Setting DPI for Scanning Photos

Before setting a scanner ready to scan an image, there is one thing that will ring in your mind, Dpi (dots per inch). You have to decide on the Dpi to use as your choice will determine the quality of your output image.

As you try different values of Dpi over different images, one big question that many people ask, is what is the best Dpi for scanning photos? Here are some of the key factors that you should look into when answering this question.

  • Image size: How much resolution and pixels do you want to work with?
  • The size of the file: What is the size of your file in consideration to memory space?
  • Image Details: Total details of the image that you want to extract after scanning.

These factors may be conflicting which may end up affecting your work progress. You may be in the middle of a scan only to realize that the image is too large with very little detail to show.  Working on many photos can make the matter more complex as you may find yourself using one Dpi setting for all photos.

A particular value of Dpi can do well on one photo and be a failure on another photo. It calls for total patience to get the best Dpi and one of the things that you need to do is print different images and then compare their Dpi.

Time required

Many people have found themselves choosing Dpi based on the time required. Here, the total time taken to complete a scan helps you to determine the value of Dpi to work with. This move may be right or may be wrong depending on how you are doing it.

The truth of the matter is that the higher the Dpi, the longer it will take to complete a scan. Different scanners have different scanning speeds, but this fact will still hold regardless of how fast your scanner is. If you decide to choose a higher Dpi, then be ready to be patient.

Effects of using low Dpi

Sadly, most paper images have a Dpi ranging from 200 to 300 though you will be lucky to get one that has a Dpi of 600 Dpi. There is a high risk of using very low Dpi when scanning an image. You may fail to capture all the details that are in the photo, and this may end up messing the whole thing.

This can be revealed when you zoom the image using your computer as various aspects of the photo may fail to be captured. Rather than going for the highest value, test a Dpi that will not reveal full details, then tweak your settings around that value.

Setting a high Dpi

Many people have been misled into believing that buying expensive scanners will automatically provide high-resolution images; there is no guarantee for that. High-resolution scanning is, in fact, preferable as opposed to low-resolution scanning.

Using  high Dpi has a direct impact on the file size. You will require a larger memory space and may also need a faster computer to process this information. However, as technology continues to advance, storage and processing power cease to be of too much concern as alternatives have been made easily available.

Choosing between high Dpi and low Dpi

Choosing between high Dpi and low Dpi can be quite a challenge especially when you want to scan different types of photos at once. If you have all the resources at your disposal, then go for the highest Dpi as you will be able to store and use the photo without any limitations.

Another advantage that comes with high Dpi is protection from uncertainty. You will never know whether you will resize the image to have a larger image size or smaller one.

Resizing to have a larger image size can affect the quality of an image in a negative way, and this may be worse if you scanned it using low Dpi. For this reason, it goes without question that it is better to go for a higher Dpi scanning.


So what is the best Dpi for scanning photos?  The answer is to use an average Dpi, and you don’t have to be too serious about it. Have fun trying out different numbers until you stumble upon the values that will give you the best photo.

Test the numbers until each pixel of the image receives enough Dpi which will reveal image details and at the same time make it possible for the image to be printed on any size. Being flexible and open-minded will help you in choosing the best Dpi for scanning photos.

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