How to Scan Old Photos for the Best Resolution

how to scan old photos for the best resolution image
Table of Contents

You may wonder how to scan old photos for the best resolution. You likely have a shoebox filled with pictures and albums, each capturing some precious memory. Digitizing these photographs can help you keep those memories forever and share them with the rest of the world through social media or other forms of communication.

Now that you know you can scan old photos, you need to learn how to maintain and improve resolution. You are then left to ask yourself, what is the best way to digitize old photos? There are many methods available to you, ranging from utilizing a scanner to mobile apps on your smartphone.

1. Use Your Smartphone

If you want to know how to scan old photos for the best resolution, a smartphone can help. Both Android and Apple devices have scanning features right on the devices. You can also download mobile apps that will improve the resolution even more.

On an iPhone

The Notes app on all Apple phones has a scanning feature. The steps to upload your old photos include:

1. Open the Notes application.

2. Click on the icon on the bottom right corner, meaning create a new note.

3. Tap on the blank screen, then press the icon that looks like a camera.

best way to scan a lot of photos with an iphone notes app

4. Press the option that says “scan documents.”

5. Use the shutter button to take a photo.

6. Crop the edges by utilizing the drag-and-drop circles around the photo.

scan documents with an iphone

7. Tap “keep scan” or “retake” depending on if you are happy with your photo.

retake and keep scan - how to scan old photos for the best resolution

On an Android

An Android device will allow you to scan documents via the Camera application. This method is the best way to scan a lot of photos without having to download additional apps that take up storage.

1. Open the camera on your Android device.

2. Point the camera towards your photo.

3. Move your smartphone until a yellow rectangle surrounds the entire picture.

how to scan old photos for the best resolution on android

4. Tap the button labeled “scan” that appears in the middle of your screen.

5. Make adjustments as necessary based on the automatic crop and white balance.

crop the picture - best way to scan a lot of photos using android

Mobile Apps

Many free apps are available on Android or Apple smartphones to help you on your journey of knowing how to scan old photos for the best resolution. Some of the best include:

  • Google Photoscan
  • Family Search Memories
  • Photomyne
mobile apps to scan old photos for the best resolution

Google Photoscan will take four images of your photos, combining each to give you the best resolution. Photomyne allows you to scan an entire section of your photo album, cropping each image out based on its boundaries. Finally, Family Search Memories lets you upload your photos and create a family tree, attaching photographs to each member.

2. Purchase Some Hardware

In answering how to scan old photos for the best resolution using hardware, you need a high-quality scanner. These devices hook up right to your computer, so long as they are compatible with one another. With just the click of a few buttons, you will have the digitized forms of your old photographs.

Setting Up a Scanner

You likely will have to connect the computer to the scanner via a wire of some form. Some pieces of hardware do allow for wireless connectivity, however. After plugging in the devices or connecting them via Bluetooth, follow the steps below.

1. Open the program on the computer.

2. Place your photo, with the front-facing the glass, onto the scanner.

3. Run the scanner by pressing the button that says “scan” pr “start”

4. Ensure that your preferences are set to color photographs.

face photos down when scanning - how to scan old photos for the best resolution

5. Click on the “preview” button to make changes as necessary.

6. Adjust the resolution to increase sharpness before finalizing your image.

7. Press “finish.”

8. Crop your photo, then save it to a folder on your computer for later use.

preview, adjust, finish, save - best way to scan a lot of photos

Best Scanner Options

Again, when knowing how to scan old photos for the best resolution, you need a high-quality scanner. Consider those below.

Epson Perfection V550 Color Photo

This scanner creates images up to 17-by-22 inches large that have 6400 dpi resolution. The ReadyScan features allow you to upload pictures quickly. Add multiple photographs at a time, as there are background detection features included.

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Plustek Photo Scanner

With the Plustek scanner, you can upload photos up to 8-by-10 inches large, with 300 dpi resolution. A picture this large will only take, at most, five seconds, while a regular, four-by-six image takes only two seconds. Image enhancements features come with the hardware, allowing you to restore the photos to their original quality.

