settings for scanning 4x6 prints

Started Jul 3, 2010 | Discussions
HDClown
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settings for scanning 4x6 prints
Jul 3, 2010

I have a bunch of 4x6 prints I want to scan. The prints are in good shape and have remained in photo albums. The pictures are a mixture of matte and glossy. Taken dates are 1993-2001'ish, my high school and college years. All pictures taken with point and shoot cameras and printed at local places like CVS, Walgreens, etc.

I have an Epson V600 scanner. I'm scanning these pictures so they can be put on the web for people to see. A few settings I'm looking for advice on. I am using EPSON Scan software.

1) Color depth - 48bit, 24bit, or color smoothing

2) Resolution - 50 through 1200 - The scanner goes all the way to 9600 but anything above 1200 and it tells me it's too large and I must restrict resolution to 10500x30000 pixels

3) Image type - BMP, TIFF, JPEG - Should I use BMP/TIFF as a master file and then batch convert to JPG for web? If scanning directly to JPG, standard or progressive?

4) Digital ICE - Should I use it (it slows down the scan) on these photos considering all of them are in good condition in the first place?

Lastly, I assume I should not have the scan software do things like unsharp mask, color correction, exposure correction, etc. If I need to do any of this, it would be best to do it afterwards in PhotoShop, correct?

Jeff Peterman
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to HDClown, Jul 3, 2010

First, think about what you want to do with these scans. If you'll never want to do anything other than post them on the Web, you coud just scan that at the desired resolution (around 100 dpi). If you'll want to do more with them, especially if you'll want to crop, think about what the resolution means. For example, a 4x6 print scanned at 300 DPI will give you a 1200x1800 image, which is equivalent to one from a 2 MP camera. The same print scanned at 1200 DPI would give you a 4800x7200, or equivalent from a 35 MP camera! In practice, I tend to scan 4x6 prints at 600 DPI (8.6 MP equivalent), as that gives me some room to work while keeping the file size manageable.

When you save the files, choose LZW compressed TIF, as that is a lossless compression format and helps keep file size down. Do any sharpening, etc., after the scan and then save the result as a JPG (maybe saving intermediates at TIFs).

Forget about Digital Ice - that's for negatives and slides.
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Larry Berman
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to HDClown, Jul 3, 2010

Scanning a 4x6 print at 300PPI is the equivalent of scanning to make a print 4x6. If you scan at 600PPI you'll be able to make an 8x10 print. The only problem is that you are scanning a second generation media so enlarging to 8x10 may sound good but it won't be any clearer than the 4x6 print you're scanning. If possible try and find the original film. Scanning the film will have give you much more detail and you'll be able to make clearer enlargements. If you do have the original film, scan it at the optical resolution of the scanner.

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HDClown
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to Jeff Peterman, Jul 3, 2010

All makes sense. This is primarily to get stuff on the web, but I like having room to work with if necessary. Cropping would be a possibility, but I'm not looking to re-print for enlargements or anything like that. Ultimately, photos will need to get resized down to something reasonable in size for the web too. Perhaps a 100% crop to a "web standard" resolution?

What about color depth, 24 bit or 48 bit or color smoothing?

Other thing I left out is Color Correction. The Epson software lets you convert to an ICM Profile (common 2 listed being sRGB and AdobeRGB). You can also choose continuous color correctiona djusting for a display gamma of 1.8 or 2.2, or you can do no color correction. What's the best way to go here?

The last thing is the dimensions of the scan. Historically I would only select the photo itself for what area to scan. The epson software seems to be good at automatically defining this area as well. This usually yields discrepancie in pixel sizes. I can also define the exact same pixel dimension for every photo that works for every 4x6. Or I can do something more computer standard resolution. What's the best way to go here?

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Jeff Peterman
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to HDClown, Jul 4, 2010

Ultimately, photos will need to get resized down to something reasonable in size for the web too. Perhaps a 100% crop to a "web standard" resolution?

No such thing as a "Web Standard." It all depends on how big you want it to look on screen. For common screen resolutions, I find that 800x600 is a good option.

What about color depth, 24 bit or 48 bit or color smoothing?

If you scan at anything other than 24 bit, all the extra data will be lost when you convert it to a JPG (which is 24 bit).

Other thing I left out is Color Correction. The Epson software lets you convert to an ICM Profile (common 2 listed being sRGB and AdobeRGB).

If you use anything other than sRGB the colors will look odd on some browsers.

The last thing is the dimensions of the scan. Historically I would only select the photo itself for what area to scan. The epson software seems to be good at automatically defining this area as well. This usually yields discrepancie in pixel sizes. I can also define the exact same pixel dimension for every photo that works for every 4x6. Or I can do something more computer standard resolution. What's the best way to go here?

What matters here is the pixels. If you scan too 600 wide by 800 tall, it will be too big for many screens unless a user's browser automatically shrinks it to fit. I'd just scan so that the widest dimension is 800 and the tallest is 600.
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Wayne Larmon
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Epson V600 Digital ICE works for prints
In reply to Jeff Peterman, Jul 4, 2010

Sort of.

Jeff Peterman wrote:

Forget about Digital Ice - that's for negatives and slides.

From Epson's V600 specs:

  • DIGITAL ICE® technologies for prints and film

http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/consumer/consDetail.jsp?oid=63084673

I have a V600 and Digital ICE does work with prints, using the Epson software. It didn't find that it works very well. When I tried it, most of the time the scans ended up looking like acid had eaten through the emulsion. I ended up switching to VueScan and forgetting about Digital ICE. But Epson Digital ICE works for prints. In theory.

This is a small point and shouldn't detract from your excellent advice.

I like my V600, for prints. I've been using mine to scan my family's photo collection. I don't have much film-my family wasn't big on saving negatives, so all I have is mostly prints. According to reviews, the V600 only yields about 1.5 megapixels worth of resolution from 35mm film, so there isn't much point in scanning film at the scanner's optical resolution.

But it does fine with prints. 1600 PPI can grab the finest grain. I have a lot of old B&W prints and the grain of some of them looks glorious when I scan at 800-1600 PPI. I mostly use 800 PPI (which is fast on the V600), but sometimes use 1600 PPI (which isn't) for special pictures. Or small contact prints.

I sort of like to overscan, so I capture all the grain. Then I can resample down, if there isn't anything meaningful at high resolution. Sometimes there is; sometimes there isn't. But I don't know unless I overscan.

Just today I scanned a small print of my Mother's high school class picture, from 1941. The print was small and she had never been able to make out all the faces. After scanning it at 1600 PPI, the image held up well for mucho enlargement. It will probably make a credible 8x10. In any event, now she can easily see the faces. I put it on her computer and showed her how to zoom into the image. She is very happy.

Wayne

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hotdog321
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to HDClown, Jul 4, 2010

If you have non-critical needs but want a decent image, I would start with 300 (maybe 600) dpi, 24 bit, jpeg, and leave ICE off unless you have a damaged/dirty image. I would do any final adjustments in Photoshop.

This should produce small file sizes and quick scans, a real boon if you don't want to get bogged down in your project. See how this works for you and tweak if necessary.

I'm sure all kinds of experts will jump all over me, but this is my reasoning: 300 dpi will produce a good 1:1 print, and web usage is normally only 72 dpi. JPEGs are fine for most non-critical needs. 24 bit because prints have a limited tonal and color range to begin with. ICE is great, but really slows things down.

I'm a "bottom line" kinda guy and think this will work nicely.

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HDClown
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Re: Epson V600 Digital ICE works for prints
In reply to Wayne Larmon, Jul 4, 2010

I hve been using only 1 sample 4x6 and did with and without ICE, standard and high. It introduced 1 artificact whenever it was used, so I determined I need to leave it off because of that.

It is also doing something to adjust the color, tone, and/or contrast, because the picture looked brighter/more contrasty when scanned with ICE enabled vs. without. I was able to re-produce the same look in PhotoShop using the "auto" adjustments. I found it interested that ICE was doing that when it's only supposed to be a dust/damage removal process. I made sure the EPSON Scan software did not have auto adjustment enabled (which it likes to do automatically).

I tried VueScan but it doesn't want to interface the scanner for some reason, have to do more troubleshooting.

