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Scanning Prints vs. Scanning Slides or Negatives

You're probably wondering if it's better to digitize your prints or your slides and negatives. Scanning film, slides or negatives, will most always produce better digital images than scanning prints and photos. Slides & negatives are the original. Prints are second generation copies of the original film and do not contain as much information or detail as the negative they were made from.

If you have the option of scanning a negative instead of scanning a print made from the negative, we recommend scanning the negative. However If you're like most of us we've lost or misplaced our negatives. If we do have them they're not in an organized fashion and may be in poor condition. If this is the case scanning your prints is a great alternative.

There are some limits to print scanning that you should be aware of. Most color prints from your regular photo finisher contain around 300 DPI of detail. There are exceptions to this 300 DPI rule. Depending on the quality of the print being scanned and how crisp the image is, scanning at 600 DPI generally produces better results. 600 DPI scans produce larger files but ensure every detail in your print is recorded in digital form. We don't charge more to scan your prints at 600 DPI. If you want to be sure as much detail as possible is captured during scanning, go with 600 DPI print scans.

One of the benefits of digitizing your photo collection is that you have the ability to create new prints or enlargements from you new digital images. The quality and size of the prints you'll be able to make from your scanned images depends on the quality of the original film or print that was scanned. The charts below should give you an idea of what to expect when creating prints or enlargements from your scanned images. As you can see from the charts, film scans are the best way to create large prints from digital files. The charts below represent the quality of prints made from your scanned images. The sizes displayed horizontally represent the size of the print being made from your scanned image. On the left side of each chart is the resolution of the film being scanned or the size of the print that was scanned.

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* Our recommendations are based ONLY on the overall resolution (i.e., image size) of your scan, and not on the overall quality, clarity, or exposure of the original picture.These recommendations do not consider film grain, ISO speed, or other film characteristics. Fair Quality is based on 170dpi of image resolution, Good Quality is based on 260dpi of image resolution, Great Quality is based on 300dpi of image resolution.Larger printing may be possible by resampling an image.

 

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* Our recommendations are based ONLY on the overall resolution (i.e., image size) of your scan, and not on the overall quality, clarity, or exposure of the original picture. Fair Quality is based on 170dpi of image resolution, Good Quality is based on 260dpi of image resolution, Great Quality is based on 300dpi of image resolution.Larger printing may be possible by resampling an image.

 

Good Fair
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* Our recommendations are based ONLY on the overall resolution (i.e., image size) of your scan, and not on the overall quality, clarity, or exposure of the original picture. Results may vary when creating enlargments from print scans. Our recommendations do consider the fact that most prints do not contain 600dpi worth of detail. Our recommendations are based on each print containing 400dpi worth of detai even though they will be scanned at 600dpi. Fair Quality is based on 170dpi of image resolution, Good Quality is based on 260dpi of image resolution, Great Quality is based on 300dpi of image resolution.Larger printing may be possible by resampling an image.

 

Scanning Services: Slide & negative scans come in three varieties; Silver scanning, Gold scanning, and Pro scanning. Print and photo scans come in two flavors; Silver photo scanning, and Gold scanning. Click a link to learn more about our scanning services.
Slide & Negative Scan Comparison | Photo Scan Comparison

Digital Image Benefits: This article outlines the many benefits of digital photography.

An Introduction to Digital Photography: This article explains digital images, Resolution, and Megapixels. It provides a brief technical background to digital imaging.

Scan Resolution Help: This article explains scan resolution. It looks at scanning resolution from three perspectives and makes recommendations accordingly.

Photo Scans vs. Slide & Negative Scanning: This article compares photo scans with slide & negative scans. It also outlines the limitations of photo scanning.

JPEG vs. TIFF File Format:
This article briefly discusses these two unique file formats.

CD vs. DVD:
Wondering what a Data DVD is? This page explains Data DVDs and compares them with CD-Rom for storage and backup of digital photos.

Disk Organization:
This page explains how your disks will be organized after scanning.

You may also find our order planning guide helpful.

 

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