Statistics tell us there are over 1.7 trillion photos waiting to be digitized.  That’s a lot of memories!  As a result scanning services have popped up everywhere, offering to scan our photos for us for pennies apiece.  If you’re like me, the thought of boxing up my precious family memories and mailing them across the country (or world) isn’t very appealing.  What happens if they are lost in the mail?  I can’t stand to think about it.  Today’s post will offer you a few tips for scanning photos yourself.

Scanning Techno-Mumbo-Jumbo
If you begin to scan and feel intimidated by the technical options, don’t worry, it’s not really that complicated in most situations.  Generally speaking, the dpi will depend on the size of the original and the size you want it to be after you’ve scanned it.

Printed Photos
We recommend you scan photos at 600 dpi.  Most printers will print photos at around 300 dpi so a 600 dpi scan allows you to get a good quality print at twice the original photo’s size.

Slides and negatives.  
We generally scan at around 3200 dpi to achieve a ten-inch print.  Of course, that depends a little on the size of the original slide or negative but as a rule of thumb, 3200 yields good results.

A little math to help you out:
Use 300 dpi as a reference point and multiply it by the dimension you plan to print.

For example:
If you want to print an image that is 8×10 inches,
multiply 300×8=2400 for the 8 inch side and
300×10=3000 for the 10 inch side.

The dimensions of your image would then be 2400×3000.

So, if you scanned your slide/negative at 3200 you would be all set as the largest you planned to print was 3000 (on the ten-inch side).

Still with me?  Let’s move on to equipment!

Some equipment options

  • Flatbed Scanner
    A flatbed offers high-quality scans and often includes software that will allow you to scan multiple photos at once.  Some, like ours at Photo Gym, also offer options for scanning slides and negatives.  It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good.  Just check the dpi it’s able to print and be sure it has the ability to do slides and negatives if that’s something you plan to do.  Speed is often the cause of price differential but if you have more time than money, just check the specs and get what you can afford.
  • High Speed Scanner
    These are little pricey but you can scan a photo in 30 seconds and it allows you to insert a stack of photos for scanning so it goes very, very fast.  We use an Epson FastFoto scanner at Photo Gym.  You can come and try it at Open Gym if that’s something you are interested in!  Reservations are recommended as this is a popular scanner.
  • Flip-Pal
    This tiny little scanner packs a heck of a punch.  I’ll write up a whole article about it in the near future but for now, the things to know are that it is portable, it is battery-powered and you can use the provided stitching software to combine several scans into one large scan (for things like quilts, artwork, large portraits, etc.)  And, it scans at 600 dpi so you can scan photos with nice, high-quality results.  Learn more on their website.
  • Cameras
    We are really excited to have two options for camera scanning.  More information will come about that too but just know that you can get great results by scanning with your digital camera and well-adjusted lighting.  And, it’s a very fast, efficient workflow if you have a lot of things to scan.  If you’re interested in seeing this set up, stop by Open Gym and check it out.

If you’ve been thinking about scanning, I hope this information has helped you find the motivation to get started. If you need help getting started, email us to Schedule a Personal Training session to find out how to do it yourself or let us do it for you!