Digitisation blog: Scanning tips, DPI and Resolution

WHY SCAN?

Chances are you have a stack of photo albums, negatives and slides change color and fade with time due to collection of dust and exposure to light. Having your photos, negatives and slides digitised protects them from being lost or damaged and you can cherish the good old memories for lifetime. Scanning photos opens up so many doors to how you enjoy your memories with the easy to use digital Sharing options.

Photos and Slides Fade

Colour photos stored in ideal conditions will fade over time. The primary cause of fading is due to exposure to light. Another main cause is simply the way the photo was developed. The material used to create the photo has a limited lifespan and will start to fade.

Photos Change Color

The chemical reaction used to produce the old photos on the paper is not permanent and the photo starts to break down and lose its colour over time. The most common reaction is a yellow haze or a reddish haze that develops over the photo. The scanning process utilises software that attempts to correct this problem, thus bringing back the natural colour of the photo in digital form.

Photos and Slides Have Dust and Scratches

Slides are particularly easy to scratch and always have some amount of dust on them. By scanning, minor dust and scratches from the final image can be eliminated easily to obtain clearer image resulted due to digital ICE procedure.

Keep Your Photos and Slides Safe From Disaster

Unfortunately the precious photos and slides stored in boxes or albums are subjected  to possible fire, water or smoke damage, animals, pets, theft, or simply misplacing them. Scanning them to digital format allows you to have all your photos and slides on a DVD and having them on your computer.

For Gifting and Sharing and Sharing With Friends and Family

Once you get your photos and slides on a DVD, you can share them with family members.  You can also have the images on a USB which you can simply plug into your computer or HDTV, which will give access to the digital images. Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ are making it easier than ever to share your photos with friends and family. Scanning your photos and slides lets you share those precious memories easily and quickly. These digital files will also make great gifts which you can make use of to create photo books, calendars and similar wonderful gifts for a family member or friend.

CHOOSING SCANNER

The first thing to decide when beginning with scanning is what type of scanner you want. There are various kinds of scanners available. When choosing your scanner, there are two important features that you should look for:

Scanner Resolution

A better scanner resolution will mean a better quality scan of your photo which makes it really important. It’s best to look for a scanner that gives you a resolution of at least 3000 dpi.

Dynamic Range

A scanner’s Dynamic Range relates to how much detail the scanner can bring out in highlights and shadows. It’s measured on a scale of 0-4 and is usually called Dmax. Ideally, look for a scanner with at least a rating of 3.

SCANNING TIPS:

For the highest quality, set up your scanner in a dust-free environment. First, remove any dust or dirt from your photo prints with a microfiber cloth or alcohol-based cleaning wipe. It’s important that you thoroughly clean both the photos and scanner, as the scanner’s sensitive sensor will pick up even a speck of dust on the glass or on the photo.

Here are tips to how to clean the glass on your scanner safely and effectively:

Step 1: Unplug the power cord from the scanner.

Step 2: Using a soft, lint-free cloth, like a microfiber cloth, wipe off the dust from the scanner glass.

Step 3: If the glass has smudges or other contaminants, use a little bit of glass cleaner on a microfiber cloth and wipe the glass.

Step 4: Using a dry microfiber cloth, dry off any remaining moisture or residue.

Do not use any glass cleaners that contain the following cleaning agents:

Acetone, ammonia, benzene, carbon tetrachloride

The above chemicals can damage the scanner glass. Though some manufacturers suggest using isopropyl alcohol, it tends to leave streaks.

We also do not recommend using compressed air for dusting because the force of the air could end up blowing dust into the edges of the scanner and end up underneath the glass, which is a lot harder to clean.

Before you scan the photos, consider the way in which you’ll organise them – by date or by event? How will the files be named? Choose a system before you scan, and organise your printed photos, negatives and slides into stacks accordingly.

Here are some tips:

Scan multiple photos at once. On an average-sized scanner bed, you should be able to scan four 4×6 photos at once, and crop them later. Some scanners even come with software that does this automatically for you. Use this method to cut down scanning time.

