Making better copies of old photos

Have you ever wanted a copy of an old photograph, either reproduced as a same size replacement print or perhaps an enlargement, but you're concerned with getting a poor quality copy? Maybe the original already has fading colours, damage, or there's some other problem in a picture that would look better otherwise? Here you will find help and advice, along with the appropriate photographic services required for producing high quality copies of your photographs along with other enhancement options.

Why make a digital copy of a picture?

Photo scanning or copying your picture prints to digital helps with photo preservation by storing the original picture digitally for yourself and future generations. The sooner this is done, the more details from the original photo print are preserved in the digital image before the original print can degrade further. The digital image can then be reproduced as printed copy (usually after some digital enhancement to improve clarity and other options) and the original kept in a safe place out of light to minimise further UV damage and other risks.

If you have access to a photo scanner and are copying old photos yourself (which are typically smaller than more modern photo prints), below you will find some practical advice for using the correct settings for better quality enlarged copies of pictures and overall improvements.

Help with photo quality and clearer enlargements

Perhaps you have tried making copies of an old photo print yourself by scanning and printing but have poor quality in the printed copy?

Sometimes poor quality copies can be due to the digital copy itself being poor. In these cases the quality can either be digitally enhanced, or a better copy taken with the correct settings. Often just copying and printing your pictures with the default settings for your photo scanner will yield poor quality enlargements, either due to imperfections which start to show up from dust and damage or by producing a blocky photo with poor clarity or other defects, which can be due to not having the correct scan resolution or image file settings. Read on to get help with fixing these problems and see more details on advice and services available below.

Copying using a photo scanner

When making copies of old photographs by scanning to digital, it is important to consider the uses for the picture. If you have already tried making copies of a photo and the quality is poor or not as expected, remember it will help to improve quality by using a higher scan resolution (DPI or dots per inch), referring to the digital image quality as the number of square pixels that make up a square inch of the printed picture copy, or the level of detail in the final prints produced. If this setting is too low, quality problems like blocks will appear as the pixels that make up the image start to become visible in the printed copy, especially for larger prints from a low resolution image. Increasing the dpi settings in the digital image will simply give you a smaller photographic print. If you already have this problem with a picture, there are a range of photo quality services available below if this is your only copy and you would like a better looking picture.

Scan resolution options and settings advice

  • If you are enlarging your photograph significantly, a 600 DPI scanning resolution is recommended, especially for making smaller photos larger.
  • For making same size copies as photographic prints, 300 DPI resolution often suffices (most commercial printers resize to this anyway).
  • For quality photo prints onto canvas, if you divide the size of one canvas side by the size of the same photo side, then multiply by 200, you will get the correct photo scanning dpi for a good resolution quality image on your canvas.
  • For digital viewing only like for putting on Facebook and for digital photo albums etc, a lower scanning resolution setting of between 72 and 200 DPI can be used if the photos aren't too small.
  • Saving the digital copy as a .jpg or .jpeg file in the correct resolution will offer the best trade off for quality and file size.

Having a high resolution image doesn't guarantee getting a good quality picture finely tuned for your choice of media however, and with finer details you can also get unwanted marks and scratches that start to come when enlarging the picture. Digital cleaning, clarity and a few colour enhancements can make the final picture much better, and services are available to take care of all the options above.

A service for enhanced copying

Photo restoration artwork, cleaning of details, and colour / clarity enhancement services can be applied to produce a high quality copy of an old photograph or low resolution image, using digital editing techniques to make enhanced copies like those shown below.

  • Improved / restored quality or aesthetic changes to your copies
  • An enlarged copy on canvas or as a print with better quality
  • A great photo gift like a hand coloured copy of an old picture
an old photo with the background changed an old photo restored and repaired
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