Is It Better to Scan Old Photos or Take Pictures of Them?
Is It Better to Scan Old Photos or Take Pictures of Them?
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Is It Better to Scan Old Photos or Take Pictures of Them?

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By Katy Sommerfeld

Father’s Day is coming up, and it’s a common social media practice to post a super cute, vintage picture of you and your Dad or father figure together on Instagram. So what do you do if all you have is a photo album of prints? Somehow, those great photos have to get digitized, right? Well, we’re here to help give you some insight into the best way to digitize old photos.

The most common ways people will do this is by taking a picture of the photos on their smartphone, scanning the photos at home, or using a service. There are pros and cons to each of these methods, but which produces the best quality digital photo in an easy-to-use way?

Smartphone Photographing Method

First, let’s take a closer look at using your Android or iPhone to digitize print photos. On the offset, this method seems like the no-brainer choice. It’s DIY, cheap, and convenient, which is something everyone can appreciate. Yet despite the convenience and affordability, a picture taken on your phone camera or using a photo scanning app  will inevitably come out looking very different from the original. 

Smartphone cameras will pick up glares from any artificial or natural light in the room, obscuring the image in the print photo. A shadow of your smartphone may also appear in the photo, further making the image unclear. Blemishes on the photo itself, such as scratches, dents, dirt, or dust will be picked up by the smartphone camera.  

Oftentimes, the surface on which the print photos are placed will also be visible in the smartphone picture. Chances are you don’t really want your dinner table or kitchen counter in the shot when you’re trying to post your photos to social media. And getting just the right angle without any surfaces, let alone any fingers or feet in the picture is far easier said than done, even for professional photographers. Sure, you might be able to use photoshop or another photo editor to get rid of some of these flaws, but they can’t fix all of the problems. 

When digitizing family photos, the last thing you want is for the digitized version to be distorted and in worse shape than the original print. Taking pictures of print photos on a smartphone creates mediocre digitized images that look unprofessional and sloppy, and if your priority is the preservation of the quality of the original image, you’ll be disappointed with a smartphone camera shot. 

Photo Scanning Method

The second option, using a photo scanner to upload your photos to a computer, seems like a dated solution to the digitization problem at first. It can be inconvenient to use a scanner, whether you have a flatbed one at home or you hire a digitization service. The process can be time-consuming depending on how many photos you need to digitize, and finding the files on your computer can be difficult if using a home scanner. 

However, the difference in quality between a scanned image and a picture of a print photo is astronomical. One looks like the actual great photo, whereas the other looks like a photo of a photo because that’s exactly what it is. With scanned images, the quality is clear and precise. 

Of course, the clarity of the digitized image varies depending on the quality of the scanner. A simple scanner may only scan in black and white or may make the image look grainy. This is one reason why digitization services have become so popular - the high-quality technology used by some digitization services produces glare-free superior digital images of print photos that cannot be created with a lower-resolution scanner at home.

Scan vs Photo: Final Verdict on Which is the Best Method

So, what’s the final verdict? Is it better to scan or take a picture of my old photos?

While the smartphone method may have the scanner method beat in its convenience, the scanner method outshines the smartphone method in quality. When it comes to capturing family history, quality is so much more important than convenience, making professional digitization the best method. 

There are professional digitization services striving to help bridge the gap between quality and convenience. Digitization services like Legacybox are working to make the digitization process quicker and more convenient by providing free shipping and shipping materials, as well as tracking updates on your order so that you know where your photos are in the digitization process. So, you not only get peace-of-mind convenience, but you get professionally digitized photos with notifications throughout the entire process. What’s not to love?

If you have plenty of old family photos in a shoebox somewhere, don’t let them keep collecting dust! Hire Legacybox and let us take care of digitization for you. Your family members and loved ones will cherish those digital copies. Who knows, maybe there’s an extra special picture of you and your Dad in there that would be the perfect addition to your “Happy Father’s Day” Facebook post.

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