Tips to help you scan photos for your photobook using the best resolution

Top 3 Mistakes When Scanning Pictures For A Photobook

What you need to know before you scan your family pictures and make a photobook


After reading this article, you're going to learn...

  • The top 3 mistakes people make when scanning pictures for a photobook
  • 3 Simple action steps to follow so you don't make these mistakes
  • Be confident that when you spend a lot of money on your photobook, that the scans are as detailed, crisp, and are the highest quality as possible
  • Avoid spending a lot of money on a photobook where the pictures are blurry, and the colours are not the best quality

Ready to discover something new? Ready to make your photobook project a success? Let's go!

Mistake Number 1: Saving Your Photos As JPEG Images

JPEGs are great for monitors, ipads, TV's, and other digital screens. But when it comes to PRINTING a JPEG you are losing 50% of the colours and detail.

Let me explain what I mean when I say you're losing 50% of colours and detail.

You know how when scanning you can use 24 or 48 bits? Well, 24 or 48 bits means how much extra colour your scan will have. Here's sort of what I'm talking about...

Scanning pictures for photobooks at 24 bit vs 48 bit color

When you use 48 bit, you get MORE gradient colours to work with. So your scan looks more smoother, more colourful, and more detailed.

So, if you're saving your scans as JPEGs, you cannot use 48 bit. You are only limited to 24 bit. No matter what software you're using, no mater how much you try, you can't save your JPEGs at 48 bit.

And with only 24 bit, you are losing 50% of colour and detail.

So what? What are these bits, and what do they have to do with making a photobook?

Well, let me go more into detail, and all this will make sense...

Digital monitors only display 24 bit colours. It doesn't matter if your tv is 4K or you have a the ipad... it will only display 24 bits of colour.

Digital monitors can only display at 24 bit color

If you tried to display a 48 bit colour image on a digital screen, it “dumbs” it down to 24 bit. It's like watching a Blu Ray on an old 720p TV. The Blu Ray might be 1080p HD, but the old TV can't display 1080, and it will “dumb” it down to 720.

But printing is different than digital displays. When it comes to printing, you NEED more than 24 bit. Digital is limited. But analog is NOT. Printers can use 48 bit colours to make your photobooks.

And if your JPEGs are only 24 bit, you are losing 50% potential colours and detail.

So, if you printed a 24 bit scan, you'd lose out on all the extra colour gradients. Remember, printers can go 48 bit. This means your photobooks will have more colours gradients... and show more detail.

So, what can you do? That's next...

Mistake Number 2: Not Saving Your Scans As 48 Bit TIFF

Now you know that JPEGs are only 24 bit. And printers can go 48 bit. So, if you're saving your scans as JPEGs, you're losing 50% of potential colours and detail.

So what you'll have to do is save your scans as 48 bit TIFF images. That way when you print your scans, your printer will be using all 48 bits of colours... and you won't lose any detail.

So, why don't people scan using TIFFs?

Most people don't scan using 48 bit TIFF because the files sizes are too big. Also, if you compare a TIFF vs a JPEG, you can't really see a difference.

And now you know why you can't see a difference... because your monitor “dumbs” down that 48 bit TIFF to 24 bits. So a 48 bit scan looks like a 24 bit scan.

But when PRINTING, you can use 48 bits. And when printing at 24 bit scan vs. a 48 bit scan makes a HUGE difference in what colours and details you'll see.

But what about resolution? Is that important too?

That's next...

Mistake Number 3: Not Using The Best Resolution For Photobooks

The easiest way to understand resolution is this...

Your photos were printed using 300 dots per inch. When you use 300 DPI when scanning those photos, you'll get an EXACT copy of that photo.

For example, say your 4x6 photo is scanned at 300 DPI. You will get an EXACT copy... a 4x6 digital photo.

Using 300 DPI when scanning for photobooks

Now, say you scanned that photo at 600 DPI. What you're doing here is taking that 4x6 photo and turning it into a 8x12 digital photo. It's EXACTCLY the same as your 4x6 photo... but now it's a 8x12 digital photo.

Using 600 DPI when scanning for photobooks

The good news is, now you can take that 8x12 digital image, and print it at 8x12. If you took your 4x6 digital image and tried to print at 8x12, your image would look stretched and pixelated.

Same with 900 DPI. At 900 DPI you are tripling the size of your physical 4x6 photo. At 900 DPI you turned your 4x6 photo into a 12x18 digital photo. And now you can safely use that 12x18 digital photo and print out as a 12x18 photobook.

Using 900 DPI when scanning for photobooks

What about smaller photos?

Well, remember that at 300 DPI you are getting the EXACT same size as the original. So if you have 2x3 photos, scanned at 300 DPI, you'll get 2x3 digital images.

But if you use say 900 DPI, you'll triple the size. You'll turn that 2x3 photo into a 6x9 digital image. Then you can take that 6x9 digital image and make a re-print without losing any quality.

But again, make sure that whatever DPI you use, you are saving them as 48 bit TIFFs. Even at 900 DPI, if you save them as 24 bit JPEGs, you're losing 50% of the colours when you print them.

So, what next? Here's exact an exact, step by step, action plan to make sure you're setting up your scanner correctly for photobooks...

3 Simple Action Steps To Make Sure You're Getting The Best Quality Scans For Photobooks

Action Step One: Change Your Scanner To Do 48 Bit

Load up your photos, and startup up your scan software. Here's what mine looks like...

Set your scanner to 48 bit tiff when scanning for photobooks

Action Step Two: Change The File Setting To TIFF

Is your scan software not letting you pick 48 bit colour? That's because you're saving your scans as JPEGs. Remember, JPEGs can't scan at 48 bit, only 24 bit.

So go into your file setting or image format settings. Here's what mine looks like...

Set your scanner to 48 bit tiff when scanning for photobooks

And pick TIFF or RAW.

Now you'll be able to pick, “48 Bit Color”.

Action Step Three: Best Resolution For Photobooks

Remember, when you use 300 DPI, you will get the EXACT same size as your original. In other words, a 2x3 photo scanned at 300 DPI will be a 2x3 digital photo. A 4x6 photo scanned at 300 DPI will be a 4x6 digital photo.

If you want to double the size, you have to double the DPI. So, a 4x6 photo scanned at 600 DPI will now be a 8x12 digital photo. And so on.

Then you can take that 8x12 digital photo, and re-print it at 8x12 without losing quality.

If you're making photobooks bigger than 8x12, use 900 DPI. This will triple the size of your original photo. Same with smaller photos. Try to use 900 DPI or 1200 DPI.


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Which of these scanning troubles do you want to overcome?

  • What's the best resolution / DPI to scan your slides, negatives, and photos -- so you don't lose details
  • Best method to digitize slides, negatives, photos using your regular flatbed or film scanner
  • How to clean your negatives, slides, and photos before you scan them -- so you don't scratch them
  • What side should you scan a slide or negative -- so they're not backwards or facing the wrong way
  • How to setup your scanner to get higher quality digital images -- 24bit JPEG? 48bit TIFF?
  • How to fix your digital images using Digital ICE, GIMP, or Photoshop and make them look new
  • How to improve your scan workflow so you can double your productivity and finish your project twice as fast
  • Understand the technical stuff of a digital image so you can make sideshow videos, reprints, and more!

Hey, my name is Konrad. I've been scanning professionally since 2005. I've helped multi-billion dollar companies, pro sports teams, pro photographers, artists, museums, book publishers, etc. I've scanned over 930,000 slides, negatives, photos.

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