Author Topic: Who has advice on photo scanning?  (Read 729 times)

oneday

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Who has advice on photo scanning?
« on: September 05, 2020, 01:04:53 AM »
Hi Mustachians!

I think I just need a little nudge in the right direction, or help formulating my questions. I'm sure someone out there in MMM land has just the right bit of knowledge that I lack to help me through the overwhelm I'm feeling about this project.

For no logical reason, I hold all the family photos, slides, negatives and film from about 1975-1995.  It takes up about 6 file size boxes.  I can't decide whether to try to buy a scanner and scan them all in myself, or send them out to a service.  I'm leaning towards the first, because it seems like it would be a cheaper option and I have a lot of time right now, being unemployed/on sabbatical during this pandemic.

But, I don't know how to buy the right scanner. 

I've found a few photo scanning services, and some talk about megapixels, dpi or ppi.  They also mention several file formats, including jpeg and tiff.  And some talk about enhancing or retouching the photos after they are scanned. 

I thought that finding out what the pros do and trying to replicate that at home with a scanner I bought would be a good place to start.  But there are just so many variables I don't understand. And there seems to be conflicting information out there, making it so much harder to wade through.

And I have this looming sense of doom over not knowing what it is that I don't know, and overlooking something crucial that screws up the whole thing, or costs a lot of money needlessly. Or wastes a bunch of my time.

What is your best advice for authoritative and trustworthy resources to help me learn what I need to know? I'm not the type who can just send the photos off on someone's recommendation.  Even if I do end up outsourcing, I *must* know why I'm choosing that company over another, and why I'm opting in (or out) of photo enhancing and the other things that are offered. Or if I buy a scanner, I want to be able to select the one that best fits my needs (not necessarily the top of the line or "best" one on the market).

Thank you for pointing me in the right direction!!! :)

KungfuRabbit

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2020, 06:13:04 AM »
Well, first of all megapixels, dpi, or ppi are all the exact same concept just getting at resolution.  dpi is what they use for printers since they are literally printing dots, so dots per inch makes sense, it  doesnt make sense when scanning though.  However, PPI (pixels per inch) is indeed more descriptive when it comes to scanning because it is size independent (a 1 megapixel scan of a stamp is good resolution, a 1 megapixel scan of a poster sized painting would be worthless).  The human eye can see around 300ppi from a reasonable distance, so anything more than that and you aren't gaining anything that matters. 

TIFF are uncompressed files, so the program literally saves the color of every single pixel.  JPEG has algorithms to reduce the file size by compressing it, so if half of the picture is a blue sky it doesn't necessarily save every single blue pixel.  In general unless you are a professional photo editor or printing them out poster sized JPEG is just fine, and will need a LOT less hard drive space. 

Honestly it all comes down to time.  Those professional places have ways to automatically feed in pictures very quickly, and have programs set up to automatically crop the file down to size and rotate it, etc - and they are the ones doing the work.  However, there are pretty good systems you can buy that feed in quickly as well by yourself, but they are expensive if you want something high quality and FAST (time = money...), trust me you won't want a system where you need to lift a lid, push a few buttons, save the picture, etc every single time:

https://epson.com/fastfoto-photo-document-scanner

Honestly what I would do if I were you is look for someone that bought a nice one, scanned all their pictures, and then is now selling it used.  You buy it from them at a good discount, use it yourself, and then sell it again when you are done.  I like to think of this strategy as renting from Craigslist, and I do it all the time with various tools that I only need for 1 project.  Just a few weeks ago actually, why would I buy a $1,500 demo-drill for one project when I can buy one on Craigslist for $700, use it for a few weeks, then sell it on Craigslist for $800 (yes, in this scenario I literally made a profit using a tool for a few weeks hahahaha).   

rudged

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2020, 04:18:11 PM »
I'm faced with a similar problem - a lot of old photos and old cassette tapes of family history value.

