Getting a high-resolution scan from your all in one printer scanner copier can be a bit of a trial. This “7 steps to a better scan” post, helps with the most common problems and solutions.
Following all the steps below will ensure your scan is good enough for restoration purposes.
The basics of scanning
Let us lay down the basics.
- Photo restoration requires a good scan.
- The image should be laid flat on the scanner.
- A good scan Is a sharp image
- A good scan is well focused
- A good scan will always be in colour
- The image should be saved in high resolution
- A good scan will have low file compression.
Before you scan, you need to select the type of scan you want to make. To do this you need to instigate the scan from the scanner software, not the buttons on the front. This does mean you will have to install the software that came with your scanner. It should then allow you to scan just the photo and not the whole scanner bed. Using the whole bed of the scanner can easily confuse the scanner exposure. It can take the “white setting” as the huge space around your photo and base the exposure on that. This results in an incorrectly exposed image with an incorrect balance of tones. So let us take a look at 7 steps to a better scan.
The 7 steps to a better scan with an all in one printer scanner
1. Photo restoration requires a good scan.
See 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7
2. The image should be laid flat on the scanner.
If your image is curled or ridged or creased, ensure it is flat when scanned. If it is too brittle then it may not flatten, it may break so be careful. Remove any loose debris, paperclips, sticky notes. Mould, be careful if your photos are mouldy. Mould spores find their way into everything it is best to rethink. Either photograph it instead or clean off the mould with a soft makeup brush with gentle strokes well away from your scanner.
Make it flat – Use a book on the closed scanner lid to flatten any bows or kinks or curls in your photo. Cheap scanners, such as all-in-one printer scanner copiers will fail to focus unless the image is 100% touching the glass.
3. A good scan is a sharp image.
If you can get 2, 6 and 7 right the scan should be sharp.
4. A good scan is well focused.
The “focusing” on these “all in ones” is not as good as a dedicated scanner. The depth of field is very narrow on an all-in-one and cannot capture as much detail away from the glass. For very bumpy textures or frames that won’t come off the print, you may find your image going out of focus. Keeping the image flat will help. Try adding a book onto the closed scanner lid to make everything flat.
5. A good scan will always be in colour.
Hopefully, you can find where to scan in colour using the software. If the manufacturers have the software set up ok it should be fairly simple. For very faded colour images a “high bit” colour scan is needed. This setting gives us the maximum amount of colour information. It may be referred to as 16 Bit Colour. With the multitude of scanner setups and software, it may be best to ask Google about this one. “Does my scanner (X) have a high bit colour mode” or “how to set high bit colour on my (X) scanner” – For (X), Insert your scanner make and model.
Still reading? Excellent! Scanning does require some effort but you do want a great restoration don’t you? Great, keep reading the 7 steps to a better scan, on to step 6.
6. “The image should be in high resolution”
To scan in high resolution we need to change the DPI. This is done in the scanning software. As there are many makes and models of scanners, it is impossible to cover them all here. You will need to look for “scanning settings” or perhaps a “cog” icon or “tools” icon in your scanner software. They could be in a menu under “settings” and then a submenu “scanner settings”. Now we set the correct DPI (Dots Per Inch) for the size of the image you want to scan (see table below)
To do this measure your photo in inches and set the scanner accordingly.
- Above 10 inches set the scanner to 300 Dpi (dots per inch)
- 10 to 9 inches set the scanner to 300 Dpi
- 7 to 8 inches set the scanner to 400 Dpi
- 5 to 6 inches set the scanner to 500 to 600 Dpi
- 3 to 4 inches set the scanner to 1200 Dpi
- 1 to 2 inches set the scanner to 2400 Dpi
Do not simply set your scanner to the highest resolution and think that will be fine, it is not about how high you can scan, its is about correct scanning. It is also about quality scanning.
Some scanners have seemingly very high scanning resolutions. Don’t be fooled by these. Look for “optical” resolutions. Anything that is mentioned in your manual like “1200 DPI *” the little “star” or number “1” next to the figure means there is a missing piece of information. That information will no doubt be that this resolution setting is “interpolated”. This means data or pixels are added into the image to make the scan have more data, not more detail and the scan will not be as good. Only use optical resolutions. If in doubt check the manual.
Yep, more effort is needed, but a good scan makes a good restoration! keep reading…
Watch out! There is one button that can undo all this good work.
All-in-one scanner printer copiers often have “quick scan” buttons on the front. One of these buttons is the “email” icon or “email scan” button. It is this button that causes the main problem when sending a high-resolution scan. You can spend some time fiddling with settings, changing DPI and then quite intuitively press the button to email your new scan.
Alas, this button undoes what you just did. Now your scanner will change all the settings back to the email default of a low-resolution scan. Before you scan, you need to select the type of scan you want to make and more often than not, you need to instigate the scan from the scanner software, not the buttons on the front. This does mean you will have to install the software that came with your scanner.
7. A good scan will have low file compression.
When you have the software installed you can also get access to the Saving options. Once we have set our scanner to a good resolution and in colour, we need to ensure that the saving of the file produced is not highly compressed. Saving with high compression just undoes all the work we put in changing the resolution. Saving as a PDF is a big “NO” when it comes to good files for photo restoration.
You can access the save options from the scanner settings menu. I have managed to find a few of the more popular menus simply by asking Google. Just enter “changing scanner settings X” where “X” is your scanner make and model. The samples are below.
t seems that HP is very vague with their information and you’ll have to go deeper into the menus.
Canon are not so hard to find.
Epson save settings.
From these menus, you should be able to change the compression level and the file type. We are looking for a low compression (which means a big file with lost of data) JPG or a TIFF file that has no compression.
If this is done from within the scanning utility rather than the scanning buttons, you should get full control over your scan including where to save it. When the “start” or “scan” is initiated, the scanner and software will work together to save your correct DPI, low compression, colour scan, in your designated folder. All you need to then is to “attach” it to an email. Do not “embed” the file into the email by dragging and dropping it. This can complicate the saving at the other end. Always “attach” the file so it can be simply saved at the recipient’s end.
Now you have your great scan you will need to send it to me. you can do this via the “upload” page.
Scanning is a gnarly topic so if you have any questions about the 7 steps to a better scan, ill try to answer where I can or you could stop by my page about all things related to scanning, the “scanning guide“.