Home /Travel / What Size Picture is Best to Scan?

What Size Picture is Best to Scan?

By Mollee Shannon

Maybe you remember sitting patiently as someone flipped through page after page of wallet-sized photos of children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Or you might remember a loved one pulling stacks of photo albums from a closet. Recall the photo packages from school portraits? While the typical photo size was 4 x 6 inches, there were also 8 x 10 inch headshots and family portraits, and even 2.5 x 3.5 inch miniatures, perfect for storing away in your wallet. For older pictures, the sizes vary even more!

So what size photo is going to produce the best scan? Great question! The answer is simple. Bigger is better.

The best way to preserve your photos is with a high quality scanner, and the scanning resolution will depend on the photo format you want to digitize. Below we have some best practices when scanning photos that you should follow:

A print photo’s resolution is determined by dots per inch, or DPI. In other words, how many dots can a printer place on one square inch of paper? A digital photo’s resolution is measured in pixels, which are tiny squares of illuminated color that compose an image. Think of a mosaic made of thousands of tiny pieces. So what happens when you digitize? You guessed it! The equipment turns print dots into digital squares and translates those into an image. This makes the process more complicated, so when it comes to getting the best image quality, a bigger photo is always better.

With photos of our friends and family, we find we have many different sizes. So if you’ve decided to digitize (hooray!), keep in mind that a 4 x 6 version of that photo will produce a better digital image than a 2.5 x 3.5 wallet-sized photo. An 8 x 10 portrait provides an even better opportunity for a superb scan. If you have multiple copies of your photo in different sizes, send us the largest one for a better scan!

However, if you’re in possession of some smaller sized photos, never fear! Most standard sized photos developed by a photo center or developer were also produced with standard practices for photo resolution. If you have standard sized photos, large or small, the resolution is likely high enough to produce a quality scan, as long as the original is in focus and undamaged. At Legacybox, our highly trained technicians are experts at digitizing, and our facilities have the best equipment in the industry.

Common DPI for 35mm Slides and Negatives

The maximum DPI (Dots per Inch) for 35mm film slides and negatives is 4000 DPI, which produces the highest quality scan for your photos. However, not all scanners have that capability. Therefore, we consider a standard quality photo scan for 35mm film to be 2500 DPI and low quality to be 600 DPI. The "lower quality" scan is saved for small printed photos whereas a higher quality scan deteriorates image quality.

Ultimately, when it comes to getting a quality photo scan, there are several factors at play, but the most important ones are the resolution of the original print and the capabilities of the scanning equipment. Depending on how many photos you have, digitizing print photos can be a lengthy process that requires expertise and a practiced hand. Legacybox has everything you need to enjoy digitized scans of your family, friends, and memories. Let us take the task off your hands! But remember, when sending photos to us for a great digitizing experience, a bigger photo is always better!

Continue Reading
How to Destroy Old Family Photos No One Wants
How to Destroy Old Family Photos No One Wants
How to Organize 30 Years of Photos
How to Organize 30 Years of Photos
What To Do With Old Photos After Scanning
What To Do With Old Photos After Scanning
Our Favorite Throwback Products
Legacybox Media Conversion Kit. Shop Now>
Impossible Polaroid SX-70 Original Instant Film Camera
Victrola VBB-10-SLV Boombox with Cassette Player
Three Ways to Become the Family Hero
Digitally Preserve your Legacy. Shop Now>
Make a Highlight Reel
Enjoy a Trip Down Memory Lane
Three Ways to get Organized
Digitally Preserve your Legacy. Shop Now>
Repurpose Old Items
Condense the Clutter