I think the single biggest advantage of digitalizing things is that you can upload to a site like Ancestry.com, where hopefully someone else who values them will copy them onto their account.  Digitalizing also will allow you to streamline how your organize them.

My worry is that once I've done the scanning I will nevertheless keep the photos out of concern the scans are not sufficient resolution or something will happen to my computer that corrupts or destroys the electronic files. (I do have an automatic back up process in place - an extra hard drive and a program called "Time Machine".) But simply contemplating throwing out or destroying the originals, particularly when I know they are unique, really bothers me.

Ideally, of course, I'd have another relative all lined up to take them from me if something happens to me, but the eventual fate of practically any family history memorabilia, to my mind is that of winding up in the hands of someone who just not care. Again, I suppose I could publish a book with all the photos and archive it somewhere, but who has the time.

oneday

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2020, 10:48:10 PM »
I'm faced with a similar problem - a lot of old photos and old cassette tapes of family history value.

My worry is that once I've done the scanning...the scans are not sufficient resolution

My biggest worry is that the scans won't look as good as the originals, too.  I'm not concerned about preserving for future generations...neither my sister nor I have kids.  As for  backup, I'll have a copy, my Mom, who lives 3 hours away, will have a copy and my sister, who lives halfway across the continent, will have a copy.  Should something happen to one of our archives, there are two backups. Main objectives are to make them 1) compact and 2) easily viewable.


Well, first of all megapixels, dpi, or ppi are all the exact same concept just getting at resolution.  dpi is what they use for printers since they are literally printing dots, so dots per inch makes sense, it  doesnt make sense when scanning though.  However, PPI (pixels per inch) is indeed more descriptive when it comes to scanning because it is size independent (a 1 megapixel scan of a stamp is good resolution, a 1 megapixel scan of a poster sized painting would be worthless).  The human eye can see around 300ppi from a reasonable distance, so anything more than that and you aren't gaining anything that matters. 

TIFF are uncompressed files, so the program literally saves the color of every single pixel.  JPEG has algorithms to reduce the file size by compressing it, so if half of the picture is a blue sky it doesn't necessarily save every single blue pixel.  In general unless you are a professional photo editor or printing them out poster sized JPEG is just fine, and will need a LOT less hard drive space. 

@KungfuRabbit thank you for this!  I will have to question the services I am looking at; some of them promise files in megapixels, so we'll see what they say about ppi. You've given me enough info to break the logjam of info that was created in my mind.

You're right that time is money, but I'm unemployed right now, so don't mind taking more time...but I don't have to. Mom is helping to buy the scanner you recommended (that's the same one we came up with in our research). And we'll sell it once we are done with it. Woot!

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2020, 03:26:35 PM »
Instead of scanning the photos, why not just take digital pictures of them?  Then they can be printed if desired, with better resolution that a scanned one.  First, if there is really no one to inherit all this, maybe cull them severely so that only the best survive.  (Although there may be cousins and their kids who would be interested.)

rudged

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2020, 06:58:43 PM »
Instead of scanning the photos, why not just take digital pictures of them?  Then they can be printed if desired, with better resolution that a scanned one.  First, if there is really no one to inherit all this, maybe cull them severely so that only the best survive.  (Although there may be cousins and their kids who would be interested.)

A digital photo would have a better resolution than a scan? I guess it depends on the camera.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2020, 08:10:04 PM »
People get frickin wound up about resolution, but honestly the resolutions that your eye can detect are FAR below the resolutions that your ordinary home scanner can produce. Unless you're planing on printing these the size of a building or viewing them on 25K screen in 2098, don't worry. Scan on a photo setting, in a sympathetic format that won't result in any data loss (maybe tiff), and get on with your life.

Dollar Slice

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2020, 09:16:16 PM »
I spent many years scanning and adjusting/retouching/whatever photos for a national magazine, so if you need someone to answer basic questions about stuff along the way, feel free to PM me, or we could even get on the phone if you have trouble figuring it out :-)

I'm going to say up front: if I were you I'd probably farm it out unless it was very expensive to do so. That sounds like a LOT of documents. At least the scanning part - you could learn to do some basic retouching yourself pretty easily if you wanted to, if that part was pricey.

