scanning family photos - need settings advice

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by Nikko, May 21, 2004.

  1. Nikko

    Nikko Guest

    I'm about to start the process of scanning hundreds of old family photos. I
    don't really know a ton about how this stuff works and would love to have a
    few questions answered before I get too far into the project.

    My scanner supports up to 1200 DPI. The next step down is 600 DPI. I don't
    know which to use. My instinct is go with the higher DPI because we're
    going to want to have these pictures forever and the scans may end up being
    the only copies we have if something happens to the originals. On the other
    hand, the difference in size is substantial: over 26 MB for 1200 DPI and
    only 6.5 for 600 DPI. What are the pros and cons of each? Is 1200 DPI
    overkill? I have mostly black & white photos to scan, but some are in
    color. Should I use the higher setting for just the color photos, both or
    neither? Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Also, I'm just planning on saving the scans in the jpeg format. Any reason
    not to? Should I be using a different file format?

    Thanks again for any help you can provide.
    Nikko, May 21, 2004
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  2. Nikko

    Stephan Guest

    It all depends at what size you will print
    Roughly: original size 300, twice the size 600 since you are going to print
    at 300 dpi
    Save as JPEG if you know you are not going to edit them much otherwise use
    Remember, CD do not last long, read this before you think you are archiving
    your family photos by burning them on CD:

    Stephan, May 21, 2004
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  3. Nikko

    HIKER4LIFE Guest

    What does that mean "CD do not last long" Does this mean, even if you don't
    use them over and over, they corrupt, or what? I am in the dark about how
    long a CD will last....
    HIKER4LIFE, May 21, 2004
  4. 1200 dpi is indeed overkill, because the original will not have more
    detail than you can capture with 600 dpi or even less. So if you scan at
    1200 dpi, you'll get more pixels, but not more detail.
    Johan W. Elzenga, May 22, 2004
  5. Nikko

    Jim Guest

    Well, I scanned my photos and saved them to CD-R. Later I decided to
    transfer the scans to a DVD+R to save space in my cabinet. Alas about 10%
    of the 35 CD-R that I made were either partially or completely unreadable.
    None of these CD-Rs are more than 3 years old. That easily consists of not
    lasting long.
    Jim, May 22, 2004
  6. Nikko

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Go here:

    It will explain why scanning at 600DPI would be a waste of time and disk
    space for prints.
    Ron Hunter, May 22, 2004
  7. Nikko

    Stephan Guest

    That is why I provided a link my friend, click on it!

    Stephan, May 22, 2004
  8. Nikko

    Stephan Guest

    Sorry I just realized these greedy Britts want a pound from you to read
    their old news, cheap bastards!
    Anyway, CD are the worse way to store info, they become unreadable faster
    than you think sometimes in less than two years.
    Buy hard drives for longtime storage.

    Stephan, May 22, 2004
  9. Nikko

    Erik Muna Guest

    So how come my audio CD's from the early 90's are still 100% playable
    even after a LOT of use over the years? In my opinion, *if* CD's don't work
    for two reasons: 1) cheap/crappy blanks and 2) cheap/crappy burners. My
    first burner was an HP and it was an early generation. A few months later I
    got a much nicer Pioneer but it wouldn't play the CD's I had just burned
    with my old drive but they *would* still play in the old drive.

    Since the nice new drive and new media I've had no problems archiving
    data on CD's. If a hard drive gets moved around, even a little in some
    cases, you could lose everything. Anyway, my advice would be to use
    multiple formats to store valuable things but CD's work best for me and
    maybe I'm in the minority but whatever...

    Erik Muna
    Freelance Web Design & Graphic Arts ... my online portfolio
    ICQ: 13466765

    CD are the worse way to store info, they become unreadable faster
    Erik Muna, May 22, 2004
  10. Nikko

    JohnJ Guest

    WRT manufactured CD's, as long as they are stored correctly, they should
    last many years without deterioration. Temperature and humidity can
    cause damage to these.

    Home burned CD & DVD's are much more of a problem. However if done
    properly archiving using CD-R & DVD-R's can last many years as well.

    First, a high quality burner and high quality media are important. I
    personally use Plextor drives and Verbatim DataLifePlus and Taiyo Yuden

    For storage, because the media are dye-based, temperature, humidity,
    and light can cause deterioration. After burning I store my archives
    in a closet. Burning a second copy and storing in a second location
    (another house) is good insurance.

    Conclusion, if you use a $25 burner with cheap, low quality media
    you are risking all your image files.
    JohnJ, May 22, 2004
  11. Nikko

    Stephan Guest

    You will always find somebody with a story of an uncle who smoked three
    packs a day and lived a hundred years.
    That doesn't make smoking any safer for the rest of us.
    Store your precious data in CDs if you are too broke to buy hard drives,
    your problem.
    As you said wisely: whatever

    Stephan, May 22, 2004
  12. Nikko

    jjs Guest

    With respect, digital storge can be risky compared to prints. I strongly
    suggest you scan and then print archival copies just in case of an
    electronic mishap. The prints are your last resort backup.

