JPEG compression levels
The image on the left has been compressed to a lower file size... but has lost some detail

How To Change The JPEG Level Compression So Your Scan Image Files Aren't Low Quality

In this Advanced Scanning Tip, you're going to discover...

  • Your scanner's default settings are set to save JPEGs at lower quality digital images
  • If you don't change these settings, then your digital images will have less detail
  • It doesn't matter if you use a high resolution / DPI, you NEED to change this before you start your scans

What am I talking about? And what do you need to change?

What You Need To Know About JPEG Compression Levels

What I'm talking about is JPEG Compression (if you're saving your scans as TIFF's, you don't have to worry about this stuff).

To help you understand what JPEG compression is, I scanned one of my old baseball cards. Have a look...

jpeg compression levels when scanning

I scanned this card 3 times. Each time at 300 DPI. Each at different JPEG compression levels. And if you notice, 1 and 2 have less detail than 3. Have a look again, look at the "1990". It's a bit fuzzy in image 1.

This fuzziness / less detail is due to "compression".

Remember back in the 90's when it took 2 minutes to load a picture? Well, to help load images faster, you could compress them into a smaller file size. Smaller file sizes helped load things faster when when computers were slower.

But today's computer can handle JPEG's a lot better. There's no need to compress JPEG when scanning.

Let's have another look at these 3 scans in detail:

jpeg compression levels when scanning settings

In scan 1, I used the highest compression level. This gave me a 500 KB scan. At a mid compression level, I got a 4 MB scan. At if I did NOT compress the JPEG, I got a 12 MB scan.

And as you can see, scan 3 has the most detail -- even though each scan is 300 DPI.

So what's the problem?

Your Scanner Is Set To Compress Your JPEG's

Here's the problem -- your scanner is set to compress your scans a bit closer to the middle. Why would a scanner scan at lower quality?

It could be because when you're saving a 12 MB file it takes a few seconds longer. So if the scanner is setup at a lower file size, then they can say, "scanning speeds as fast as 20 seconds!".

Anyway, whatever the reason let's see how to change this setting on your scanner.

3 Steps On How To Changing Your Scanner's JPEG Compression Levels

Step One: Fire Up Your Scanner And Find "File Saving Options"

Most scanner's have a button to change your "File Saving Settings or Options". Mine is located by the Scan Button...

scanner file saving options to change jpeg compression

If you can't find this button, do a help search for "File Saving", "JPEG Compression", "JPEG Options".

Step 2: Open Your File Saving Options And Find "JPEG Options"

Once you've opened your File Save Settings, you should get another option to change JPEG settings. Here's what mine looks like...

scanner-setup-jpeg-options.jpg

This is where you'll be changing the compression levels. Here's how...

Step 3: Change Levels To LOWEST Compression / Highest Quality

Here's what my scanner's default compression is set at...

change jpeg compression levels when scanning

As you can see, my compression settings are a bit to high. To change this, just slide the Compression Level bar to High Quality. That way your scans are NOT compressed.

And you only have to do this once. However, if you re-install your scanner you have to do this again.

What To Do Next...

Do this right now. Fire up your scanner, and locate your File Save and JPEG Options. If you can't find this, do a help search for "JPEG compression", "File Save", "JPEG Settings". And check how much your scanner is compression your JPEG's. If the bar isn't set to Highest Quality, then you need make sure it is.

Still Need Some Help?

That's it my friend! Go ahead and click the Scan Button.

Thanks for coming along, and I hope my slide scan tips have helped.


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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!

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