What file format for several hundred family photos?

Discussion in 'Photoshop' started by Chrisssssss........., Oct 18, 2005.

  1. I've read the several TIFF versus JPG postings but have one question: I have
    dug out about 200 old family photos of all shapes and sizes, including some
    B & W negs. All I will be scanning every one, then editing to improve each
    one to save as a JPG before getting Spielmanns to print. I'll than be filing
    them away again (probably for another 40 years!).
    In this case, what is the recommended format to save to after scanning?
    Many thanks, Chrisssss........
    Chrisssssss........., Oct 18, 2005
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  2. Chrisssssss.........

    Voivod Guest

    If you've got the space, a CDRW or a DVD writer always save in a
    lossless format in case you want to edit them in the future.
    Voivod, Oct 18, 2005
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  3. Chrisssssss.........

    Hunt Guest


    I'd suggest TIFF as the basis for your scans. When you start the retouch on
    each, Save_As PSD, then finally output to JPG. Backup both the TIFFs and the
    PSDs to other devices/media, in case you ever have to go back. If so, you
    should have both, the original scan, untouched, plus the PSD with Adjustment
    Layers, etc. to do another JPG. Last thing that you will want is several
    generations of re-JPG'ed images to go to print. By doing it right once (hey,
    every 40 years isn't bad), you should not have to re-do any of it. Depending
    on your system's HDD real estate, you may have to work on fewer at a time, and
    then off-load that batch and work on the next.

    Hunt, Oct 18, 2005
  4. To Voivod & Hunt,

    Many thanks, TIFF's it will be then, plus PSD's. I backup all regularly
    Much appreciated.

    Chrisssssss........., Oct 18, 2005
  5. Chrisssssss.........

    ben dover Guest

    yep and make sure they are 300 DPI also...you should'nt need more than 700
    disk's to save them in this way. Good luck.
    ben dover, Oct 19, 2005
  6. Chrisssssss.........

    stevet Guest

    ..psd is lossless isn't it?

    stevet, Oct 19, 2005
  7. Chrisssssss.........

    tacit Guest

    Yes, .psd is lossless.
    tacit, Oct 19, 2005
  8. Chrisssssss.........

    Clyde Guest

    Since I don't know the future nor does anyone else here, we have to work
    with the past. TIFF and PSD are two formats that have been around as
    long as Photoshop has. Of course, they have changed a tad, but the
    current version of Photoshop will read all the older versions. There is
    no reason to believe that Photoshop won't continue to support all
    version of these as time moves forward.

    [Use only lossless formats for long term archiving of photos. There is
    no reason to save them if you are going to partially destroy them right
    off the bat.]

    Other lossless formats have official standards bodies locking in the
    formats. Those aren't likely to change too much. At least they are
    likely to be backward compatible. So, while JPEG2000 and PNG aren't too
    popular, they are likely to be in Photoshop for many long years. They
    are also lossless compressed and will save some disc space. (JPEG2000
    has options for lossy and lossless compression.)

    JPEG is lossy, but is likely to be a readable format for a very long
    time. So, save screen sized versions of your pictures in this format.
    This is so the viewer in the future can get a quick look at what is on
    the disc.

    I have been working on thousands of old family pictures. I'm scanning
    them in at the highest dpi I can. (Well, 300 dpi for most of the prints.
    Really good prints at 600 dpi; there aren't many. Slides at 2880 dpi.)
    I'm saving them all in TIFF, PSD, and JPEG2000 formats. I figure my
    grandkids version of Photoshop should be able to read all of them. Three
    versions gives them a better shot at reading one of them on a disc that
    is starting to go bad.

    Therein lies the bigger problem... What media will last as long as the
    format? Hard disks or any magnetic medium are not archival. Magnetic
    media will lose its strength with no help from any thing. Unfortunately
    there are plenty of electromagnetic sources around to help it go bad.

    About the best thing we have now are CD-R discs. Alas, there is a very
    wide range in archival ability with these. Some will start to go bad in
    a few years. Many are really only good for about 5 years. They may or
    may not go to 10-20 years. You may not know until too late.

    MAM-A makes some gold CD-R discs that are probably the closest thing you
    can get to really archival today. I put all my old family photos on
    those. I plan to check them all in 5 years, but we'll see.

    Clyde, Oct 19, 2005
  9. Thanks for the detailed and helpful reply Clyde.

    I have been relying on an external hard drive (and memory sticks) for all my
    archival work (and for making duplicates of my C drive so I can save even
    all progs and settings in case of disaster).

    As you and many others seem to favour CD-Rs, am I missing something?

    Cheers, Chrisssss........
    Chrisssssss........., Oct 19, 2005
  10. Chrisssssss.........

    KatWoman Guest

    harddrives "go bad" after a while, lifespan of maybe 2-4 years at best
    KatWoman, Oct 19, 2005
  11. Chrisssssss.........

