The way we capture memories has come a long way since the days of Polaroids and cave drawings. No longer are we bound by the number of shots left on a roll of film or the ire of a (previously hibernating) grizzly bear. Digital photography has revolutionized our notions of picture-taking and enhanced its convenience to an exponential degree. Digital cameras, now more affordable than ever, have allowed us to take faster, better, and more numerous photos. It’s incredibly easy, with that kind of speed and functionality at your fingertips, to forget what life and photography was like before. Don’t let your old memories go to waste. Your paper photos – family outings, holidays, pets, and baby pictures – deserve an upgrade to the digital age as well.
Tips for Scanning Quality Photos
Choose the right photos. Picture selection is obviously a key factor in flawless photo scanning. You can sharpen your images or make colors more vivid with image-editing software, but it’s best to start with clear, bright images whenever possible.
Modify your scanner’s settings. Your scanner most likely has different settings for options such as resolution, sharpening, color, etc. Take advantage of these settings when scanning photos. Use the software to adjust the settings based on the look you want to achieve. For example, when scanning an old photo that has lost some of its vibrancy, simply select the option that restores faded color. Blurry or fuzzy photos? Sharpen them up with a click of your mouse.
Pick the right resolution for the job. The better resolution an image has, the sharper it will be. Scanner resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi). More dots translate into a sharper image. A good rule of thumb is to scan a master copy of your image at 300 dpi. This gives you flexibility if you want to use the same image in different ways. For scanning photos for e-mail or the Web, 72 dpi is best, while 150 dpi is great for scanning photos for inkjet printing.
Choose a file format to suit your use. After you scan an image, you can save it in several different file formats. If you're sure that you'll only view your image onscreen (like e-mailing), save it as a JPEG, which compresses the file size to speed download times. This format loses some image quality during compression, but the loss isn't too noticeable onscreen. However, if you're printing your image or if you're uncertain how you'll use it in the future, save it as a TIFF. This format preserves detail and color information, which will give you maximum flexibility. You can always save a copy of a TIFF file as a JPEG, but you can't create a high quality TIFF image from a JPEG. Keep that in mind; you'll thank yourself later.
Scan slides and negatives. If your scanner allows you to convert 35 mm slides and negatives into easy-to-store digital files, this is the best way to share clear, crisp photos. By using slides and negatives, you can scan up to 16 slides or 30 negative frames at once, in most cases. Many HP scanners come with a built in adapter especially for this purpose.
Whether you want to make an illustrated family tree or genealogy chart, a wedding compilation, or scrapbook of your past vacations, you can create imaginative and enduring digital records. All it takes is a flatbed/photo scanner and a computer.
Most flatbed scanners on the market today are designed with your low-volume, limited-space use in mind. They’re easy on the budget, with many models priced below $100, and exceedingly simple to use. A wide array of included software, dedicated function buttons, USB, SCSI, or Firewire connectivity, and effortlessly navigable menus make these scanners the best choice for your artistic endeavors at home. Many models, like the Visioneer OneTouch 9520, come with collage-making, DVD slideshow, and image effect software to help you achieve the look you want. The Epson Perfection V100 can scan slides and negatives in addition to photos. More sophisticated performers, like the HP ScanJet 8300 offer higher resolutions, scan 3D objects, and allow you to edit and restore photos.
You can create interesting, impactful scrapbooks and photo albums (whether you print them out or keep them solely digital) with a lot less effort than it used to take. They make personal, unforgettable gifts and rich backdrops for your family history, memories, and personal experiences. So while you enjoy the novelty of your digital camera, remember to bring your photographic past up to date.