How To Scan Your Photographs for Restoration

Learn how to get the highest quality scan files from your original photo prints

Digitizing your old photographs is fast and easy whether or not you have a scanner at home - just follow the simple instructions on this page. High quality scans allow our restoration artists to create better restorations, so it's important to send us the best file you can. If you've read this guide and you're still having trouble, just send us an email at and we'll help you out.

What If I Already Have a Scanned Photo?

If you already have a scanned digital photograph file, you can perform this quick test to determine how suitable it is for restoration:

You should be able to see the same level of detail in your scanned file that you could by looking at the original photo through a magnifying glass. This level of detail is important for making prints of your restoration feel authentic, rather than "digitized".

If your scanned photo falls short and doesn't do the original photograph justice, consider scanning it again before sending it to us. If you're not sure, or if you don't have the original photograph for re-scanning, you can always request a free quote and our restoration team will advise you.

What If My Photo Is Too Big To Scan?

No problem! Just scan each part of the photo separately, send us the files and our restoration wizards will stitch it back together.

Can I Take a Picture With My Phone or Camera?

Generally, no. There is no way for a camera to capture the same amount of detail as a scanner. Lighting, angles, camera capabilities and other factors conspire to produce an image that isn't true to the original photograph. This gives our restoration artists very little to work with and can lead to disappointing results, especially when ordering prints.

However, you are welcome to snap a quick image of the photo you'd like restored and send it to us for a quote.

How Do I Properly Scan My Photos?

If you have a scanner at home, we recommend you try scanning with a few different settings and perform the magnifying glass test on the results. If you don't have a scanner, you can visit a local FedEx, UPS store or similar and use theirs.

Scan Your Photos at 400dpi

DPI is a basic measure of digital image quality. It stands for "dots per inch", or the number of tiny ink dots printed in a one inch line. The more dots per inch, the higher the image quality is. In scanner software sometimes this is called "PPI" (pixels per inch), but it's the same thing. Photos scanned at a low DPI (less than 150) will fail the magnifying glass test, but photos at an extremely high DPI (more than 600) will have huge file sizes and take a long time to scan and upload. 400dpi is the perfect number for a restoration.

When you scan an image into your computer you will have the option to set the DPI (you may have to click "advanced" or "custom" settings in your scnning program). Many scanners are set too low by default, so double-check that the DPI is at 400 each time you scan a photo.

Scan in Color

Make sure your scan is in full color, even if your photo is black & white. Many old photographs have subtle tones that lend character to the picture, but scanning in black and white can destroy these. On most scanners, full color is usually called "RGB Color" and black & white is "grayscale".

Ensure the Scanner Glass is Clean and Your Photo is Flat

You usually don't have to worry about specks of dust or small scratches on the scanner glass. If these are visible our restoration artists can remove them easily. However, smudges and parts of the photo that are not flat against the glass can blur and reduce quality across large parts of the image. Ensure that the glass is clean and all parts of your photo are contacting the scanner glass before beginning. If your photo has issues with curling, you may want to put it between two heavy books for a few days to flatten it out. If your photo is in a book, try hanging it off the scanner bed at a 90 degree angle to get the page as flat as possible.

Save your Photos as PNGs instead of JPGs or PDFs

JPG files are the most popular kind of image on the web today. This is because the JPG format compresses images, making the file sizes much smaller and faster to download. However, compression can erase fine details that our artists need to produce the best possible restoration. The PNG file format solves this problem by including all of the data from your scanner without compressing it.

Many scanners are also set to save as a PDF file by default. This is good for multi-page documents, but not so much for individual images. Make sure to check the output file type before scanning

More Questions?

Do you have questions that weren't answered here? Specific concerns about your photo? Please send us an email: