Whether you want to restore vintage family photographs or create a digital archive of your favorite snapshots, scanning is the first step in preserving your photos for years to come. Here are some tips and techniques to help you scan like a pro.

Picture selection

Choose your best photos to scan. You can enhance faded color and sharpen some fuzziness with image-editing software, but it's best to start with clear, vibrant images whenever possible. The better your photo is, the better your scan will be.

Scanner settings

Your HP scanner has different settings for attributes such as output type, resolution, sharpening, exposure, and color. Although the default values usually provide optimal results, you can fine-tune the settings in your software. For example, let's say you're scanning a treasured snapshot that's faded over the years (and was a little blurry to begin with). With your HP scanner, you can sharpen the scan (from low to extreme), and select to restore faded color ... all with a click of your mouse. Often you can even set up shortcuts with the scanner buttons. Imagine being able to fix red-eye at the touch of a button. Refer to your user's manual for details. 

If it's time for a new scanner, let us help you choose the right one. With the wide selection of HP scanners and HP All-in-ones available, you're sure to find one that's right for you. 

The right resolution 

Scanner resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi). More dots translate into a sharper image. A good rule of thumb is to scan a master copy of your image at 300 dpi. This gives you flexibility if you want to use the same image in different ways. Perhaps you want to feature your photo in a scrapbook layout and e-mail it. You can make copies of your master and then resize them. Of course, if you have a specific use in mind, you can scan at a lower resolution. 

Resolution to use:

72 dpi - Scanning photos for e-mail or the Web

150 dpi - Scanning photos for inkjet printing

300 - Scanning photos for archiving (storing a high-resolution master copy of your photo on your hard drive or on a disc)

Above 300 dpi - Scanning slides or negatives for prints larger than 5" x 7"

Photo file formats

After you scan an image, you can save it in several different file formats. Choosing the right format depends on how you'll use your image. 

JPEG: If you're sure that you'll only view your image onscreen (e-mailing or posting it online), save it as a JPEG, which compresses the file size to speed download times. This format loses some image quality during compression, but the loss isn't too noticeable onscreen. 

TIFF: If you're printing your image or if you're uncertain how you'll use it in the future, save it as a TIFF. This format preserves detail and color information, which will give you maximum flexibility. You can always save a copy of a TIFF file as a JPEG, but you can't create a high-quality TIFF image from a JPEG. You'll thank yourself later.  

Get oriented

Scan your photo in the orientation in which it will be used, either vertically or horizontally. (Some image quality is lost when you rotate the photo in your image-editing or desktop publishing program.) HP Photosmart Essential is a free image editing software for editing photos. 

Crop to size

Limit file size and save hard drive space. If you need only a small portion of your image, don't scan the whole thing. Your scanner software has tools to preview and select only the part you want. Or, you can scan the whole image and then crop to size in your image-editing software, after you've made any other adjustments. 

Scan slides and negatives

Many HP scanners come with a built-in adapter that allows you to convert 35 mm slides and negatives into easy-to-store digital files. Clean them with the softest cotton cloth, then scan up to 16 slides or 30 negative frames at once. Use your scanning software to remove dust, scratches, and red-eye; restore faded color; and automatically enhance color in dark areas. Then archive your files to disc or share with family and friends. 

Projects for old photos

Once you've scanned your old photos, slides, and negatives, it's easy to use them in projects or make gifts and keepsakes. HP's Activity Center offers a variety of scrapbooking and quilting projects for beginners and seasoned crafters alike. And you'll find customizable projects such as cards, picture frames, calendars, and more that allow you to get creative with your scanned images.

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