Helpful Posts Helpful Posts:  0
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Digitalizing old film pictures

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    24

    Digitalizing old film pictures

    Hello,

    I am planning to restore my Grandparents old photos. There are thousands of pictures of which I will select a couple hundred. Most of these pictures have been taken between 1920 to 1950 and come in all shapes and sizes.
    What would be the best way to digitalize them? I suppose the cheapest way for me would be to photograph them. I was thinking of building a little stand so I could achieve equal lighting and distance from the camera for each picture.
    Or would it be better to buy a scanner? If so, what scanner would you recommend for this kind of work?
    I am not thinking too much about the post processing process yet, I want to get them all on my computer first.

    Thanks,

    Kirk

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Digitalizing old pictures

    Hi Kirk,

    You can photograph them - but the results will depend on what gear you have. Ideally you'll need a long lens (probably around 200mm), and a couple of flashes (both off camera) so that you can setup side lighting and eliminate glare.

    Plan B might simply be to have them scanned commercially - shouldn't cost too much.

  3. #3

    Re: Digitalizing old pictures

    Scanners are the easiest and most cost-efficient way to go. Decent quality flat-bed scanners don't cost much (300 bones will get you a nice one) and most have features such as dust removal or fade correction if you don't have much experience or patience with digital retouching.

    Scan B&W and color images using the RGB (color) mode at high resolutions for best results. I recently did an image of my grandmother from the twenties - the pic was old, stained, scratched - and it turned out great. Never would have been able to do that by photographing it. Photographing flat images requires a lighting set-up, tripod, and other methods - and if it's a glossy pic, it gets even more frustrating.

    Remember - scanners can be used easily as photocopiers for receipts, bills and even be used as a camera to make images of 3-D objects (works great, lots of fun).

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Digitalizing old pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikishots View Post
    Photographing flat images requires a lighting set-up, tripod, and other methods - and if it's a glossy pic, it gets even more frustrating.
    Ideally, a pair of diffused lights at 45 deg works well. Tripod not too essential if the lights are strobes (ambient light is zero, and the strobe freezes any camera shake), but certainly a great idea if your doing a batch of them.

    Took this the other day in preparation for printing onto canvas for a client (2x 580EX II strobes @ 45 deg - EF70-200 F2.8L IS Lens - Hand Held) ...

    Digitalizing old film pictures

    I agree with Mikishots in that a scanner is certainly the easier way to go though.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    24

    Re: Digitalizing old pictures

    Thanks, both of you!
    Since my grandparents wont let those pictures leave the house I think the easiest and cheapest way will be to buy a scanner and scan them.


    Kirk

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Digitalizing old pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk View Post
    Thanks, both of you!
    Since my grandparents wont let those pictures leave the house I think the easiest and cheapest way will be to buy a scanner and scan them.


    Kirk
    Sounds like a good plan - just remember that the optimal resolution for scanning depends (in part) on the ratio of the size of the original -v- the size you may want to print or display the copy. You can't really scan at too high a resolution, but past a certain point the scans will get very big and it could turn out to be quite a slow process.

    Also, be sure to BACKUP your efforts in at least a couple of places when your done!

    Good luck

  7. #7
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,393
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Digitalizing old pictures

    .. all good advice, and if, like most families, there is the odd page torn from an old newspaper with someone's photo in, use the appropriate 'Original/Source' setting on the scanner software to avoid a moire pattern between the newspaper dot print and scanner.

    That's generally what I do, those that scan more regularly may know how to do this another way. I just find the scanning software's option of 'Newsprint', rather than 'Glossy' or 'Matte photo' worked for me with newspaper photos. Remember to go back to the photo settings when done though, or you'll have soft photo scans.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    24

    Re: Digitalizing old pictures

    Hello,

    I am now a proud owner of a scanner. I think I got a pretty good workflow worked out as well.

    1. Scan the pictures, using TIFF format, with enough space between them so that Photoshop can automatically crop them into seperate files.

    2. Write down the descriptions that is on the back of the pictures in a Word or Excel file. The description will be added to the EXIF later, since I am afraid that I will lose that information while processing the pictures.

    3. Move on to the next batch.

    4. When all the pictures are scanned, burn them to DVD, just in case...

    I will keep each scan as one TIFF file, until I have time to work on them. Thats when I will crop, sharpen etc.
    A few things I was still wondering about:

    Should I use 300dpi or 600dpi resolution when scanning? On the test scans I wasn't really able to see a difference, but I think I should go with the highest possible resolution since disk space is not an issue (each TIFF file will be around 100MB).
    When I am done I was planing on sending a DVD to all my relatives. Most of them don't know too much about computers. What would be the easiest way to give them the info of the pictures. I was thinking of putting them all in an HTML file. Any better ideas?

    Thanks for the help,

    Kirk

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    12,002

    Re: Digitalizing old pictures

    Just a thought here, Kirk. How about creating your own family history book? Available in computer and printed form.

    Just use any basic desktop publishing programme and intermix text and photos. Get all the family to contribute a bit of information. It can be in standard size paper (say A4) and the printed version can be punched for folders or spiral bound etc.

    The only thing to watch is that the computer version needs to be in a universal format. But you could convert to PDF which is easy with most modern text programmes.

    As for scanning resolution. If you are scanning at original size (ie the starting and finishing sizes are the same) then 300 dpi is fine but if you want to enlarge the finished images I would use a bit more resolution, perhaps 600dpi for double size images. But to some extent it is a question of trial and error depending on the condition of the originals.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •