What Dpi Should I Use For Printing – One of the most important decisions you’ll face when scanning something with your scanner is choosing what dpi (“dots per inch”) to scan at.
And specifically for this post, what is the best DPI to use when scanning and storing your 8×10″ and smaller paper photo prints – which for most people is the majority in our pre-digital collection.
What Dpi Should I Use For Printing
Making this decision was very difficult for me and was definitely a big part of my 8 year delay. The reason for this is that dpi (sometimes also referred to interchangeably as ppi for “pixels per inch”) is the critical variable in determining some important results for your scanned digital images:
How Many Megapixels Do You Need To Print A Billboard?
That’s definitely a decision you want to make before you complete your first scan. Trust me, you don’t want to get halfway through your collection and realize you scanned too high, and your computer is running slow and your image quality looks weird – soft and pixelated. Or worse, you find that you can get more detail out of your photos if you just choose a slightly higher setting to start with.
When trying to decide what dpi to scan and store your images at, the “big picture” you want to keep in mind is the following:
At what dpi should we scan our paper images that will capture as much detail stored in them as possible, will create a manageable file size, but will also produce sufficient image resolution if we choose make radical edits, print them at medium magnification on photographic paper, or display them on high definition monitors and televisions.
If you study the routine of a professional photo restorer, you will see that they often see each photograph as a unique challenge – like a doctor taking care of a sick patient for the first time.
Megapixels, Print Size And Your Camera
It is a complex research process for them. They can even scan each print multiple times at different dpi and carefully compare each image until they find the most suitable dpi for their personal image workflow.
Since you probably have anywhere from hundreds to thousands of photos in your family collection, it’s not realistic or even fair for me to suggest that we would want to attempt such perfection. So, to keep things manageable, I wanted to come up with scan dpi values that we could all use that would be easy for all of us.
Almost everything you need to know to decide what DPI to scan your photos at, including the recommended dpi values you should use, is covered in a dedicated video below.
The video is a segment taken from one of my scan settings lessons in my Scanning and Image Editing video course. Until now you had to be a member, but for a limited time I made this particular section on “Best Scanner DPI for Paper Prints” available to free subscribers to my email list as well.
Dpi Vs. Pixels: What Do I Use?
And here are some other important points not mentioned in the video above that will also help you understand how your scanner works and how your dpi selection will affect your family photo collection.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when choosing dpi is letting the amount of time to complete the scan influence their decision. Those new to scanning may be surprised to learn that the higher the dpi, the longer it takes for the scanner to capture the image and for the computer to process the information. I have recorded for you the time it takes the Epson Perfection v600 flatbed scanner to complete scans using different dpi sets.
You can see that there is a really big difference between the time it takes to scan at one of the lowest settings (150 dpi) and scan at one of the highest (4800 dpi). But most of all, I want you to notice the time it takes to scan between 300 dpi and 800 dpi. It’s pretty much the same length. With this model, we’re only talking about a 19 second difference. And especially between 300 and 600 dpi, it’s only 6 seconds.
If you’re in the market for a new scanner, and you’re looking for an affordable flatbed scanner, I highly recommend either the Epson Perfection V550 or the Epson Perfection V600.
Dpi Vs Ppi: What’s The Difference?
All scanners scan at different speeds so your scanner may be slower than this model. But if it is, it is likely that the time ratio between each dpi setting will be similar. Regardless, if you think you’re one of those people impatiently waiting for your scanner to work its magic at higher dpi, I want you to keep this in mind. Scanning and storing your family photo collection is an investment. This is an investment of your time and energy and for that reason, more than likely, you will only want to do this task once.
I believe it’s worth taking a moment to make sure your image quality isn’t compromised by speeding up the process. Open wounds take time to heal, baking dough takes time to rise, and photo scanners take time to scan. See where I’m going here?
To fill the extra time, consider sipping a low-fat mocha latte, playing solitaire, keeping the TV on next to your scanner, or better yet –
However, if you’re shopping for a new scanner, and you really want the fastest model, I’d recommend either the Epson Perfection V800 or the Epson Perfection V850.
Print Resolution: What It Is And Why It Matters?
The really high resolutions – 2400, 3200 and 4800 dpi – are really intended for capturing very small and very detailed sources like film negatives and slides.
If you want to experiment with these resolutions, be sure to stay away from “digital” resolutions. In the box that your scanner or printer/scanner comes in, you’ll see a two-digit rating. For example, the Epson Perfection v600 is rated for 6400 x 9600 dpi resolution. The first number is the highest “optical” resolution your scanner is capable of and therefore the highest dpi you should scan. The second number is usually the highest resolution it can scan digitally – falsifying the results by interpolating the data. Fortunately, some scanning software today will no longer let you choose a digital dpi from the list.
In the case of the Epson Perfection v600, the maximum “digital” resolution is actually 12,800 dpi, higher than the second figure given. So you may need to consult your specifications printed on the box or look them up in a printed or .pdf manual if you want to know about your scanner’s digital capabilities.
After all, there’s no point in having our entire collection in digital form if we can’t make paper prints from it like we can with our film negatives. Just as we need a certain value of “dpi” to get images into the computer, we need a certain value to print them back on paper. The larger the paper you want to print on, the higher the image resolution you need in your digital files.
How To Make A Very High Resolution File From A Pdf.
Today’s printers require an average of between 200 and 300 ppi (dpi) of image resolution information to print a quality image on quality paper. And I would imagine that most of us rarely print a photo larger than 8×10 inches. This is great because most printers out there won’t even print larger than 8×10 inches!
I know you probably hate math as much as the next person, so don’t worry – I’ll do it for you. This means that to print an image on 8×10″ paper, we need up to a 2400 x 3000 ppi (dpi) image. Here is my piece:
If you have a choice, without a doubt in my mind, it’s better to scan too high than to scan too low.
My word for it (smile), when I started learning all about scanning a few years ago, I found great comfort in this quote from Wayne Fulton of scantips.com and kept coming back to it:
How Large Can I Print My Digital Image? — Pro Photo Supply
It is true that if the image can be resized after scanning, resizing to reduce the size of the image is always better quality than resizing to enlarge the image. If you’re not sure what your future plans are for the photo and you’re never going to scan it again, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution (storage space permitting, up to a reasonable amount anyway). Resize to smaller wedges beyond pixels. But resizing to be larger must create (or fake) new interpolation points that were not in the original scan. No additional detail is possible at the interpolation points, even if the image is larger. The results are not the same when scanning at a higher resolution. Conclusion
Okay, again, if you haven’t watched the special video above, I will