    Just my two-bits worth.
    I see you have plenty of good advice concerning the scaning.
    Very best of luck,
    jjs, May 22, 2004
  13. Nikko

    jjs Guest

    The truth is nobody _knows_ how long any particular CDROM will last
    because today's CDROMS are, ah, todays! We have no history of current
    technology. :)

    Twelve years is the best guess for CDROM longevity. It could be much less,
    or possibly more. An archival print will last 100 years.
    jjs, May 22, 2004
  14. Nikko

    jjs Guest

    The ear is not a camera. Picture files and music files are two entirely
    different things. Music can degrade, but picture files (FAPP) just go at
    jjs, May 22, 2004
  15. I am engaged in the same project for my family photos.
    That is my thinking, too. The pack-rat nature runs in my family. I
    hate to lose even a single bit of data.
    Yes, indeed! I recently scanned 68 photots that were taken with my
    boyhood camera, a Kodak 110. I saved each picture as a TIFF, no
    compression, 48-bit color, about 80 MB per photo. I could only fit 50
    of my scanned photos on a DVD. Those are the largest scans as a series
    that I have.
    I have been experimenting. My scanner, an Epson Perfection 3200 Photo,
    supports up to 3200 dpi optical resolution. I have only once used it
    at full resolution, just as a test of a tiny spot. I am of the opinion
    that there is no reason to scan the photo past the point at which the
    grain of the photos becomes obvious. My parents generally used bargain
    film, whatever was cheapest, so it is not at all difficult for me to
    overscan the photos, or even the negatives. Usually, 600 dpi is
    sufficient, though I am increasing the resolution for the newer
    photos, because the quality of the film they bought improved every few
    Of course, b&w photos need less space for the same resolution, because
    they can be scanned as grayscale, instead of color (make sure you
    select grayscale instead of color when you scan them). But, I scan at
    the resolution at which I begin to notice grain in the scan. I
    experiment to find this resolution with each batch of photos.
    For archiving in which I want to maintain the full details, I must use
    a lossless file format. The difference between my scans of my 110
    photos saved as TIFF and those converted to JPEG is obvious when
    viewed side-by-side. Even at high-quality JPEG, the photos are
    fuzzier, blurrier, than the TIFFs. Of course, they are also much

    You don't necessarily have to save your files as TIFF, but I am
    somewhat familiar with its specifications, and I feel most comfortable
    in using it for this purpose. Other times, I use PNG, or Adobe
    Elements' native PDF. I don't remember right now if PDF is lossless,
    though I think it is not.

    Of course, just running my scans through all this processing loses
    some image quality. Adobe Elements does not even support the color
    depth at which I am scanning, and neither do some file formats. I
    don't remember the bit depth that PNG suppports, but GIF is only an
    8-bit format; I don't recommend using GIF for any sort of archiving,
    for several reasons.

    It is true that high-quality scans take up a lot of space, but I
    believe this is a time to be generous, and not stingy. These scans are
    meant to last for many years, and so we should take the long-term
    outlook. I always try to get the highest quality product of anything
    that I intend to have for a long time. Also, the cost of storage space
    is dropping rapidly, and the expectations of quality are rising. One
    of these days, someone is going to develop a video display with the
    quality we now use for professional offset printing (probably next
    century ;P).

    There has been a lot of discussion about the lifespan of CDs.
    Professional archivers are experimenting with many approaches to make
    documents last and remain accessible for many years. No one actually
    knows how long any CD can reasonably last, but proper storage
    certainly helps extend their life. But, home-burned CDs are based on
    dyes, and the lifespan of the information on the home-burned CD cannot
    be more secure than the dye (OK, some scientist may develop a way to
    recover the information from a CD based on nano-trace samples
    remaining on the plastic, or some such). The approach I am using now
    is to save on both archival hard drives and CD/DVD media. The magnetic
    media is likely to be readable (with appropriate technology) for
    centuries, probably longer than the DVDs. Of course, the hard drives
    cost more than the DVDs.

    In the end, you should anticipate that your data may have to be
    converted to new formats, but physically and logically, from
    Richard Alexander, May 22, 2004
  16. Regarding CD longevity, use Mitsui gold technology (it is
    licensed to some manufacturers). Regarding image storage,
    never trust one copy and preferably one media type.
    Make at least two backups of everything important and
    store them in separate places (different buildings
    not close together). Some links:

    Mitsui gold CDR longevity (probably the best disk)

    Lifetime of KODAK Writable CD and Photo CD Media:
    (KodaK gold disks are probably no longer made)

    Roger Clark
    Photos, digital info at:
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), May 22, 2004
  17. Nikko

    Voivod Guest

    Because commercially produced CD media is pressed, not burned.
    Voivod, May 22, 2004
  18. Nikko

    Xalinai Guest

    Modern paper prints usually don't have enough resolution for a scan
    with more than 200-300 ppi. If you have matte paper, don't try
    anything beyond 250ppi, you will only scan the matte structure detail.

    Historic (1960 or earlier) color prints and handmade prints will
    provide more detail (sometimes 400ppi) and very old and small B/W
    prints sometimes give still more detail.
    Both: Yes.

    JPG is lossy and as such not a archiving format. Use a lossless
    format such as TIFF or PNG to archive average size images (<12 million
    pixels). What you throw away when saving as JPG can never be

    With regard to media longevity, always keep multiple copies of your
    images in different locations. Give copies of the media you create to
    other family members - they will be happy to get the images and you
    will silently know you have another backup location.
    Keep in mind that digital media becomes unreadable less because of
    media age but from technical progress. Migrate data regularly to new
    media (CD->DVD->???, about every 5 years) and avoid proprietary data
    formats (Images as PSD) because the programs may become unavailable in
    the future.

    Xalinai, May 22, 2004
  19. Nikko

    Xalinai Guest

    The problem may be storage conditions too. Burned CDs like dark closed
    spaces. Even in a jewel case on a shelf in a bright, sunlit room they
    can get a "sunburn" that makes them unreadable.

    And always keep at least one second copy in a different place.

    Xalinai, May 22, 2004
  20. Nikko

    Ron Hunter Guest

    You REALLY need to read the information on scanning at
    You are wasting time and storage space for no benefit. And as for
    using uncompressed TIFF format, WHY? You can use lossless TIFF
    compression (LZW) and save tons of space.
    Ron Hunter, May 22, 2004
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