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Scanning Old Photos
Old 06-15-2016, 11:01 PM   #1
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Scanning Old Photos

I'm thinking about scanning some (about 500) family photos. What resolution should I set my scanner to?

I want the results good enough so that if someone wanted a digital print (for example, a 4 x6 print) that can be done without any blur. But at the same time I don't want to waste time and memory by scanning at a higher resolution that I really need.

This is just a scan of individual files and then burn to CD or DVD disc. That's all I need, nothing fancy. I just don't want the old photos lost so want a good digital version.

Thanks.
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:56 PM   #2
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I would not worry about the size of the file created so I go for the highest resolution possible.
However, what is really the limiting factor is the time it takes to scan.
Scanners are different in the high resolution available, so I'd just try 1 at the highest and go down the list to what is an acceptable time for you.

One issue is, that its possible someday you would want to make a bigger photo, so having a higher quality scanned image would allow it.

My scanner says 1200 dpi is high resolution.
Photos take a lot longer to scan than text, for text I scan at 2400 dpi and its pretty fast about 15 seconds for a page. The photos take a longer time.

This chart could point you in a direction:
http://digitalphotographylive.com/wp...print-size.png
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Old 06-16-2016, 12:13 AM   #3
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You may want to consider the format you save the images in, as certain formats are lossless, meaning you don't degrade the image when you edit the photo and save it again.
lossless formats are: TIFF, PNG

Unfortunately the common format that does degrade is the one most folks use: JPG
But the JPG format works well when you burn it onto a CD or DVD for viewing on tv etc.
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Old 06-16-2016, 06:44 AM   #4
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For printed photos on a flatbed scanner, I typically scan at 600 dpi which I find a reasonable tradeoff between quality and resolution (that favours quality heavily). More than 600 dpi is overkill in my opinion. In fact, many of the old machines used in your local mini-lab only printed at 300 dpi anyway (e.g. a fuji frontier).

In terms of file formats, I would normally save the images as lossless 16-bit TIFFs because I'm anal and I tend to make a lot of adjustments to my pictures. But a high quality jpeg should be fine as well -- just don't keep editing and resaving it (there's a slight loss in quality everytime a jpeg image is resaved).

For key pictures, like my parents wedding album that was done by professional photographer (probably on medium format with flash), I'll scan at 1200 dpi.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:45 AM   #5
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I came across 600 dpi also as the resolution to use. Many of the photos are old black and whites which don't have to be perfect and I don't plan on making any adjustments but just scanning then burning the scanned images to CD or DVD.

Thanks.
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Old 06-16-2016, 09:03 AM   #6
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Perhaps you already know about this but just in case. When I started to scan the family pictures, I used the scanner setting on my copy machine. I would place a few pics on the screen and scan. THEN, I had to crop the 'scan picture' in order to get them back to individual pics. What a pain to do it this way and one at a time.

I then used a picture scanner. You can still put several photos on the screen at one time. But the scanner recognizes them as individual pics. No cropping It made life much easier.
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Old 06-16-2016, 09:05 AM   #7
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This may not apply here, but some previous replies on old photos.

Uncurl Photos

Good luck... time consuming.
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Old 06-16-2016, 09:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davef View Post
Perhaps you already know about this but just in case. When I started to scan the family pictures, I used the scanner setting on my copy machine. I would place a few pics on the screen and scan. THEN, I had to crop the 'scan picture' in order to get them back to individual pics. What a pain to do it this way and one at a time.

I then used a picture scanner. You can still put several photos on the screen at one time. But the scanner recognizes them as individual pics. No cropping It made life much easier.
Thanks for the tip. A picture scanner sounds cool. I suppose there's no software that does what you mentioned but instead done by hardware?

My scanner is a multifunction printer/copier/scanner and pretty old. Looks like, I'll end up going the PITA way and do the cropping.
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Old 06-16-2016, 09:12 AM   #9
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I sent in about 1,000 old photos to one of the online places. It took a couple weeks and was super cheap. Maybe 25 cents each!? I don't recall now but it seemed well worth the small expense.
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Old 06-16-2016, 10:05 AM   #10
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I agree that 600 dpi is a good resolution for photos. It they are just snapshots (especially if they not glossy) you'll probably be fine with 300 dpi. Also, see if your scanner software fixes the color on faded photos - it's really useful it it does.

That being said, I've scanned a ton of old family photos. It works well, but takes lots of time. I've been using ScanMyPhotos.com prepaid boxes to get large number of photos scanned.



Prepaid Photo Scanning Box - Starting at $145 per box

The box is currently $145 for 300 scanning and $259 for 600 dpi. The last box I sent in had 2091 photos and I got them done at 300 dpi nice they weren't especially high quality photos. I did pay extra for "photo soap" which helps with faded photos.

I also recently used them for some slide scanning. My scanner handles slides, but their scanners did a noticeably better job focusing on the slides and gave better results.
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Old 06-16-2016, 10:38 AM   #11
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No matter how carefully you clean a print, surface dust and dirt will become part of the digital image. You can edit it out by hand which is time consuming but gives the best results. Some scanning software has automatic dust reduction but in my experience the feature also blurs the entire image.
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Old 06-16-2016, 10:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Thanks for the tip. A picture scanner sounds cool. I suppose there's no software that does what you mentioned but instead done by hardware?

