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Scanning Tips

Scanning Situations

Setting Scanner DPI Settings

Standard Photo Archiving With No Editing of My Photos
  • Use the standard scanning recommendations as noted to the right and save to JPEG format with minimal compression settings.
Standard Photo Archiving With Some Editing of My Photos
  • Use the standard scanning recommendations as noted to the right, but save to a TIFF format until your editing is completed.
Full Scrapbook Page Archiving With No Extraction of Photos
  • Use the standard scanning recommendations as noted to the right and save to a JPEG format
Full Scrapbook Page Archiving But Need to Extract Photos As Well
  • Measure the smallest size of a photo you want to crop out, then use the scanning guidelines to the right for your scanning resolution
  • Scan the scrapbook page and save to a TIFF format. This is your original file to begin extracting your photos from. The file size of your scan will likely be around 50+ megabytes
  • At this point you will need some type of photo editing software to extract or crop out each photograph
  • Save the resulting separate photo crops to a JPEG format if NO editing is needed, or to a TIFF format if you need to do some editing on them
  • Once you have completed the extraction process, save your large sized original file to a JPEG format for archiving

Scanning Photos & Slides


A standard HD (high definition) computer monitor has 1,920 pixels across and 1,084 pixels in height. (PPI = Pixels Per Inch). Standard digital TVs are now "4K" and higher are 3,840 pixels per inch across and 2,160 pixels per inch in height. An Apple iMac 5K screen has 5,120 pixels across and 2,880 pixels in height. Why is this information important? If you are going to display your photos on a television screen, you need to know at what resolution you will scan your photos at.

For most people just preserving photos to use in a book, or to share with others, the standard "HD" resolutions of 1,920 PPI across X 1,084 PPI in height should be sufficient to give you good printing quality.

The following recommendations are "general" recommendations only. They will at least give you a starting point to begin your scanning.

Selecting Scanning Resolution
(PPI = Pixels/inch or DPI = Dots/Inch)

Image Size

3" wide X 2" tall Photo

Calculated Size

1920 ÷ 3 (width of photo) = 640
Select a value of 600 DPI to scan at.

6" wide X 4" tall Photo

1920 ÷ 6 (width of photo) = 480
Select a value of ~ 450 DPI to scan at.

8" wide X 10" tall Photo

1920 ÷ 8 (width of photo) = 240
Select a value of 300 DPI to scan at.

1.5" wide X 1" tall SLIDES

1920 ÷ 1.5 (width of slide) = 1200
Select a value of at least 1200, but in practice, I find it better to scan at higher values such as 3200 DPI.

Why Use This Chart?

This chart is more helpful if you are contemplating enlarging your photos to a larger size. The chart is fairly simple to use. Select your ORIGINAL photo size, and then follow the row across to the size that you want to OUTPUT to. There are two rows, one for "Good Print Quality" and another for "High Print Quality". For most purposes, especially when scanning from a photograph, just use the "Good Print Quality". If you are scanning from a negative, your quality will be much better and a higher print quality would be appropriate.

Flatbed scanners are the most common type of scanner. The photos are placed on a glass scanning bed where they are then converted into a digital image on the computer, and then stored to the computer hard drive.



There are non-flatbed scanners that come with what is called an ADF or automatic document feeder that will rapidly scan a stack of photos or papers. Scanning a multipage document into a PDF (Portable Document File) is best accomplished with this type of scanner.
Some scanners may be designed ONLY to scan photos and NOT paper documents, so be sure you are aware of the scanner characteristics. These scanners can scan up to 50 images/minute and a little slower if scanning both sides.

There are many different types of slide scanners. Some use a camera attached to a Kodak Carousel Slide Projector to scan each slide. Others may use a long slide tray. One of the newer slide scanners made by Kodak is the Scanza. It can quickly scan and produce good quality scans, although you manually (though quickly) push the slides through a small tray capturing the image. There are some flatbed scanners with lighted lids that can also scan slides.


Our heritage and that of our ancestors will be lost to subsequent generations unless we actively take steps to preserve it.

Site Maintained by:

Stephen A Meyers
Idaho Falls, Idaho