What Size Photo Gets the Best DPI for Scanning?
What Size Photo Gets the Best DPI for Scanning?
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What Size Photo Gets the Best DPI for Scanning?

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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 4x6 inches, there were also 8x10 inch headshots, family portraits, and even 2.5x3.5 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 flatbed 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:

 

BEST DPI FOR SCANNING OLD PHOTOS 

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. A higher DPI scan means a higher number of pixels so when it comes to getting the best high quality image, a bigger photo scanned at a higher dpi is always better.

 

These are the dpi scan settings you should use when scanning standard 3x5 or 4x6 photos:  

Image Quality

DPI

Okay

150 dpi

Better

200 dpi

Standard

300 dpi

For Small Photos

600 dpi

 

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 4x6 photo will produce a better digital image than a 2.5x3.5 wallet-sized photo. An 8x10 print size portrait provides an even higher image resolution scan. If you have multiple copies of your photo in different sizes, send us the largest one to get the best resolution!

 

However, if you’re in possession of some smaller sized photos, never fear! Most standard print size photos developed by a professional photo center  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. 

COMMON DPI FOR 35MM SLIDES AND NEGATIVES

The maximum DPI 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.

 

These are the dpi settings to use when scanning 35mm slides and negatives:  

Image Quality

DPI

Low Quality

600 dpi

Better

1500 dpi

Standard

2500 dpi

Highest Quality

4000

 

LET LEGACYBOX SCAN YOUR PHOTOS

Ultimately, when it comes to getting a higher resolution for a scanned image, there are several factors at play, but the most important ones are the resolution of the original photo 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’s photo scanning service has everything you need to enjoy digitized scans of your family, friends, and memories. Our highly trained technicians are experts at digitizing, and our facilities have the best equipment in the industry. Consider letting 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!

 

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