I scan your old photos to digital images as a service. Along the way I’ve learned some very valuable tips. I’d like to share these with you.
Scanning photos can be very easy. Just about any scanner, including those that are part of multifunction office machines, can scan your photos. All you really need to do is put the photo face down on the scanning glass, close the lid, and start your scanning software. Some machines have a “Scan to computer” function that really makes it simple. You press the button, and the photo shows in on your computer, ready to share. Mostly. You will like want to edit your photo first. Scanners can easily leave marks around the borders, and you might want to remove the borders entirely.
The key issue when scanning your old photos is obtaining the best image quality possible, while keeping the file sizes manageable. It’s no good having a beautiful image to share on Facebook, when it’s 20 megabytes in size, or having low quality – or both! You can always resize your photo in image editing software, like Photoshop Elements, but it’s best to get it right in the first place. Unfortunately, most multipurpose home-use machines don’t offer many options. You can normally scan at 300 DPI or 600 DPI, and you get a JPG file when it’s done. You can’t manage the JPG quality or other options that can reduce file sizes without compromising quality in a significant way. 600 DPI will result in a better looking file, in most cases, but it’s going to be much larger as well. Most of the time, just scan at 300 DPI and you’ll be fine.
Some scanners come with software that let you configure your image output options to give you a ready to use file. Generally, you would choose JPG or PNG as the output type, scan the image at 300 DPI, and let the image open in the editing software. You would then save the image in an appropriate size for sharing, say 1024 pixels on the long edge. For any internet or e-mail use, you will choose 72 Pixels Per Inch (often confused with DPI, or Dots Per Inch). Anything larger than 72 PPI is for other uses like printing or publishing. The editors will allow you to trim and crop your image to remove any shadows or borders from along the edges, and to rotate the image if you had it in the scanner upside down or sideways. If you do want to print your image, then save it at 300 PPI.
PNG files are another type of image file that are becoming very popular for internet sharing. A JPG loses quality when it’s changed and saved, even if you just rotate the image 90 degrees. JPG is uses a compression scheme that is “lossy” – each time it’s saved it loses a little bit of detail. PNG’s use a very different method of compressing your images that does not result in loss of image info. More and more people are moving to the PNG format – there’s very little reason not to do so.
Don’t choose TIF output. TIF files are uncompressed and very large. If you plan to edit your file later, TIF is a good choice. Just remember, you must edit it! Your file sizes will be huge, and social media sites will not accept them.
If you want to get truly amazing results, consider purchasing a dedicated flatbed scanner. Flatbed scanners do one thing, and they do it very well. If you are going to do this, don’t go cheap. Buy a middle of the line model at least. You’ll be happy for a long time.
Doing your own photo scanning is fun and easy. However, when you have many photos to scan, you really want high quality, or your photos need color correction or restoration, please contact me and let me scan them for you. You will receive the best quality possible, ready to share on Facebook or use in slide shows on your TV or phone, or e-mail to your family and friends.