Re: Recommendations for scanning photos #photographs

Philip Trauring

If you want high quality scans, your only real option is a flatbed scanner. Scanner apps can be okay, and some of them conveniently scan more than one photo at once, but keep in mind when doing that you are reducing the resolution of your scans. If you're only scanning prints, then you have lots of options. If you need to scan negatives and slides, you'll either need a dedicated scanner for those, or a flatbed scanner with built-in lighting which the more expensive ones have. If only prints, I'm a fan of the Canoscan LiDE scanners, the most recent one of which is the Canonscan LiDE 400:

For scanning negatives and slides also, take a look at the line of Epson scanners:

If you notice, the Epson Perfection V39 is pretty similar to the Canoscan LiDE 400. The next more expensive scanners are all much thicker, which is to make room for the top-lighting for negatives and slides. The more expensive you go in their scanners the more resolution and dynamic range you'll get, although I think those are diminishing returns in most cases.

Also worth considering is the scanning software you use. I've used the same software with many scanners over the years and it's been great. It's called VueScan ( and it's worth paying for the professional version. In addition to having a consistent interface to many scanners, it also supports older scanners that the manufacturers don't even support anymore, so it will increase the amount of time your scanner will work.

It helps to figure out what the best settings are to use for the photos you are scanning. These setting will differ based on whether the photos are color or B&W, how big the photos are, etc. The most important setting I can emphasize is that you should scan to TIFF format and not JPEG. JPEG is by definition a lossy compressed format, and will never retain the details of a TIFF file. TIFF also has compression, but it is not lossy, so will retain details better.

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