But if you want to give it a shot yourself...

Anna is right - pretty much any modern scanning equipment will have plenty of quality and resolution to scan a photo very accurately. They will all have enough megapixels and ppi and whatnot for you unless you are doing something unusual with it.

300 dpi is a typical "good enough" print resolution for cheap magazines and newspapers (which don't use top-quality paper and are a little fuzzy compared to a real photo). If you want to be able to blow up/zoom in to larger sizes or print on high quality glossy paper, you can go to higher resolutions like 600 or even 1200 dpi, but that's going to take up a lot of hard drive space. If you're only going to use the photos on screens, you generally can use a lower resolution.

File formats - not a huge deal, honestly... if you are just going to save them and never edit them, probably JPEG or PNG is fine. If you want the ability to mess with them I'd use something like TIFF that's lossless. TIFFs will take up a lot more space and aren't as user-friendly, like you can't just e-mail or text them to grandma and expect it to work out. If it were me I'd probably scan everything as TIFF, save them all somewhere safe, then convert to JPEG and send the JPEGs to everyone. But I worked at a magazine so it might be overkill :-)

If you want to buy a scanner: I honestly haven't bought one in a long time so I can't give you a make and model suggestion. Flatbed is the gold standard for photos, but it's slower. Sheet-fed scanners are fast but they can also damage documents, so I'd read reviews carefully and try to find one that is specifically made for photos (not a document scanner that also does photos). You'll also have to make sure whatever model you get can do negatives and slides and whatever else you've got - I'm not sure if the document-feeder types can scan those. If you're scanning negatives and slides you do need to scan at a higher resolution, but I think if the scanner has the capability for those you should be fine and there will be a setting in the software to do it automatically.

It's probably worth thinking about what percentage of your haul is regular photos vs. odd stuff like slides and negatives. If the vast majority is regular photos, maybe get a sheet-fed scanner for the printed photos and then pay someone to do the oddball ones. If you have lots of slides and negatives, a flatbed scanner is probably the way to go, or maybe even look into getting a combination of a sheet-fed scanner for the photos plus a specialty slide and negative scanner (that would be a lot faster than doing everything on a flatbed, but you'd have to splash out a couple hundred dollars more unless you can find used equipment).

I feel like I probably gave you way too much info, if that's the case I apologize!

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2020, 05:26:31 AM »
I spent many years scanning and adjusting/retouching/whatever photos for a national magazine, so if you need someone to answer basic questions about stuff along the way, feel free to PM me, or we could even get on the phone if you have trouble figuring it out :-)

I'm going to say up front: if I were you I'd probably farm it out unless it was very expensive to do so. That sounds like a LOT of documents. At least the scanning part - you could learn to do some basic retouching yourself pretty easily if you wanted to, if that part was pricey.

But if you want to give it a shot yourself...

Anna is right - pretty much any modern scanning equipment will have plenty of quality and resolution to scan a photo very accurately. They will all have enough megapixels and ppi and whatnot for you unless you are doing something unusual with it.

300 dpi is a typical "good enough" print resolution for cheap magazines and newspapers (which don't use top-quality paper and are a little fuzzy compared to a real photo). If you want to be able to blow up/zoom in to larger sizes or print on high quality glossy paper, you can go to higher resolutions like 600 or even 1200 dpi, but that's going to take up a lot of hard drive space. If you're only going to use the photos on screens, you generally can use a lower resolution.

File formats - not a huge deal, honestly... if you are just going to save them and never edit them, probably JPEG or PNG is fine. If you want the ability to mess with them I'd use something like TIFF that's lossless. TIFFs will take up a lot more space and aren't as user-friendly, like you can't just e-mail or text them to grandma and expect it to work out. If it were me I'd probably scan everything as TIFF, save them all somewhere safe, then convert to JPEG and send the JPEGs to everyone. But I worked at a magazine so it might be overkill :-)

If you want to buy a scanner: I honestly haven't bought one in a long time so I can't give you a make and model suggestion. Flatbed is the gold standard for photos, but it's slower. Sheet-fed scanners are fast but they can also damage documents, so I'd read reviews carefully and try to find one that is specifically made for photos (not a document scanner that also does photos). You'll also have to make sure whatever model you get can do negatives and slides and whatever else you've got - I'm not sure if the document-feeder types can scan those. If you're scanning negatives and slides you do need to scan at a higher resolution, but I think if the scanner has the capability for those you should be fine and there will be a setting in the software to do it automatically.

It's probably worth thinking about what percentage of your haul is regular photos vs. odd stuff like slides and negatives. If the vast majority is regular photos, maybe get a sheet-fed scanner for the printed photos and then pay someone to do the oddball ones. If you have lots of slides and negatives, a flatbed scanner is probably the way to go, or maybe even look into getting a combination of a sheet-fed scanner for the photos plus a specialty slide and negative scanner (that would be a lot faster than doing everything on a flatbed, but you'd have to splash out a couple hundred dollars more unless you can find used equipment).

I feel like I probably gave you way too much info, if that's the case I apologize!



Agree with all of this. I would probably scan at 600 dpi, just to be future proof. OP, your eye can't really detect the difference between a 300 dpi pic and a 600 dpi pic printed at the same size. Your screens won't show you a difference, either. However, you don't know what kind of technology will come about in just a few years, so the more data (within reason) the better. Think about video - gone, dvd - gone etc.

I would do as suggested above re file format also - scan as tiffs, and convert some to jpgs for ease of access.

I would only use a flatbed scanner. Don't risk your photos in a feeder, always the most painful part of any goddamn scanner. Most of them get themselves confused just with straight office paper, let alone odd sized photos that are on thicker paper. You can definitely cut down on time and number of files by scanning photos in groups. One file doesn't have to equal one photo - just stick a few on the scanner at a time. You'd be better served by including a decent filing system Word-type document with your photos, than scanning and naming every photo individually.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2020, 05:33:07 AM »
I'm faced with a similar problem - a lot of old photos and old cassette tapes of family history value.

My worry is that once I've done the scanning...the scans are not sufficient resolution

My biggest worry is that the scans won't look as good as the originals, too.  I'm not concerned about preserving for future generations...neither my sister nor I have kids.  As for  backup, I'll have a copy, my Mom, who lives 3 hours away, will have a copy and my sister, who lives halfway across the continent, will have a copy.  Should something happen to one of our archives, there are two backups. Main objectives are to make them 1) compact and 2) easily viewable.


Well, first of all megapixels, dpi, or ppi are all the exact same concept just getting at resolution.  dpi is what they use for printers since they are literally printing dots, so dots per inch makes sense, it  doesnt make sense when scanning though.  However, PPI (pixels per inch) is indeed more descriptive when it comes to scanning because it is size independent (a 1 megapixel scan of a stamp is good resolution, a 1 megapixel scan of a poster sized painting would be worthless).  The human eye can see around 300ppi from a reasonable distance, so anything more than that and you aren't gaining anything that matters. 

TIFF are uncompressed files, so the program literally saves the color of every single pixel.  JPEG has algorithms to reduce the file size by compressing it, so if half of the picture is a blue sky it doesn't necessarily save every single blue pixel.  In general unless you are a professional photo editor or printing them out poster sized JPEG is just fine, and will need a LOT less hard drive space. 

@KungfuRabbit thank you for this!  I will have to question the services I am looking at; some of them promise files in megapixels, so we'll see what they say about ppi. You've given me enough info to break the logjam of info that was created in my mind.

