Use a flatbed scanner to archive your photos

This week’s emails brought this one from a reader:

“My wife and I are a tottering couple in our 80s, happy with our lives to date, but feel overwhelmed with what to do with our 45 family photo albums. to pass on to our two children. We are considering scanning them into a cloud service and assembling the best and/or most relevant images into photo books. What are your recommendations for scanning a large number of photos?”

If you want to scan photos, it’s best to do it right the first time, which will take a bit more time and the right scanner. Oh, and please take the time to tag all the people and dates if you can. You can save caption information with photos if you use an app like Apple Photos or Google Photos to store your images.

If you occasionally need to scan a few photos, the average multifunction printer/scanner will suffice. But if you want the best results, especially for archiving your history, you can’t beat a good flatbed scanner from a company like Canon or Epson.

Photo scanning is all about resolution or the number of pixels per inch captured by the scanner.

For example, if you want to scan a photo for an online presentation or perhaps print a copy of the same size, I recommend setting the scanner to capture the image at 200 ppi resolution.

Because you want to archive your photos for future generations who would like to make enlargements (larger prints), you should scan at as high a resolution as possible.

I recommend getting a scanner that can capture images at resolutions up to 4800 dpi.

The goal is to capture as much data as possible.

The consequence of capturing a scan with a high resolution is that the files will take up more space on your hard drive, but storage is pretty cheap these days.

If you’re scanning photos to send them to the cloud, check with your cloud service to see if they have a file size limit for high-resolution photos.

You can still print smaller photos from a large photo file, but if you try to print large photos from a small file, you will see pixelation (poor quality), which is caused by a resolution insufficient.

As for a scanner recommendation, I’d look at the Canon LiDE 400, which retails for $89.99 on Canon’s website. The LiDE 400 can scan images up to 8.5 inches by 11.7 inches at 4800 dpi. It uses a USB-C cable connected to your Mac or Windows computer for data and power.

For online photo books, I would check out for presentation-quality books or for a more affordable option.

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