Aw nards, you broke it.

Scanning Tips

Scanning is not a simple as placing an image on the scanner glass, closing the lid, and clicking scan. There are many variables to consider if you want a high quality image afterwards.

  • Use a quality flatbed scanner for the best results. Avoid the portable scanners because they use a rotating drum that can damage your images. In addition, the scanner/copier/printer combos are not set up for quality image scanning; they are primarily designed for scanning/copying documents.
  • Do not use tape to repair an image, even putting it on the back has undesirable consequences. Invisible tape really isn’t. A scanner has a hard time seeing through the tape leaving that area distorted and with outlines of the tape. Eventually the tape will discolor and damage the image.
  • Use care and cotton gloves when handling vintage photographs. The oils on your skin will stain the photograph over time. Before scanning, clean the glass plate to remove smudges and dust. Alcohol works great (rubbing not Crown Royal) for cleaning the glass; glass cleaners and wipes tend to leave a residue.
  • When scanning an image that is in pieces, place the pieces on the glass and leave a 1/4″ (6mm) gap between them. Then use your image editing software to align the pieces. Finally, place all of the image pieces in a baggie or other container so nothing becomes lost.
  • Scan pictures at 300ppi and slides/negatives at 1200ppi. Always try to scan in multiplies of 300 for quality results. For the best scans, double the ppi above and save as a .tiff image.
  • Pictures come in a variety of sizes so do not try to scan images at a set size (800 x 600) it can degrade and/or crop your image.
  • Try not to use auto settings when scanning. Auto settings are a very generic one-size-fits-all type of situation. High quality scans are the result of maximizing the software settings to what is best for that image. When you buy shoes you want ones that fit, images need what fit also.
  • Always scan in 24-bit color mode or higher. This will maximize the amount of information needed for a quality restoration.
  • Avoid the corrections inside the scanning software; this includes sharpening. You have little if any control over how much of an effect is used. Use your image-editing software for the maximum amount of control. Sharpening during scanning will enhance the scratches and blemishes making restoration more difficult and costly.
  • Saving as a .jpeg file will automatically apply sharpening (it’s part of the JPEG program) and compression, which lowers the quality of the image. Neither sharpening nor compression are applied to a .tiff image.