You're right that time is money, but I'm unemployed right now, so don't mind taking more time...but I don't have to. Mom is helping to buy the scanner you recommended (that's the same one we came up with in our research). And we'll sell it once we are done with it. Woot!

Scans will never look as good as the originals - most of the pics that people want to preserve are taken with an analogue camera. Digital will not give you the same quality of picture as analogue. Or quality of sound. But... I doubt you will be able to see the difference. Some people claim to be able to hear a difference. OK. On the plus side, digital printing is waaaaaay better than old school developed prints. Digital prints can express far more colours, and have FAR better archival qualities ie the colours last longer and the surface of the print won't degrade like developed photos do.

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2020, 05:37:08 AM »
Anna has good advice. My sister has a flatbed scanner with software that allows scanning of multiple photos, you can just chuck the photos onto the bed quickly. The software then separates the pics, starightens them up and puts into separate files.

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2020, 05:53:09 AM »
Long story short, my wife's folks helped us reach FIRE a couple of years early by allowing us to move in with them. To thank them, we used some of the money they helped us save to secretly digitize more than 6,000 slides they had from the 1960s to 1990s. We used https://www.digmypics.com/, at the lowest resolution 7mp/2500dpi. They came out great! They also allow you to review the slides prior to delivery to eliminate any duplicates, duds, etc. The several thousand dollars it cost was far less than we otherwise would have spent, so it made sense for us.

If you have more specific questions, please let us know.

oneday

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2020, 12:30:54 AM »
Instead of scanning the photos, why not just take digital pictures of them?  Then they can be printed if desired, with better resolution that a scanned one.  First, if there is really no one to inherit all this, maybe cull them severely so that only the best survive.  (Although there may be cousins and their kids who would be interested.)

I don't currently own a digital camera, that's why :)

I will definitely cull them severely.  Dad liked to take pictures of car parts on the floor of the garage. 😂

oneday

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2020, 12:36:45 AM »
People get frickin wound up about resolution, but honestly the resolutions that your eye can detect are FAR below the resolutions that your ordinary home scanner can produce. Unless you're planing on printing these the size of a building or viewing them on 25K screen in 2098, don't worry. Scan on a photo setting, in a sympathetic format that won't result in any data loss (maybe tiff), and get on with your life.

The last time I scanned a picture on the scanner I owned at the time, I could definitely tell a difference.  The original was a digital picture that had been printed out as a holiday card by shutterbug or something, so maybe it was not as clear and sharp as my eye perceived it to be?  Because the scan was unacceptably grainy, especially in comparison to the original.

Anyway, your post is reassurring in a "you almost can't screw this up" way.

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2020, 12:53:35 AM »
The last time I scanned a picture on the scanner I owned at the time, I could definitely tell a difference.  The original was a digital picture that had been printed out as a holiday card by shutterbug or something, so maybe it was not as clear and sharp as my eye perceived it to be?  Because the scan was unacceptably grainy, especially in comparison to the original.

If you scan something that was printed (home printer, pamphlet, magazine, newspaper etc.) you will not get a clear scan. It's because the printed picture is actually a bunch of tiny microscopic dots of ink - the scanner is sampling a jillion tiny spots of the picture, and normally that is enough to fool our eye into thinking it's smooth. But when you combine sampling a jillion tiny spots with printing a bunch of tiny microscopic dots, you end up with a weird interference pattern called a moiré. It's the same effect you'll see sometimes on TV when someone is wearing a sweater or shirt with a pattern on it and it looks strange, like it's vibrating or moving oddly.

Actual photographs, film negatives and slides will not have this problem because they're analog and not created from patterns of tiny dots.

oneday

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2020, 01:15:20 AM »
I spent many years scanning and adjusting/retouching/whatever photos for a national magazine, so if you need someone to answer basic questions about stuff along the way, feel free to PM me, or we could even get on the phone if you have trouble figuring it out :-)

Thank you! What a lovely offer, you are such a generous human being! 🤗


I'm going to say up front: if I were you I'd probably farm it out unless it was very expensive to do so. That sounds like a LOT of documents. At least the scanning part - you could learn to do some basic retouching yourself pretty easily if you wanted to, if that part was pricey.

