Scanning Physical Photos

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Scanning Physical Photos

My mom is sending me a bunch of pictures from my childhood and now that I'm getting into digital scrap booking, I think I'm going to do some layouts with them.

Does anyone know of an easy/user friendly tool or program to use? Ideally something that I could just scan, open the .jpg, and its ready for me to use.


Usually scanners come with their own particular software and that I feel is the best to use. I have an Epson Perfection 600 and the software is great and pretty easy to use an customize. Also most scanners, I believe, scan as a jpg image.

for some reason I thought it would be a lot more complicated. hopefully my 3-in-1 is as easy to use as yours!

I have an Epson scanner too and use the software it came with.
NOTE: Make sure you scan them at 300dpi at the minimum! That will give you a great quality print at the same size of it's original. If you ever think you might want to enlarge them I would scan it accordingly. Like if it's a 4x6 photo and you wanted to print it into an 8x10 cropped later I would scan it at 600dpi which would make it an 8x12 and you could crop it to a great quality printable 8x10... Sometimes depending on the layout of the photo and how you're going to "crop it you may have to scan a 4x6 at 700-800dpi to make a better framed or centered 8x10. These are things to consider before you first scan.

Unfortunately I learned this lesson the very HARD way. smiley I scanned about 500 photos we all combined together one month (of what was left over from each others homes when my mom's home burned down the first time). I made a DVD of them for all of my 9 siblings and the first time someone wanted to print a 8x10 it was obvious this was going to be a huge problem for everyone in the future. smiley I was so bummed. Everyone has yet to send me their photos again to redo it. smiley Some of the photos were very old small 2.5"x3.5" So I can maybe get an ok 4x6 or little grainy 5x7.

So that's my fair "lesson learned" warning for scanning all your photos... LoL

It depends on what image editing software you are using (and what operating system, too), but some have a TWAIN feature that allows you to scan images through your scanner's software and then it loads the images into your digital imaging software.

My information is strictly for Windows. I am sorry, but I have NO experience with Apple products of any kind (and IMHO, if I am lucky I never will lol), so I can't help with any specifics in that department. I do not know if TWAIN is available on Macs, but the WIA feature I talk about below is Windows-only. Adobe's pages talk about what is needed for Macs, and I think PaintShop Pro has necessary support right out of the box for whatever Mac uses, but don't quote me on that...

Adobe Photoshop does NOT come with TWAIN and you would have to use a separate plug-in from Adobe found here (for CS4, 5, and 6). TWAIN is NOT supported when running Photoshop in 64bit mode, though, so you would either have to reopen it in 32bit to scan or use WIA (Windows Image Acquisition), which is already integrated. This page talks about using WIA, it's for Photoshop Elements but the commands should be in similar, if not the same, locations (File>Import>WIA Support). And you can always try the WIA, too, in any mode if you don't want to download the TWAIN plug-in. smiley

Photoshop Elements is in the same boat as regular Photoshop. This page has plug-ins for 9 & 10, and here's 11.

To my knowledge, PaintShop Pro comes with TWAIN. The command, I believe, is File>Import>TWAIN. And, WIA is also an option here, too.

Sometimes, depending on what scanner you have (especially if it is some way-in-left-field off-brand), the TWAIN or WIA won't recognize it. Windows has gotten better about recognizing scanners and cameras, but I couldn't in good conscience guarantee that it'd 100% work for you, though more than likely it would.

Also, WIA (a possibly TWAIN) is supposed to import from digital cameras, too.

I hope this helps and doesn't add to the confusion. Please let me know and I will be happy to help clarify anything. smiley

Thanks for sharing your hard earned life experience with me Shawna! smiley I think I'll start with a small amount to find a system that works before doing all of them.

Mollie - You're so knowledgeable! I'm using PS5 on Windows, my scanner is a Canon. Thanks for all of the info and links, I'll definitely have to dig in and do some research this weekend. It sounds like I'll have to get that Adobe plug in, and make sure its running in 32bit OR use WIA.

My pictures are scheduled for delivery today... woohoo!

300 dpi is a good quality for print, or use on the internet, but if you want the best quality go 1200 or higher - 4800dpi. Most of this is going to depend on what you have, printer, scanner, etc.