Select a resolution of at least 300 dpi and up to 600 dpi for photos, if you plan to order enlargements.

Take advantage of editing options. Most scanning software will allow you to crop, adjust colour and brightness, remove scratches, dust and red-eye.

CHOOSING A RESOLUTION

For photo prints, 300 dpi is fine in general. To make sure you get all the details hidden in your prints, scan at 600 dpi. Scanning beyond 600 dpi will make the files bigger without giving you any additional image detail. Plus, higher the resolution, the more time it takes to scan each photo.

For slides and negatives, 2000 dpi will give you the equivalent of a 6-megapixel photo, which is good enough for most standard print sizes. If the scanner can go higher (such as 4000 dpi), take advantage of it to enable high-quality cropping.

RESOLUTION, DPI AND PPI

The resolution of a digital photo is its pixels, expressed as megapixels – the horizontal pixel dimensions multiplied by its vertical pixel dimensions.

DPI stands for Dots Per Pixel. It is a measure of the number of dots that can be placed within a 1 inch span line.

PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch. It is the digital photo’s pixels dimension divided into the size of the paper to be printed. PPI occurs only when it is printed.

WHICH FILE FORMAT?

JPEG(Joint Photographic Experts Group): Sometimes referred to as JPG. JPEG is the standard file format and compatible image format supported by almost all of today’s imaging software. Some image data is lost when the file is compressed. The amount of compression can be varied. More the compression, more data is discarded and smaller a file becomes. JPEG is great for creating smaller file sizes for uploading on the Internet, or for use with e-mail.

PROS:

  • Smaller File Size: JPEG uses lossy compresion to reduce file size making its use on the Internet or creating backup CDs hassle free.
  • Supported by most software and photo sharing websites.

CONS:

  • Lossy Compresion: Lossy means with data loss. JPEG compression does discard some image data based on the amount of compression used.
  • High Quality but not the absolute best.
  • Not a good choice for editing: JPEG files use lossy compression. If you plan to edit a photo and then re-save it, you will lose some quality. It loses quality, detail and information each time you edit and re-save it.

TIFF(Tagged Image File Format): TIFF (RAW) format is the standard for most commercial and professional printing needs. TIFF format means that no image data is lost after scanning. It is a great choice for archiving images where all details must be preserved and file size is not a consideration. TIFF files are very large in size compared to JPEGs because no compression is used.

PROS:

  • No Compression: TIFF files are not compressed files. This means 100% of the data captured during scanning is retained.
  • Absolute best quality.
  • Better choice if you plan to edit because TIFF files don’t use compression and quality is not lost each time the photo is edited.

CONS:

  • Large File Size: TIFF files are much larger than JPEGs making them harder to upload or email.
  • Not supported by most photo sharing websites but is supported by most software.

HOW BIG WILL MY FILES BE?

This depends on the format they are saved to. The charts below list file sizes you can expect from TIFF and JPEG files.

