Best scan resolution when scanning slides negatives photos for HDTV or 4K

Best Resolution For HDTV Or 4K When Scanning Slides Negatives Photos

After reading these scan tips, you'll discover...

  • Best scan resolution for 720, 1080p, and 4K HDTV's
  • How to cut-through all the marketing buzz words designed to confuse you
  • An easy way to understand how digital images work on display screens
  • Best DPI setting for slides, negatives, photos -- no matter what size the original is

If you're not sure how resolution works, you may be scanning your images the wrong DPI.

And if you know how scan resolution works, you'll know how to figure out problems later when you try to play your scans on different sized TV's, monitors and projection screens.

So grab your favourite drink. Sit back. And get ready to discover something new...

1. Would You Buy An HDTV If You Knew It Was Only 2 Mega Pixels?

Did you know your 1080p HDTV is only a whopping 2 mega pixels?! Marketers like to say 1080p rather then tell you your HDTV is 2 mega pixels. But the fact is that your 1080p HDTV is only 2 mega pixels. And another fact is, 2 mega pixels is good enough for HD quality.

But what about your slide, negative, photo scans? Is 2 mega pixels enough?

2. How Can Your 1080p HDTV Be Only 2 Mega Pixels

Lets look at the evolution of HDTV. Before 720p and 1080p, you had your standard square box. I know these guys were not digital, but if you measured the resolution, here is what you would get...

A standard tv has a dimension of 700 x 480

These old square boxes had a "Dimension" of about 700 x 480. Dimension is how many pixels / dots fit up and across. Oh, and even if you had a 32" or a 52", the dimension is still 700 x 480. A bigger TV size like 52" just means you can sit back further. If you sat too close you would see the dots. But if you sat close to a 32", you would not see the dots.

Anyway, here comes along digital. With digital, you can now squeeze more dots that go up and across. More dots means more detail. And more detail means a clearer picture. So instead of 700 x 480, with digital you could fit 1280 x 720. That is how you get 720p. Have a look...

A 720 HDTV has a dimension of 1280 x 720

And the same thing goes with 720p: it does not matter if your TV is 32" or 52", it is still 1280 x 720. It just means that you can sit back further with a 52".

And we also have 1080p. Yes, all they did here was squeeze more dots / pixels that go up and across...

A 1080 HDTV has a dimension of 1920 x 1080

So now you have more detail, and a clearer picture. And again, no matter if you have a 32" or 52", you still get a dimension of 1920 x 1080.

So where does the Mega Pixel part come in? Well, you know your 1080p HDTV has a Dimension of 1920 x 1080. When you multiply that you get 1920 X 1080 = 2 million. And in marketing terms, 2 million pixels is 2 mega pixels.

One more... Now we have 4K HDTVs. Here's the dimension...

A 4K HDTV has a dimension of 3840 × 2160

The dimension of a 4K tv is 3840 × 2160.

And again, if we multiply the dimension, we get mega pixels...

3840 x 2160 = 8.2 million.

Or in marketing, 8 mega pixels. But nobody will spend thousands of dollars on a 8 mega pixel tv. So 4K sounds better. See how marketers confuse you!?

Ok... great... so what does this have to do with scanning?

That's next...

3. How Your Scans And HDTV Go Hand In Hand

Now, lets look at your scans. Say you have a 4" x 6" photo. And you scan it at 300 DPI. Here is what happens...

A 4x6 photo scanned at 300 dpi will be 1200 x 1800

When you scan a 4x6 photo at 300 dpi, you get a 1800 x 1200 digital image.

And do you remember the dimension of your HDTV? It is 1920 x 1080. That is a pretty close fit. This means your photo scan is going to be displayed at full HD...

A 4x6 photo scanned at 300 dpi will be 1200 x 1800, and a 1080p HDTV is 1920 x 1080

4. Hold On! Is 300 DPI Enough Resolution?

In 2014, I'd say yes. But now with bigger tv's like the 4K, 300 DPI is too little.

If you want your photo scans to fit on 4K tv's, you'd need at least 600 DPI.

Here's what I mean...

A 4x6 photo scanned at 600 dpi will be 3600 x 2400, and a 4K HDTV is 3840 x 2160

If you scan your 4x6 photos at 600 DPI, you'll be safe for 4K. Remember, 4K has a dimension of 3840 x 2160. For better results, use 900 DPI.

What about slides and negatives?

I'll show you, next...

5. Best Resolution When Scanning Slides and Negatives To Fit On HDTV

The actual size of your 35mm slide and negative is about 1.30" x 0.85". Have a look...

Actual size of a 35mm slide or negative is about 1.30x0.85

If you scan your 35mm slides and negatives at 4000 DPI, here's what you'll get...

A 35mm slide or negative scan will be about 5300 x 3600 pixel dimension

A 35mm slide or negative scan will be about 5300 x 3600 pixel dimensions. And if you remember, a 4K tv has a dimension of 3840 x 2160. So your 4000 DPI scans will be displayed at HD quality.


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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.

The reason I'm telling you this is because no matter what challenge or frustration you're having, I know exactly what you're going through. So, to help you RIGHT NOW, I've put together a super simple scanning guide to get you started.

It's free (for now). So, fill out the form you see on the right:

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