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KODAK Slide N SCAN Film and Slide Scanner

The KODAK Slide N Scan is a powerful device that can scan your old photos to a memory card or a computer. It converts film negatives and 50-millimeter slides to a 22MP JPEG. The KODAK device does have editing features that allow you to resize and adjust brightness as necessary.

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Magnasonic All-in-One 22MP Film Scanner with Large 5" Display

If you want to convert your film negatives and slides to digital images, this Magnasonic Scanner proves handy. You can view your photos after uploading them right on the device, and they will be 22MP JPEG images. The images save right to a memory card, meaning you do not need a computer hookup.

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3. Invest in an External Scanner for Your Mobile Device

Scanners also exist for your mobile device so that you can know how to scan old photos for the best resolution. These work similarly to those above, as you will install the associated mobile app or connect the device via Bluetooth. These pieces of hardware allow for quick exchanges of the images, whether you want to text them or upload them to social media.

Best External Scanners

The best options for external scanners for your Apple or Android smartphone include those below.

Epson FastFoto FF-680W Wireless High-Speed Photo and Document Scanning System

The Epson FastFoto allows you to scan up to 36 photos at a time in batch assignments. When downloading the app, you can have the pictures right on your smartphone, adding voice or captions to them as you please. If you wonder how to scan old photos for the best resolution, this device can process up to 1200 dpi for enlarged images.

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IRIScan Book 5 Mobile Wand Portable Handheld Color Scanner

The IRIScan Book 5 works over wifi like a wand to scan your old photos. It can upload up to 1200 dpi images to your Android or Apple devices in as little as one second. With one fully charged battery, you can scan up to 250 photos.

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HP OfficeJet 250 All-in-One Portable Printer with Wireless & Mobile Printing

The HP Officejet 250 is an all-in-one piece of hardware, meaning it can scan, copy, and print. It is compatible with any device that has Bluetooth connectivity, which most smartphones allow. There is a 10-page document feeder that allows you to upload up to that many photos at a time.

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4. Download Picture Scanning Software

To know how to scan old photos for the best resolution, as mentioned, you can use a mobile app. These only work, however, on smartphones and tablets. There are also computer applications you can download to use along with your scanner of choice to ensure you achieve the best result possible.

Why an Additional Software?

You may remember from the above information that scanners come with their own software. Though this is true, these programs do not provide every tool you need. Additional scanning programs can help to:

  • Share files easily
  • Add captions and text to images
  • Complete more comprehensive editing and white balancing

Best Scanning Programs

The best scanning programs for your computer will help you maintain organization, enhance resolution, and give your old photos new life. They include the three options below.

1. VueScan

VueScan allows you to customize each of your images to your liking and convert them to PDF format. It is compatible with Photoshop, allowing you to work with the graininess of the photo, change the tone, and color balance as you desire. If your scanner’s driver does not show up on your computer, this program will also replace the program.

2. SilverFast

SilverFast is expensive, but it has extensive tools to optimize each of your photographs. It is also compatible with Photoshop and gives you negatives for each upload. SilverFast even creates color profiles specific to your hardware and scanner so that the colors of your photograph are as accurate as possible.

3. AutoSplitter

AutoSplitter has automatic crop detection, just like many of the scanners listed above. This software also allows you to rotate your images and adjust the orientation automatically. Many of the features, as the name implies, are automatic. Knowing this allows you to relax when starting how to scan old photos for the best resolution.

5. Find a Digital Camera

If you do not have access to a scanner, why not use a digital camera as a method of how to scan old photos for the best resolution? This idea may seem counterintuitive, however, since the original images came from a camera. So as long as you have a DSLR camera with good lighting and follow the steps below, you are sure to have beautiful, digitized representations of your photographs!

Steps for Scanning with a Camera

The steps below are meant to give you the best images possible and may be an option for the best way to scan a lot of photos. Make sure you have a macro lens so that you can achieve the focus necessary.