But if you want to give it a shot yourself...

Maybe you know me a little. Because contrary to all the good advice here, I am planning to scan them myself.  It may be the thing that sends me to the asylum, but. That is my plan.


Anna is right - pretty much any modern scanning equipment will have plenty of quality and resolution to scan a photo very accurately. They will all have enough megapixels and ppi and whatnot for you unless you are doing something unusual with it.

300 dpi is a typical "good enough" print resolution for cheap magazines and newspapers (which don't use top-quality paper and are a little fuzzy compared to a real photo). If you want to be able to blow up/zoom in to larger sizes or print on high quality glossy paper, you can go to higher resolutions like 600 or even 1200 dpi, but that's going to take up a lot of hard drive space. If you're only going to use the photos on screens, you generally can use a lower resolution.

File formats - not a huge deal, honestly... if you are just going to save them and never edit them, probably JPEG or PNG is fine. If you want the ability to mess with them I'd use something like TIFF that's lossless. TIFFs will take up a lot more space and aren't as user-friendly, like you can't just e-mail or text them to grandma and expect it to work out. If it were me I'd probably scan everything as TIFF, save them all somewhere safe, then convert to JPEG and send the JPEGs to everyone. But I worked at a magazine so it might be overkill :-)

That you agree with Anna gives even more reassurance that I kind of can't screw it up. And you've given me good info; I'll mull this over before I decide on dpi and file type.
 
You mention hard drive space.  Yes, there will be a lot of new megabytes created.  I will save them to an external hard drive; a terabyte should be enough, but if not, they make larger capacity drives.  This will be a lot more streamlined & accessible than the 6 boxes filling the bottom of my closet.


If you want to buy a scanner: I honestly haven't bought one in a long time so I can't give you a make and model suggestion. Flatbed is the gold standard for photos, but it's slower. Sheet-fed scanners are fast but they can also damage documents, so I'd read reviews carefully and try to find one that is specifically made for photos (not a document scanner that also does photos). You'll also have to make sure whatever model you get can do negatives and slides and whatever else you've got - I'm not sure if the document-feeder types can scan those. If you're scanning negatives and slides you do need to scan at a higher resolution, but I think if the scanner has the capability for those you should be fine and there will be a setting in the software to do it automatically.

It's probably worth thinking about what percentage of your haul is regular photos vs. odd stuff like slides and negatives. If the vast majority is regular photos, maybe get a sheet-fed scanner for the printed photos and then pay someone to do the oddball ones. If you have lots of slides and negatives, a flatbed scanner is probably the way to go, or maybe even look into getting a combination of a sheet-fed scanner for the photos plus a specialty slide and negative scanner (that would be a lot faster than doing everything on a flatbed, but you'd have to splash out a couple hundred dollars more unless you can find used equipment).

I feel like I probably gave you way too much info, if that's the case I apologize!

This is our strategy! I've got 235 slides and one VCR tape.  There is one 8mm film out there; I think Mom has that.  These things I'll outsource.  The 6 boxes of paper photos? That's on me.

No need to apologize.  Thanks again for sharing your expertise!

oneday

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2020, 01:19:05 AM »
My biggest worry is that the scans won't look as good as the originals

Scans will never look as good as the originals - most of the pics that people want to preserve are taken with an analogue camera. Digital will not give you the same quality of picture as analogue. Or quality of sound. But... I doubt you will be able to see the difference. Some people claim to be able to hear a difference. OK. On the plus side, digital printing is waaaaaay better than old school developed prints. Digital prints can express far more colours, and have FAR better archival qualities ie the colours last longer and the surface of the print won't degrade like developed photos do.

