Scanning Tips

We get a lot of questions about how to get the best results from your scanner, so we thought we’d put together a quick look at our top 5 tips on getting great scans!

  1. Don’t use an all-in-one copier/scanner/printer machine!  These machines, while really handy for general office use, don’t do a great job of scanning photos, especially when those photos are faded or discolored.  They often add pixelation to an image and don’t produce very sharp scans.  Instead, we recommend sticking with a standalone photo scanner, the results will be much better!
  2. Software settings.  Any good scanner will give you a number of options for resolution, file type, file size, color correction, dust removal, etc.  Here are some general guidelines to follow when setting up your scanner’s software.
    1. Turn off any settings like auto-adjust, auto-contrast, auto-exposure, etc.  These often do more harm than good!
    2. Compression.  Make sure that any file compression settings are set to their lowest value (in other words the least amount of compression).  Some software will refer to this as file size, and in those cases make sure to set this to the highest value.
    3. Resolution.  This is a big one, and it deserves it’s own bullet point…
  3. Resolution.  A general rule of thumb is that if you want to reproduce your image at it’s original size you should scan it at 300 dpi.  For enlargement up to 2x original size scan at 600 dpi.  For enlargement up to 3x original size, scan at 900 dpi.  For 4x original size, scan at 1200 dpi.  We generally don’t recommend enlarging more than 4x original size, and we never recommend scanning lower than 300 dpi.
  4. Scanning with a gray card.  Scanners can alter color a bit, and this is especially true of older sepia toned images.  To help account for this DigitalCustom can provide you with a small, neutral gray card to scan along side your image.  This helps us to adjust the image to help account for any color shift introduced by your scanner.  While it isn’t a foolproof method it can certainly help!
    1. Important note! When scanning the gray card be sure to place it beside your photo and not covering any part of the image.  If you’re scanning an image in multiple sections you only need to include the gray card in one of the scans.
  5. Scanning large images.  If you have an original image that is larger than your scanner, no problem!  You can just scan it in sections, making sure that there is plenty of overlap between one scan and the next, and we can put those pieces together as part of the restoration process.

If you have questions about scanning that aren’t covered here don’t hesitate to contact us!