    Hunt Guest

    Unfortunately, all forms of digital backup, have problems. Probably the best
    is to do the BU in a very redundant fashion, using several different media.
    I've had all sorts of BU media go bad, tapes (all sorts), JAZ/SyQuest, CD-Rs &
    RWs, HDDs, floppies (anybody besides me remember those?), and old "optical"
    drives (Iomega, before CDs). I have yet to have a DVD fail, but I am sure that
    it is just a matter of time. All can go bad, and probably will at the worst
    possible time. OTOH, I had maybe 100,000+ negatives and transparencies caught
    in a flood. We probably recovered 80% to a usable degree.

    Hunt, Oct 19, 2005
  12. Chrisssssss.........

    Voivod Guest

    As do some brands of CDRs, then again I've got a HD that's 11 years old
    and it still boots while I've also had CDRs go bad in less than a year.
    Conversely I've had a drive go bad in less than a year and I've got one
    CD that was burned 8 years ago that's still good.
    Voivod, Oct 19, 2005
  13. I suppose that reliability isn't such an issue so long as one has SOME sort
    of duplicate so that if one goes down, then the other SHOULD suffice. To
    have two go down together is just plain bad luck! But then again, we ARE
    talking computers here...........nuff said!
    Thanks for all the advice.
    Chrisssssss........., Oct 19, 2005
  14. Chrisssssss.........

    Voivod Guest

    It's not even a question of two 'going down' if your archival copies are
    in the same place as your PC then fire, flood, theft, whatever can wipe
    out everything in a matter of moments. I back up all my work once a
    month, twice, one copy stays here another goes to a friend who lives
    1,500 miles away and has a safe.
    Voivod, Oct 19, 2005
  15. Chrisssssss.........

    Jim Hargan Guest

    Hunt is absolutely correct: there are no reliable backup methods and
    redundancy is your only safe alternative. A summary:
    1. All digital media are non-archival, and will fail in a decade. You need
    to check and recopy your digital backups on a regular schedule.
    2. Some film media are truly archival (including Kodachrome, tested at 300
    years), while some others are near archival (Velvia claims 70 years).
    Storage requirements are *very* stringent. Unlike digital, film copying is
    very difficult, and typically impractical.
    3. You really need an off-site copy. Think New Orleans.

    A few random notes:
    a. A 'live' hard drive has two advantages: it allows automatic background
    backup, and it typically gives misbehavior clues before it fails. (That is,
    more often than not it exhibits problems in advance of failure, and this
    can give you time to copy your data. Your mileage may vary.)
    b. You can prolong the life of a hard drive by using SpinRite,
    c. Fire safes will not protect digital media from fire. When exposed to
    heat they emit super-heated steam, which protects paper but destroys film
    and dm. You need a special digital media safe.

    Jim Hargan
    Jim Hargan, Oct 20, 2005
  16. Chrisssssss.........

    Voivod Guest

    MAY fail in a decade. May also fail in a week and may never fail.
    Voivod, Oct 20, 2005
  17. Chrisssssss.........

    Clyde Guest

    There is a difference between backing up and archiving. My live Firewire
    HD is my active backup. My MAM-A gold CD-R discs are my photo archive.

    Of course, the media may not be the first thing to fail either. You may
    have nice, long lasting, gold CD-R discs that have kept everything you
    put on them. However, if you have no drive that will read those discs,
    you are still sunk.

    There are plenty of old computer media that you can't find a device that
    will work on your computer. How many tape formats have come and gone?
    How many floppy formats have come and gone? Could you read a 8" floppy
    disc, even if it still contained data?

    How long will CD-R be readable? It seems like it should last for years
    and maybe longer than most in the past. However, DVD-R may completely
    replace it in 5 years. If that happens, you have to move all your old
    archives to new media.

    So, maybe the life of CD-R discs isn't the limiting factor. Then again,
    the rule in computer disaster recovery is "Test everything once a year".
    Yes, I was a computer DR pro for several years.

    Clyde, Oct 20, 2005
  18. Chrisssssss.........

    Voivod Guest

    If I could find my soldering iron, yes.
    Voivod, Oct 20, 2005
  19. Chrisssssss.........

    KatWoman Guest

    I use Executive Diskeeper, it auto defrags your drives on a schedule and is
    much faster than the windows one.
    Supposed to make them last longer.
    KatWoman, Oct 21, 2005
  20. Chrisssssss.........

    Jim Hargan Guest

    Unlike Diskeeper, Spinrite strengthens the signal on each and every sector
    of the hard disk, including the sector markers. When it detects damaged
    media surface it can recover the data (using statistical analysis if
    necessary), mark the sector as bad, and move the recovered data off of it.
    In many (not all) cases, Spinrite can make a failed disk readable enough to
    allow its data to be recovered.

    These actions significantly prolong the life of a disk. Even better,
    Spinrite will detect a failing disk in plenty of time for you to get rid of

    Diskeeper can reduce the movement of the read head and so reduce the amount
    of normal wear. Don't know if this is significant. It probably strengthens
    the signal of moved data, but it doesn't strengthen the data it doesn't
    move, or strengthen sector markers.

    Jim Hargan
    Freelance Photographer and Writer
    Jim Hargan, Oct 22, 2005
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