At Nostalgic Media, we get more questions about about scanning, resolution and file formats than anything else. Hopefully, we can cut through some of the misinformation. We'll keep it simple.
DPI: that's dots of ink on a piece of paper. The more dots of ink that are laid down within an inch, the sharper the image will appear. Sharpness is resolution.
300 dpi is a standard benchmark for an excellent print. 200 dpi will still produce a good image. 150 dpi can be acceptable if you're viewing the print a few feet away.
Most desktop printers and photo labs print digital images at less than 300 dpi. Why? Often, the ink jets on those printers aren't capable of putting 300 dots of ink in a given inch. Also, it takes longer and uses more ink when printing at a higher dpi, so some printers are set at a lower dpi for speed and economy.
| Printed Media = DPI
|Photo from a one-hour lab||200-260 dpi|
|Consumer ink jet printer||150-280 dpi|
|Glossy color magazine||180-240 dpi|
|Large billboard||12-30 dpi|
Researchers at the University of California determined that the average person viewing an image at a distance of 20 inches will detect about 170 dpi. Your ink jet printer may be printing from 120 to 240 dpi. Prints from a one-hour lab are about 220 to 240 dpi. How about a slick fashion or travel magazine? Those pictures can be about 180 to 250 dpi. A billboard viewed from a quarter mile looks good at 15 dpi. As distance increases, resolution can decrease.
|Scanned Media||300 dpi excellent||200 dpi good||150 dpi acceptable|
|4x6 photo: 300 dpi||4"x6"||7"x10"||10"x14"|
|4x6 photo: 600 dpi||8"x12"||13"x20"||17"x26"|
|8x10 photo: 600 dpi||16"x20"||24"x36"||32"x40"|
|35mm slide: 2000 dpi||7"x10"||10"x15"||13"x20"|
|35mm slide: 4000 dpi||14"x21"||20"x30"||26"x40"|
|6x6 negative: 3000 dpi||20"x20"||30"x30"||40"x40"|
|4x5 negative: 2000 dpi||26"x33"||40"x50"||52"x65"|
It depends. If you have 4x6 snapshots, then 300 dpi scans are fine for archiving. You can still print a good looking 7x10 enlargement.
For a small wallet-size picture, scan at 600 dpi so you can enlarge it and retain more detail. Got a photo of a group of people? 600 dpi will allow you to zoom in and crop.
Slides and negatives are smaller so they're scanned at a higher dpi rate. Better to have too much resolution. You can always go down in size; you can't go up without losing quality.
At Nostalgic Media, we deliver all photo, slide and negative scans as JPEG images. JPEG is the most universal format. The images from your digital camera are JPEG. 97% of the pictures on the internet are JPEG. You can easily send JPEG images by email. JPEG images can be viewed and shared on nearly all digital devices.
TIF images are specialized and used for high end applications such as printing and professional photography. TIF files are massive; up to five times larger than JPEG images; often too big to send by email. Furthermore, TIF files cannot always be opened on common digital devices. You'll likely need special software such as PhotoShop to open and view TIF files.
We can deliver TIF files for an additional charge. Contact us for the details.
|Digital Media = PPI
|40-inch HDTV||1920x1080||48 ppi|
|24-inch monitor||1920x1080||92 ppi|
|21-inch monitor||1920x1080||105 ppi|
|Laptop: 15" monitor||1920x1080||141 ppi|
|iPhone: 4.7" screen||1136x640||326 ppi|