using a Canon LiDE 30 USB Scanner with the Photoshop plug-in. It isn't a very fast scanner, and I guess from it's price the it's quality is only so-so. I got it mostly because it was inexpensive and my scanning needs aren't all that demanding.

    I had started the process at 600 DPI, but it is taking an extremely long time. Over a minute per photo for the larger ones. I have well over 1000 pictures I'd like to archive, so that shapes up to be an extremely long project. Doubling the DPI to 1400 will only exacerbate that problem. I've got a TiBook 800 DVI, so it's certainly not the fastest set-up for working with large photoshop files.

    I guess I should bite the bullet and look at this as a long-term project. I don't suppose that there are companies that digitize pictures are there? I know there are some that work on digitizing VHS video, but I've never seen one for still photography.

    I appreciate the guidance.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    applenutapplenut Posts: 5,768member
    cant u put 3 photos on the canon at once and it automatically scans them as three seperate files?
  • Reply 6 of 6
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Scanning 4x6 photos (and the occasional 3x5 and 8x10), I've always heard 300ppi. I think you can get away with much less for an inkjet (say, 200 or 225ppi...maybe less?).

    A 4x6 photo in RGB at 300ppi is going to be around 6MB raw, so you can do the math and see - roughly - how much space it's ultimately going to take. But you're doing them to a DVD, so I'd imagine you're fine on space. Compressing all the above somehow would pretty much get all 1000 onto one DVD.

    When I'm scanning tons of things, I'll fit as many on the scanning bed as I can and either do a true "batch" scan (where you designate boundaries of each photo beforehand and the software goes and scans them all in turn, OR I'll simply scan the entire darn thing and, at a later time, cut them out and paste into individual files in Photoshop.

    Just depends on how you're working I guess.

    But I think you could get nice prints from them from an inkjet or a photo service by saving them at 225-300ppi. That's all I've ever used for any print work I've done, depending on line screen and so forth.
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