The Epson does a great job. I use it to scan 4800dpi and the files are large, but so easy to edit in Photoshop.

Keep in mind the program you are going to use, as some do not accept large files.

As to saving your images, the Epson allows for jpg, tiff and a couple of other formats. There are some scanners that do only scann jpg.

I don't know of an easy way to do it. I usually put as many as possible on my flatbed scanner, scan it at 600 dpi as a jpg, then cut them apart in my software. It's a pain! I have all of my wedding pictures to do still, and a trip to Las Vegas where I took at least 300 pictures. It makes my head hurt just looking at the stack.

I usually use the TWAIN feature on my PSP and that way its already in my program for editing. If its a photo, I scan at 300dpi. If I'm scanning something I want to extract, it will depend on how bumpy the item is. The more relief texture the item has, the higher the dpi I'll scan with. My scanner will go up to 4800dpi (optical), but I've never had to max it out to get a good scan yet. I usually only have to go up to about 1200dpi to get a good scan.

My experience has been very similar to Cat's. I've found that very rarely and depending on only if I wanted a 11x17 print, I've not had to scan at higher than 1200 dpi either. And that's on those teeny tiny 2.5x3.5 old timey photos I was talking about so if your original is a 4x6 you'll be able to print up to a 16x20 smoothly (with a little cropping of course). It does save considerable storage space not having to go larger than 1200dpi on all your scans imo.

PS I also do similar to Brandi I scan as many at one time as I can and crop them from the larger scan. Gives me a few minutes between each scan to work on bills, or my paper scrapping, or some other quick thing.

Scanning all your old photos can be very time consuming. There's definitely a reason those "we'll scan all your photos onto a CD for you" companies stay in biz! smiley

...but I've never had to max it out to get a good scan yet. I usually only have to go up to about 1200dpi to get a good scan.

This is awesome info. Thanks for everyone's input!

I do scan a number together, but use it as a contact sheet and put notes, names, places, etc on it. Than I select each picture separately, which saves a lot of time and allows me to set the black and white points for a better scan (the histogram).

I don't know how much you have but I had a couple of 100 and took the easy way out even though I do have a scanner, am a Graphic Designer, worked at a printshop in my younger days, scanning was actually a class in my University so I should have no problem, right? But it's time consuming! And boring!

I picked up a Groupon coupon that came through my mailbox to have your old photos professionally scanned and for the price of $29 I could have send in 1000 photos.
I paid an extra $5 to have an extra DVD for my daughter.
They send me the box it was suppose to go in so the do not get damaged with detailed instruction on how to pack them.
You have to make sure that you makes stashes of the same sizes. In the old they there were small squares or other odd sizes. I even took them out our old photo albums. Oh and also make sure they all face the same direction, otherwise they will come back upside down. Not that it matters much, with the click of a mouse it's in the right position again. So off they went, a little scary, will they loose them? Will the mailman loose them, but I took the plunge and 3 days later them were back home, on a DVD and the real photos of course. I was ecstatic!

They will need work because they are old photos, but I took a class at Linda Sattgest on how to restore old photos and I'm sure I will have no problem bringing them into the digital age.

It saved my oodles of frustration and time, I can now start to work directly with them and don't have to worry about anything.

Wow Christine, that sounds like a bargain!

That is really cool Christine!! If you ever see that deal again will you please post the groupon link? I would love to do that for a gift for my dad. Thank you! I get groupon updates and don't know that I've ever seen that one...

I would love that link also. I still have several hundred photos to scan.

I use Silverfast for my software. Don't use most of the features, but scan in the 48 bit size so not as much information is lost when editing. It's a bit expensive. I hear lots of people like Vue Scan which is more reasonable, but after Silverfast there was a couple of features I missed.

Just to throw it out there...

My brother did a bunch, after I had started on mine, and he had more he could invest. He purchased a scanner that had a negative AND a slide adaptor. I think he went that route cause of all the slides he and dad had. He finally was able to convince his wife, friend at the time, to let him get serious with her, while they were both in a group on mission in Africa. He shot all his photos over there that summer as slides, so being able to scan slides was high on his priority!

Here is a deal ladies. It says Portland in the link but I'm sure it's nation wide, at least I hope so.


Christine, THANK YOU!