Everything You Need to Know to Digitize Photos in 2023
How to preserve your memories for posterity.
How to preserve your memories for posterity.
Physical photos are a tangible bridge to the past, allowing us to access the precious memories of friends and family or to revisit memories of our own. Unfortunately, they’re also vulnerable to fire, flood, fading, and being lost. All of these problems are obviated by taking time to digitize photos, turning them into digital artifacts that will remain as vibrant as the day their source photos were shot. They also become easier to store, share, and organize.
If you’re ready to turn your pile of photos into a single safe and easily accessed digital archive, this guide is ready to help with tips, equipment recommendations, and everything else you need.
Digital photos are computer files composed of picture elements (pixels) that look like little squares when the image is enlarged. Each pixel is assigned a color value from the standard 16 million options and is then arranged to form a complete image.
Image dimensions are measured in pixels and expressed as image length by image height. Visual fidelity, or resolution, is measured by the number of pixels and expressed as megapixels, each of which is worth 1 million pixels. A higher resolution allows you to increase the dimensions of a photo more before noticing individual pixels or blurry details
A middle ground between JPEG and BMP, with excellent image quality and a more manageable storage footprint.
The most space-efficient image file type, producing serviceably detailed photos.
A maximum-accuracy, archive-ready photo file type that requires a lot of storage space for each image.
To digitize photos, you’ll need either a flatbed scanner or a top-loading scanner with an automatic document feeder (ADF). Flatbeds are slower but more gentle, while ADF scanners are much faster.
You’ll also need a microfiber cloth or can of compressed air, as tissues and paper towels can scratch photos or leave behind debris that creates subpar scans.
Before scanning, select your chosen file type, set the file path for where these scans will be stored, and establish a naming convention that makes it easy to identify and organize scanned photos. Always scan in color, as color and sepia photos need the extra color spectrum to preserve details, while black and white photos won't be affected by scanning in color.
As physical photos age, their colors fade and details become indistinct. Digitized photos are immune to the ravages of time and safe from damage. They're also easier to store, organize and share. But to digitize photos correctly requires a little bit of thought, care, and equipment to ensure a high-quality product worthy of your treasured memories.
Standard color depth is known as True Color or 24-bit color. Scan all photos, color or black and white, using this setting for optimal color accuracy.
DPI roughly correlates with image fidelity. Higher DPIs result in image files that take up more storage space. Scan in at least 300 DPI for high-quality images.
BMP files offer the highest quality images but take up the most storage space and can't be uploaded to most social media sites. JPEG files retain impressive quality but require much less storage space and are used across the internet.
Digital images are ubiquitous online, but many of us have no idea how they work. By learning the fundamentals of digital images, we can better understand how to make a photo, scan, or logo look its best.
There are several ways to digitize photos. Scanning photos yourself provides control over the process, but sometimes convenience is the name of the game. Professional photo digitization services are a surefire way to ensure a quality product, preserving your memories and the original photos.
Physical photos become more and more fragile as they age, but the memories they represent only grow more precious. Scanning old, delicate photos presents particular challenges, but is vital to protect them from the ravages of time and make them easier to share and organize.
Did You Know?: PCMagazine described the ScanSnap iX1400 as “compact, friendly, and easy behind the scenes.” Click here to read the full review and learn why it earned an “excellent” 4 out of 5 rating.
Videos can't be converted using a standard home scanner. Instead, they require specialized equipment that varies based on the format of the video. Magnetic tape technology such as VHS and Betamax, film reels, even early digital formats such as DVD — each requires different technology. But the process for each is relatively simple and easy to complete at home.
We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a home document scanner. We pride ourselves on having spent the last 50+ years designing and developing some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy-to-use, one-touch ScanSnap scanners.
With digitized photos, you never need to worry about losing them to flooding, fire, or simple misplacement. They'll stay preserved in prime condition for friends, family, and future generations to enjoy. Our powerful and intuitive scanners are here to help. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.
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