My scanner is a multifunction printer/copier/scanner and pretty old. Looks like, I'll end up going the PITA way and do the cropping.
Mine is also a multifunction printer/copier/scanner and is 10 years old or more.

I scan 1 photo at a time on the flatbed scanner part, and no cropping is needed. The scan software does it automatically. My software has a choice of scan text or photo, so naturally I have it on photo for photos.

Maybe if you do a single photo it will self crop it for you
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Old 06-16-2016, 11:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Thanks for the tip. A picture scanner sounds cool. I suppose there's no software that does what you mentioned but instead done by hardware?

My scanner is a multifunction printer/copier/scanner and pretty old. Looks like, I'll end up going the PITA way and do the cropping.
If you get tired of the cropping, take a look at this. You may want to do more research but this looks like a good start. BTW, we also had slides so we purchased a scanner that could handle the slides as well. You could sell it after you use it.

The Best Photo Scanners of 2016 | PCMag.com
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Old 06-16-2016, 11:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
Mine is also a multifunction printer/copier/scanner and is 10 years old or more.

I scan 1 photo at a time on the flatbed scanner part, and no cropping is needed. The scan software does it automatically. My software has a choice of scan text or photo, so naturally I have it on photo for photos.

Maybe if you do a single photo it will self crop it for you
If my memory serves me right (which I can't guarantee), the original scanner driver that came with my multifunction printer/scanner/copier (psc) may have done the auto cropping too. But I had decided to uninstall the driver as I rarely scanned and/or the driver wasn't compatible with a newer OS. I got the psc when using Windows XP. Or maybe I uninstalled after feeling the driver was too clunky and difficult to use.

I found a very simple scanning software program last night which I like. I will have to do the cropping, but that's okay. I'll just plan to do the scanning on a boring, cold, rainy day to pass the time .
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Old 06-16-2016, 11:35 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by davef View Post
If you get tired of the cropping, take a look at this. You may want to do more research but this looks like a good start. BTW, we also had slides so we purchased a scanner that could handle the slides as well. You could sell it after you use it.

The Best Photo Scanners of 2016 | PCMag.com
Some of those scanners look pretty nice and the price range varies a so much.
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Old 06-16-2016, 12:01 PM   #16
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+1 for 600 dpi. Seems to be the optimum trade-off of resolution vs time.

Several years ago, after DM passed away, I scanned 4 or 5 of her large family photo albums... the type that are like 4 inches thick. Many photos had been taped or glued (?) to the pages. So I scanned one page at a time and then cropped them into individual jpg files. Most photos required some minor editing in Photoshop. The whole lot is now saved online in a photobucket account, which is accessible by all family members. If the photo had captions in the album, I added it to the photobucket site.
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Old 06-16-2016, 02:24 PM   #17
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One approach is high resolution scanning ~ 600~1200), and then use some jpeg compression to get to the file size you feel comfortable with. The idea behind this (obvious when you think about it), is that compression algorithms are pretty good, and starting with reasonably high res and compressing gives better quality than a lower res with little/no compression - for the same file size.

But 500 photos could be ~ 1MB each and fit on a CD, could be ~ 8x that and fit on DVD. But I wouldn't do either - external USB hard drives are so cheap, save high Q scans on those, and back them up to another hard drive as well (you do make backups, right?).

If you want to share those pics, it's easy to batch compress them to any size for the media you want to use (keeping the originals untouched).

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Old 06-16-2016, 02:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davef View Post
Perhaps you already know about this but just in case. When I started to scan the family pictures, I used the scanner setting on my copy machine. I would place a few pics on the screen and scan. THEN, I had to crop the 'scan picture' in order to get them back to individual pics. What a pain to do it this way and one at a time.
Photoshop Elements and of course the full version of Photoshop has a feature that will do this automatically. That is you scan say, six photos to a one-image file, open that in Elements and tell it to separate each smaller image in the full-page file. There does have to be some white space between each image or it gets confused.

You have to be there because it prompts for a file name for each of the new files, or at least it did several years ago when I last used it.
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Old 06-16-2016, 02:42 PM   #19
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Interesting thread for me. We have a couple large boxes of photos (many thousands). I started organizing them for scanning one evening. That was 3 years ago. Some day I'll start day two of that project. Rather daunting task.

If it weren't for duplicates (two prints per picture specials) and the plain bad/ugly ones, I'd just box them up and pay to have them scanned. But no substitute for some work up front, I'm afraid.

Still, some good pointers here.
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Old 06-16-2016, 03:01 PM   #20
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One approach is high resolution scanning ~ 600~1200), and then use some jpeg compression to get to the file size you feel comfortable with. The idea behind this (obvious when you think about it), is that compression algorithms are pretty good, and starting with reasonably high res and compressing gives better quality than a lower res with little/no compression - for the same file size.

But 500 photos could be ~ 1MB each and fit on a CD, could be ~ 8x that and fit on DVD. But I wouldn't do either - external USB hard drives are so cheap, save high Q scans on those, and back them up to another hard drive as well (you do make backups, right?).

If you want to share those pics, it's easy to batch compress them to any size for the media you want to use (keeping the originals untouched).

-ERD50
Unfortunately, I have this mental habit of thinking of removable USB devices as temporary and ready to overwrite. I prefer to burn stuff I really want to keep in CD-R or DVD-R. But do like the idea of keeping a backup in a folder or external USB.

Yes, I'm a big fan of backups.
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