In this article, we offer you, in no particular order, seven tips to help you capture the best scan possible when restoring your old photos:
• Clean the scanner. Make sure your scanner bed is free of dust and lint. Your old pictures have their own dust and scratches—no need to introduce more during the scanning process!
• Clean your photos. Inspect your photos for dust and dirt and gently wipe them clean with a soft cloth or lint-free photo wipe.
• Capture in color. For optimum results, scan your old black and white photos using one of your scanner’s color (RGB) settings. You’ll acquire more pixel information when you do so, and you can convert photos to grayscale after you make your edits. With sepia prints, however, you might get better results if you scan in grayscale or convert the image to black and white before you edit. Test and try it both ways. Reason: It’s easier to correct the image and make all tonal adjustments in grayscale, and then convert it to sepia in Photoshop.
• Scan at a high resolution. Scan photos using at least print resolution—300 ppi for most images, or up to around 600 ppi. You won’t obtain too much image detail beyond 600 ppi. Tip: Don’t scan higher than your scanner’s optical resolution because your scanner interpolates anything beyond that resolution.
• Double the size. When working with small photos, double their size when you scan them. For instance, if you have a 2-inch square photo, scan it at 200% so your scan size is 4-inch square. You’ll have more real estate to work with and can always downsize the image later if you need it smaller.
• Line it up right. If your photo has a tear or crease, line the crease up in the same direction your scanner scans. So if your scanner scans from right to left, align the tear or crease so it lays horizontal on the scanner bed to minimize the effect.
• Keep it low-contrast. As a general rule, don’t adjust the photo’s contrast with your scanning software before scanning. When you scan at a high contrast, any clipped highlight or shadow pixels won’t capture in your scan. If you must adjust the contrast before scanning, do so only to the point of achieving a moderate- to low-contrast image.
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