1. Stick the photo to the wall or another flat surface away from harsh light.

Stick the photo to the wall or another flat surface away from harsh light

2. Attach your camera to a tripod, aligning the center of the lens to the center of your photo.

Attach your camera to a tripod, aligning the center of the lends to the center of your photo

3. Adjust the aperture to around an eight f/stop, and set the ISO as low as possible.

Adjust the aperture to around an eight f_stop, and set the ISO as low as possible

4. Backlight the location of your photograph if you want to follow tips on how to scan old photos for the best resolution.

Back light the location of your photograph if you want to follow tips on how to scan old photos for the best resolution

Once you shoot your images, they will be on the memory card. Upload them from the memory card to your computer as you would with any other digital photo from your camera.

6. Find Reputable Third-Party Photo Scanning Service Providers

If you want to find the best way to scan a lot of photos, look for a third-party service provider. Make sure you work with a company that provides high-quality images and delivers them to you promptly. If the price is right for you, photo scanning services can answer how to scan old photos for the best resolution.

Best Providers

As mentioned, it is always important to consider the price, the delivery time, and the quality of images. Do remember to ask about the care put into your pictures and how you will receive your photos to find the best photo scanning service.

1. ScanDigital

If you are not happy with your images, you can obtain free rescans from this option for the best photo scanning service. The website is very open about the pricing and the scanning process too, and you will receive a prepared box to ship your photos. You can choose to receive your images on a USB or an HDD, which is why this company is a great contender for the best photo scanning service.

2. EverPresent

EverPresent is known for its high-quality image production. The business will even scan your films and negatives. Any of your scans come back to you on a DVD, USB, or website, dependent on the choice you make. Additional services available include photo albums and more.

3. ScanCafe

ScanCafe is another option for the best photo scanning service. In most cases, you will receive your photos within 12 days, and there are value price points available. The services include cleaning up photos, but they are not as experienced in color correction services.

4. GoPhoto

GoPhoto gives you complete control over the images you want. After your photos complete the scanning process, you receive access to an online album to determine those you want to keep. The team here organizes your pictures for you based on the people in them and the quality.

7. Prepare Your Photos for Scanning

When you choose how to scan old photos for the best resolution, there are necessary preparations. When you prepare your images, you will receive better results that are high quality.

Steps for Image Preparation

The goal of preparing your photographs is to obtain some sense of organization and cleanliness. Do this before starting your choice of how to scan old photos for the best resolution. The steps required include:

1. Go through all of your photos, organizing them in terms of those worth keeping.

Go through all of your photos, organizing them in terms of those worth keeping

2. Wipe the photos gently with a clean and dry cloth.

Wipe the photos gently with a clean and dry cloth - how to scan old photos for the best resolution

3. Blow compressed air on your images to blow away any dust.

blow away dust - how to scan old photos for the best resolution

4. Do not fix creases as this step can damage the photos.

Do not fix creases as this step can damage the photos.

5. Make sure to wear lint-free gloves that do not leave behind stains and prints.

use lint free gloves to scan old photos for the best resolution

Following these tips allows your images to maintain some sense of resolution before scanning. You can also clean off the scanner, especially if you look for the best way to scan a lot of photos.

How to Scan Old Photos for the Best Resolution

To learn the answer to what is the best way to digitize old photos, you have to understand the many methods and processes possible. It is dependent on how much money you are willing to put into your images and how much trust you have in yourself. If you are not comfortable digitizing these photos yourself, there are third-party providers ready to take special care of your memories.

If you want to scan your old photos yourself, make sure that you know the equipment necessary. Use your smartphone, whether it is Apple or Android, and the built-in or additional apps available on your phone. You can also hook this device up to an external scanner, compatible via Bluetooth connectivity or other mobile apps.

Most individuals choose to use their computer with a compatible scanner. This option allows you to preview your images and select the resolution you need. It may also be the best way to scan a lot of photos. Rarely, a digital camera can also take clear photographs of your old pictures for upload purposes.

Any of these methods can answer the question of what is the best way to digitize old photos. It is up to you to decide the process that will meet your needs best. Always consider the number of old photos you have and your budget.

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