When you used EPSON Scan, and with VueScan, what do you use for color management? EPSON Scan can do auto exposure adjusted to monitor gamma of 1.8 or 2.2, convert to a profile (like sRGB), or do no color management. Is it best to do none at scan time and do the rest in PhotoShop?

Lastly, how do you handle the actual scan area. Do you only select the picture scan area in the preview? If you're doing a bunch of pictures of the same size, do you use a defined pixel dimension that works for every print?

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HDClown
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Finally got VueScan working
In reply to HDClown, Jul 4, 2010

And within only a few minutes, I already found 2 features that I like which are worth spending the $40 on it. It can do TIF compression (EPSON Scan does not), and it can save save multiple formats at the same time, so I can save a TIF and JPG at the same time, saving me time in having to convert TIF-> JPG if I just want to get something online REALLY quick.

With that in mind, would you mind sharing your VueScan settings that you typically use for run-of-the-mill 3x5 or 4x6 print? If you could do screenshots of each tab with your settings, it would really help me out tremendously.

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Jeff Peterman
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Re: Epson V600 Digital ICE works for prints
In reply to Wayne Larmon, Jul 4, 2010

I have a V600 and Digital ICE does work with prints,

OK, didn't know that - it was originally designed for slides/negatives. But I also see from the responses that it doesn't work WELL with prints!

I've been scanning a bunch of old photos from my wife's family. Many are around 80 years old and some are quite small. I've been scanning most of them at around 1200 DPI (higher for the really small images) as I'm trying to get them looking better than the originals. A good scan, and post processing, can bring out details not visible in the original print.

After scanning and correction, I've downsized many of these to 1024x768 and they're running on a 15" digital frame in our living room - much better than having them sitting around in old boxes.
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HDClown
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when you resize
In reply to Jeff Peterman, Jul 4, 2010

Are:

1) Doing a crop to maintain an exact 1024x768 size

2) Resizing based on a single dimension maxed at 1024 or 768 and letting the othe rscale appropriately

3) Some form of background matting to not have to crop, but still maintain exact 1024x768
4) Other?

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Robert Hoy
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to HDClown, Jul 4, 2010

HDClown wrote:

I have an Epson V600 scanner. I'm scanning these pictures so they can be put on the web for people to see. A few settings I'm looking for advice on. I am using EPSON Scan software.

If your only purpose it share these via the web, scan no higher resolution than 300 dpi. This will yield a 1200x1800 photo which is about a full HD screen, which is going to be much larger than most web shared photos. You could even get by at 200 dpi. Most people share photos with images being 800 pixels on the longer side even.

Use JPG, because they are just for web sharing and medium compression will be OK for the purpose of the scans. No reason to clog your hard drive with TIFF files for web sharing.

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Wayne Larmon
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Re: Finally got VueScan working
In reply to HDClown, Jul 5, 2010

HDClown wrote:

With that in mind, would you mind sharing your VueScan settings that you typically use for run-of-the-mill 3x5 or 4x6 print? If you could do screenshots of each tab with your settings, it would really help me out tremendously.

That's too much work. I'll try to summarize.

My settings might not be suitable for you. You mentioned that you are scanning prints from the 1990s? All the prints I'm scanning are much older and are either B/W or very faded color. Or are B/W Polaroid prints form the 1950s with lots of orange blotches and streaks.

I bought the "Pro" version of VueScan because it supports profiling the scanner with an IT8 target (which I got from B&H (or Adorama, I forget) for about $35.) Then I mostly leave the Color Balance setting in VueScan on "Neutral" I do sometimes use the "Restore fading" option in the "Filter" tab. I tried "Restore colors" a few times but the effect it produces is usually too garish. "Restore Fading" sometime helps bring back deteriorated prints.

I always scan to 48 bit TIFFs, and as I mentioned in my first post, at 800 or 1600 PPI. But this is because most of the old prints I'm scanning are smaller than 4x6--sometimes a lot smaller--like less than two inches square.

B/W images stay as 48bits. I always scan B/W prints as color. Often deterioration ends up clustering in one or two channels and sometimes I achieve a miracle by just keeping a single channel. With the orange streaked Polaroids, I often can reduce the effects of the streaking by using CS3's B/W tool and manipulating the red and yellow sliders. But when I'm done manipulating color balances, I usually convert B/W images to be pure gray scale At 8 bits, this only is 256 values between black and white. With only 256 values, if you do any additional tonal adjustment, you will most likely end up with visible banding and blotchyness. Keeping the image as 16 bits prevents that.