35 MM FILM SCANNING: PIXEL & FILE SIZE OF A STANDARD 35MM FRAME
Scan Resolution Pixel Dimensions Megapixels JPEG File Size TIFF File Size
2000 DPI 2700 x 1800 4.8 2.2 MB – 3.8 MB 14.2 MB
3000 DPI 4050 x 2700 10.9 4.3 MB – 7.1 MB 32.0 MB
4000 DPI 5400 x 3600 19.4 6.7 MB – 10.8 MB 56.9 MB
* Based on 24 bit scanning and JPEG quality of 10 using Adobe Photoshop. JPEG file sizes vary.
35 MM FILM SCANNING: PIXEL & FILE SIZE OF A STANDARD 35MM FRAME
Scan Resolution Pixel Dimensions Megapixels JPEG File Size TIFF File Size
2000 DPI 2700 x 1800 4.8 2.2 MB – 3.8 MB 14.2 MB
3000 DPI 4050 x 2700 10.9 4.3 MB – 7.1 MB 32.0 MB
4000 DPI 5400 x 3600 19.4 6.7 MB – 10.8 MB 56.9 MB
* Based on 24 bit scanning and JPEG quality of 10 using Adobe Photoshop. JPEG file sizes vary.
300 DPI PRINT SCANS:
Pixel Dimensions JPEG File Size TIFF File Size
3 X 5 900 x 1500 650 KB – 1 MB 3.9 MB
4 X 6 1200 x 1800 1.1 MB – 1.6 MB 6.3 MB
5 X 7 1500 x 2100 1.6 MB – 2.3 MB 9.2 MB
8 X 10 2400 x 3000 3.2 – 4.5 MB 21.2 MB
* Based on 24 bit scanning and JPEG quality of 10 using Adobe Photoshop. JPEG file sizes vary.
600 DPI PRINT SCANS:
Pixel Dimensions JPEG File Size TIFF File Size
3 X 5 1800 x 3000 2.4 MB – 3.5 MB 15.8 MB
4 X 6 2400 x 3600 3.6 MB – 5.2 MB 25.3 MB
5 X 7 3000 x 4200 4.8 MB – 6.9 MB 36.9 MB
8 X 10 4800 x 6000 9.1 MB – 14.3 MB 84.4 MB
* Based on 24 bit scanning and JPEG quality of 10 using Adobe Photoshop. JPEG file sizes vary.

Learn the Wonders of Manual Photo Restoration

Photo restoration is a creative process that is being used to repair old photos as well as to restore photographs that have been damaged. In older times, the restoration of old photos would need a lot of skills from professionals, but today, since computers and sophisticated software have been invented, restoring and retouching photos are now a little more easy to do. Practically, anybody with basic knowledge in using the computer can do blemish and scratch removal from old photos. You might even be able to restore vibrant colors of the original pictures.

Basically, people would want to retouch photos which have dim lighting or if someone in the picture has glowing bright red eyes. Most computers nowadays have digital photo restoration software installed which enables users to do these photo touch-ups. Even amateurs are capable of restoring digital photographs in just a matter of minutes just by choosing the “quick fix” option as well as tweaking the results, when necessary.

Yet, there are some photographs that require the help of a professional when restoring them, but when the need arises you need not panic; most graphic artists are very skilled in restoring photos. A good graphic artist is capable of retouching photographs, he or she can remove people from the shot that you would want to get erased. The graphic artist may also be able to add natural-looking colors to a black and white photo.

The technique that most professional graphic artists use in retouching photos is called airbrushing which can soften skin tones as well as remove wrinkles and blemishes in a photographic portrait. A professional photo restoration job would be able to make a model look tanner, thinner, bustier. The artist may also change the models eye color.

Photo_Restauration_Before_SC Photo_Restauration_After_SC

Example of Photo Restoration (before and after restoration by ScanCorner)

There are some graphic artists who specialize in working on difficult photo restoration projects, which include photos with large portions that are damaged or missing (see e.g. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/373376625326394068/). In such instance, the artist will first scan the damaged photo in order to create a digital copy in jpeg format. He or she will then use professional software, which include PhotoShop®, Adobe Illustrator® and Adobe®, to enhance the faded or damaged areas as well as remove blemishes. Once the restoration is completed, the photo will then be printed on a photography paper in an improved state. The damaged photo will be returned to the client.

There are old pictures that hold sentimental value to the owner that a digital picture cannot replace. In such cases, photo restoration experts use manual techniques in order to restore the old photo directly. Most fine art galleries hire these kinds of photo restoration experts in order to restore antique photographs and tintypes.

The manual process is very hard to do and it usually takes a lot of time. The first step involves the careful cleaning of the photo as well as patching of any torn area. Then the paper will be pressed for a period of time in order to reduce the appearance of creases and cracks. After which, the damaged portions will be retouched using a fine painter’s hand with special attention given to the original color and lighting to be matched.  Given this extensive process, a photo restorer may be able to create significant improvement on the old photo depending on the damage that it has incurred overtime.

If you some old photos which you want to get digitized or scanned or restored yet you do not have the time and the software to do it yourself, feel free to check out ScanCorners’ professional artists and the services that they offer.

Just send your request to info@scancorner.com.au.