How can I improve a scan of a photo?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by portergirl, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. portergirl

    portergirl TPF Noob!

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    Hello: I'm new here but hope to return often. I'm a freelance writer and have done some basic photography that's usually ok for my articles. My main problem is in sending them to magazines. I try to scan at 300 dpi but sometimes (like now) they still say it's not high enough resolution. Any ideas what to do? I use a film camera - have two different types - and use a new Canon scanner. If I've scanned them at 300 dpi, is there a way to scan them using a different system or is there any hope to get better quality? Don't know if I'm asking the right question. Just wondered if there's a program out there to improve what I thought was a good enough photo. Thanks.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Are you scanning prints or scanning the actual film?

    You could try increasing the resolution of the scan, or you could use software (Photoshop etc) to increase the resolution/size of the image. There is some quality loss when increasing and image, but you can easily get away with a certain amount of enlargement.

    Also, you could take the film into a good lab and have them scan it to your desired resolution.
     
  3. tkaat

    tkaat TPF Noob!

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    Yea as Big Mike said you have the choice to:
    1. use software to enlarge it
    2.Take it to lab and have them scan it using their film scanners

    What is confusing here though is 300dpi is a very high-res photo. Maybe you can scan it couple times and layer them ontop of each other in photo shop and then you would have a higher-res photo (I think that is how you do it not 100% sure)
     
  4. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    No, that's not how it works.

    "300dpi", or more properly "300ppi" for Pixels Per Inch, is totally meaningless in any conversation about digital images if you don't also specify the size of the image in inches, period. If you scan a 35mm film image at 300ppi you will have a good high resolution image if, and only if, you print it a 1x1.5", even though it is only 300x450 pixels . If you print it at, say, 8x12" that 300x450 pixel image becomes 37.5ppi which is rather low resolution.

    When scanning film, you need to consider the final reproduction size or, if it is unknown, what the maximum size might be. For most magazine work you're looking at a two page spread as the maximum, something around 11x17 when you account for the trimming needed for a full bleed image. To get a 11x17 300ppi image from a 35mm film original you need to scan the 1x1.5" original at around 3400ppi at a minimum (11" image at 300ppi = 3300 pixels across the short side). If you will need to crop the image to get the framing you want you'll need to scan at an even higher resolution. If you are going to limit your images to single page images in roughly 8x10.5" format mags then 2400ppi will do if the image can be used uncropped.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2009
  5. chadsdphoto

    chadsdphoto TPF Noob!

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    I think you've got good suggestions above for getting better scans.

    However, I always am frustrated when publications say 300 dpi photos aren't high enough resolution. I always guess that the case is actually what Dwig said - the dimensions of the image are what is not large enough. I shoot RAW images, but what are filed and sent out for publications are 300 dpi 8x12 inch jpegs. Seems to work fine for all kinds of magazines, and I've seen my stuff printed on billboards and the side of semi trucks with no problem.

    Of course, there's always the occasional magazine that says they aren't high enough resolution, which makes me laugh.

    Here are some of those jpegs at a size that I think should work for a magazine. Dakotagraph: South Dakota semis :lol:
     
  6. portergirl

    portergirl TPF Noob!

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    OK, here's where I know what a beginner I really am - when I can't keep up with answers in a "photography beginners' forum"! Thanks for all the input. But I'm still confused. Please bear with me. And I'm not with my scanner till later today so I don't know some things for sure till then.

    But -- I think I did scan at 300 dpi. Didn't know you can change the image size, though - how??? I'm scanning the photo, not the negative - should I be doing that? And if I can change to higher than 300 dpi, will quality really improve? I've always been ok with 300 dpi before.

    Photoshop - heard of it, don't even know how to do it. Maybe I need a photo lab. Any other suggestions? Mainly, how to change it to the size you mentioned -
     
  7. portergirl

    portergirl TPF Noob!

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    :confused: Just me again. Forgot to mention that my article is rather long, so there will supposedly be 3 photos accompanying it - can't imagine they'll be very large in the finished version - probably not any larger than 4x6. Maybe not even that large. They're not the focal point of the article, though they need to be included.
     
  8. portergirl

    portergirl TPF Noob!

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    Sorry - tried to edit my post to include this info but I'm not allowed! Anyway, the scan sizes are 8.40KB, 8.82KB, 10.0KB and 7.95KB if that helps provide an answer. Thanks - please be patient with this noob!
     
  9. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For reference, I scan my negatives at around 4200dpi to make crisp 8x10 prints. (epson 4490 scanner) My files are usually in the 5-10mb range.

    I think your mind is stuck on the 'print resolution = 300dpi' That would be true if you were scanning a 100% size image. Say a 4x6" print to make a 4x6" magazine print.. well basically Dwig has covered all that.
     
  10. ismael

    ismael TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    A 10K image size is very small. Let's take baby steps here.
    Go back to your scanner and see what is the highest resolution you can get.
    Then make sure you save the image in lowest compression (highest quality) setting. If the scan is small and on top of that you are saving it at high compression you are going in the wrong direction. You want highest resolution and lowest compression (which is the same as highest quality). Image size is not important at least for now.
    Check that and let's take it from there.

    Thanks,
     
  11. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    Don't feel alone; that's how we all started out.

    Ah, there's the problem.

    For one, even when scanning the print at 300ppi you are probably still not getting what the magazine considers a high resolution photo. If the original print is a 4x6" print, a 300ppi scan will yield a 1200x1800 pixel image. Not bad, but not really particularily high resolution. It would, in theory, be sharp enough for magazine if the reproduced image was no larger than 4x6". But theory only goes so far.

    The other issue is that it is a print. A color print doesn't contain all that much detail. An excellent, very high quality print may contain detail fine enough to require a 300ppi scan, but most aren't detailed enough to require anything higher than 200ppi. If you are scanning a small 4x6" machine made print it only contains a modest portion of the detail in the original negative or slide. A 200-300ppi scan will capture all that's in the print. After all, print materials are designed for producing prints that look sharp to the naked eye and you can't see detail smaller than a 200-300ppi scan records. They aren't designed to record image detail any smaller.

    A higher resolution scan will yield more pixels but not more detail. It might fool the magazine into accepting the image, but only if they don't try to print it any larger than 4x6". To get true high resolution images to magazine standards you would have to scan an 11x17 print at 300ppi (3300x5100 pixels, roughly the same number of pixels as a 3200ppi scan of a 35mm negative but not as much detail) or possibly a 300ppi scan from an 8x12 (2400x3600 pixels).

    What you really need is either a good dedicated film scanner or one of the better flatbed scanners that can scan film (EPSON v700 or v750). Either will in the $500USD range and up. The only thing less expensive that would be adequate and that I have any experience with (and that second hand) is the EPSON v500.
     

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