For color images, I still scan them at 16 bits. But 16 bit 800 PPI images are large , so I usually reduce color images to 8 bits when I'm done doing color corrections (but still saved as TIFFs.) Because color images are 24 bits (8x8x8), there is usually enough leeway to do additional minor color or tone corrections without risking banding. (I leave very important images as 48 bits. But garden variety snapshots don't warrant remaining at 48 bits.)

My V600 is fast enough at 800 PPI that I set VueScan to preview at 800 PPI. Then VueScan doesn't need to do another scan when you click the "Scan" button--it will just save the scan that it did for the Preview (along with your cropping and other adjustments.

I find VueScan's color correction adjustments to be unfathomable, so I mostly ignore everything in the "Color" tab. I just leave "Color Balance" set at "Neutral", toggle "Filter/Restore Fading" to see which does the best job, and then click "Scan" and do any additional color correction in CS3. Ditto for trying to adjust slightly tilted images with the VueScan crop tool. The crop tool in CS3 is easier to use, so I just crop slightly oversize in VueScan and do the final rotation and cropping in CS3. I set "Crop/Buffer" in VueScan to about 10%, so VueScan will ignore the outside 10% of the image, so it ignores the ragged crop when it does its auto-adjustments.

Wayne

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Wayne Larmon
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to Robert Hoy, Jul 5, 2010

Robert Hoy wrote:

If your only purpose it share these via the web, scan no higher resolution than 300 dpi. This will yield a 1200x1800 photo which is about a full HD screen, which is going to be much larger than most web shared photos. You could even get by at 200 dpi. Most people share photos with images being 800 pixels on the longer side even.

Use JPG, because they are just for web sharing and medium compression will be OK for the purpose of the scans. No reason to clog your hard drive with TIFF files for web sharing.

If the prints in question have any emotional value, bear in mind that color prints fade, even stored in albums. If you scan as low resolution JPEGS, you might be out of luck if you return to the pictures a few decades from now and want to re-scan them to a higher resolution TIFF. (Practically all my prints from the 1970s and 1980s have appreciable amounts of fading and non-linear color shifting. And they were all stored out of the light.)

But prints made with P&S film cameras, with drugstore processing probably aren't that high resolution to begin with. Scan a few at different resolutions and see if you see any difference if you, for example, scan at 400 and 800 PPI, and then upsample the 400 PPI scan to 800 PPI--does it look any different than the true 800 PPI scan at 100%? If not, then there is no point scanning at 800 PPI.

Wayne

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Jeff Peterman
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Re: when you resize
In reply to HDClown, Jul 5, 2010

I set the target resolution to, for example, 1024x768 and the software is smart enough to make the biggest dimension fit the target with the other one becoming smaller if needed. For example, if I downsized a 6000x4000 image it would become 1024x683.
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Larry Lynch
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to HDClown, Jul 5, 2010

HDClown wrote:

I have a bunch of 4x6 prints I want to scan. The prints are in good shape and have remained in photo albums. The pictures are a mixture of matte and glossy. Taken dates are 1993-2001'ish, my high school and college years. All pictures taken with point and shoot cameras and printed at local places like CVS, Walgreens, etc.

I have an Epson V600 scanner. I'm scanning these pictures so they can be put on the web for people to see. A few settings I'm looking for advice on. I am using EPSON Scan software.

1) Color depth - 48bit, 24bit, or color smoothing

2) Resolution - 50 through 1200 - The scanner goes all the way to 9600 but anything above 1200 and it tells me it's too large and I must restrict resolution to 10500x30000 pixels

3) Image type - BMP, TIFF, JPEG - Should I use BMP/TIFF as a master file and then batch convert to JPG for web? If scanning directly to JPG, standard or progressive?

4) Digital ICE - Should I use it (it slows down the scan) on these photos considering all of them are in good condition in the first place?

Lastly, I assume I should not have the scan software do things like unsharp mask, color correction, exposure correction, etc. If I need to do any of this, it would be best to do it afterwards in PhotoShop, correct?

