What is the Best Resolution to Scan Photos?

The digital world is evolving quickly with new inventions and innovations being introduced every day in different fields. In photography, for example, you can now archive photographic memories in the safety of your personal computer, share with friends and family, file paper photos into images for use in presentations or post on your social media pages. Today, photography is easy and so much fun.

However, in as much as photography has been made easy with scanners, a majority of people still have problems identifying the correct resolutions to scan their photos. It can be difficult to know the right resolution for scanning, especially if you have no knowledge of how scanning resolution can affect the final image output.

Choosing the best resolution

Once you have placed you photograph on the scanner, the first setting you are supposed to make is the resolution. In most scanners, this is labeled as Dpi while others have it labeled as Ppi. Dpi stands for dot per inch while Ppi stands for pixel per inch; the two mean the same thing.

When choosing a setting, you figure out which resolution settings that will give you the most output in terms of image color, size and content.  You should choose a resolution depending on what you intend to with the image afterward.

Do you want to archive it on a computer? To use it for a PowerPoint presentation? To share on social media or do you want to print it? You should have answers to these question in order to choose the best scanning resolution for your photographs.

If you intend to print the photos for a newspaper or any other print media, then use a resolution of at least 600Dpi or higher if you are scanning smaller images with a lot of detail.

If you just want to scan photos for archiving on a computer or for purposes that do not require printing, then a 72Dpi is okay. Otherwise, if you want the image bigger, then you can adjust to 100 or 200 depending on the settings of your scanner.

When scanning photos that go beyond 600Dpi, be sure to check the optical resolution of the scanner so that you don’t go beyond what is provided at maximum. Remember that scanning photos at a higher Dpi is not harmful; it will only improve the quality of your image on prints and also give a larger file size.

Higher resolution settings like above 2000Dpi are meant for very small objects with tremendous detail.  Also, higher settings take longer to scan compared to lower settings.

Remember that the scanning resolution will determine the size of the image you get, the quality of image, the amount of detail it will contain and how many pixels the image will be made up of. For this reason, try to pick scan settings that are not too low nor too high for your photo. This way you are able to get the best output regarding quality, size and detail.

The best trick to apply when scanning photos is by scanning at the highest possible resolution and then use image editing applications like Adobe Photoshop to save copies of images at lower resolutions.

From here you will be able to flexibly use the images in different types of applications like uploading on social media or other websites, using them for PowerPoint presentations or for print media.

At the end of the day, the best resolution for scanning photos will depend on the size of the original document, the amount of detail in the photo and your scanner settings. If you get all these right, then finding the right resolution for scanning the photographs will not be much of a problem.

Here is a tip, though: scanning images at 300Dpi should be able to give you quality images and you will also be able to reprint them at the same size as the original photo.

However, if you want to increase the size of the image from the original photo then simply double the resolution to between 600 to 900Dpi. Like I said, it is better to use a higher resolution than a lower one as the latter will distort the quality, size and also details of the photo.

For photos whose size is smaller than 4×6” then use 900Dpi or more. Happy scanning!

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