Once I get a scanner, I'll experiment with settings to see what I like.  If they aren't acceptably clear, then maybe I'll give up the idea of scanning altogether.

oneday

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2020, 01:25:33 AM »
Long story short, my wife's folks helped us reach FIRE a couple of years early by allowing us to move in with them. To thank them, we used some of the money they helped us save to secretly digitize more than 6,000 slides they had from the 1960s to 1990s. We used https://www.digmypics.com/, at the lowest resolution 7mp/2500dpi. They came out great! They also allow you to review the slides prior to delivery to eliminate any duplicates, duds, etc. The several thousand dollars it cost was far less than we otherwise would have spent, so it made sense for us.

If you have more specific questions, please let us know.

There's some good info here on file sizes, thanks!

oneday

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2020, 01:38:11 AM »
If you scan something that was printed (home printer, pamphlet, magazine, newspaper etc.) you will not get a clear scan. It's because the printed picture is actually a bunch of tiny microscopic dots of ink - the scanner is sampling a jillion tiny spots of the picture, and normally that is enough to fool our eye into thinking it's smooth. But when you combine sampling a jillion tiny spots with printing a bunch of tiny microscopic dots, you end up with a weird interference pattern called a moiré. It's the same effect you'll see sometimes on TV when someone is wearing a sweater or shirt with a pattern on it and it looks strange, like it's vibrating or moving oddly.

Actual photographs, film negatives and slides will not have this problem because they're analog and not created from patterns of tiny dots.

I wish I knew this before I got rid of that scanner! It might have been all the equipment I needed to embark on this project.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2020, 02:05:41 AM »
People get frickin wound up about resolution, but honestly the resolutions that your eye can detect are FAR below the resolutions that your ordinary home scanner can produce. Unless you're planing on printing these the size of a building or viewing them on 25K screen in 2098, don't worry. Scan on a photo setting, in a sympathetic format that won't result in any data loss (maybe tiff), and get on with your life.

The last time I scanned a picture on the scanner I owned at the time, I could definitely tell a difference.  The original was a digital picture that had been printed out as a holiday card by shutterbug or something, so maybe it was not as clear and sharp as my eye perceived it to be?  Because the scan was unacceptably grainy, especially in comparison to the original.

Anyway, your post is reassurring in a "you almost can't screw this up" way.

Yeah, scanning a cheap print is not going to give you a good result (unless you knew how to manipulate that. A professional can and would scan a cheap print VERY large, for printing rather small, so your eye would not see the print dots). Scanning a photo print, be it digital or darkroom, will be just fine. You won't be able to tell the difference. Scanning a slide will be just fine.

Regarding resolution/file size: I think the take-away from this thread is that bigger is not better. The technology has eclipsed the differences that your eye can see, which makes it completely pointless, imo. The home scanner of today is better than a professional drum scanner of even 15 years ago.


If it were me, I would approach the situation like this:

1. Divide your pics into those that need correction, and those that won't. For example, many old photos get a yellow cast that's easily corrected. If you can use Photoshop, you can correct this, but these may be the photos that would be easiest for you to farm out.

2. Set up your scanner for 600 dpi, tiff format

3. Drop groups of shots on the scanner, and record what they are on a word doc eg Little Billy's 6th birthday

4. Name file appropriately eg Billys_6th_Group1

5. With the photos still on the flatbed of the scanner, change scanner to 600dpi jpg, scan again with same file name.

6. Repeat until you're finished

7. Go into file and grab all the jpgs into a separate folder

8. Save your index type document with both the tiff and jpg groups.

9. Stick the files on pen drives or discs, or whatever you've chosen.






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Re: Who has advice on photo scanning?
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2020, 02:00:16 PM »
The cheapest way is to purchase a scanner for about $40 and scan everything. But if that is not an option, I use this app sometimes to quickly "scan" a photo by taking pictures. Takes a few seconds per photo and you can control over the borders. Works flawlessly to remove glare etc. This app is genius and I highly recommend it for photos. It is called PhotoScan by Google : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.photos.scanner&hl=en_US