I have been scanning Photos/negatives and slides since back in the day that a color scanner required three passes (1 red/1 green/1 blue).. for preservation, restoration.

If you can get the negatives, get a slide/film scanner, if not:

For 4x6 snapshots, the likelyhood of them needing resolution past 600 dpi is slim.

What is the NATIVE (non interpolated) maximum resolution of your scanner? (should be in the manual for the scanner) Even today, 600 dpi is usually the max, with some newer scanners going to 1200 dpi.

For 4x6 snapshots I usually go with 600 dpi 24bit color. 1200 dpi is good, but the files wil be HUGE until you drop them to 8bit for jpg files.

Digital ice is for "cleaning up" the shot, and if there isnt a lot of dust/crud in the photo I would leave it off.

The only versions of digital ice I ever used would only "kick in" for negatives and transparencies.

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HDClown
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Re: Finally got VueScan working
In reply to Wayne Larmon, Jul 5, 2010

Much thanks for the detail Wayne, that really helps

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HDClown
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to Larry Lynch, Jul 5, 2010

Spec's on the Epson V600:

Optical Resolution

•6400 dpi (max)
Hardware Resolution

•6400 x 9600 dpi
Maximum Resolution

•12,800 x 12,800 dpi (interpolated)
Effective Pixels

•54,400 x 74,880 (6400 dpi)
Color Hardware Bit Depth

•48-bit internal/external
Grayscale Hardware Bit Depth

•16-bit internal/external
Optical Density

•3.4 Dmax

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Robert Hoy
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Re: settings for scanning 4x6 prints
In reply to Wayne Larmon, Jul 5, 2010

You can't get more resolution out of a print than there is in the print itself. Just by scanning a print at 800 dpi doesn't mean you'll get as good a quality 8x10 print from that scan as the original 4x6.

I've scanned a 4x6 print with intent to make a 8x10 print, and the results were poor. It wasn't until I got a dedicated negative scanner that I was actually able to make a good quality 8x10 print.

By scanning a 4x6 you'll be able to make another decent 4x6 print, that's all. Don't both with TIFF files, they are really large and highest quality JPG setting is a great storage method. There is no need to have TIFF files be your main method of storing them. Use highest quality JPG setting, and if you need to do some tweaks to the photo, save as TIFF while working with the file, but when you're done you can save it has a new JPG file and have a very good file with a much smaller file than TIFF.

JPG is a great storage format for photos that you are finished tweaking.
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HDClown
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test scan observations
In reply to HDClown, Jul 5, 2010

Here are some observations in test scans with VueScan (PS - Anyone with an Epson Scanner should buy VueScan, it's so much more covnenient than EPSON Scan. The fact that EPSON Scan cannot save LZW Compressed TIFF is reason enough alone to buy VueScan)

Preface: Even though the intention is to display these on the web and down size in doing so, I believe in doing things once, so because of that, I was looking for an outcome that yields me a reasonable file size and a file that is of a quality that I can manipulate in the future, should I need to do so. Because of that, I am saving TIFF files as masters.

I did scans at 300, 400, 600, and 800 dpi, saved to 24 bit and 48 bit TIFF files, all with the same test 4x6

Anyway, some observations:

  • I can see no difference in 24 bit and 48 bit TIFF (which I expected). Given that 48bit compressed TIFF's are 3.5x to 4x the size of the 24 bit TIFF, I see no point in saving 48 bit files for this project. None of these photos are going to get the "heavy PhotoShop" treatment as they are all in great quality to begin with, so the extra space isn't worth while. If I was scanning pictures of my parents/grandparents from 40+ years ago, that might be another story

  • 300 dpi is simply inadequate. The original scanned TIFF shows jagged lines at contrasting colors when viewed on my 24" LCD monitor

  • Noticeable color quality difference was visisble, primarily in 'blacks' when going from 400 dpi to 600 dpi

  • I could see no difference between the 600 dpi and 800 dpi image

Based on these observations, I've targetted 600 dpi 24 bit TIFF's as the target scan resolution and file output settings. This yields a 12.5-13.5 MB TIFF file for a 4x6, which is within reason (to me at least). I will pick a few more sample images do 400/600/800 dpi scans on to re-confirm my findings.

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