Photography Blog

What You Must Know About Photo Scan Resolutions and DPI for Scanning Photos

Going through old photos can help revisit some fond memories or perhaps create new ones as you learn more about some friends and family members’ lives before your time. Unfortunately, printed photos can start to deteriorate with time, even if you take good care of them. Well, a digital photo project can help change that. It helps preserve the image in high-resolutions that you can view digitally or print. You must know some things about scanning resolutions before you start on such a project. The scanned resolution may vary from one project to another, so you should know which one is best for you. Thus, this article provides you with everything you must know about photo scan resolutions and dpi for scanning photos.

What Is DPI?

You may be wondering what DPI is now that we’ve touched on it. It stands for dots per inch (DP). It’s used to measure the number of dots in one inch of a printed image. While it may be challenging to provide the best DPI for scanning photos, you should know that a higher DPI will offer a clearer image than a lower DPI. That said, you should not try to keep the DPI particularly high when you’re scanning your photos. This is because the file size will become too large to use practically.

Therefore, you’ll need to strike a balance in which you have a high-quality image even when you zoom into it without the file being too large. Thus, we recommend 600 DPI as the best DPI for scanning photos. There isn’t much difference in file size between 600 DPI images and 300 DPI images. However, 1200 is too high unless you need to print the image on a large poster.

Best Photo Scan Resolutions for Various Projects

Now that you know what DPI is, we can get into the best photo scan resolutions for various projects. Of course, there are a variety of projects for preserving photos, but we’re going over some common examples. We’re also providing a popular choice for the scanned resolution for each type of project.

Reprinting Existing Photos

If you have an existing photo that’s starting to wear out and you want to reprint it for preservation purposes, you don’t need a particularly high DPI. In that case, 300 DPI is the standard. That said, if you want to print a larger photo than the original, you may want to increase the scanned resolution. Thus, 600 DPI may be a better choice. For example, you can reprint a 4×6 photo to an 8×10 photo without any resolution (image quality) loss if you stick with 600 DPI.

Scanning Old Photos for Social Media

You don’t need to pick a high DPI if you want to scan an existing old photo to post it on a social media website. Something below 300 DPI is suitable because social media platforms typically don’t accept images with high DPI.

Large Negatives and Transparencies

For those who want to get digital scans of large transparencies and negatives, you can select 1200 DPI for high-quality and 600 DPI for standard quality.

Backing Up 35mm Slides and Negatives

35mm slides and negatives are your sources for many photos. Therefore, you must select an exceptionally high DPI for your scanning choice. If you want standard scanning, then you could rely on 2500 DPI. On the other hand, it’s best to pick 4000 DPI if you want high-quality resolution for your scanned photos. 4000 DPI is also the highest scanning resolution for 35mm film.

Medium Format

Professionals do not commonly use the Medium format for negatives and photos. However, if you are one of the few who use it, you should scan your photos at 1500 DPI for standard quality. However, if you want high-quality, then 3000 DPI is the best choice.

Last Few Words

Something vital that you must note about scanning resolutions is that you’ll only need to choose high resolutions if you need extreme detail. If you don’t, there’s no reason why you should waste digital space to scan high-res copies. For example, archival projects need high-resolution scans to view minute details on old texts or photos, but sharing old photos online doesn’t.

Moreover, it’s always a good idea to rely on a picture scanning service provider with the necessary skills and experience to ensure that your old photos are as good as new. Also, the advantage of using a professional service is that you don’t need to invest in purchasing expensive equipment to manage your photo restoration projects.

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